Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy New Year

New Year, new resolutions. This is my first posting, I've decided to start a blog after reading other local bloggers such as Dane Valley Ted, Eastcliff Richard and even the political ruminations of Dave Green's Eastcliff Matters or Dr Moore's Thanet Life.

I'll write about whatever's on my mind (not much most of the time) so I thought I'd start with an issue that is national but put it in a very local perspective.
Signage.

I know this happens everywhere but here at Tesco Extra in Broadstairs they insist on having a checkout dedicated to people with "Ten items or less" in their baskets. You don't have to be a business making millions a minute to know it should be "Ten items or fewer". (For those of you who might not be sure but care enough to read on ... generally you use 'fewer' when the items in question can be counted, and 'less' when they can't. For example I might take fewer holidays a year than you but where you go might have less air pollution. Not a great example but you see what I mean.) Sticking with Tesco's, although I think Asda just down the road are every bit as guilty, they sell "womens" and "mens" clothing! Let's see how this works; one man, two men, and three or more mens? They employ the best business brains in the country and they can't put an apostrophe in the right place. I ought to boycott the place but a man's got to eat.

The randomly scattered apostrophe rains down liberally on Thanet. There's a shop in Margate High Street that has a year round sign in its window proclaiming it has "video's for sale". If that wasn't bad enough, and it is, there's a temporary sign near the Boundary / Hereson Road junction offering "Christmas Tree's"! At least they didn't go too wild and slip a quick apostrophe into Christmas just to be on the safe side.

Just popping back to the shops for a minute there's a longstanding gripe I have with some of their promotional literature. First, why give us products that are '100% extra free', 'buy one get one free' and 'two for the price of one'? They mean the same thing, choose a description and stick with it, I'm easily confused. Plus they say "when it's gone, it's gone", dear me, as opposed to what, 'when it's gone don't worry it's just hiding, give it a minute and it'll be back? Put the sign over the cage of a recently deceased hamster and I could understand that you're trying to teach a child the truth held within the circle of life but seeing it over the top of a pyramid of cheap beans leaves me wondering.

Signs which are thoroughly well intentioned but just miss the spot by a touch are some of the funniest (big shops should know better). There are a couple of beauties of the 'looked fine at the time' variety in two of the island's church halls (for people unfamiliar with the geography of Thanet it was an island during Roman times and is still often referred to that way). One, in Broadstairs and widely used as a community centre, said on a sign pinned to the door "Wednesday evening slimmer's group, please use large double doors at side of building." Not so great for the members' self esteem but at least they put the apostrophe in the right place. Also, and this one was in Cliftonville when the building in question was having some work done, "Toilet out of order, please use floor below". I laughed so much I almost did exactly that!

To close (I'm not sure how long a blog posting ought to be) I'll mention a sign that's meant to be funny - and is. I see this on the rear doors of a van driving around Thanet and it says simply "We repair what your husband fixed". How true.

9 comments:

Eastcliff Richard said...

My favourite sign was always Pooland in Ramsgate, but I see they've scraped one of the 'O's off now, so it's just Poland. Then, of course, there are/were the signs to all the defunct attractions on the Ile. And there are still people who arrive in Margate demanding to know where the Turnip Centre is, although that's their fault for not reading the 'visitor' bit on the brown signs on the Thanet Way.

Justin Brown said...

Ah, perhaps you can (could?) help me with something that I've always puzzled over (about?).
Regarding the popular expression (euphemism?) for a collection of pedants (pedantics?), would that (it?) be pedants' corner or pedantics' corner?

Justin Brown said...

Oh, and while we're on the subject, isn't Thanet on the South East Coast of Kent, rather than the North East. I believe that the Medway Towns lay claim to that.

thanetbloglist said...

Congratulations. You have been added to the Thanet Blog List.

Good Luck.

P.S. If you could add a link we'd be very grateful...

Groucho said...

To Justin, I can only apologise for not dumbing down the posting sufficiently - but that's the point. Some signage is wrong, and shouldn't be, some are funny (intentionally or otherwise) and deserve to be shared. Still, you can't please everyone!

I still think we are the NE corner of Kent, though. As Medway is due west and Dover due south (roughly) how can we be anything but north east? We are to Kent what the Geordies are to England, but that's another story.

Groucho said...

To thanetbloglist, thanks! It was reading your site that got me interested in the first place. How do I add a link?

SkinOfStars said...

Justin: "isn't Thanet on the South East Coast of Kent, rather than the North East."

Funny, we had a string of edits on wikipedia as to where Thanet lies. Thanet is on Kents north coast and at the furthest point east... as I think about it, if your into correcting sentence construction wikipedia is the ideal place for you to go!

So far as links go... blogger links help page

SkinOfStars said...

Common Errors in English

Justin Brown said...

Ah well, orienteering was never my strongest ability. When I was a young boy-scout I'd just follow the lad in front of me.
I'll bet that I wouldn't get away with that now!
As for correcting sentence construction, well, I wasn't. I merely asked a question or two!

No need to dumb anything down for me. If anything, things could do with dumbing up, I feel.

Please don't do yourself a dis-service Groucho, as I'm sure that you're more than capable of pleasing people. Er... are you single, by any chance?