Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baaah!  Not Humbug, Just Baaah!

A while back, The Council authorized a sculpture of some sheep to be erected in a busy roundabout on the A283 near the A27 bypass just outside of Shoreham to commemorate the founding, co-founding, current legal hold-up or latest petition in favor of The South Downs National Park.  Obviously, I haven’t been keeping up on The Park’s status as I should (I’m having a hard enough time keeping my eye on the EU) but suffice it to say the The South Downs National Park—according to Wikipedia—became fully operational on 1 April 2011 and covers an area of 628 sq miles in southern England.  There are a lot of people who are very happy about this and probably nearly as many who are not.
Settling the boundaries of The Park, of course, now allows B&Bs, Tea Shoppes and snobby Investment Bankers to advertize the fact that they are within the legitimate boundaries of an officially recognized area of outstanding natural beauty; these are the people who are in favor. It also means the lovely view of the downs the snooty banker enjoys can’t be flattened, paved over and adorned with several blocks of flats so unimaginatively ugly that they look like something out of the Borg School of Architecture.  Or, at least it’s not as easy as it used to be, which makes the developers—and people who hate snooty bankers—opposed to it.
(Aside:  It goes without saying that the development in question would have a sign hanging above it proudly proclaiming that 30% of the dark, cramped, shoddy flats would be “affordable.”  Now, I have addressed this before, but this is a different angle so don’t skip ahead—some of this material will be on the quiz.
If 30% of the flats are affordable, then by definition, 70% of them are beyond the fiscal range of the average buyer.  But, also by definition, there are more average people than above-average people, so who is buying 70% of the properties?  And where are the other 70% of the average people sleeping?  Under a bridge?
Okay, back to the sheep.)
It’s not unusual for councils to commission sculptures for roundabouts—there is a huge soccer ball in the roundabout just outside of Broadfield Stadium in Crawley, and in Dorking, on the intersection of the As 24 and 25, they have erected a giant cock.

The Dorking Cock - no, I am not making this up.
So the sheep should not have been a problem, except that some people thought they looked too real.  Apparently people were coming up to the roundabout and thinking, “Ohmigod!  There’s a flock of sheep loose on the A283.”  So the council, in their wisdom, attempted to ease people’s minds by painting the sheep green.  Then, of course (but you saw this coming, didn’t you) people drove up to the roundabout thinking, “Ohmigod!  There’s a flock of green sheep loose on the A283!”

The Green Sheep of Sussex
So instead of erecting a sign saying something like, “These sheep are NOT real!” they put yellow hazard barriers around them, so now people can’t see the sheep, but they can see the hazard barrier, which will make them think, “Ohmigod!  There’s an accident on the A283!  I’ll need to start rubbernecking and creating a traffic hazard!”
So now we have a sculpture, painted green and surrounded by hazard barriers for the safety of our commuters.
But that is not the reason I like Britain; the reason I like Britain is that, on the news, when they reported this story, the newscaster deadpanned:
“For those of you who live in an urban area, this is what a real sheep looks like.”

Actual Sheep
Really, you gotta love that.

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