It’s a sign!

Sign reading The British Institute of false information, with a hand pointing right, round a corner.

Yesterday, much to my delight I received a package from Amazon UK. Inside was a surprise gift from a friend of mine of this book, called Signs of Life by Dave Askwith & Alex Normanton.

Book cover for Signs of life, showing a sign reading Disappointing Ruins.It arrived just as I was about to get ready to leave for St Andrews. That had to be put on hold for a quarter of an hour as I sat at my desk and laughed and cried and wiped the snot from my nose. I’ve not read such a funny book since The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper, and The Framley Examiner. Two books that are guaranteed every read to have me laughing like a hamster on top of a washing machine. (I was never any good at similies, sorry.)

Signs of life is a picture book. A collection of custom-made signs placed in public places: inside trains, on walls or trees, in telephone boxes.

This is my favourite:

English Heritage sign reads Jacob von Hogflume 1864 to 1909, Inventor of time travel, lived here in 2063.

A few of the signs are a little rude, some of the signs are simply surreal, but they are all very, very funny. Thank you, Pip for buying the book for me. I wonder what Christianity would have turned out to be like if signs from the Lord were this funny…

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

23 thoughts on “It’s a sign!”

  1. My favourite real sign is in Cafe Nero in Highgate. As you go downstairs to the toilet there is a ‘Mind Your Head’ sign placed on a low beam just above (or if you are tall, in front of) your head. Eager to be mindful of the needs of people with disabilities, Cafe Nero have also included the text in Braille on the notice. I guess when a blind person cracks their head on the beam they can then reach up and read, in mirror writing, the warning imprinted on their forehead…

  2. I loved the braille sign at the bottom of the steep, stone steps at Urqhuart Castle, on Loch Ness. I think Danny Wallace mentioned this in the book “Join Me”. It should have read something like “Well done for getting down here, good luck on the way back!”

    I can understand why people want to be politically correct and provide braille signs in castle dungeons but what is there to experience, apart from the dank, musty smell and the echo. “Oh… this room sounds exactly like all the others.”


  3. There used to be a great sign near my mum’s house. There are a lot of speed bumps near there, but there is one stretch of street with only one bump. The sign nearby used to read “Hump for 50 metres” – which always used to make me smile…

  4. Gareth J M Saunders
    “…but what is there to experience…?”

    When you go to visit a place that has historical value it is usually easy to get caught up in the ambiance your eyes and ears provide as most such locals tend to have some beauty to them apart from the norm. However, the real reason to go is to have been there; to walk in the footsteps of great men and women, to stand among the walls and fallen stones of once great empires…while the aesthetic appeal can definately be a draw, at the end of the day, it’s about having been there yourself more than having seen it for yourself. If seeing were all there was to it, then people would be content to just look at picture.

    Go explore!


  5. A great experience for me; you are the type of person the Native Americans refer to as a ‘human being’.
    Ar any rate , I thank you. And also remembering a sign at a New York restaurant that my father took me to as a young man,
    “Rich or poor,
    its nice to have money”
    A garish blast from the U.S.A.

  6. You realize by publishing my whereabouts in the year 2007, you have now changed the earth’s timeline and we are all doomed. Thanks a lot.

  7. As Dr Emmet Brown said, “Marty, where we are going we don’t need roads!”

    I once saw a sign for some public toilets and underneath it was a sign which said “No Waiting”

  8. i saw a great sign on a police van in victoria , it said “explosive dogs”. i wouldnt like driving them around, they could go off anytime!

  9. My fav is a sign near an escalator, on it a drawing of on an escalator hitting a sign similat to … the sign. Usually found by googling “recursive sign” (the signed has been removed).

  10. Pingback:
  11. My fav is a sign near an escalator, on it a drawing of on an escalator hitting a sign similat to … the sign. Usually found by googling “recursive sign” (the signed has been removed).

  12. That picture of the Time Traveler in the Civil War looks too clean. You can get one of those picture created of you in the Civil War at any Historic Site that offers that service. Nice try!

  13. If you enjoyed the Timewaster Letters, try the sequel, The Timewaster Diaries. I’ve never read the former, but the latter was book of the week on Radio 4 which prompted me to buy it. It’s very good.

  14. Hi Steve, thanks — as it happens I’m currently reading The Timewaster Diaries and thoroughly enjoying them and look forward to getting to the end of the book. I wish myself luck!

    You really must read The Timewaster Letters. Very, very funny.

  15. Pingback: Jacob Von Hogflume, time traveller « dudegalea

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