The first thing I noticed about this texta-on-cardboard writing was not its grammar, or even its message, but how neat the writing was. There tends to be two types of greengrocer writing in my neck of the woods: the stylised signwriting style; and the messy uneven scrawl of the handwritten notice, where the length of the words have not been considered when pen is first put to paper, so the first letters are large and confident and as it becomes clear that the paper is going to run out before the message is fully written, it becomes increasingly squished to fit. This one stands out for its all-round penmanship—in two languages, no less!—as well as its message.
I admit it: I’m swayed by packaging. As much as I like to think I am capable of independent thought when it comes to food and drink purchases, I like to see my kitchen stocked with items that I prefer the look of. Fortunately, this often coincides with quality produce: for example, the Italian tinned tomatoes I like have the best label, and the smoked paprika comes in a tin you would buy for its own sake. When it comes to wine, the choice can get tough. While I am no expert, I have grape preferences that at least narrow the field, and when it came to this trio of Spanish blends the labels were too good to pass up.
This is not the sort of warning you see every day. The novelty of the message caught my attention and tickled my funny bone, but the same words printed more formally in, say, Franklin Gothic or Times New Roman, would change the tone completely. Handwritten in chalk, framed with uneven knocked together old timber, and the serious message that parents need to watch their kids in the play area is delivered in exceedingly good spirit. The message is not the full picture though: the choice of blackboard and frame is obviously well thought out to fit in with a design aesthetic, as is the placement on the background of scarred and scrawled-on brickwork which has been left in its original state.
Tender means gentle and concerned or sympathetic. To tender is to offer or present something formally. I can’t make up my mind which I’d like this to be. Is the pictograph around the mailbox meant to be a kindly and welcoming smile, or merely a way to draw attention to the slot in which the tender expressions should be posted?
I don’t have much interest in the Easter Show amusement park rides or show bags (although the rides have some good names: elephant jet, jurassic coaster, XXXL, alien abduction, hangover, rockin’ tug), but I am fascinated by the agricultural exhibits. Not just the look of them, but the behind-the-scenes stories. This pumpkin weighs more than five people! How did it get from wherever it grew to its display position inside the pavilion? How was it weighed? Is it edible, and what happens to it later this week when the Show ends? Did this one win because it was the biggest, or are other factors taken into account? I like its sculptural qualities and multicoloured, textured skin, and the no-fuss way its weight is recorded by writing on it with blue texta.
Here’s a work of art and it comes ready framed! A rich story could be constructed from the elements presented here: a garden club, a raffle, a butcher’s shop, what did Trish and Carol win, and why are the chairs being returned to Taylor’s? The chalk-drawn handwriting displays the running writing style that was taught in Australian schools in a certain era, and the background patina of many-times-rubbed-out chalk holds the social history of a community.
Of late there are more smart boards and tablets than chalk and blackboards. Only yesterday I saw an iPad on the counter at the butcher where once upon a time there might have been a hand-scrawled specials board. I am heartened by this handwritten blackboard because the very impermanence of the chalk implies that the information changes, reassuring me that the catch is more likely to be a daily one. Today, though, my friends and I are having prawns for lunch.