There are certainly times I miss home and the work is quite hectic in pieces, but there’s a lot to love about London. The weather has been great and it reminds me of DC, in that nothing is really that far from anything else. Alison and I went to Portabello Road and its markets one Saturday, and we clocked about ten miles on foot across town and back. As long as you remember to look both ways before crossing any street and remember that any car or bike will run you over with a maniacal sense of satisfaction, it’s generally a very walkable city. And the walking is made even more enjoyable by everything there is to see on your way.
For your viewing pleasure, here are 16 signs that have entertained me so far.
^ If I were the Before picture, I can understand looking for a bit of a makeover but frankly, this looks like a threat. Unless when you hear, “This could be you!” you immediately hope they’re talking about taking you directly back to 1986. Nevertheless, the telephone number figures prominently in the ad, and there’s a pretty good chance that my colleague Owen and I will have a couple of beers one night and start making prank calls. I’m also impressed at their confidence, that they think just anyone could get into that dress.
The other storefront window on Eversholt, by the Great Nepalese Restaurant. I find myself intrigued, and not just because I have no idea what “hourglass corsetry” is. The company is called Transformation Shops, but are you telling me that that ravishing beauty in the rose dress in the other window is still a dude? For reasons I can’t quite explain, I find that disappointing. Also, what’s with the adult DVDs? Do they purvey certain kinds of porn so you can decide whether all of this is really for you? The prank calls are looking more and more likely.
In the background, you can see Alison standing there wondering what is he doing NOW and why isn’t he walking, I told him to walk. But for some reason, this cracked me up. The sign says, “Wham Bam Thank you Ham,” which is catchy. And then someone came along and tagged it, and although closer examination defeats my first impression, I loved that it looked like someone got so excited that they scrawled “HAM!” on the poster. Like you’re walking along and see the word ham, and the very idea is so intoxicating that it demands instant verification. Ham! YES, HAM!
From Brighton. Well played, Palm Court Restaurant. I spent far more time than this poster merited trying to figure out if “feint hearted” was some Britishism. I tried to think of literary references to feints on whaling boats, even reversing my firm resolution never to even think about Moby Dick again. I tried to imagine any relationship between the verb to feint and seafood. Alas, I’m pretty sure it’s just a typo. And who is laying down a gauntlet challenging people to actually consume 12 ounces of fish in one sitting? What, do you have to eat the side dishes, too? Forget the Old 96’er, this is three-quarters of a pound of cod! I know I’m an American and they think we all overeat anyway, but I’m pretty sure I could win this bet.
This was another head scratcher as I tried to figure out how the first and second parts of this notice are related. Does this mean if you decide to swim or dive, against their advice, and you get in trouble in the water below … you should contact security? Or if you see someone else in trouble, you should contact security? Because that’s not my job. Or were they just saving space by printing multiple helpful notices on one sticker? As in, “It is dangerous to dive or swim from the pier,” alongside “The Surgeon General recommends four servings of fruit and vegetables daily.”
Also from the “not my job” department. If there’s an alarm, shouldn’t someone on staff be able to hear it? It’s your alarm.
I think this sign means that only trash is to be carried out through that door, but that seems like a waste of a perfectly good door. They can’t possibly be generating so much trash that they need a dedicated door just for throwing it away. Instead, I started pestering Alison with a long and involved theory that they are actually trying to get people to fight the power, to refuse things. Or maybe that’s the door they throw you out of when you refuse to behave. It was a pub in Brighton, after all, so I can imagine a fair amount of traffic if I’m right about that last idea.
This sign if remarkable, for the sole reason that they actually figured out where you’re likely to get hit by lightning, both geographically and anatomically: on this spot, in the elbow. For the record, I believe that all London crosswalks should feature prominent “Danger of Death” signs, as well.
Wishful thinking, Words 4 Weapons. I’m not saying that the thought isn’t nice, but I am saying that if it were that easy to peer pressure gangsters into giving up their weapons, they probably wouldn’t be carrying around things with which to stab pepople in the first place. Not that a free Bible and street pastors info aren’t a powerful inducement to give up that life of crime and walk the straight and narrow.
Are there different kinds of magic? Is international magic somehow more powerful? I’ve decided that, this being London, this is actually the registration office for the Tri-Wizarding tournament. After all, Alison and I went and took the obligatory cheesy picture at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, and we went to the market that is Diagon Alley in the movies. It’s only logical I’ve stumbled across another spot in the city that means more to real wizards than it does to we muggles.
I call this one, “Perplexed Vanna: A Study on WTF.” I haven’t googled what a dry main is, or why it would rise or fall, because I’m entertaining myself way too much making up explanations. I understand a “main” to be a pipe … what is dry that you run through a pipe? I might need some of my chemist friends to chime in on this one.
Any way you slice it, this is some of the most hilarious graffiti I’ve ever seen. “Demolition Work in Progress” isn’t the most unusual sign you’ve ever seen, but it’s also not ordinary. But for someone to stop by and scrawl, “I don’t feel good” on the wall … one explanation is that they were feeling so unwell that they felt compelled to record it for posterity. And who hasn’t been there? But I prefer to interpret it as speaking for the building. Someone was passing by and thought to themselves, “What would this building say if it had the power of speech?”
Dogs can walk but they can’t poop? That doesn’t seem fair. Or feasible. Do you get five or six transgressions before you foul out, like the NBA?
Just when you thought London was a friendly town, they post signs designed to break your spirit.
Okay, technically this is not a sign. But when walking along with Owen and Golnaz the other day, I stopped dead in my tracks, did a 180, and returned because I had to have a picture of this. I have looked at it no fewer than a dozen times since Monday and it cracks me up every time. I hope to hell that this is the name of a band.
These signs are all over the place. Clearly, we saw this and walked left. Eight hundred yards of humping? Yes, please. I like that some bureaucrat in the transportation office said, “Add a sign with a picture of a hump over these warnings, please. Let’s try to cut down on the juvenile comments.”
It didn’t work, Mr. Minister. It didn’t work.