If you live in Canterbury, you almost certainly love it. It has spectacular parks, some stunning architecture, a Cathedral that is the envy of less happy places and shops to die for.
But like anything we love, its imperfections gnaw away at us. Here in no particular order are the 10 most irritating things about the greatest little city on earth:
Why oh why oh why are some people incapable of keeping the city tidy. Every day on my morning walk through Canterbury I’m confronted by the sight of trash strewn across the road before the lads from Serco have done their jobs. Please put litter in the bins. I apologise if it’s complicated.
These ghastly, offensively cocky, anorak-wearing dolts can ruin any visit to the city centre. A contraction of “charity mugger”, chuggers undermine the good name of the organisation they’re working for by reeling off some sales pitch about how desperate they are for cash. Obviously, no mention is made of the cost of actually paying chugging firms nor the inflated salaries some charity chief executives enjoy.
3: No mobile signal in the city centre
It is impossible to get a mobile phone signal in much of the city centre. Areas around Burgate, the Buttermarket, Sun Street, Butchery Lane, Mercery Lane and many of the shops are mobile blackspots. This happens to be the 21st century for Pete’s sake.
4: Charity shops, naff coffee shop chains and vape emporia
Two or three of each of these and I probably wouldn’t be griping. As it happens, they are everywhere lending the place a real touch of class.
5: Pavement hoggers
Some people are apparently unaware that pavements are meant for pedestrian travel in both directions and spread themselves across the whole of the path, forcing the lone walker into the road. Have you ever tried walking up the New Dover Road when a horde of international students is coming in the opposite direction. No manners. No consideration.
6: The St Dunstan’s Street level crossing
I once counted that the crossing is down for 15 minutes every hour during the day. Now while I don’t think the gates shouldn’t come down when a train is passing, the fact is that they come down about three minutes before the train actually arrives. This leaves drivers unnecessarily held up and their vehicles pumping exhaust fumes into the air.
7: Constipated roads
Many streets are so busy at peak times that they are effectively in gridlock. On a bad day, it can take 30 minutes to get from Sturry Road to Winchap. Most of us, however, curse the awful traffic without accepting that every time we go out in our cars we’re contributing to the problem.
8: Aggressive drunken morons
No night out in Canterbury is complete without running into a group of drunken morons intent on causing trouble. I like a drink as much as the next man, but for some the evening out is an excuse to ruin the night out for others.
9: Ugly buildings
The worst buildings in Canterbury all emerged from the rubble of German bombs dropped during the Second World War. St Thomas’s Church Hall in Canterbury Lane is among the ugliest buildings in the city. How on earth this concrete monstrosity was ever granted planning permission is anyone’s guess. Newingate House, opposite Wilko on the ring road, is another – as is Lombard House next to the fire station in Upper Bridge Street. The sooner they’re replaced, the better.
10: Potholed roads
Late winter into early spring is, as we all know, pothole season, the annual opening up of craters and gouges on our overused streets. The repair jobs leave many streets looking like an unsightly patchwork which all too often opens up as soon as the next winter arrives.