Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pointing the Way

Well, my cold has settled into my nose. Mild, but super-annoying. I took the dog for a couple of walks yesterday but otherwise stayed on the couch reading and watching movies. We watched the cinematic equivalent of comfort food -- old favorites "The Shawshank Redemption" for Dave and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" for me. Dave made me promise not to shout all the audience responses during "Rocky," but I did it in my head.

Anyway, I want to show you some of our local street signs, featuring fingers conveniently pointing the way to a nearby destination -- a larger street, maybe, or a public building.

Aren't these great? I tried to do some research to get some history about them, but I wasn't very successful -- so I don't know how old they are or if they are still maintained when, for example, a tile is broken or goes missing. I would guess they date back 100 years or so, which seems to be the age of much of the housing stock in this area.

I also can't remember whether I've seen them in other parts of London, or whether they're just a Hampstead (and West Hampstead) thing. There used to be a Borough of Hampstead, before it was consolidated into Camden in the mid-'60s, and maybe the fingers were a consistent feature of street signs in the old borough. That's all speculation; I just don't remember seeing them elsewhere in town.

Sadly, some of them have seen some damage.

To make things even more interesting, the design of the hands can vary from sign to sign. Some tiles feature a bigger hand with a more open palm. I don't have any pictures of those, but there's one here.

Anyway, just one of the curiosities of my London neighborhood!


  1. The pointing fingers are clearly both racist and sexist. Why no women's hands? Why no black or Asian hands? It's outrageous!

  2. I wonder if a pointing hand is universally understood throughout human cultures. I bet it is. I really like those signs. They're elegant in their simplicity.
    Now. You rest. You probably got that cold due to all the stress of worrying about your family in Irma. I'm sure it had nothing to do with being back at work with all of those germy students.

  3. It takes a curious blogger to see the hands and then wonder where they came from.

  4. My hands are clapping for this post. Hope your cold doesn't last long.

  5. Nice finger-pointing signs you have there. Hope you feel better soon.

  6. These are just great! They have a turn of the century feel to them.

  7. A head cold is so annoying even when it isn't serious!

    Hand signs - pointing must be a universal one. They're neat!

  8. Knowing the English, who have clubs and associations for everything, there must be a Society for the Appreciation of Pointing Signs flourishing somewhere, probably in a pub near you. The club T-shirts, bearing just the silkscreen of a pointing finger, would be so clutch.

  9. the pointing fingers are much nicer that an arrow though they do say it's not polite to point.