Sunday, 20 January 2008

Signs of the Times (or of the Thames)


In 1887 Oscar Wilde wrote: `We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language'. Some say he may have been paraphrasing something by George B. Shaw. Whichever said it first, they were wrong; the British are different. I've been over here for a while, and I don't giggle anymore when I hear a seven-year-old ask his mom to buy him some new rubbers (erasers). I even know I'm not looking for footweae when I go to a boot sale (flea-market). But sometimes the British road signs just take me back to square one.

The sign above is an example. It is located in Greenwich near the loaction where they are restoring the Cutty Sark. You have to figure out what it means. It is not just that they use the same words to mean different stuff. They just have a different mind set. North of my home here in Stoke Ferry as I drove towards Kings Lynn there was a sign that read, "Cats Eyes removed ahead" Yikes!!!

A common road sign that I have yet to figure out has the warning, "Beware of oncoming traffic in center of road"???? If there is a problem with oncoming traffic in the center of the road, shouldn't this sign be turned the other way and say something like, "Get your Butt back in your own lane!" You see? The British just think differently.

Ok, one more example. I was in London to see the "Tut" exhibit last weekend (a bit disappointing, actually) and in King's Cross station I noticed this sign.




The sign is located on an electronic schedule that tells you the track on which trains depart. When the station is busiest, they apparently turn them off so people won't crowd around them.... YES, READ IT AGAIN... In the peak periods they remove information. People blindly wandering from track to track apparently are less likely to congregate in one place and create congestion... Ok, I don't really know why they have such a sign, or why they would do it.... My only explanation... The British ARE different.
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