Sunday, 20 October 2013

Impolite notices

I've had a few months off from posting to this blog - my energies have been taken up with an exciting new project, all of which I'll write about shortly. Before I do that though I feel the need to vent a little about polite notices.

I vehemently hate polite notices. In the most impolite, want to scrawl 'fuck off' all over them kind of way. In fact sometimes that is exactly what I do. I hate the way they use the word polite, because as we all know if you have to explicitly say something is polite, then it invariably isn't. I hate them too because they seem to be primarily used as a way to pretend somewhere is child friendly when actually it is wholly unfriendly.

When we were on holiday in the south-west last year we went to Dartmouth where an inviting looking tea shop had a sign on its door saying no under eights. I was fuming - because we weren't allowed in it suddenly became the only place in the world that I wanted a coffee and a tea cake. But on reflection it was a relief, because when we did find somewhere else and our child threw up halfway through tea, at least we weren't amongst child haters and tutters. And a sign saying no children is more honest that one pretending children are welcome and then filling their walls with instructions, warnings and aggression.

The Orchard in Grantchester near Cambridge is a lovely tearoom. You can eat your cake in a deckchair under fruit trees without a care in the world bar the wasps and the occasional hard fruit falling on your bonce. It's was here that Rupert Brook was referring to when he wrote "And is there honey still for tea?" But it's ruined somewhat by notices saying what you can, can't and must do all over the place.

Or at the Royal Free Hospital where we had to go recently after an accident, and where the medical care was exemplary but the notices were not only jobsworthy and passive aggressive (and least those at The Orchard do not try to hide the fact they are aggressive) but pretended to be kind and for the sake of fun whilst really sucking the kindness and sense of fun out of the children's waiting area.

I often take photos of polite notices. Sometimes it is for my private collection so I can look at them when I feel my blood pressure is too normal and I want to raise it a bit just for fun, and other times it is just to be naughty. I took perverse pleasure out of taking a picture of a sign at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight that said no cameras. It said no mobile phones too so I took the picture with my phone. Ha! That'll learn 'em.

This sign at a playgroup at the Methodist Church on Pages Lane in Muswell Hill, North London, infuriated me. Almost everything about it pissed me off, from the idea only mums may have buggies to the suggestion that only parents with twins can use the lift, never mind parents with two children who aren't twins or one child but who need help anyway or even a person without children who needs a lift.

Yet sometimes there's a polite notice, as in a notice that is polite rather than one that calls itself a 'polite notice', that almost makes up for all the others. I liked this one at the Donald McGill Postcard Museum in Ryde, Isle of Wight:

Though my favourite one recently has been on the gate to Highgate Wood in North London. The use of the word please really does mean that though it is officious and has a steep penalty for disobedience, it genuinely is polite.

Here's a little plug for my Kickstarter crowdfunding project for a book about elections aimed at toddler. Here's the link - every pound or dollar helps, and I have until Nov 21 to get to the £2000 total. And here's my previous blog post explaining what I'm doing

No comments:

Post a Comment