Saturday, March 14, 2009

Roadside flashing

It is incumbent on me to pass on to my readers (aMToNW) vital items of information that I discover. Indeed, I am still, despite my noted erudition, willing to learn. 

Whilst reading a novel by that nice Mr Le CarrĂ© this evening, I found a reference to a time when there were Belisha beacons and no zebra crossings in the UK. I had always assumed that the two went together. This was, of course, before my time. 

What is most peculiar is that I have read this book before, and must have forgotten this important historical fact. Fortunately, this ignorance has had no important damaging consequences. 

My research indicates that the beacons predated the markings on the road by some 15 years. 

When zebra crossings were first introduced, they were blue and yellow. I have no idea what they were called at that stage. As far as I can tell, there have been no recorded instances of blue and yellow members of the genus equus. I can think of no land mammals coloured blue. I am told by my friends at the Oxford dictionary that the word “zebra” is of Italian, Spanish or Portuguese  origin and means “wild ass”. Of course it would be inappropriate to have wildass crossings on our highways. 

The Belisha beacon was named after the Minister of Transport who introduced them – Mr (later lord) Beacon. His full name was Mr Hore-Beacon. Wisely, the government of the day decided that it would not be fitting to have Hore crossings on the High Streets of this fine nation. That would have been silly.

So, now you have this vital data to hand. I hope that you will be able to remember it all.

I hope that this helps.

16 comments:

Rog said...

You neglected to give us the original Le Carre context:
"You've been double crossed Belisha!".

Dave said...

Blue bottomed baboons are, I believe, land-based mammals with such a colouring.

A blue bottomed baboon crossing has a certain ring of dignity to it. Certainly more than a wild ass or Hore crossing.

If this were QI, Alan Davies would no doubt tell you that a beached blue whale might fall into this category too.

KAZ said...

Fascinating stuff Vicus.
Many local zebra crossings with Belisha beacons are now patrolled by lollipop ladies. They must be very grateful that they were named after Mr Lollipop rather than Mr Hore.

Vicus Scurra said...

Rog. I prefer not to give away the plot.
Dave. Please provide pictorial evidence before making such preposterous claims.
Kaz. You are not keeping up, they were name after Mrs Lady.

Geoff said...

I presume this was before the Beatles.

Vicus Scurra said...

Geoff. Nothing existed before the Beatles. You've been listening to those Darwinists again.

frontiereditor said...

Ah, Leslie Hore-Beacon - he was a footnote in my college courses. Something about a hot Belisha bun . . .

Donn Coppens said...

Since the rest of the world is well familiar with the phrase No sex please we're British it would seem ludicrous to bother erecting hore beacons.

So there aren't any Zebras running wild? I was under the impression that Zebras were originally dragged over by the bloody Romans and then went feral after King Arthur abandoned his quest to get them to mate with the Unicorns.

zIggI said...

why are Pelican Crossings so called?

zIggI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zIggI said...

Zebra FINCH, aren't they yellow and blue? ish

Rimshot said...

Dear Sir,

I am quite certain that you know but seemingly have overlooked, at least one member of the genus Canis is indeed 'blue'; that being the greyhound. One of 18 accepted colors of the Canis lupus familiaris known best for its speed and appearance.

Respectfully,

Moi

Rimshot said...

Addendum:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_greyhound.JPG

Dave said...

Did you write anything worth reading last week? I haven't got time to look all the way though everyone's blogs now I'm back.

Dave said...

Ah. I see you didn't. Nothing new there then.

Lin said...

Yeah, well I felt a right dolt the first time I referred to a pedestrian crossing as a zebra crossing and the first time I referred to a pedestrian crossing 'ATTENTION' kinda light as a belisha beacon. You people...

And just the other day I referred to a neighbor/bour's zimmer frame. Blank stare.