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July 2007 - A Sign of the Times?

It will come as little or no surprise to my regular devotees, venturing back to this lovely, little corner of Mr World Wide Spider's home, that Nick Harvey is something of a sign collector; or, at least, a collector of text from signs.

Those of you arriving here for the first time ever, probably having been wrongly directed after you asked a badly phrased question of Mr G Oogle, or one of his colleagues, will be somewhat confused by what you are about to read, but that, probably, serves you right for not being more specific with Mr Oogle in the first place.

I shall worry not about that problem, however, as many previously misdirected ooglers have quickly become lovers of this place and have been turned into the, aforementioned, regular devotees who we love so much here.  By the way, please do not enquire about the verb "to oogle", as a rude reply often offends.

So, then, be you new or old, first visitor or a regular, welcome along to this edition of Nick Harvey's Comment, which sees the transition to the second half of the year known as 2007 and the commencement, in England at least, of smoke-free viewing.

I was checking back in the archives the other day and noticed that it was in the first episode of this load of old cobblers to appear in Mr W W Spider's little home, back in November of 2000, that I was complaining about the attitude of that farmer who'd refused to give me his range eggs, as he'd advertised, for free.

We can, therefore, trace my love of signs, and the wording thereof, right back into the last century, indeed, into the last millennium.

No madam, not incorrect at all.  Nick Harvey doesn't do incorrect.  You should know that by now.  There was never a year zero, was there?  Therefore the second century must have started on January 1st 101.  Therefore the first century has to have ended on 31st December 100.  Therefore the twentieth century, and the second millennium, definitely ended on 31st December 2000.

Right then, having got the introduction, and that little bit of a technicality, out of the way, it must be time to get you all up-to-date with my latest collection of sign spottings, or, to be strictly correct in the case of the first this time, the spotting of the brown chap, leg at each corner, tail at the back.

He's started telling me that he's fed up with being a labrador.  He says he'd like to become a garden dog.  Specifically, I understand, he'd like to become a large garden dog.

He was sitting up, taking plenty of notice, in the back of the car the other day, when he commented, in the inimitable way he does, about the lack of punctuation on this particular sign at the side of the road, outside, as many of the best signs are, a public house.

It was the lack of punctuation on this sign which stirred his interest in becoming a garden dog.

Exactly what qualities this new and exciting breed of canine possesses, neither he nor I am quite sure about; but the sign did make it abundantly clear that the landlord and staff of this particular hostelry would greatly appreciate a visit from him if we was a sizeable member of the breed.

The sign simply said "Large garden dogs welcome".

It must be something to do with the way that most people in the licensed trade have to specialise in all the things to with food and drink, which makes them a little less than perfect when it comes to other things, like advertising and sign writing.

Public houses, both the exteriors and the interiors, are among the most fruitful of hunting grounds when it comes to a dedicated sign text collector like myself.

It's not just the signs themselves which are of great interest to me, it's also the unfortunate positioning of some signs next to one another on many occasions.

I don't know what it's like round your neck of the woods, but round this way at the moment, everybody, within and without the licensed trade, seems to be fighting for the Sunday lunch business.

Pubs and restaurants are undercutting their neighbours to grab in the punters; and the signs advertising the wonderful service, the incredibly tiny price and the enormous number of courses, are getting larger and larger by the week.

There's a pub not far from here which has had the obligatory "Sunday Lunch" sign up for a number of years now.  It's a bit unfortunate, however, that in the last couple of weeks, they've added another, brand new, sign, immediately above the one we're all familiar with.

"Excellent Lunchtime Menu - Monday to Friday" the new sign proclaims to the world.

Now, either of these signs would be perfectly all right in themselves and on their own; but when put one immediately above the other, like this landlord has chosen to do, they seem to paint a slightly different picture to the unsuspecting, passing diner.

One can only assume, from the information as presented, that if the menu is excellent at lunchtimes from Monday to Friday, and they also do lunches on Sundays, then the menu on Sundays must be completely an anagram of hits.

Perhaps I ought to start a sign writing company?  No, not a signwriting company without a space in the middle; a sign writing company with a space.

I don't want to get involved with brushes and paint or anything like that, I'd leave those technicalities to somebody else; but I could be a whiz at actually writing the copy for the man with the paintbrush to transfer onto the lumps of metal or wood.

I could start him off with a huge batch of "Very expensive eggs from free range hens" signs, couldn't I?  Oh, no, don't get me started on that one again, or we'll be stuck here for the entire second half of 2007.

Well, we're almost at an end for July.  If you're one of those who arrived courtesy of Mr Oogle, did you enjoy yourself?  Will you be coming back next month for more?  Have you bookmarked me with a view to becoming an addition to my, already, huge band of regular devotees?  I do hope so.  You're as welcome as a large garden dog in a public house, honest.

More will appear here, promptly, on August the first, so do please join me then.  Time to go now, I think.  Right, I'm off, where's me punctuation kit?

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