OLD and past their sell-by date, once full of gas but have now fallen silent.

But still the giant gas holders that are a feature of Southampton’s St Mary’s area are causing comment.

As this paper reported this week, the two enormous structures that stand adjacent to the home of Southampton Football Club are the subject of an application to knock them flat by owners Southern Gas Networks (SGN).

This should be a cause for celebration and quick sign-off, surely?

After all, they are hardly a good advertisement for the city for thousands of visiting fans and anyone arriving by the nearby rail line into the Central Station.

Just one snag – the things are covered by a protection order.

I know, just when you thought a mad world could get no madder.

Luckily the order only states that if they are pulled down they must be replaced by something at least better than what is there now. That shouldn’t be hard. After all, what could be worse?

Unfortunately SGN can’t say what will replace the structures, they just want them down.

So we have to wait to see if planners consider an empty space to be an improvement.

My money is on the fact they will.

But as rigmaroles go, it’s a doozy.

I suppose the real question has to be: who put that sort of an order on the things in the first place? What were they trying to do?

Still, there’s a lot of gas in the general order of things where politicians are concerned, and no doubt they felt some sort of affinity with the huge, bloated, pointless past-their-sell-by-date monstrosities.