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Painters wrap Forth Bridge job after 121 years

English language mourns loss of famous phrase

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The English language is preparing to mourn the loss of one of its most agreeable similes as painters finally apply the last lick of paint to the Forth Bridge.

For well over 100 years, chaps armed with buckets and brushes have scaled the famous structure in a Sisyphean endeavour to keep it spick and span.

Now, however, after a 10-year, £130m application of epoxy-based paint – similar to that used on oil rigs – it is almost time for workers to call it a day.

The job will wrap ahead of schedule on 9 December, according to the Scotsman. Bridge operator Network Rail is planning a ceremony next year to celebrate the refurbishment, which should mean there's no need to call in the decorators for at least 20 years, except for the occasional touch-up.

Network Rail's David Simpson said: "Since 1890, the Forth Bridge has been a working monument to the genius of British railway engineering. Over the last decade, the bridge has been restored to its original condition and its new paint will preserve the steelwork for decades to come.

"The current restoration work has been ongoing since 2002 but, owing to years of under-investment during the '70s and '80s, the scale of the job was initially unclear. Now, with scaffolding being removed and the final sections of painting being completed, we're confident that job will be finished before Christmas."

Linguists are understood to be working around the clock to prepare a "like X-ing the Y" replacement for the famous Forth Bridge phrase. Readers are invited to post suggestions to fill the gap. ®

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