This month Paul Bilton has been looking into them…

One of the good things about winters in Switzerland is that it is too cold for most hole-diggers to do their evil work. For a few brief months the roads and highways are relatively hole-free.

Likewise a sure sign that spring is round the corner, is when the corner is cordoned off, traffic and pedestrians diverted round another corner – and the corner rapidly converted into a hole. It is of course a sign of great prosperity when a country can dig up its roads and sidewalks without any more reason than they have not been dug up for a couple of years and so it’s time they were. Take the lakeside community of Kilchberg, here the Seestrasse road works has reached Guinness-Book-of-World-Records proportions. The road works have been going on so long that I expect to see them shown on the map soon. I look forward to the recommencement of the third year of work shortly, just as soon as the workers are back from their Caribbean break. I honestly believe this particular section of road will never be finished.

I had lived in Switzerland for a number of years before I realized that there was something sinister about Swiss holes in the road. Naturally they are straight-sided and swept clean at the edges but, frighteningly, although there is a hole, you can never see the contents that came out of the hole. In the normal course of events, one would expect to find the hole’s insides piled up next to it, neatly of course. But the Swiss actually take away the dirt from holes by truck and bring it back at a later date when the hole needs filling again. Or in the case of Kilchberg at a much later date.

Obviously it would be a very difficult job, even for the Swiss, to ensure that the right dirt goes back in the right hole. In fact, I have inside information that the dirt from holes is actually mixed and swapped around. At present rates, within a few short years the Swiss will have transported and changed all their subsoil down to a depth of 2 meters. This is not only confusing for the worms involved - imagine the pandemonium among archeologists in centuries to come.