Saturday, 31 May 2008


Evidently, we are demolishing and redecorating. Earlier today, we went into town to escape the plaster dust and meet our friend Jemima from Firesuite and her new (and adorable and generally well-behaved-except where coffee chains are involved) dog (she peed on Cafe Rouge's alfresco area, which was kinda funny and no one got hurt).

On the way back, I saw a lonely maxipad on the pavement between a bus stop and a building.

I spent an amused few minutes on a mini stake-out (ok, I pretended to be waiting for a bus at the bus stop - but it was totally a stake-out) and saw that no one passing by acknowledged it or appeared to notice it or react to it, but somehow no one stepped on it. It was spooky. Like a ghost pad that no one sees but everyone can feel its presence, like a little shiver of social stigma up the spine. Only one guy of about 20 passersby actually visibly took an extra big step around it, but that was it. Even the guys holding heavy boxes of computer equipment they could barely see over missed it. So that's a 5% acknowledgement quotient by my count, with a 1% margin of error allowing for human spatial awareness on the city streets which helps us navigate by some kind of jedi mind trick anyway.

At the same bus stop, this charming piece of eye pollution was also on display.

Let me break it down:

First of all, it's a patronising South Yorkshire transit ad operating under the misapprehension that it gives a shit about affordable and convenient public transport, so, you know, totally fair game.

Secondly, the 'artiste' cleverly (or serendipitously) uses the 'together' tag line to urge us into collective action. So far so adbusty. But the message derails here, I feel, in that the writer goes on to urge the gentle reader (in words and universal symbols) to defecate. Not on the bus, not about the decline of affordable and convenient public transport, just, ya know, kind of in general, it would appear. There is an acknowledgement that this would be a taboo act, in that we should 'miss behave', so it's not a complete non sequitur. The public installation concludes with a recent addition to the English slang canon which onomatopoeically namechecks the sound machine guns make when they are shot off into the air in celebration. I absolutely hate that this word has fallen into common use, particularly among school-age boys, and I challenge it every time I hear it as normalising gun violence and casual gun use.

Thirdly, I feel there are mixed messages I must reconcile and address the following contradictions to our mystery author: we should misbehave and defecate publicly, but not be so vulgar as to call it anything other than a 'poo'; we should use preschool terms instead of anything so crude and fricative as 'crap' or 'shit', but the extremely violent and plosive 'brap' sound effect simulating a machine gun salute is fair game; the handwriting, terminology and bathroom-wall-humour aspect point to a probably young probably male-identified writer, but he urges us to 'miss' behave (is the message only for women or is it an unfortunate spelling error?); and we're discussing poo, but the pen is red - don't you feel you've missed a trick here?

And finally, also to the artiste, if you have a permanent marker in your hand and you're on a city street, do something beautiful or at least spell correctly.

Sorry, end of rant.

When we got in later this evening and trudged our veggie gyoza-ed asses up to bed, the first thing Sarah said as we walked upstairs toward the partially de-wallpapered corridor was, "Oh, it looks like a bloodstain on underwear."




Riot Kitty said...

Bwahaha! That is the longest piece I have ever seen you write!

So what's up with the dog? Wasn't it good enough espresso?

b said...

oh my GOD, I haven't laugh so hard all week! Please do this every day. I mean it. Well, assuming you find ghost pads and bad graf on your way home all the time.