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The strange and curious case of the missing pavestone in the Quad

In the northeast corner of the Quadrangle, there lies one pavestone unlike the others, as Ed Furst explains

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In the northeast corner of the Quadrangle, near the Great Hall, one tile on the ground is unlike the others. Where there should be pale yellow ceramic, there is instead a void filled haphazardly with bitumen. Like a misshapen puzzle piece, it simply does not fit.

Questions abound. Why was bitumen used instead of another yellow tile? Are there plans to fix this mistake? Is it even a mistake? I took it upon myself to solve the mystery.

But where to start? An examination of the site gave nothing away. A few people standing nearby could be described, at a stretch, as suspicious, but suspicious in the way I’m suspicious of people who prefer the new barbeque Shapes over the old ones. A perimeter search of the Quad confirmed there were no similarly out-of-place tiles, and a scrunched up Curly Wurly wrapper-cum-potential-lead (I mean, who eats those things over age six?) turned up nothing.

At a loss, I decided to try and interrogate passer-bys. Again, fruitless. I received nothing more than quizzical looks from vet students and firm instructions to move on from campus security.

In a search for answers I walked down Eastern Avenue and decided to consult the resident student politicians/activists for leads. “Cultural appropriation gone mad”, “The Bitumen Banksy” and “the beginnings of neoliberalism paving over the University” was all they could offer.

I was not getting anywhere, and began to consider the possibility that the bitumen wasn’t a mistake. Then why?

My hunch said that the University was trying to cover something up – something physical.  A secret entrance to the Great Hall?

A trapdoor guarded by a giant three-headed dog? A passage into the fiery pits of “Mordor” (what the colleagues of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Carlin have dubbed his office)?

With so many possibilities, the only thing clear was that the bitumen could be hiding anything. Then I received a reply from Campus Infrastructure and Services (CIS).

“Campus Infrastructure and Services has a program in place to repair and replace broken Quadrangle pavers. As these pavers are custom made, the bitumen is used as a temporary replacement until the new pavers arrive”.

Well, that’s that then.