Friday, October 13, 2006

Those three little words

Some people will take one look at those three little words that form such a sweeping generalisation, and roll their eyes. They’ll be struck not by the central message, but by the author’s use of the possessive YOUR rather than the contraction YOU’RE. “Our all gay what?”, they’ll sneer.

Later, still irritated by what they’ve seen, they'll ring their local radio station's phone-in. When the host takes their call, listeners will be treated to a stinging attack on a failing education system that churns out youngsters who are ignorant of one of written English’s fundamental rules. And at some point during their rant, they’ll manage to shoehorn in a totally unnecessary dig at migrant Poles. We’ll you’ve got to blame someone haven’t you?

It must be a miserable life being a Daily Mail-reading grammar Nazi. It’s certainly not The Filthy Pen's metaphorical mug of steaming-hot tea. If graffiti’s poor construction and spelling bothers you, you're missing out on one of its most gratifying aspects.

Let’s hear it for the grammatical quirks of the graffitist. Let’s salute the idiosyncrasies of their wall-work. Let’s doff our caps to all those who mean what they spray, but don’t always spray what they mean. These are the elements which make their art form - and it is an art form - so appealing. They inspire The Filthy Pen and keep it going. Raison d’être, the French call it. Canny lot, the French.

If you should ever find yourself in the Fisherrow district of Musselburgh, half-a-dozen miles east of Edinburgh city centre, perhaps on your way to or from the town's popular racecourse, take some time out for a little detour. Head down the alleyway between the Klass Body Salon and the Clubhouse pub on North High Street, close to the Brunton Theatre. On its left-hand side, towards the alley's end, you’ll spot this spray-painted masterpiece.

This slogan really needs to be seen in situ to be truly appreciated. It's an impressive size - so big, in fact, and the alley so narrow, that it wasn’t possible to capture it in one attempt. It required three separate photos and some nifty Photoshop cut-and-pasting to create a single image suitable for posting here. If you look closely you’ll see the joins.

There ought to be a sign on the main road alerting passers-by to this graffiti’s existence. Most people probably don't even notice the alleyway, let alone venture down it. Those that make the trip get double portions though, as not only is it home to this gem, it houses another delight too.

But let’s not have second helpings now. That would be greedy. Let’s save the leftovers for another meal. We’ll warm it up and serve it later.

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