Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jim Eagles: Travellers take notice

There's great entertainment to be had from the signs you see as you travel about. Toilets that open only at night. An area where parking is restricted to 2880 minutes. A passing lane that has been deleted. A "menswhere" store.

These were among the flood of entries to our competition for entertaining signs.

My personal favourite - probably because I entered it myself - is the sign North Shore City has put on the two sets of toilets on Balmain reserve in Devonport. "These toilets," it proclaims, "are locked from dawn to dusk" (though I note that the council has recently tried to cover up the mistake with pieces of masking tape).

Alyse Foster from Whangarei sent in several entries.

One, which she dubbed a "run like hell sign", was erected at the foot of a set of stairs at the Manapouri Power Station and appeared to show a man running very fast, begging the question, away from what?

Another is not so much a sign as the entertaining artwork used to indicate the unisex toilets at PR's Cafe in Hokitika.

Winsome Mitchell of Whakatane also provided a number of offerings.

While in Switzerland she was amused by a sign indicating male, female and dog toilets. And while driving round the East Coast she enjoyed an innovative sign seeming to warn of skateboarding cows.

Adrienne Smith of Mangere Bridge offered a picture of a parking sign from Ocean View Rd, Waiheke Island, limiting parking to "48 hours (2880 minutes)" and wondered, "Who keeps a count of the minutes?" Very bizarre!

A. M. Paterson of Ngunguru sent in a picture of a sign - presumably erected by a fed-up farmer - on the fence of a farm at Pyes Pa, Tauranga, declaring, "Don't dump your rubbish here you dirty bastard."

Deon Kotze provided a photo of a collection of signs on a pole at Ruakaka pointing to an interesting cluster of activities including the racecourse, the ambulance, the Catholic Church and - a little the worse for wear - the Police.

Brian Fairchild from Albany sent in a picture of an advertising sign in Canterbury offering "Deer pies, wrapped in doe, 2 bucks."

Des M sent a blurry picture of a Colonel Sanders' effigy outside a KFC establishment in Pakistan bearing a sign requesting, "No smoking please. No food or drink from outside. No arms and ammunition." As he comments, "This puts new meaning into the colonel's military rank."

Des also sent a sign from McMurdo Base in Antarctica which sits at the top of a ramp leading into the icy sea and requests, a tad unnecessarily, "Slow." Des was further bemused by a sign on the Sydney Harbour Bridge warning of a $1000 penalty for jumping off the bridge structure. "Is the risk of a fine going to stop a jumper who has given up on life?"

Deigh Davies offered an example from his collection of misspelled signs, taken in Papakura, advising that "Teletubbies can be picked up from menswhere."

Sharron Goodwin Browne reported a sign south of Featherstone which announced, "Passing lane deleted," and asked, "Who knows why?"

Gemma Cartwright from Hawera was entertained by a couple of signs she saw during a recent trip to Australia. One, on the side of a highway, warned, "If you are able to read this you are on the wrong side of the road."

The other was on a winding road and explained, a little unnecessarily, "Water on road during rain."

Ken Klitscher forwarded details of "the most effective sign I ever came across." It was in a park near Albuquerque, New Mexico, and said, "Respect the rattlesnake's right to privacy. Keep to the paths." The surrounding lawn was clearly unsullied by human feet.

Each of our contributors - apart from me - has been sent copies of Signspotting: absurd and amusing signs from around the world, compiled by Doug Lansky, and published by Lonely Planet ($19.99).


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