Portal to 'HELL' cracks open in street – oh sorry, it's just another pothole

Into the eternal darkness, into fire and into ice... aka York

Mild exaggeration is a time-honoured tradition for disgusted Brits whingeing to their local newspapers about everything under the Sun.

One moment they are, quote, "speechless" about the closure of public toilets, but then claim to be "fuming" as they rant on for another five pages of Pitman (a complex system of hieroglyphics skilled journos used thousands of years ago when people bought newspapers, generally superseded where permitted by the record function on mobile phones).

But The York Press has recorded a masterclass in British hyperbole around our other pet peeve – potholes. How's this for an intro?

A driver said he 'thought Hell had opened up' when his car plunged into a hole in a York road.

Yeah, local news hacks can't resist it either. "Plunged" is a wonderful word, but we suspect it was more of a grinding clunk. Never let the truth get in the way of a killer opening line.

Those of you picturing scenes from Dante's Inferno engulfing a street in the historic Viking city may be disappointed, though the snaps provided with the article are worth a gentle chuckle.

The victim, Grant Parker, is pictured standing waist deep in the diabolical chasm, which we'll concede is far worse than England's usual pothole fare, but not quite up to Indonesian sinkhole standards.

"I was driving down the street and all of a sudden the car just sank down and went into a hole," he told the paper.

"It did some damage to the car, and I'm still waiting for the insurance to deal with it.

"There was just a little mark in the road, and as I went over it, the whole car dropped at one side.

"I got out and thought it was unbelievable. You could see a tunnel under the road. I thought Hell had opened up or something."

The motor was able to clamber out of the Hellgate and limped off to a garage for repairs, setting Parker back £200.

So who's liable? The city council, as councils are wont, admirably deflected any responsibility, blaming the pit on a "sewer collapse" and adding that the insurance claim would be passed to Yorkshire Water.

The utilities firm, having repaired the road on 12 April, said Parker damaged his car and shrugged: "In circumstances like this it is the insurance companies who resolve any claims."

Of course, it would be a cold day in Hell when a local authority actually takes care of its infrastructure. ®

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