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Search results for ‘magpie

“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

"Magpie Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Two security tropes for the price of one: a thieving magpie, and a garland of locksmithery (a subject I shall cover soon). I can't let my final magpie pass without remembering the rhyme famous from classic 1970s kids' TV show Magpie: "One for sorrow / Two for joy / Three for a girl / Four for a boy / Five for silver / Six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told / Ma-a-a-aaaag-piiiiiiiiie!". Those too young to remember the tune can revisit Magpie's brilliant 1970s opening sequence, sung by the Spencer Davis Group, here• Spotted: Marchmont Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

“Raven”, York: common thief

"Raven Security & Automation Ltd" burglar alarm, York • To round off a couple of weeks of hawkish birds, here are a few more arbitrary birds I've come across since the last lot. Raven is a generic name for various large members of the corvid or crow family, of which the Common Raven – which this sounder presumably depicts – is the biggest and most, well, common. It's an interesting bird, very intelligent and with a long and usually dark history in folklore and literature, but I can't see its relevance to security systems. Like its fellow corvid and burglar alarm star the magpie, it's a scavenger and wily thief, associated with dead spirits and evil deeds, so hardly great protection material. Sure, ravens are famed for "protecting" the crown jewels by not flying away from the Tower of London – but that's just a stupid Victorian marketing tale. More prosaically, this is probably the proprietor's surname – which in medieval times referred to a dark-haired, thievish type, so still not very appropriate. Uncanny coincidence: ravens are so clever they're known to use twigs as toys, and there's a twig lodged behind this bell box. So maybe a real raven put it there. • Spotted: Marygate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
“Raven”, York: common thief

“Security Alarm Services”, Hereford: rural gem

"Security Alarm Services" burglar alarm, Hereford • I'm generally not keen on jewel-shaped burglar alarms but this one, no pun intended, is a gem. And what better to sit on a sparkling gem that a thieving magpie, which despite not being identified by name, this bird indubitably is. It's a sensitive piece of design, the attractive drawing perching cleverly atop the logo, a somewhat crime-inappropriate but charmingly foliate 1970s-style swash font. The firm's initials spell SAS, which would seem more suited to an aggressive combat-style design; but this is from wild and woolly rural Herefordshire in the far west of England, where placid cows and perky birdies rule. In honour of its peaceable location, I should add that magpies in folklore are not considered totally bad, being believed in some parts to protect the household and predict the future. On the other hand, in Scottish superstition a magpie near the window foretells death – which makes placing a Magpie burglar alarm there a pretty bad idea. • Spotted: Town centre, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hereford and South Herefordshire
“Security Alarm Services”, Hereford: rural gem

“Owl Alarm Systems”, Southwark: it winks!

"Owl Alarm Systems Westerham" burglar alarm, Southwark • Having spent the last couple of weeks researching the tangled corporate histories of modernist-styled alarms, I've decided to take things easier for a while by writing about birds. Our feathered friends are very popular on alarms, with plenty of hawkish hunters and thieving magpies, but many less obvious suspects too, such as ducks, swans and doves. Owls cover all the alarm bird bases: they're wise, they catch prey at night, and they're cute too. One of my favourites is this charming 1970s-style drawing reminiscent of the early work of illustrator Jan Pienkowski (famous for his Meg, Mog and Og kids' books). Brilliantly, the owl has got a little light in each of its eyes: if you look closely, you can see that the left one is lit up red, while the right one is off. It's winking at us! • Spotted: Sawyer Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Owl Alarm Systems”, Southwark: it winks!