06 September, 2011



So I was looking round the Internong for a picture to illustrate this post and I found this little selection. Look at the second illustration in the top row. There is something deeply disturbing about a purveyor of road signs who cannot tell his left from his right.

Anyway, press on regardless. Whenever I see one of these signs on my travels, hopefully pointing in the correct direction, I find myself wondering whether following the sign will lead to anything at all diverting. I have to say I've always been disappointed so far, so I try my best to ignore the signs now. I am no longer impressed even by the refreshing honesty of the signs which point to a "Pedestrian Diversion".

A seemingly conditioned response that was mildly chuckleworthy the first couple of times but, like the ritual witticisms of a middle-distance relative which you come to dread each Christmas, it has become a bit of a curse.

It's a mindworm. Just as an earworm is a catchy tune that you cannot shake out of your mind's ear, I think of a mindworm as a chain of thought that is predictably and inescapably triggered by some repeated event. A chain of thought that you come to wearily accept rather than delight in.

I seem to have acquired a new one. Around the City of Westminster you will encounter examples of this sign,

This one is at Charing Cross. There are also a number of them at the slightly posher end of Shaftesbury Avenue. One imagines that the streets management division of TfL, for it was indeed they, put them up to warn drivers of double decker buses and other tall vehicles that they might get clipped by the overhanging branches of these rather splendid trees.

Unfortunately a little voice at the back of my head tells me different. "Low", it says, refers not to the height off the ground of the tree's outer limbs, but to to the tree's moral character. These are low trees, trees which pass offensive remarks about our sartorial taste as we pass, trees which delight in extending a stealthy root for the inadvertent tourist to trip over, and then snigger vulgarly when he does so. These are trees which, if they can get away with it, will clip you a blow on the back of the head with a low hanging bough that didn't seem to be there a moment ago. Worst and cruellest of all, these are trees which, when a pair of birds builds a nest in their upper branches, will stealthily withdraw the sap from a key supporting branch, carefully timing the branch's slow starvation so that, as the chicks are beginning to fledge but are not yet quite ready to fly, a gust of wind will snap off the branch, tumbling the wee things to their demise.

Low, evil trees. Trees to give a wide berth to.

Nurse, the blue pills, quickly. No, no. It's withdrawal symptoms. Wetherspoon's have run out of Lech. I'll be alright after a little nap.

I get the same problem with "Heavy Plant Crossing" (mental picture of a ten ton Chrysanthemum ambling across the road).

In my far distant childhood I thought Plant Hire companies would lend you a shrub or two for so much a week.

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