I’d like to think that the greengrocer signwriter is in cahoots with the hardware store, or at the very least has a wicked sense of humour, but unfortunately I think that this strategic and quite wonderful spelling mistake is just that—a spelling mistake. I sometimes wonder if ‘interesting’ spellings such as this are ever brought to the attention of the vendors by concerned (and more written-language savvy) members of the public, or if anyone even notices them. Depends where it is I guess. We once had a grocer/deli in the local shopping centre that went to the effort of overhauling their in-store signage. There were so many errors that the customers started writing on the signs and leaving messages, to the extent that the entire new signage was replaced with a couple of weeks of being installed.
My husband does most of the food shopping but occasionally, if he is not pressed for time, he lets me tag along. I slow things down because I am sidetracked by packaging, the patterns and shapes of a display, fresh flowers, the rows and rows of deli goods, and the novelty and multitude of the items that we neither need or want. There is a newish grocery store near us that recently provided a much-needed afternoon diversion. We bought broccoli, leeks, bread and strawberries, and along the way I stopped to check out the typography of seafood.
I’ve seen this pub sign many times before, but on Saturday evening, when my friends and I, replete from a delicious and satisfying dinner, emerged from the chatter and clatter of the restaurant into the buzz and hum of Enmore Road, the drama of the scene caught my attention. The large freestanding letters against the sombre backdrop that swallows up the green light exude a noirish atmosphere that reminds me of Edward Hopper’s painting, Nighthawks, and for a moment, in my imagination, I was transported to that diner.
Well, if there were birds, I certainly saw no sign of them! But perhaps, in the middle of a sunny but cool day in late winter, they were nesting well away from my line of sight. This view captured my attention not just for its message, but for the range of hard surfaces surrounding it, which appear at odds with the imagery you would usually associate with birds—like trees and leaves and branches, materials which have a great deal more inherent suppleness than aluminium, concrete and brick. Also somewhat eyecatching is the use of title case, sometimes referred to as maximal caps. Minimal capitalisation, or sentence case, is more the thing these days. While I guess there’s nothing actually wrong with title case here, it’s just odd and stylistically outmoded. Which really only goes to show that I am not immune to the influence of typographic fashion.