Casa, St Catharine’s Close, Bath, Avon, 2013 (photo by Stuart Feltham) • As already stated, my daily alarms are soon coming to an end (though I will still add some […]
3 Alarms…, Park Road, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, NE26, England, 2013
Eclipse Alarms, Queen Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Reverse colourway here.
Solar Security, High Street, Beckenham, Kent, BR3, England, 2010 • Similar but with an ex-strobe (or something) on here.
Orion Security Solutions, Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Reverse colours version here.
Star Security, Perrin’s Court, Camden, London, NW3, England, 2012
Astra Alarms, Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1, England, 2014 • Now for a few astronomical alarms. Man in the moon, like it.
Tod, Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, 2014 • Here’s a Tod I haven’t featured before, complete with lone fox, strolling beneath what may be a half-moon.
“Universal” burglar alarm, City of Westminster • And my final geographic alarm encompasses the whole universe. • Spotted: Great Portland Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In […]
“Universal Security (UK) Ltd” burglar alarm, Dartmouth • Expansive geographical ambitions, a globe and the universe. Looks like that was an Initial Shorrock underneath. • Spotted: Lower Street, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6, […]
“Atlas Alarms” burglar alarm, Manchester • As opposed to Alas Alarms. • Spotted: Canal Street, Manchester, Lancashire, M1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Manchester Central
“1st New Century Security” burglar alarm, Bristol • An appropriate name for a new year. There’s another version of this, minus the “1st”, here. • Spotted: Victoria Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, […]
“Westec” burglar alarm, City of Westminster • A company once owned by a regular commenter to this blog. Sadly the sounder looks rather unloved. • Spotted: Jermyn Street, City of Westminster, London, SW1, […]
“City Alarm Systems” burglar alarm, York • Now from buildings to cities. This City alarm with its eye-moon logo is very similar to the one here, but that says “Security […]
“Five Star Security Services Ltd” burglar alarm, Exeter • It’s a bit hard to work out what’s going on here, but I always like burglar alarms named after pop groups. • […]
“Eclipse Alarms” burglar alarm, Coventry • I’ve already published some other Eclipses here, though not with circles (ie moon in front of sun) on. Though technically, this is only illustrating […]
“SAS Protection” burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Flying upside-down. • Spotted: Three Colts Lane, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and […]
“Fairworld Alarm” burglar alarm, Whitley Bay • I always like an alarm with a world globe on. And, given I live in London, I’m rather proud to have got as […]
“Shorrock” burglar alarm, Bristol • And here’s the final, rather mossy, incarnation of the “tupperware” box, as a Shorrock. You still see quite a few of these around, so I’m […]
"FSE" burglar alarm, Camden • I love this. Who knows what it stands for, but it resembles a fat clownish smiley face, using a classic 1970s "go-faster stripes" font Stop, by Aldo Novarese. In fact this sounder was probably designed in the rave-tastic 1990s, when such "go-faster" styles came back into vogue; there's a learned article about it here. • Spotted: Gordon Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Universal" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • And so we end this astronomy theme with another universe, this one at least silvery and a bit futuristic-looking. I wonder if those are meant to be tiny letter "U"s making up the discreet logo? • Spotted: Great Portland Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Challenger Security Products" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Not just a thrusting heraldic glove, but NASA's second ill-fated space shuttle, which completed nine missions before breaking apart 73 seconds after the launch of its tenth mission, killing all seven crew members. • Spotted: Birmingham Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
"Apollo Alarms" burglar alarm, Cardiff • Enough with the classical deities, already. Apollo isn't just a famous sun god, a long-lasting space programme, and the title of another older burglar alarm, but the ancient Greek name for the planet Mercury, when observed just before dawn as a morning star. • Spotted: Womanby Street, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10, Wales, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Cardiff Central
"Phoenix Total Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Why is everything in the sky named after Greek mythology? As well as a constellation, the fire-renewing Phoenix bird has lent its name to a prototype launch vehicle, a galaxy cluster, a dwarf galaxy, a NASA mission to Mars, and – as Project Phoenix – the famous SETI, a search for extraterrestrial intelligence. And now, for the third time on this blog, it's on a burglar alarm too. • Spotted: Marylebone Road, City of Westminster, London, NW1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Cerberus" burglar alarm, Bristol • Weird blank arched alarm named after the three-headed guard dog to the entrance of Hades, also known as a constellation and a dark spot on Mars, amongst other astronomical things. There's a very tiny logo on there, but I can't work out what it is: it looks like a a book, a shield and a knight stumbled into the telepod machine that turned Jeff Goldblum into The Fly.• Spotted: John Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Orion Security Solutions" burglar alarm, Lambeth • Maybe this portrays a scene from deep within the Orion constellation – a planet in shadow, with some little moons floating in front of it, all in the infinite blackness of outer space (a fanciful theory somewhat quashed by the fact that Orion do the box in white as well). • Spotted: Beehive Place, Lambeth, London, SW9, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood
"Orion" burglar alarm, York • Ah, the multi-faceted Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology who has lent his name to a region of the night sky, the Lunar Module used in the Apollo 16 mission, NASA's Space Shuttle replacement, a brace of space stations, and vast amounts of other scientific and astronomical things too. Not to mention a burglar alarm. • Spotted: Low Petergate, York, Yorkshire, YO1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of York Central
"Astrotech Security" burglar alarm, Islington • A highly-wrought computer game-style design attempting to conjure up technology so advanced it's used by astronauts. Or something. • Spotted: Whistler Street, Islington, London, N5, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
"3 Star Alarms" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • My brother had a tank top with a design like this on it in the 1970s (he was very young, I hasten to add). • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Albany Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • A tentative inclusion in the astronomy theme, but it does have a sort of star in the middle, though I daresay it's intended more as a compass rose. • Spotted: Covent Garden area, Camden, London, WC2, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Star Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • Stars seem to bring out the 1970s vibe in designers – this sports the fab blobby retro font Cooper Black, originally from the 1920s but also massively popular 50 years later. • Spotted: Belvedere Buildings, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
"Eclipse Alarms" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • Another Eclipse alarm, which unlike yesterday's has the logo printed onto the bell box. Little else to say about this other than it's very dull, albeit using the classic machine age font Dynamo, orignally deigned by K. Sommer in 1930. • Spotted: Meer Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
"Eclipse Alarms" burglar alarm, Stratford-upon-Avon • A painstaking but badly cut-out collage job: someone's printed the logo onto a label, then stuck it piece by piece onto this old Eurobell. There's even a sooty black eclipse image at the top, though it looks more like a bulb has fallen off. • Spotted: Ely Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Stratford-on-Avon
"Padley Security" burglar alarm, Brighton • This is a bit odd, as the name seems to have nothing to do with the sun. Maybe the image is meant to be a blaring bell, or a flashing light. Or maybe it's just a celebration of the sunniness of Brighton. • Spotted: Queens Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
"Solar Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Nice bold old-school type plus giant screws, and it looks like the bulb has fallen off (as I doubt that's a vintage solar cell). • Spotted: Henrietta Street, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Ades Burglar Alarm" burglar alarm, Bristol • I really like this weird old 1970s disco-style logo I found in Bristol, home of one squillion burglar alarm firms. It's probably meant to be soundwaves emanating from a bell, but looks more like a lot of crescent moons surrounding a planet, so I'm including it in the astronomy category too. The colour of the box may be significant: Ades is an unusual surname thought to derive from the Hebrew for "red". • Spotted: Gloucester Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"City Security Holdings" burglar alarm, Bristol • I always thought this logo was a crescent moon, but have just realised it may also be half an eye and also a C monogram – multilayered! Sadly the labels on these City alarms haven't worn well, they all seem to end up wrinkled like this one. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Quantum Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Judging by the name, this is possibly meant to represent an atom. But it looks like Saturn, so I've included it under astronomy too. • Spotted: New Cavendish Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Saturn Protection" burglar alarm, Liverpool • On the mythology front, Saturn was an ancient and rather complex Roman god. However this design concentrates entirely on outer space, quite a lot of which has been crammed in: a magnificent section of ring-swirled Saturn, with a jaunty space probe bearing a tiny "S" logo circling it. It's possibly Pioneer 11, the first probe to Saturn. Excellent! • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside
"Jupiter Alarms" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Large planet, though not red (that's Mars), so maybe the rosy blob is one of its 67-odd moons, the reddish Io. The planet is named after Iuppiter, chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras – he's often represented by a thunderbolt, also popular on burglar alarms. • Spotted: Middle Row, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Mercury” burglar alarm, Nottingham • Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80, known as quicksilver. Not to mention being a planet, a Roman god, […]
“LT Security Services” burglar alarm, Wandsworth • I thought that was a Japanese flag in the background, then I realised it’s the moon in a night sky. Quite a romantic […]
"Crime Beat Security" burglar alarm, Islington • I've already featured the tortuous CBS bell here, but this is a more recent version with a curvier bell-end, and a garland of EU stars. Still a winner - ding dong! • Spotted: Cumming Street, Islington, London, N1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
"Aeon Electronic Protection Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • Now we move on to astronomical time, literally - the term "aeon" has been used to describe the period between big bangs, though to the ancient Greeks it meant simply eternity. All that and a crosshair too. • Spotted: Royal Oak Avenue, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Westec" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Finally, I'll end with a Westec with the screw-hole centred on the UK, rather than the Atlantic as in this one, which I started with. I was pleased to learn that the design was created in 1985 by the 14-year-old son of the one of the firm's owners, as he explains here. This is rather a rusty example, sadly, but it's the only one I've got. However the firm's boss tells me it still isn't the final version, due to the slightly wiggly type – which looks to me like a typical result of computer-traced artwork circa the early 90s, and wouldn't have been noticeable high up. There's a correct version in the comment here. • Spotted: Great Titchfield Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster.
"Glo Bell" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This has no globe at all – just a cheeky pun (well I assume it's meant to read "global", unless it's some kind of glowing bell). I'm rather fond of Glo Bell's cheerful-looking sounders – there's another one here. • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"Aptek" burglar alarm, Kingston upon Hull • You'll have to squint to see this – it's a tiny wire globe top right, with the initials AP in it. Quite an attractive logo actually, if more fairgroundy than burglar-alarmy. • Spotted: Town centre, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hull West and Hessle
"USA" burglar alarm, Southwark • This is incredibly faded, but I'm pretty certain it's a stylised world globe next to the initials USA. It is a skilled design which looks very familiar, suggesting it was "closely inspired" by something more famous, such as the iconic 1983 AT&T logo by graphics godfather Saul Bass. • Spotted: Rouel Road, Southwark, London, SE16, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
"CPA Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • The strange logo at the top, which to me looks like a giant molar, is in fact some unidentifiable panels (presumably not a Richard Serra sculpture) on top of a globe. The legend around it reads "Pyronix Association of Security Specialists", which is totally opaque to me, as is the acronym CPA. Googling reveals that Pyronix is a major trade supplier and the three weird planks are their logo, but all in all it's a very obscure sounder design for the lay viewer. • Spotted: Caledonian Road, Islington, London, N1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
"IDS Intruder Detection Services" burglar alarm, Kensington and Chelsea • I found this global alarm on some scaffolding (see below), hence I know that IDS stands for Intruder Detection Services. Even so, it still makes me think of controversial Tory Iain Duncan Smith, who is also known by these initials. • Spotted: Elystan Place, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chelsea and Fulham
"J&D Security" burglar alarm, Glasgow • Loving this – a giant padlock clamped to a globe, illustrating literally the slogan "Securing Your World", thus placing this in the extensive "Locksmithery" category too. No clue as to what J&D stands for, though. The firm obviously are (or were) based in Scotland, but I can't find a website for them. • Spotted: Saucihall Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G2, Scotland, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
"World Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Back down to earth from yesterday's Universal with a plain old world. Like all the other burglar alarm globes featured, this uses the Mercator projection, which isn't a true representation of the continents' various sizes. For that you need the Gail-Peters projection, which makes all the landmasses look more skinny. • Spotted: Limehouse Cut, off Broomfield Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E14, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Poplar and Limehouse
"Global Tec Security Systems" burglar alarm, Milton Keynes • Quite a brushy, 1990s-looking "spinny" globe logo here – which despite focusing on the continent of America, was found in the moneyed home county of Buckinghamshire. Although the logo's changed, I'm assuming the box belongs to this Global Tec, who were founded in 1994, and are based in nearby Herts. • Spotted: Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK9, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Milton Keynes North
"Westec" burglar alarm, Southwark • Today I start a "global" theme, quite popular on burglar alarms. Kicking things off is Westec, an ex-company of Mike Hardesty, one of this blog's regular and very knowledgeable commenters – you can find his (and other contributors') musings on Westec here. • Spotted: Pages Walk, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Ghost under "3 Star Alarms" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This anonymous delta ghost could have been anything, so I won't even hazard a guess as to its brand. But 3 Star's logo also conjures up distant days: in the 1970s, my brother had a tank top with exactly the same design on. • Spotted: Eastcastle Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
"New Century Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • This is a double whammy: a shield-within-shield logo. And not just that, but a gauntlet clutching a lightning bolt, a rampant lion, a window at night (I think), a repetition of their name, and what looks like the European stars. There's even another version with "21st" above the title, just in case you thought the new century was the 18th. Talk about covering all the bases. • Spotted: Surrey Street, Bristol, Avon, BS2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Key Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Bristol • We're moving into uncommon rectangular shapes now, which basically means boxes with fancy edges or indentations – so although rare, they're not the most exciting of enclosures. This has a ridged clear panel beneath a curved white top, and is the only example I've ever seen. It's not very recognisable however, and the best I can say about it is that it's a bit like a soap dish, or perhaps a sea slug. I can't argue with the disco-tastic logo though, which manages to incorporate an acronym, a star, locksmithery, technology, and the fact that K.I.S. were established in 1976. How on earth does Bristol support so many independent security firms? It suggests it's the crime hot-spot of the western world, though I'm sure it's not. • Spotted: Queen Charlotte Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
"Swale Security Systems Ltd Aquila group" burglar alarm, Southwark • Eight-sided but not a regular octagon, this resembles a bulky kitchen container. I've only found a few of these ungainly objects, which are sometimes mounted vertically. Swale makes me think of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, but it's actually an area of Kent at the mouth of the Thames. Its main town is Sittingbourne, and that's where this firm was based, though I think it exists no more. Aquila Group describes itself as "a group of independent electronic security companies", which presumably swallowed Swale up. Their website has limited functionality, but there's a picture here of an Aquila sounder similar to the day before yesterday's heptagonal Servian. Then there's a German Aquila Group that has the same logo, but deals with giant cargo ships; and all sorts of international conglomerates and financial funds with a similar name, who surely have nothing to do with little Swale Security. Aquila is Latin for "eagle", and can refer to the Roman legion standard, a constellation, and Roman boss-god Jupiter's pet raptor (who in Greek mythology carried thunderbolts for Zeus), hence the popularity of naming for shadowy James Bond-esque behind-the-scenes organisations.• Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
"Saturn Security Systems" burglar alarm, Brighton • The same heptagonal box as yesterday, but with different strobes – it's the only one I've ever found like this, and I always like a sounder with a planet on it. Google threw up a few Saturn Securities, but none were this firm – I finally tracked them down on an old business directory, but the listed website has disappeared so presumably the company has too. Those screws are a bit rusty, so it certainly can't have been opened for a while. • Spotted: Bristol Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brighton Kemptown
"SAS Protection" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Finally, something that definitely is obsolete – NASA's recently-decommissioned Space Shuttle, the last of which, Atlantis (below), had its final flight in July 2011; the programme had been running since 1981, which is probably closer to the date of this sounder. What a Space Shuttle has got to do with the SAS, aka the British Army's crack Special Air Service corps, is anyone's guess. But if I was burgling a building and an immense orbital space vehicle bearing a payload of gun-toting, balaclava-clad commandos turned up, I'd definitely be a bit worried. • Spotted: Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow [caption id="attachment_10532" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="The last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, prepares to land – presumably not on a burglar"][/caption]
"Wakefield Security & Fire" burglar alarm, Shoreham-by-Sea • A while ago I published an old Wakefield alarm with unfair accusations of sleepiness – so here's a more up-to-date example, which is very wakeful indeed. It's also one of only a four sounders I have found decorated with photographic images, the others being two birds and a chain. This looks like something out of a surrealist film, and is almost as unnerving as yesterday's creepy eye sticker. The firm's proprietor, in a comment below, explains that there's also a globe reflected in the eye's iris, though sadly it's not visible in this photo. • Spotted: Town centre, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Worthing West
"Globe Security" burglar alarm, Lewisham • What I like about this is the contrast between aspiration and reality (one of the driving factors behind my entire burglar alarm collection, in fact). The sounder belongs to proudly-named Globe Security, suggesting megalomaniacal international reach with its image of an entire hemisphere. And yet here it is, wonkily cowering in a back alley of Deptford, South London – not even armed with its own guano deterrent but lurking behind a filthy pigeon-spiked security light, and semi-obscuring a ventilation grille. Aah, Deptford: home to half the world's races, quite possibly, but hardly a glamorous hub of global domination. • Spotted: Resolution Way, Lewisham, London, SE8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
"Garfield" burglar alarm, Camden • This company has put a chain around the entire northern hemisphere, from Greenland to equatorial Africa. Blimey! The trouble is most people associate Garfield with a not-funny American cartoon cat, and no amount of faded, cheap-looking Photoshoppery is going to change that. The firm could simply have given in and changed their branding to a kitten in chains; but instead they sold out in 2008 to ADT, so this improbable logo is no more. • Spotted: Bloomsbury Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
"Gemeni Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • Finally, scraping the bottom of the zodiacal barrel, a very basic and mis-spelled Gemini alarm – unless I’m missing something, and it says Gemeni for good reason, eg it's written in Romanian. So we’ve had Gemini the twins not once, but twice – one boring, and one boring and dyslexic. Uncanny! That’s it for astrological alarms, just the four: Zodiac, Scorpio, Gemini and Gemeni. I have found no more, whereas there are scores of animals on burglar alarms, which share similar – if less mystical – iconography. As I pointed out in the Zodiac entry, that leaves a gap in the naming market. I hope someone takes it up – and remembers to illustrate it. • Spotted: Goswell Road, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Above: the constellation of Gemini visualised as twins holding hands (not the usual depiction, which is abstract – see yesterday), by the children's author H.A. Rey. Realistic!
"Gemini Security Systems" burglar alarm, Liverpool • Apart from the name, this is supremely boring – it could at least have included a picture of some twins. Astronomically, Gemini is one of the oldest-named constellations, dating far back into the Bronze Age and called "The Great Twins" by the Babylonians. To the Greeks they were the talented horsemen Castor and Pollux, who despite being twin brothers had different dads, meaning only Pollux was immortal; when Castor died, Zeus allowed him to share Pollux's immortality, bonding them together in heaven as the constellation the Romans called Gemini. Astrologically, it's the versatile third sign of the zodiac, ruled by fleet-footed messenger god Mercury. Gemini types are meant to be lively, inquisitive, communicative, inconsistent, and a bit unreliable – not all of which are useful traits for security firms. My theory for why Gemini is one of the few signs represented on burglar alarms, and a popular business name in general, is that Geminis are inordinately proud of their dual-natured and slightly annoying star sign characteristics. And, to prove my point, there will be another one along tomorrow... • Spotted: Town centre, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Liverpool Riverside Above: the not-very-twinlike constellation of Gemini as it is usually depicted, from the digital sky images at www.allthesky.com.
"Scorpio Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • In my entry on the weird Pac-Man-esque Orion alarm, I explained how the giant hunter was killed by a scorpion and turned into a constellation by Zeus. And now we come to the unfortunate arthropod which stung him, also flung into the heavens by Zeus, where it became the constellation of Scorpius, eternally snapping at Orion's heels. Astrologically, it represents the mysterious eighth sign of the zodiac, ruled by the Greek god Pluto – aka Hades, lord of the underworld – and reputedly the most powerful star sign. Scorpios are supposed to be intense, secretive, power-loving, cunning, unforgiving, vengeful and, as the alarm probably wants to suggest, with a considerable sting in their tail. This strange logo, like a J with horns, could almost be the symbol for some obscure occult sect – thus living up to Scorpio’s sinister image. • Spotted: Hackney area, Hackney, London, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch Above: A nice 1825 etching of the constellation Scorpio from the Library of Congress, Washington DC.
"Mercury Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • This boring design gives no clue whether its name refers to the planet, the element, the crap Queen singer or the myth. Seeing as the myth came first, I shall include this alarm within the mythology section. Mercury was the Roman version of Hermes, messenger of the Greek gods, famed for his winged sandals and helmet, and a snake-entwined staff called a caduceus. The Romans equated him mainly with travel and commerce, and his image can be found adorning stations and shopping centres to this day. A notably slippery character, with traits which would have taken him far in diplomacy or journalism, Mercury combined patronage of noble things such as music, wit, sport and invention with a reputation for cunning and trickery. Which is perhaps how a god strongly associated with thieves and boundaries – described in an ancient Greek hymn as "a watcher by night, a thief at the gates" – has wangled his way onto a burglar alarm. • Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Above: Mercury in Manhattan, still representing trade and travel today. Left: "Winged Mercury" (1933), a carving by Lee Lawrie on the ex-British Empire Building at the Rockerfeller Centre. Right: "Glory of Commerce" (1911-14) by Jules-Alexis Coutain, aka the famous Mercury clock at Grand Central Terminal. There's more about it on Which Yet Survive, a great but short-lived blog about New York statuary.
"Orion Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This naive but multi-layered design recalls two mythical figures: Orion and Pac-Man. Ostensibly a monogram comprising an O and an A, it's probably meant to represent a pyramid in a circular night sky with a crescent moon overhead. Apart from the night sky, it's hard to see how this connects with the Greek hero Orion, a giant hunter blinded for raping a princess, healed by the sun, then killed by a scorpion and turned into a constellation by Zeus. There are few reliable descriptions of Orion, but we know he wasn't a big black blob. However, the design also looks disturbingly like a Pac-Man with a winking eye, chomping his way down the alarm. Developed in Japan in 1979 and originally called Pakkuman, it's fair to say that the genre-launching yellow-and-black ghost-munching video game has achieved legendary status. The name is based on paku-paku, Japanese slang for lip-smacking eating (equivalent to "nom-nom-nom"), and the fact that the avatar looks like a part-eaten pizza is no coincidence, because according to its inventor Tōru Iwatani, that's what it's based on. This is the second Pac-Man-like alarm I've featured: the first was JB-Eye, and no doubt the game was a formative entertainment for both designers. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Above: Orion v Pac-Man. Left: Orion and his constellation by astronomer Johannes Hevelius from his celestial catalogue "Uranographia" (1690). Right: fashionably geek Pac-Man t-shirt available from Worm Sign designs.
"OTS" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A chubby owl sitting on a giant key in front of a crescent moon – how sweet is this? The initials OTS are branded on the owl's breast and below its feet, but there's no clue as to what this unexplained acronym stands for. The firm itself is equally mysterious; all I can discover is that it was once based in the Northumberland Park area of Tottenham, London, and by the noughties had merged with a Chingford company called Davenheath. The 081 number dates it as pre-1995, and there's also a later 0181 numbered version which must be pre-2000. On this latter iteration, the key, moon and chest tattoo are gone, and the owl is simply perched on a big OTS logo. It was probably meant to look more sophisticated – but, charmingly, it still looks just as much like a children's book illustration. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow