Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Sign Of The Times

I'm walking from my parents' house into the “historic market town” that they live in and go past, an old favourite. As a teenager the “Elderly People” sign would prompt us to mimic the stance of the outlined figures in the triangle. Now, I merely ponder the sign's location.

There's no longer an old people's home nearby so I can't help but wonder why the sign still exists – is it merely to alert us to the possibility of an elderly person potentially living in the vicinity and if so, why isn't the countryside littered with these signs?

As I get further down the road, I can't help but do what I do best and have a good rummage in my bag. I dig out my camera and look around cautiously before snapping away at a new sign I've spotted. “Sensible Equestrian Services” seems like an insane name for a business offering riding lessons and even more so when I later discover through a friend that lessons are carried out on recently tamed horses with troubled pasts. In its obviousness the name is so clunky it's far from memorable or catchy.

A fan of Danny Wallace's “Danny Wallace is a man” column in free men's weekly Shortlist, I've always loved ridiculing stupid signs and was particularly appreciative of Metro's daily tongue-in-cheek page three on Friday 22nd July, entitled “It's turf to see why this sign is needed”. A photograph of a 1m wide patch of grass with a sign warning “Keep Off The Grass” planted on top is the main source of the “article”, padded out by a 9 ½ mph speed limit enforcement sign displayed in a Newcastle construction site.

Less than a week later (Thursday July 28th) and I was able to enjoy yet more “Clear Signs of absolute stupidity”:

  • “Buy one Fish & Chips for the price of two and receive a second Fish & Chips absolutely free!”

  • “Access to telephone 20 yards” right next to a phone.

  • “Caution water on road during rain.”

  • “Elevator is out of service, please use elevator.”

  • “Religion free DVD player.”

  • “Caution: Please be aware that the balcony is not at ground level.”

Of course not all of these signs are linked to lacking intelligence as the headline suggests but are clear evidence of health and safety “gone mad”. The very act of signing “Sensible Equestrian Services” is supposed to reassure potential punters that all health and safety regulations are met to avoid dangerous situations. I mean, think of the connotations of “Irresponsible Equestrian Services”...

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