This is the first image in what will be an ongoing series dedicated to peculiar or otherwise arresting signage. This particular sign is at the end of a semi-covered alley passageway that takes you out to a side road, upon exiting Peckham Rye rail station in Greater London and immediately taking a right. Many people use this thoroughfare as its the way to certain bus connections. The other options, probably obviously, are to go straight ahead to the main road or to the left to another perpendicular side road. So, as you emerge onto the side street there is a very tall metal fence which you can see the top of in this photo. I’d say the tip of those spikes are at about the 8 foot mark which would mean the sign is about 9 feet up the wall. What I love about it is the combination of the ridiculous height at which it’s placed and the wonderful absurdity of the statement. It’s sort of like an anti-proclamation: both in its impractical location and the fact that it is essentially announcing the not-ness of something rather than the is-ness. It is not telling the accidental trespasser (who also happens to be quite tall) that s/he is forbidden from walking there, or faces some penalty for so doing, but has an air of resigned passivity about it. As there are no barriers to prevent access to the passageway, other than the suggestion of the open gate, it is obvious from a few minutes observation that everyone regards it as their right to use it as the plainly apparent short cut to the side road. And yet, for some reason, someone at the British Railways Board has seen to it that this statement be publicly displayed, albeit where few people will see it. It reminds me of running into an old boyfriend once who was carrying a bunch of flowers and said, most unnecessarily, “these aren’t for you, by the way”. Similiarly this sign is wimpy yet confrontational. It’s like that annoying narc kid in school who’d give you a look that said he knew you got away with it but he wanted you to know that he knew you did it anyway. I’m not sure why I looked up and noticed the sign but one thing was definite: nobody else paid a blind bit of difference.
Sign #1, Highways Act 1980, Peckham Rye, Greater London