polite sign

Conversation in the steam room tonight threatened for a while to be almost intelligent, with an interesting discussion about website development, but it descended into its usual levels of inanity when I mentioned I’d been to Climping at the weekend and someone asked if climping was legal, especially in a public place. They all know perfectly well that Climping is a place in Sussex.

Someone then put some aromatic oil on the heater and no-one could decide whether it was eucalyptus or whether it had more fruity, or even floral, overtones – perhaps with a touch of rosemary? They sounded like a bunch of beauty therapists in the fragrance section of a department store.

Rory pretended to read the label and announced that if taken internally it would give the user dark stools; he then left, allegedly to take a stool sample, at which Bill said he should spread his sample over the walls; it wouldn’t make any difference as they were so dirty anyway.

A discussion about the riots, begun on Friday night, re-emerged, this time about the theory that at least some of the burnt-out shops were inside jobs, carried out opportunistically by owners to claim on the insurance or by property developers to make listed sites easily available for redevelopment.

There was some idly childish speculation about whether one of the regular crowd, absent tonight, who had allegedly been seen working out in the gym in tight shorts, was on Viagra. There followed an astonishingly dull debate about the relative merits of the 435 and 405 buses from the town centre, enlivened by Rory objecting to the implications about his seniority of Tim’s suggestion that he (Rory) could use his bus pass on either of these thrilling omnibus options.

I had to leave at this point as I wanted my tea and there seemed no likelihood of the conversation getting more high-brow. But to return briefly to Climping – legal or not – having written previously about the plethora of terse signage telling people what to do and not do in Bristol, I was struck by how polite the signs in Sussex were.

“Please enjoy your visit” urged the sign at the entrance to the beach. Another sign told us this was a “dog-friendly car park” (presumably it likes to pat the dumb chums on the head and give them a biscuit).

Even a sign ordering dog owners to keep their pets on a lead was prefaced with “Polite Notice”; while the sign on the way out of the car park wished us “Safe journey home!”.

A refreshingly different tone from the Bristol signs, the thrust of whose message was “look, stop doing whatever it is you’re doing; now bugger off home”.

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