Monday, 7 April 2008

Watch Out!

This sign appears just before a bend in the village of Cottingham in Northamptonshire. From what I could see it's not a particularly dangerous bend (there are far worse ones round here without any warning), and I could only think that maybe something horrendous had happened here that still reveberates in the local community. The reason I show it is that it was such a refreshing change to see an actual word writ large on a road sign that wasn't flashing digitally or pretending I didn't know a word of English. The letter style and colour reminded me of something British Railways might have put up in a goods yard to stop you walking round the back of a Scammell parcels truck, and of course that irrisistible combination certainly stopped me in my tracks. It also brought to mind a lane in Upper Brailles in Warwickshire, called, in cast-iron: 'Caution Corner'. It was bemusingly next to a funeral director's, and when I put it in my record of such things- Pastoral Peculiars- Richard Mabey said in his preface: " ...a litany of place names captures the bizarre, heartening chaos of it all. Caution Corner! What happened there?". Perhaps this sign was erected by local residents (there's something non-Ministry of Transport about it) but it's a well-executed one, and so much better than a speed bump or a tawdry flourescent poster metaphorically waving a parish clerk's finger at you. And I love the ivy climbing up the pole.

8 comments:

Toby Savage said...

A beauty Peter, as ever. I too hate those flashing signs, usually just before a bend I've driven round, without problem, for the last 30 years. I get great joy from shouting back at the sign "F***k Off" There. I've not quite uttered a profanity on your Blog either.

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Lovely. The infantilisation of signage drives me mental.

Are you familiar with the KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON sign sold by Barter Books in Alnwick? It was produced for the Civil Service during WW2. White Gill Sans on red, under a white crown. That's it. Straight to the point, and exactly the sort of thing to help keep my upper lip stiff should I be underneath Whitehall, praying that the shuddering cellar I was typing in really was bombproof.

Peter Ashley said...

Toby: I'm so glad I'm not the only one who swears vilely at modern road signs. Current 'hatecrime' as I think Orwell put it, is for those admonishing signs right out in the country that tell you what speed you're doing and are powered by little ugly windmills whirring on top. Not even Orwell could have made that up.

Ten Inch: I have seen those signs, and I want one NOW. Thankyou for reminding me.

Jon Dudley said...

A little gem to be sure. It certainly has something of British Railways about it..but it's strayed! Someone ought to make a movie called Admonishment, celebrating the masked men who disable the little windmills atop these modern signs by using elastic bands.
The site you need is http://www.keep-calm.com/

Câmera Digital said...
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Philip Wilkinson said...

Well I remember the discovery of "Caution Corner". I've since seen at least one "Turn Again Lane". But my all-time favourite street name is the wonderful Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate in York.

Jon Dudley said...

That takes some beating! We have Slugwash Lane near Plumpton and Hallelujah Corner near Fittleworth in West Sussex. Quite who was responsible for overseeing the slugs bathtime nobody knows.

Peter Ashley said...

There's a Dumb Woman's Lane in Sussex. My girlfriend always used to give me The Look whenever we drove by it and I sniggered silently.