things people say that I hate

Silly signage

Do you ever see notices or signs that irritate you, or just bring a really bizarre image to mind? Even if they’re grammatically correct, the wording is so odd or unexpected that it grates on you every time you read it. And then, of course, there are the myriad ones where the grammar isn’t so correct, or where it’s just not saying what the writer meant it to say.

My long-time bugbear has always been ‘fresh laid hen’s eggs’. I mean, really – is there some other way of getting hen’s eggs, other than laying them? Are we distinguishing here from the ‘fresh magically-materialised eggs’ down the road, or is it the ‘fresh’ part that you’re trying to sell? Maybe this week you’ve decided not to sell the manky stale eggs you usually have, and instead are offering nice fresh ones as a special treat?

Or could it be that what you really mean to say is ‘freshly-laid hen’s eggs’, in which case, lovely, I’ll have an omelette please.

In a similar vein, there’s a farm down the road that’s currently selling ‘baby chicks’. ‘Baby chicks’ – you mean I won’t find six-foot-tall balls of juvenile plumage in there? Or wizened, world-weary chickens-in-miniature (presumably laying peanut-sized eggs, fresh or otherwise)? Oh the disappointment! Come on, Mr Farmer, the clue is in the word ‘chick’.

And then there’s the most recent one – a sign for a ‘specialised running store’. That’s got to be one clever shop, getting up and running off all by itself! I have visions of groups of joggers chasing the fleeing establishment down the road, waving their wallets …

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Sharon Creese


  • Yes, some signs are particularly annoying. Others, even though perfectly grammatical, make you smile, like the one I saw on the London Underground some years ago which said ‘dogs must be carried on escalators at all times’. The image of thousands of commuters carrying dogs to work has made me smile a few times…

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