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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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When you know it’s a sign

I don’t think any sign will outdo the one I saw outside a Hastings café/restaurant some years ago: FULLY COOKED BREAKFASTS. Oh, the power of a gratuitous letter y!

Also not far from home is a neon sign, FISH AND CHIP. There are three possibilities here: it could be an error; the s has fallen off; you do only get one chip but it’s a very large one.

But recently I have seen other risible signage. This outside a local supermarket:

TODAY’S SPECIAL – PLUMS $6.99 EACH

A few metres away was another to outdo that [if you calculate and take the relative size of the fruits into consideration – though if you do that, you’re probably a person who needs to get out more]:

BLUEBERRIES $4.99 EACH

Sometimes it’s only the placement of a word which evokes a giggle:

THIS BIN ONLY 50% OFF

Changing the word order would have solved the ambiguity easily. I think they were looking for 50% OFF THIS BIN ONLY, but then again, it is possible that they generally do huge discounts and so were a tad embarrassed about offering only 50% off the products in the bin.

Sometimes it’s a spelling, grammar or punctuation error which attracts the attention: KAVA AVILABLE HERE [Oamaru] and JOE’S HOOF’S and SHOE’S [a farrier in the Wellington district]. It raises the old question about whether the signwriter is culpable to some degree [or the tattooist in the case of NO REGERTS].

Everyday is commonly used on signs. Wrongly. Yes, of course everyday is a word, but it means common or ordinary. A number of signs I have seen should have read: LOW PRICES EVERY DAY.

Other times it is simply a matter of the oddness of the name of a business. Just last week in Petone, I passed a business called RUBBER BITS. The imagination ran riot. Earlier I saw a retail outlet called HANDLES, KNOCKERS & KNOBS LTD.

I have photographic evidence of these last four examples.

Last week, while driving through the Manawatu district, I drove past a road sign, but I am unable to report the verbiage on it. An overhanging tree obscured all but a couple of the sign’s corners. It may have said, BEWARE OF SIGNS HIDDEN BY FOLIAGE or, more simply, PLEASE IGNORE THIS SIGN.

There was no safe place to pull over, so I’m afraid I lack photographic evidence for this one, but the mind boggled at the possibilities. NO ENTRY, for example, could have a bush covering the NO [though the red colour of the sign should communicate the required information].

The standard EXCEPT CYCLES sign generally appears with the word EXCEPT on top and the word CYCLES underneath. This means that foliage in the right place could suggest that the only person allowed in is LES. Lucky Les.

Reader’s Digest recently shared a few interesting ones. Have a quick think about the possibilities of this one which has no punctuation to make it clear. SLOW CHILDREN. And this one is reasonably forceful: DON’T EVEN ABOUT PARKING HERE.THINK

It was probably a simple typo which caused this one to send mixed messages: PARKING PROHIBITED! PARKING WILL BE FINE!

I’ll take you to the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire for the next one, which I assure you is real [photographic evidence available]. I know many of you believe potholes in our roads are a national disgrace, but could we perhaps improve our signage?

CAUTION. REMOVE DENTURES. ADJUST BRA STRAPS. SECURE YOUR NUTS. WELCOME TO THE WORST-MAINTAINED ROAD IN THE COUNTY – COURTESY OF CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Let’s close with this sign:

BEWARE OF … WELL …JUST BEWARE.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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