Monday, 5 August 2013

Graffiti and the voice of one





The course of history has been shaped by that one voice that is louder and generally higher-pitched than the rest. That voice, brave enough to call its own tune, to spread an alternative view on the way things are and how they should be.

It was with disappointment though that I heard such a voice waste its opportunity to say something that may just have altered the direction of so many lives or even a country on the brink of a quadruple-dip recession. I was driving along a busy road and glanced up at a passing road sign to determine which exit I should take at the encroaching roundabout when I noticed some graffiti sprayed in the corner. An opportunity had been recognised and snatched with both hands, I thought. Thousands of people must pass this sign every day and a large percentage of them must glance up and read it.   All of those people would read the graffiti and if poignant or philosophical enough, could change the ways of those who are changeable. Someone with something to say had an opportunity to spread a message of solidarity, peace, love or even a way to get your jeans clean after a jam related accident.

A sign of the times

The bringer of this message decided however not to risk their life, spraying a message 8 feet from the ground near a busy road to try and change lives though they did interrupt their daily schedule and make a special effort to bring a can of spray paint and a small step ladder with them to present the passing public with their message which in fact was the word “poo” in red lower-case letters.

Either this person got up there and forgot what they were going to write and sprayed the first thing that came into their head in a “many people in cars watching me” induced panic or they actually planned it and that “poo” is indeed what is going on in their head, preventing them from sleeping at night and driving them to buy red spray paint in order to let the world know of their personal torment.

It is conceivable that the ‘artist’ was sitting in the house one night and Eastenders finished leaving an empty to-do list. It was a toss up between learning Spanish using the CD they got free with the Sunday paper or going out and spraying ‘poo’ on a road sign; the ‘poo’ clearly being the most worthwhile of the two.

I also came across some graffiti which said ‘I. Woultham is a nonce’ written in red paint on a bridge. A few yards down the road from the bridge I noticed exactly the same message written in black marker pen on a fence. It got me wondering whether there were a group of artists each armed with a different method of writing on public property or if someone was working alone carrying a rucksack full of differing stationery.

I was at a bus stop one night; a car passed with the passenger window wound down and a teenager leaning out screaming what sounded like ‘Wooyah’ in a troubled tone. Again, I wonder if once Eastenders had finished, they glanced at their to-do list which included ‘leave a random item of clothing on a public bridle-way’ , ‘put a glove on a park railing’ , ‘spray the word ‘poo’ on a road sign, and  ‘scream at people standing at bus stops’.

There must also be another group of people who fall into the ‘extreme graffiti artists’ category. Not content with extreme ironing, which involves leaping out of aeroplanes with an iron, a board and some particularly crinkled clothing or extreme gardening which involves jumping out of an aeroplane with a trowel in one hand, a fork in the other and your mate with a window box fixed to the top of his helmet, these people attempt to graffiti in the most dangerous places known to man.

People of the valley, I must be heard

I’ve often looked up at railway bridges with graffiti on the sides and wondered how they got up there to do it. You must have something particularly weighty on your mind to contemplate hiring some scaffolding, a crane and an array of cans of neon-bright spray paint. Invariably though, they always end up spraying something like ‘Bazza was ‘ere 97’ , which definitely goes a long way towards bringing about harmony in the modern world.

The ‘poo’ sprayed by this wise academic could well have been a comment on the state of public transport under the coalition government, or perhaps an indictment on the quality of road signs.