Tuesday, 30 November 2010

In praise of signs …and the “dumbed down masses”


YOU might remember a few days ago I mentioned plans to do up Geldeston Lock. Amongst the improvements are proposals for information boards. Uncontroversial enough you might  think, but not in some parts  of the Norfolk Broads Speakers’ Corner. One calls them “dreaded, invasive and intrusive” whilst Mardler calls the project “tosh, garbage and patronising twaddle”. He continues:

”Once again the powers that be feel a need to erect more unsightly, unwanted and unnecessary signs in order to "educate" the dumbed down masses who are, obviously, incapable of interpreting the meaning of a lock (in this case) and finding out about the history of a place themselves. This is a sad indictment of our education system and the over weaning self interest of those who would infest the countryside with these atrocities.”

Wow. I had no idea that boards could elicit such strong feelings. I can see that you wouldn’t want them everywhere. (The ruins of St Saviour’s church at Surlingham for example benefit from being uninterpreted and mysterious.) I can see that less is sometimes more. I get that. And yet and yet…. surely it has to be a good idea to give people just a hint of the wonderful history around them? Especially those incomers without a clue. I  should know, I’m one of them, or at least I used to be until some information boards in places like Reedham Marshes (pictured) and Loddon and Bramerton got me so into the Wherryman’s Way that I ended up writing a book on it.  Dumbed down masses or just people who need a nudge in the right direction? I know which side I’m on. 

* As well as Speakers’ Corner, there’s a great range of views on this subject on the Norfolk Broads Forum.

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