It probably reflects some deep psychological disturbance in my early childhood potty training … but I find I notice sewer lids, (wo)manhole lids, catch basins, access hatches, etc on our streets and sidewalks. They do add interest to our quotidian walkabouts … at least to those who notice them.
The photo above is of a new fancy sidewalk made of interlocks. The stones are cut in an even square around the access hatch, and the perimeter filled in with cement. There may well be practical reasons for this, but it does somewhat spoil the look. I notice that on Wellington Street in front of the Parliament buildings the stones are cut very carefully in curved edges to abut tightly to the (wo)manhole — this may reflect or Parliamentarians keener interest in matters sewage. The solution on plebian streets is simple: after pouring the cement, a grooving tool should have been used to continue the joint lines onto the cement.
But alas, probably few people will notice and this improvement will be lost underfoot, like my suggestions to the Preston BIA that they get from Rome a donation of a few sewer lids for the street that say SPQR*, these would have been a real treat when the street is closed for Italian Festival, as would a few Beijing sewer lids in Chinatown.
*SPQR: latin, “by the senate, for the people of rome”