Victorian streets had mud and horse dung, a detail generally left out of perversely sepia tinted BBC adaptations of nineteenth century novels (as if between 1800 and 1900 we were at a stage in human evolution when our corneas were stained a very pale shade of brown).
We are reminded of this by the oblong hole that you often find in the stone work of old buildings, near the pavement and next to the door. Rarely you will also find an iron cross piece mounted in the hole, but usually it has succumbed to water vapour, salt and traffic fumes, leaving only a hole. Passers by are assaulted by functional ambiguity, some assuming it’s an ancient repository for fag ends, others defining it as a neat resting place for a half empty bottle of blue WKD, a visual symbol that they have suddenly resolved to retain just enough cognitive capacity to repeat the name of their street to a taxi driver, anticipating the ethereal drift into unconsciousness as they sit fully clothed on the sofa, convinced that all will be fine when the alarm sounds in three hours.
All this is a poncy way of saying it’s kind of cool that the oblong holes are still there, much like the complex dome above the heads of travellers in the bar at Victoria Station in Manchester, politely pleading its continued presence, hidden, seeking to be defined.