I have written before on this blog site about the sad loss of Ron’s shop which used to sit conveniently across the road from my house here in Lewes, East Sussex, England. It was a melancholy sight in the late summer of 2008, seeing it close down and then go up for sale. I even missed that red door and, of course, Ron. This was over two years ago now and I suppose I got used to it being empty. I also got used to living with the For Sale sign that went up, belonging to Oakleys, the respected Lewes estate agents. Some time later, after no sale seemed to be happening, the Oakleys sign was joined by another one, this time for another equally respected Lewes estate agents, Rowland Gorringe – and there they sat for two years with no sale.
I was beside myself with excitement when early on a Monday morning in September this year, a man in a van came along and put up the Sold sign. Sadly for the two estate agents who had been displaying their signs for the past two years, the selling agent was neither of them but the equally respected lewes estate agents, Cubitt & West. Well congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers.
Quite soon afterwards another man in a van drove up and proceeded to remove the For Sale sign, a sober grey design with red lettering, belonging to Rowland Gorringes. I could understand their speed – it must be bad publicity having your sign displayed near the successful Sold sign of one of your competitors.
So down came one of the signs. I assumed the man in the yellow tunic was going to remount his ladder and remove the other one too but, no, he packed his ladders away in his van and drove off leaving the now double-fronted bright yellow sign of Oakleys to shine forth in all its apparent humiliation.
Bright yellow, or dare I say lurid yellow, was obviously chosen for the sign to draw our eyes to it whether we wanted to or not. I have had no choice but to look at it out of my living room window for two years now but now that it has been left there all on its own, I thought that finally enough was enough so I rang Oakleys who had thoughtfully published their telephone number on the sign and told them that it was now time, surely, for its removal. A pleasant woman agreed and told me that they had instructed someone to remove it.
I rang again the next week and was given the same answer. Apparently the Oakleys’ sign removal contractors are unusually busy at the moment. Good news for George Osborne and the housing market if this can be seen as a sign of a boom in house sales. I am not sure we should start celebrating yet though – could it be more to do with inefficiency, I wondered. Another week went by, and I rang again. I spoke to another pleasant woman who told me the same story and so on and so on. A month later, the sign is still there and now it is really, really annoying. did I stress that enough? It is really annoying.
On both sides of our road, we are lucky to live in beautifully designed Georgian houses where the proportions and the colours are respected and where, rightly so, each property has been given a Grade II listing. No one, I think would choose to put a large lurid yellow blot on the otherwise elegant landscape – apart, of course, from someone trying to sell something.
I was surprized that the estate agents were allowed to nail their signs on the first floor of the building when they could so easily have put them in the shop window at ground level. That is, after all what shop windows are for – advertising sales. I wonder if planning permission has ever been considered for something like this. I am sure that the new owners will not be able to paint their house in Messrs Oakleys vivid colours.
Maybe I am being impatient – two years looking directly at bright yellow can have an unpredictable effect even on a Wolf’s well-known patience especially when it clashes with his living room curtains.
Please Oakleys, respected Lewes estate agents, how long is it going to be before you do what you said you were going to do? I shall be interested to see if you end up sending round the same man that took down the other sign over a month ago.