Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Street View abecedary: R is for Regen's

So I was fiddling with Google Street View, and it occurred to me that my long-in-abeyance London letters series, about the lovely vernacular lettering you can see on London's streets, would now be childishly easy to revive: Google has taken all the photographs. No more blurred shots! Or at least, no more blurred shots that are my fault. This could actually be good now.

I'm going to start the new, sinister-global-conglomerate-powered series on Rye Lane, Peckham, a classic slice of shabby south London full of shops and signs of wildly divergent age and type. This is a cropped screengrab of my favourite combination:

And here it is in Googlecontext:

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Now, the first thing I like about this is the hand-cut irregular charm of the sign, and the way it clashes with the intended art-deco sleekness. Look at the difference in emphasis between the upper-case 'R' and the lower-case letters next to it, the strangeness of the lower-case 'g', the extreme slope on 'for', the vestigial apostrophe.

But what makes it treasurable is that, to judge by the scuffing on some of the letters and the mess either side of the panel, this sign has been rescued from behind several erected by later retailers, because the owner of the lingerie shop it now advertises either (i) couldn't be bothered to put up their own sign, and instead just kept peeling back until they hit a nice one; or (ii) is impishly pleased by the description of their wares as "baby linen". Or it could be both. In any case, it's very south London.

Bonus Street View question: is it me, or has Google's privacy-protection bot blurred out the face of the shop dummy on the right?

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