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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

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.