Caution: Elderly People crossing (and ’10 Dogs Allowed in the Play Area)

Posted on August 19, 2009 by yankeebean

yankeebeanI’m sure by now you’ve all seen the best road sign in history.  You know the one I mean:
  • The classic red triangle indicating a warning
  • Two stick figures, husband and wife, hunched forward from life’s long journey
  • The cane, steadying and assuring (and sometimes used as a light weapon in the stick-figure-marks-and-spencers)
That’s right, I’m talking about ‘Elderly People Crossing’.

Picture courtesy of The Guardian

I almost FELL DOWN when I first saw this sign and it still brings me great joy… even right now at this very moment.  (Or is that the cup of coffee kicking in?)  :)   I can’t quite put it into words… it’s just so… English.

It’s because of this quirky, amazing (and caring) road sign that I did something very very stupid at a dinner party…

Awhile ago I was walking down Cemetery Road in York, there’s a little fenced-in playground here with some colourful climbing frames and slides, etc.  On the fence outside there’s a York City Council sign that said ’10 DOGS ALLOWED IN THE PLAY AREA’.

I saw this sign and stopped…

WHAT??  10 DOGS??  How can they POSSIBLY monitor something like that?!?  And, more importantly, what’s the friggin’ POINT??!?  But a short walk home and I’d forgotten all about it – just another English quirk in the great quirky stream of life.

Now, fast-forward to a dinner party with a group of people that I didn’t know very well (some of whom I really didn’t seem to get along with, either – but that’s another post for another time).  The conversation eventually turned to the differences between America and England, as they SO often do when there’s an American in the bunch.  I immediately remembered my new-dog-sign discovery and eagerly recreated the scene with much hand-waving and general enthusiasm.

I deliver the punch line – “and it said ’10 Dogs Allowed in the Play Area’… how can they possible police that??”

Silence falls across the room…

A tumble weed rolls by…

I can almost hear a muted trumpet going ‘wah wah wawawawawaaaaaaah’…

And I’m getting manymany “you can’t be serious, are you really that dim?” looks

(except for Mr Nice Guy who’s giving me a “you’re so cute, bless your heart” look, thank God…)

Yes, as you’ve probably guessed by now, it turns out the sign actually said ‘No Dogs Allowed in the Play Area’ and someone had just sratched off the ‘N’ to look like a ’1′.

Looking back I can’t believe I fell for it, either – but when I stop and think about it, if you’d told me that somewhere in the world there was an Elderly People Crossing sign with hunched stick figures, I’ve would’ve scoffed and told you to shove it.  A part of me just assumed it was another unbelievablly quirky and glorious English road sign to tell my Mom about…

Ah, well… I’m sure it was character building some how, right?  :D

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Steve Shawcross August 26, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I’m very touched by your tribute to our humour. As (Canadian) comic Stewart Francis often comments about the British: “That’s the one thing I love about you guys, you really appreciate irony– Sharon Osbourne judging a talent contest– ha!”

    I agree about Frankie’s beard… stubble was alright, now he’s starting to look a bit trampy. Will he have shaved it off by tomorrow? :)

    Bill Bryson commented that humour is on tap here, and can be found in mundane situations; he observed that if you tried a droll remark in such mundane situations in the USA, you’d get strange looks!

    Perhaps Simon Pegg’s views sum it up best…

    • yankeebean August 27, 2009 at 7:55 am

      I’ve gotta give a shout out to Frankie Boyle’s beard. I love it!! As if anything could make him even more hilarious and wonderful.

      If you’re listening, I’m pro-beard Franky!! You grow that beast! :D

  2. Redlilocks August 25, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Oh I can certainly understand the advert’s intention and it certainly did the job! And you’re always a ray of sunshine Steve!! ;)

    I must admit, I do love me a bit of Frankie Boyle (although I’m not sure I like the new beard lol) – and while we are in the mood for admissions, I’ve always felt my sense of humour was actually more closely aligned to the British than the Americans. I blame too much Monty Python as a child! That could be one reason why I love it in this country – people actually GET ME where as in the States, my attempts at humour would often be met with quizzical looks and confusion! lol

  3. Steve Shawcross August 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Redlilocks, I’ve never thought about it like that, good point! Come to think of it, a good example of the British “realistic” attitude (to which I’ve alluded to before).

    Also our sense humour is often very dark, we so have a tolerance for all things grim– confer Frankie Boyle!! If you find things like the electrocuted man funny, then you’re on the same wavelength as us ;)

    I suppose the reason there isn’t a parental uprising here, is that we realise that it’s done for a good reason. If it shocks people into cutting their speed through residential areas, then the shock tactics are justified.

    Sadly it’s needed, since far too many speed through built-up areas, and do far more than 30mph. An older ad campaign put it well: If you were to hit somebody at 30, 8/10 chance they’ll live– hit someone at 40– 8/10 they’ll die.

    Blimey, I’m a ray of sunshine today today aren’t I? [LOL]

  4. yankeebean August 25, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    wikedripeplum – hahahaha!!! I’ve never seen that particular gem, but I’m going to keep my eyes deliberately peeled from now on…

  5. Redlilocks August 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Steve, I think you’re right – the British have accepted thier mortality unlike the Americans ever will. What about the telly advert with the child hit by a car where the litte girl (blood trickling out of her mouth and everything) snaps her bones back in place?! Talk about shock tactics! That would have lasted all of 1 second on US telly before a parental uprising! And wickedripeplum, you have just made my day! LOL! Do u think they wanted the dog owner to catch the poo before it even hits the ground?

  6. wickedripeplum August 23, 2009 at 5:29 am

    The best sign I ever saw was in Wales somewhere. It had a dog with poo jettisoning out of its ass. I say jettison, because said poo was mid flight with little speed lines and everything.

  7. Steve Shawcross August 22, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Redlilocks, loved your comments as ever…
    “I mean, how many signs in the States has an actual DEAD PERSON on it?! Its just so morbid that the sick, twisted part of me thinks it’s flippin’ HILARIOUS!”

    That eletrocution message is quite morbid isn’t… gets the point across though!

    If you go to Cannock Chase Visitor Centre in Staffs, you’ll treated to lots of pictures of roadkill dear alongside dented cars… shock tactics to get people to adhere to the 40mph speed limit throughout the forest. Similarly in November, you get some pretty gruesome firework saftey ads on telly too.

    I like the roadworks sign, don’t know that many people who could lift that much earth onto a shovel though!!

  8. Patty August 21, 2009 at 7:06 pm


    When I first saw the “elderly” sign, I busted up laughing because I work with the elderly. So, fortunately, I see that sign every day now and always giggle. :)

  9. Tony August 20, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I have just read your site over the past 24 hours and I must say that the three of you are fantastic!!!! I am a dual-US/Italian citizen and will be moving to GB within the next year (when I finally get a job there) and came across your site. It has been the most informative and entertaining blog sites I have read in a long time. It has been bookmarked and I will refer to it to check up on you three. :) Your husbands are lucky men and I envy them.


    • peacefulyorkshire August 20, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Hiya there Tony,
      Thanks for your lovely lil comment re our blog! I can tell that you are half Italian, as you are quite the charmah!
      Keep us updated on your move to the UK –and stop by again and let us know how your job hunt is coming along…
      We would love to know how you find the UK life once you are here.

  10. yankeebean August 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Redilocks – Hahahaha!!! Those are awesome and I’ll never see either of them the same way again…

    I can just image the outraged letters that would be written by the PTA is there was a sign with a cadaver on it in the States. That’s one of the (many) things I love about England – their ability not to take themselves too seriously…

  11. Redlilocks August 19, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    LOL! Awww bless your heart, that sounds like something I would do!

    I just have to add that THIS is my absolutely favourite quirky English sign:
    I mean, how many signs in the States has an actual DEAD PERSON on it?! Its just so morbid that the sick, twisted part of me thinks it’s flippin’ HILARIOUS!
    And this is my 2nd favourite which I like to call ‘Beware: Man with fallen umbrella’: ;)

  12. Steve Shawcross August 19, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    The top sign actually means:
    “Beware of elderly pick-pockets in the area” ;)

  13. lilibet August 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Lord. I can’t believe you thought that meant 10 dogs. LOL. Really, I am laughing with you, not at you.

    York is gorgeous. I can’t believe you get to live there!

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