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Beekeeper’s Notes: I’ve Joined The Ranks Of The Umarell Looking Down Holes In The Road

Published on: 1 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 1 Mar, 2022

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

It is still quiet on the beekeeping front. There was some excitement when the roof was blown off a hive in the garden. The crown board stayed put and the bees weren’t affected. It meant a rush down to the allotment to check the other hives but all was well.

And if that isn’t enough excitement, I’ve reached that stage in my life where I like to look at, and comment on, construction work in the street.

I have become an umarell.

Umarells swarming around a construction site in Bologna. Photo from Bologna Today.

I stop to chat to the BT man when he is working on the incredibly complicated looms of cables in a telecoms box.

I have a good shufty at house extensions, comparing what is being done now to what I did 20 years ago.

And I was delighted to see the road being dug up in Quarry Street a few months ago. What an opportunity for the town centre umarells to really get stuck in.

The pleasure in seeing the different drainage pipes, from cast iron to modern plastic, and asking the workers behind the barriers about progress and vitally, method.

Another one from Italy, home of the umarell.

Being an umarell is a well known phenomenon, first recognised in Milan. But it’s international and with a solid following of male pensioners in the UK.

We love to stop at roadworks and we observe. Protocol requires we have our hands behind our backs, all the better to lean forward to get a better look.

Best of all, we like to chat to the people working down the hole.

We wonder “why are they doing it like that” and the great thing is, we have the time to ask.

It’s not clear at what age this tendency starts but it is more or less when the term old codger fits. Becoming an umarell happened quietly and without notice.

But I feel content to join the ranks of the hole in the road watchers.

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Responses to Beekeeper’s Notes: I’ve Joined The Ranks Of The Umarell Looking Down Holes In The Road

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    March 1, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Are they: “diggin’ it round when it ought to be square”.


    • Ben Paton Reply

      March 3, 2022 at 8:23 am

      Just like the Local Plan.

  2. John Lomas Reply

    March 1, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Hugh Coakley should start lobbying for an Umarell payment.

    Wiki has this to report: “In 2015, the city of Riccione, approximately 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Bologna, allocated an €11,000 budget to pay a wage to umarells to oversee worksites in the city – counting the number of trucks in and out to ensure materials were delivered/removed according to the receipts, and guarding against theft when the site was otherwise unattended. The town of San Lazzaro di Savena, 6 km (3+1⁄2 mi) to the South-East of Bologna, awarded the “Umarell of the year” prize to a local resident, Franco Bonini.”

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