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Crown

“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

"HSS Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • HSS used to be based in Harlow, so I reckon HSS stands for Harlow Security Systems. Aptly for a sounder located in Tower Hamlets, it pictures a Beefeater - aka a Yeoman of the Guard, which is apparently an incorrect term for Yeoman Warder, ie a geezer who ceremonially "guards" the Tower of London. That looks like a vicious weapon he's carrying, but in fact it's just a decorative staff. Tomorrow however, the theme is indeed weapons. • Spotted: Redchurch Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E2, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“HSS Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: yeoman

“Amco”, Camden: military badge

"Amco" burglar alarm, Camden • I suppose AMCO stands for Alarm Monitoring Co. But what of the Harry Potterish legend "Superna petamus", which doesn't, as the petals in the middle would suggest, mean "always flowering"? Well, the slightly different "Superna Petimus" means "We seek higher things", and is the motto of RAF Cranwell, where RAF officers are trained. This spelling, I think, means "let us seek higher things", and though AMCO's logo doesn't look like RAF Cranwell's coat of arms, it does resemble a British military badge. So endeth a super-category started several weeks ago, namely militia. And now, as Monty Python famously said, for something completely different... • Spotted: Goodge Place, Camden, London, W1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Amco”, Camden: military badge

“Baron Security”, Islington: ball shortage

"Baron Security" burglar alarm, Islington • Baron Security of Epping sounds like the kind of dodgy title an unsuspecting American would buy over the internet. Barons are entitled to be called "lord", but it's actually a rather lowly rank, being bottom of the five rungs of the peerage. And in this case even the coronet is dubious: it should have six silver balls around it, like the one pictured below – I reckon the Baron flogged them on Ebay. Of course, I jest. Baron is a surname as well as a title, so that's more likely the origin of 1985-founded Baron Security's name. I still prefer to think of this firm as being owned by a rampaging, serf-baiting, coronet-pawning Essex aristocrat, though.• Spotted: Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury [caption id="attachment_12237" align="alignnone" width="472"] A baron's coronet, showing four of its regulation six balls[/caption]
“Baron Security”, Islington: ball shortage

“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

"Security" burglar alarm with crown, Southwark • This cheerful yellow sounder, found on Decima Studios in Bermondsey, is a complete mystery – it doesn't even have a name. Presumably the cracker-style crown indicates the title "Crown Security", unless the company is simply called "Security", which would certainly be cornering the market. The phone number is a shifty old mobile one, and googling it turns up absolutely nothing, so a mystery the bell box must remain. • Spotted: Decima Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Security” (with crown), Southwark: nameless ruler

“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

"Crown Security" burglar alarm, Camden • In typical burglar alarm fashion, this acronym has one more letter than the firm's name; and CSS could stand for many other things, from the USA's Central Security Service, to Catholic holy order the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, to Cascading Style Sheets, formatting language of the web. However from the 081 phone number I deduce that this is an earlier incarnation of yesterday's firm, although the logo is completely different. You still see a lot of bell boxes around with this chunky 1970s-style livery, whose design probably dates from the firm's founding in 1982. Although not that great – it looks like CSS is floating in a black sea, monarch of the waves – it's a lot more recognisable than its bland successor, so for brand continuity they should perhaps have evolved it rather than going for a total reboot. • Spotted: Torrington Square, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

“Crown Security Systems”, Hounslow: bleak and bland

"Crown Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hounslow • I'm already getting confused by the plethora of regal firms, so I've just looked up this particular Crown Security Systems to discover they were formed in 1982, and are based in Merton, South London. This bland crown is another that looks more like a jester's hat, and was shot on what I now remember to be a bleak and unhappy winter's day – it's amazing how even the most basic of photos can bring memories back of a whole walk. Its location, Chiswick Mall, sounds like a horrible shopping centre but is in fact a picturesque promenade of large Georgian houses facing the Thames at Chiswick, blighted only be Heathrow-bound jets thundering past at what sounds like nose-level every two minutes. • Spotted: Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, W4, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Brentford and Isleworth
“Crown Security Systems”, Hounslow: bleak and bland

“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

"Crown Securities" burglar alarm, Stoke-On-Trent • My excuse for this one being blurred is that it was high up on a horrible pub and I just snapped it while I was scurrying past, feeling slightly beleaguered. For, contrary to what it says beneath the only remotely accurate rendition of a non-panto crown I've come across so far, there are no securities in Stoke. At least I was lucky enough to see the fantastic Wedgwood Museum while I was up there, something which should belong to the nation, but whose collection is about to be sold off due to (simplistically) Robert Maxwell's pension fund rapacity, a poorly-drafted law, and some naive financial management by the museum's trustees. Which is tragic and disgraceful, as the Wedgwood Museum is one of the few uplifting and tourist-enticing things in what is, with no disrespect intended, a pretty grim and depleted area. There's a campaign to save the Wedgwood here: it isn't a very good website unfortunately, but anyone concerned about our future heritage should try and wade their way through its templates and send a letter to the relevant MPs it suggests. There's also a billionaire white knight in the offing – Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who grew up in Stoke – but it shouldn't have come to this. Hmmm, Jan 7th and already off topic... and I said I wasn't going to write much this year! • Spotted: Hanley town centre, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Stoke on Trent Central
“Crown Securities”, Stoke: save the Wedgwood!

“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I debated whether to put this in, because it's almost the same as yesterday's, and I said my somewhat irascible piece about crowns then. However, at the risk of being hoist by my own anti-History Channel petard, this is a sad example of how burglar alarm design degenerated from its glory days of sturdy metal boxes and proud ridged roundels to the tacky, plasticky nothings that booted them out. Look how much worse this weedy update has worn and faded than yesterday's fine original. And as for the bland corporate font – it doesn't even conjure up the Nazis! And what kind of a sorry excuse for a burglar alarm is that? • Spotted: Horseferry Road, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: weedy update

“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

"Crown" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • To me, the fact that a pointy metal hat can represent ultimate power is a troubling reminder of the sheer randomness of human society, but it's not a philosophical point that unduly taxes burglar alarm proprietors, who flock to its received symbolism in droves. This crudely-printed example is a real winner: a crown that looks like it came in a cracker, over a black-letter font bearing the twin tropes of Merrie England and its evil World War II enemies the Nazis, both big-hitting themes in burglar alarm world (which bears more than a passing resemblance to life as portrayed on the History Channel). • Spotted: Strutton Ground, City of Westminster, London, SW1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Crown”, City of Westminster: top tropes

“Kings”, Hackney: what about queens?

"Kings" burglar alarm, Hackney • Not just one, but many monarchs share the crown to this security firm. The name also ties into Christmas 2011's Christian (or, if you want to be pedantic, Judaeo-Christian) theme, due to its no doubt inadvertent reference to the Book of Kings – which does not return the compliment by mentioning burglar alarms. More prosaically, the owner is probably a Mr Kings – or, if he's bad at punctuation, Mr King – a surname which, like so many in the UK, originates from a medieval nickname, this time for one of kingly demeanour. It may be common on burglar alarms simply because, despite its regal pretensions, it's a common name; but it also handily illustrates the ego-puffing old saw that an Englishman's home is his castle, with each regally branded burglar alarm suggesting that the security-conscious homeowner is, in essence, a little monarch. Which is leaves a gap in the market for bell boxes aimed at socially-aspirant women, because I've never come across any labelled Queen. • Spotted: Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Kings”, Hackney: what about queens?

“King Security”, Sheffield: Jason King, that is

"King Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Only a small crown for this bell box, whose design recalls a kind of 1960s retro-grooviness, or possibly cheap frozen food packaging. It somehow makes me think of hirsute '70s TV detective Jason King: that's him, down below. • Spotted: Wicker, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central Above: Peter Wyngarde, plus inadvisable facial hair, as Jason King. Calm down, ladies!
“King Security”, Sheffield: Jason King, that is

“Monarch”, East Grinstead: bring on the crowns

"Monarch Security & Fire" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • Well, amazingly I've managed to keep this blog going for a whole year, and after posting north of 365 different burglar alarms I still have a vast amount yet to feature (don't all cheer at once). So, seeing as it's a leap year, here's to the next 366 alarms. But I do actually have a bit of a life too (just a bit), so from today I've changed the format slightly in order that I don't always have to write so much about each one. I'll still be posting in series of themes, as taxonomy was always the point of this blog, and I'll introduce each theme as before. But, if I haven't got anything to much say about a particular alarm – other than that it fits within the genre – then I'll keep it very brief. I would still appreciate comments however, and will be reading them all avidly and answering where appropriate as I do now. Following on from yesterday's vintage Royale, the first theme of 2012 is "Royalty" – which, as well as being appropriate for this jubilee year, is one of the security world's most enduringly popular tropes, preferably accompanied, as here, by a hefty old crown. Oh, and notice the aptly regal address – not the last I'll feature, as royal British road names aren't exactly rare. • Spotted: Queens Walk, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid 
“Monarch”, East Grinstead: bring on the crowns

“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama

TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010"TR Security Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This isn't a cartoon, it's a psychodrama. It's so troubling it reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale, or one of those scary 1960s eastern european animations so brilliantly pastiched in The Simpsons as jerky cut-price replacements for Itchy and Scratchy. Let me describe the scene. The sun is high; the shadows small. A stocky, bizarrely-dressed man with the bulbous nose of a heavy drinker sprints across a featureless wasteland. In his white-gloved, malformed hands he cradles an intricate jewelled crown, the sort normally kept in a monarch's treasury. Peering over his shoulder, masked eyes glinting, he grins triumphantly back at the victim of his crown theft: a neat suburban house. A house that is half human. A house that is sobbing. Its sides heave with emotion, its door gapes in horror, its upstairs windows have become scrunched-up eyes squeezing out huge tears. By its side sits a writhing tangle of shadows, so dark it's impossible to work out what lies within. Maybe it's the house's existential despair; maybe it's the burglar's black soul; maybe it's just a bad drawing of a bush. But the moral is clear: don't store a crown in a suburban house, and if you must, then don't leave the front door open when there's a weird-looking bloke hanging round. • Spotted: Commercial Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow TR Security burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets, 2010
“TR Security”, Tower Hamlets: Grimm psychodrama