One Step Closer

Okay, now for a non-tech post. Those things were giving me techwriter’s block anyway. I warn you though from the outset of this post, I’ve been reading V for Vendetta [thanks Michael!], watching the film of the same, and had 1984 on my mind. So I may be a bit paranoid. Maybe.

Even still, I couldnt help but be disturbed on the way home yesterday. I was heading into the St George’s Cross tube station, fumbling for my ticket when I glanced at the recently-installed electronic sign bolted onto the ceiling. These signs have appeared on all of the Clockwork Orange stations, and had been displaying such messages as “Welcome to Glasgow”, “System under test”, “Sign under test”, and (helpfully) the date and time. This time the sign bore a new message to the transportees.

“Report any suspicious activity.”


“Report any suspicious activity.”, it still said.

I finished fishing my ticket out of my pocket, having been distracted somewhat by the sign. After passing through the barrier, I gave the sign one last glance.

“Report any suspicious activity.”

By this time I’m sure the ticket attendant was watching me. I hurried down to the platform, where the sign’s partner-in-crime stated:

“Sign under test. .” [sic]

Now I know I’m being melodramatic here, however I am somewhat troubled by what the first sign said. “Report any suspicious activity”. Okay, its sentiment may be useful to someone who sees someone carefully carrying a bag marked “Nitroglycerin – Handle with care” onto the train. To everyone else, though, it does nothing but raise the general level of FSP (Fear, Suspicion and Panic). This is a country whose denizens find two men talking Arabic on a plan to be suspicious activity worth reporting. God help you if you’re wearing a long, bulky coat and are in a hurry.

Am I overreacting? Probably. But the governments of 1930-40s Germany, Oceania [1984] and V for Vendetta all encouraged the “reporting of suspicious activity”, and seeing it encouraged by my hometown’s subway troubles me in the same funny way when something bothers you but you aren’t entirely sure what it is.

One Step Closer to what? To the glorious Big Brother of course! England prevails, gentlemen! England prevails!

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