Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What's our Belisha Beacon?

A Belisha beacon
I was crossing the road (the way you do) on a zebra crossing and enjoying the mellifluous name of the flashing orange ball-on-a-stick that alerts drivers to its presence: a Belisha beacon. It is named, of course, after Leslie Hore-Belisha, who introduced both the driving test and these handy crossings when a transport minister in the 1930s.

When you think about it, it's rather sweet, naming something after the minister responsible in this way. I think it is something we ought to see more of. Forget 'free schools' which sounds like something Victorians set up for the deserving poor. Let's have Gove schools. Or Blair wars, Brown gaffes, Osborne cock-ups and Cameron u-turns. Actually, with the exception of the schools, they're a bit vague - we need specific, detailed objects like the Belisha beacon. Perhaps a Grayling commissioner for police commissioners.

They don't have to be named after politicians, of course. We might speak of a Dyson cleaner, for instance (though in practice we tend to call it a hoover, something that really irritated them when I kept doing it while touring the Dyson R&D department). Or a Branson stunt. (Not cockney rhyming slang.)

What are your suggestions for the new equivalent of a Belisha beacon? Who, for instance, introduced dog poo bins? I'd love to know.

Image from Canthusus at the English language Wikipedia


  1. Brian

    To start off your list I can add "Baker" days which are the training days that teachers have during term time several times a year. Named after the then Minister of Education, Ken Baker.

    There is also the eponymous Churchill Tank amongst several other tributes such as bridges, squares, roads, etc.

    Bevin boys would have been thankful for their Wellingtons and Sandwiches during the war and had they been alive now I'm sure they would have used their Boris Bikes to get to work.

    They would also have doubtless used an Anderson shelter at night where they would have drunk their Earl Grey tea whilst keeping warm in their Cardigans.

    I'm sure there must be many others with which your other correspondents may be more familiar.


  2. I think it would be nice to have a mini village called the nite garden " igglepiggle" - the pub, "Makkapakka" - the butchers, " pinky ponk" - the hairdressers, " tombliboos" - the doctors, "Ninky nook" - the dentist and soo on.

    We have a local park called "the dick bell park" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Bell

    In Belfast our parish was called " the holy family". It had a boxing club called " the holy family boxing club"

  3. Thanks, Ian - excellent existing ones, but I was more asking for new things that ought to be named after someone, but aren't yet.

    Claire - my children are too old for us to have experienced In the Night Garden, but I can imagine it. Of course there that rich seam of local dignitaries like your Dick Bell I hadn't really thought of...