Who Needs Words indeed!

Time to return from Wales and back to preaching tomorrow. However, before I do so, a brief stop in the Welsh Valleys. On Thursday I spotted a road-sign so obscure and intriguing that I almost lost my concentration whilst craning round to look at it. Thankfully there was another example a little further down the road, so I got a second bite of the cherry. As it turns out I was particularly fortunate – since only four examples of this particular sign exist in Wales. When I looked at it numerous possible interpretations sprang to mind:

  • Danger of alien abduction (unlikely)
  • Star wars testing range (improbable)
  • No mobile homes with satellite dishes (feasible, in a popular holiday destination)
In fact, the signs were erected to tell the drivers of heavy goods vehicles not to rely on their sat navs to send them down these narrow roads, since many had come to grief by doing so.

Image: presettext.com

The thing is, with signs as with sermons, unless they are clear, there is little point having them. A pictogram like the one above must make sense instantly if it is to be of any help at all. Maybe this is why only four of the signs were ever displayed?

Yesterday Nick Baines, who wrote the Foreword to my book Who Needs Words, was kind enough to blog about it. He writes that it gives ‘confidence to those who feel a bit daunted by the plethora and complexity of modern communications media‘ and that it offers ‘good stuff to anyone interested in communicating better’.

Hopefully all of us want to communicate better. I know that I shall never remove my ‘L’ plates in this particular field whilst I still have the power of speech. As a communicator and preacher, though, I shall keep the picture of the little sign above in my head – and try to prize clarity over obscurity every time!

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