I remember when I was small thinking it was a shame that there were scaffolding and roadworks everywhere, but at least things would be nice when they were finished. Then I realised that they never stop. Cities are never finished. What is the point of building beautiful cities if they will always be marred by the sight of scaffolding, clogged with diverted traffic and ringing with the sound of pneumatic drills? Why are construction and maintenance treated as special circumstances that can make as much mess, noise and air pollution as they like? Who is responsible for planning and regulating such transition periods? And is it actually possible to have a clean, orderly city without dreadful mechanical rackets over and above the normal sound of traffic and neds?