Signs That You’re in London, pt. II

It occurred to me that, considering the weather and the pollen here, and my recent posts, this feature could be retitled, “Sinus You Haute Not Be in London.” But the original essay was a celebration of accidental other-cultural humor, not a rant, and my allergies won’t stand in the way of continuing a good thing. BESIDES, we have to keep it cheery – I have guest contributors this go-round! My colleagues Owen and Jason have joined PD’s corps of intrepid cub reporters. We present for your entertainment some of the fun things to notice as you tromp the streets of London.

I’ll sneak in a couple that are my contributions to the kitty.

The first thing that needs to be said about this sign is that it doesn’t work at all – no one drives slowly through this little connector street. Coupled with the lack of anything resembling crosswalks and the several pubs at either end of it, and you start interpreting it as, “Dead or Slow.” But what did they actually mean when they put it up? If you’re higher than 15′ 3″, you’ll be going dead slow because you’re wedged under the roof support? Why is this street even covered? There’s nothing going on on it and warehouses to either side. Is “dead slow” some obscure English measure of speed? I looked at it for a couple of minutes and started channeling Fat Bastard … “I’m dead sexy.” My friends didn’t necessarily appreciate the nipple stroking that went with those movie quotes.

Conveniently, our next sign comes off the same side street:

I’d like to see this place on Ladies Night, with packs of ravenous English cougars descending on them, screeching, “Well? Where is it?” It also reminds me of the University of South Carolina, whose nickname is the Gamecocks, but all their apparel just reads, “Cocks.” Remember when you were a kid, and you’d just blurt out “Ass!” You had to scramble so that before your parents or teacher could smack you one, you’d protest, “Wait, I’m just talking about a donkey!” Naming your bar the Cock Tavern is license to be crass and pretend you aren’t. Cock, cock, cock, I like Cock. I’m honestly very curious whether anyone lets them advertise on television. And while this sign probably would have made the list regardless of anything else, on the basis of my 12-year-old sense of humor, the chalkboard right underneath sealed the deal:

Oh, you’re welcome. Is it a gay bar, do you suppose? My friends weren’t up for venturing in to find out.

This, Owen’s first submission, is well known to me – it’s posted outside the elevator on the sixth floor of our hotel, where we’ve each had rooms at one point. My first reaction to the sign was, “Oh my God, it’s an elevator! Run for your lives!” It has all the hysteria of the Danger of Death sign (or, Banger of Death, as Alison likes to call it) in the previous signs post. Except that it’s just a lift. And there aren’t signs like this outside the lift column on any of the other floors. The only conclusion I can draw is that they put the mouth-breathing Americans up on the sixth floor, where there are extra signs to assist us in figuring out British technology. I’d expect to see signs on the sink saying, “Danger! Do not breath the water!” and on the bed warning of a 14-person maximum capacity. You know … just to keep down on the “That’s what she said when the bed broke” jokes.

Another from the Owen’s Juvenile Humor Division (thanks! not an insult). Never mind that the visual menu reads like a Georgia O’Keefe painting, I’d imagine that “Often licked, never beaten” sounds like a pretty good deal to the female demographic. Does this ice cream truck set up outside battered women’s shelters? Yes, I went there – don’t worry, I’m actually being somewhat restrained in my reaction to this. The dirty water dogs on the other side of the window are just as suggestive. Delicious, probably. Wholesome? You’re not finding a buyer here for that one.

Pure shiny evil, apparently. What on Earth? I’m tempted to ask whether this is an unusual facade for an Apple store. What would you sell in a Pure Evil store, if not monopolized technology? The only item that is apparent is a print with a woman who didn’t know when to quit on the mascara. Maybe they just sell huge amounts of mascara? Is this a goth shop? Could I walk out with leather, steel-studded bracelets and dog collar? Is it a tattoo parlor? A wine shop with a much more interesting sense of decor and naming convention than the 10,000 pubs in London? Owen, you really need to have walked in here to find out what was going on. I’m hopeful you did and we can get some more information in the comments below.

Haven’t heard from Jason, you’re thinking? That’s because I’ve saved the best sign EVER for last, baby birds.

Let this one sink in for a moment. I’m just hoping to do it justice.

First of all, methinks the lady doth protest too much. I don’t have a sign on my front door back home disclaiming the presence of people who have sex for money. Maybe I need one? Or maybe that would make life less interesting. But how many people have to knock on your door doing the Monty Python “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” routine before you decide, “Goddamnit, I need a sign to make all these wannabee johns go away.” And how did they get there? Is there a pub down at the corner and someone scrawled on a stall wall, “For a good time, go to … ”

I’m also curious about the sign itself. This isn’t some handwritten scrawl born out of frustration with hard-up people knocking and wanting The Bad Thing. This looks like a professionally created and etched sign, well mounted (excuse the pun, por favor) on the door. It looks like a No Soliciting notice I’d buy at Staples and put on my door. Is there a neighborhood in London where random solication is so commonplace that there is a market for no-fuckee-fuckee signs? I wonder whether there’s a market for those in the States. Fair warning, everybody, I may come home with a new import-export scheme I want people to invest in.

Last thought, and I don’t want to discourage you from contributing, Jason – but you seemed to be a little close to this door. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because you found the one instance of the single-greatest possibly-mass-produced sign in this city, so I’ll speculate it was on a main thoroughfare and you were just passing by and noticed. Certainly, you weren’t actually walking up to an address and being disappointed, right? Not that there would have been anything wrong with that. But seriously, dude, once you saw the sign you were practically obligated to knock and pretend.

Keep your eyes open, everybody! The British are fun with the way they label things and the PD’s public is hungry for news.

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2 Responses to Signs That You’re in London, pt. II

  1. Jennifer S. says:

    WOW! You can’t make this stuff up. Well done, friend.

    • popdialectic says:

      Right? Kudos to my cub reporters, too, for uncovering some of the great signs. Alison helped out with some of the signs in the first installment of this feature. The sarcasm is all mine. Thanks for looking up the blog, Jen!

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