Monday, 21 March 2005

Trilingual sign

A while ago I saw on a French train something which I coveted. Fortunately I had with me a penknife which, though useless to a Swiss soldier, did have a little screwdriver blade, so it was the work of only a few moments to unscrew the thing and put it in my rucksack. I had then, and have now, no feelings of guilt about this: firstly, no-one would really come to any harm because of my theft, and secondly the train was clearly nearing the end of its life and would soon be scrapped, so that I would be preserving something beautiful for the enjoyment of future generations.

I am not joking about this; my photo doesn’t do it justice. I really do think it is a lovely object: consider the subtle curves of its outline, the background colour, the way in which the edge colour is carried round the screw holes, and the clarity and elegance of the lettering and layout. Here is a utilitarian artefact created by someone who knew that function is not all, and put a great deal of care into designing the form this lump of enamelled metal would take.

Anyway, fifty-five years later it is still a cherished possession and I have it displayed in an appropriate place, not as a jokey sign but as something which is pleasant to look at.

2 comments:

PerfectlyVocal said...

That is a lovely thing. I really want to touch it!

Tony said...

Yes, the enamelling is so heavy that you feel the lettering as little bumps when you run your hand over the smooth surface. How many modern notices give tactile as well as visual satisfaction?
Glad you like it.