Avid readers of my blog will know that I dislike silly signs. The worst offenders I celebrate here and then do my best to ignore. However, this week the issue of silly signs was brought so close to home that it really must not be ignored. One lift in my apartment block now bears this sign inside and out:
Don’t go it alone – this lift demands “3 Persons Only”
Here’s another example of a misplaced “only” messing up the meaning of an important-looking sign.
The photo was taken in a public area of Luton Airport. As a departing passenger, I was evidently in the wrong place, because the sign required “Passengers Only Beyond This Point” and I was not beyond that point.
What they really meant was “Only Passengers Beyond This Point”. For greater ease and accuracy, they could have simply written two words: “Passengers Only”.
As my train pulled into King’s Cross, I spotted a serious-looking sign bearing the edict:
Electric Trains Only To Access Platform 0
A couple of questions struck me:
- Is King’s Cross the only station with a Platform 0?
- Why was my electric train (like many others) NOT pulling into Platform 0, disobeying the serious-looking sign?
It turns out there are other UK stations with a Platform 0: Edinburgh Haymarket and Cardiff Central at least. But I’m fairly sure King’s Cross is the only station with a Platform 0 AND a sign for Platform 9 3/4.
As for disobeying the serious-looking sign, I reckon the train driver was right to ignore the Ministry of Signs’ half-baked wording. Since Platform 0 is more enclosed than the other platforms, station management probably want to avoid pollution/fumes (e.g. from diesel trains) building up in the confined space. So, they want to restrict Platform 0 for use by electric trains only, but not prevent electric trains from using the other platforms. Sadly, the Ministry’s carelessly placed “only” fluffs both intentions.
A simple “Platform 0: Electric Trains Only” would have sufficed. But the Ministry ambiguated, consigning the poor placard to an enigmatic existence.
Today’s wordsmithing lesson inspired by the Ministry of Signs:
Say what you mean, then check you mean what you say!
Update 29/06/2010: Stockport also has a Platform 0 (thanks Oli!)