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E3

“Nexus Security”, Tower Hamlets: connected

"Nexus Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • I quote from the University of Wikipedia: "Nexus is a connection, usually where multiple elements meet, as for example spokes at a hub, originally from a Latin verb meaning 'connect, bind'." Despite its classical origins, the word is kind of sci-fi sounding, which is why it's also been used in everything from Bladerunner to World of Warcraft. I don't know what connection that has to a shield with a crusader-style crucifix on it. • Spotted: Wrexham Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Nexus Security”, Tower Hamlets: connected

“Knighthood”, Tower Hamlets: tricky moves

"Knighthood" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Pictured twice and named thrice, this shows a knight in the chess sense, renowned for its tricky moves. Or maybe the owner of this company actually does have (or hanker after) a knighthood – not impossible, as Sir Jules Thorn would attest, were he still alive. • Spotted: Blackwall Tunnel North Approach, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Knighthood”, Tower Hamlets: tricky moves

“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

"Intervene Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • A piece of Land art I have always wanted to see is Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field (1977), a square kilometre of remote New Mexico desert bristling with 400 steel poles, designed to channel both occasional lightning storms and the sun's daily passage. But since it's around 5,000 miles away, and you have to pay $250 to stay there overnight (and aren't even allowed to take photos), I shall have to make do instead with a few burglar alarms bearing lightning flashes, aka thunderbolts. Once popular, it's rather a low-tech symbol these days, so is found mainly on vintage sounders such as this one. Note to completists: I've already featured a few thunderbolts – on Aegis, EnrightHaven and X Ray – in other categories. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Intervene Security Ltd”, Tower Hamlets: lightning field

“Spy Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: giant mascara

"Spy Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • My final Spy alarm is the only example of this logo I've found – which I reckon is a more recent design than yesterday's, though the eye still sports giant mascara. The green strobe at the bottom is unusual (most seem to be blue), and was presumably chosen to match the lettering. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Spy Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: giant mascara

“The Scaffold Alarm Company”, Tower Hamlets: evil

"The Scaffold Alarm Company" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Unlike yesterday's docile fox, this one looks rather evil – so I'm guessing that he's the cunning enemy which the Scaffold Alarm Company hopes to keep at bay. There's no other explanation to link their extremely niche name to foxes – and I didn't even find this on scaffolding. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“The Scaffold Alarm Company”, Tower Hamlets: evil

“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

"Locktec Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Why do so many dull typographic lock-related designs use blue-and-white Gill Sans Ultra Bold? This is the third example I've found that's set in the 1920s font – see also Bath Key Security and Strathand – and all three are ultra boring. There's a more interesting recent Locktec design depicting a roaring lion, but I'm saving that for a later category. To compound the tedium, it's a blurred photo – always a sign that I was feeling a mite exposed when taking the shot. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Locktec”, Tower Hamlets: ultra boring

“Orion Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: myth meets Pac-Man

"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.
“Orion Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: myth meets Pac-Man

“Siren Security”, Tower Hamlets: Fairfield maiden

"Siren Security" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • Yesterday I featured a mermaid from Fairfield Shipping Offices, Glasgow, and today – ushering in the theme of mythological burglar alarms – I give you a mermaid from Fairfield Road, London. Siren Security is a play on words, obviously, between the blaring sirens of the law and the sweet-voiced temptresses said to serenade sailors to their doom, but sirens and mermaids are not strictly synonymous. Though the word is Latin, sirens come to the modern world from Greek mythology: as described in Homer's Odyssey, written around 800 BC, they were winged, sharp-clawed bird-women who lived amidst the rotting corpses of their victims (which would certainly be a deterrent to burglars). The fish-woman comes from even older Assyrian tales of the popular sea goddess Atargatis (called Derketo by the Greeks), disseminated to seaports far and wide by Syrian merchants. Pagan Europeans got these ideas all muddled up with their own folkloric tales, not quelled by a dose of Christianity, so that today in many languages the word for mermaid is "sirena", or similar. In Haitian voodoo there is even a spirit or lwa called La Sirene, a European mermaid mixed up with West African beliefs, often pictured with a siren-like trumpet (see below for examples of all these ladies). Whatever her origin, Siren Security's logo is a charmingly modest mermaid, shown clutching an unidentified tablet – maybe the same one the bizarre wasp-man is holding on Wilton Alarms. And while there are plenty of of male images on burglar alarms, this is one of only two depictions of women I have found, the other being Liberty. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Top left: "The Siren of Canosa", a Greek-style siren (note bird-feet) circa 300 BC from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. Top right: John William Waterhouse's foxy "A Mermaid" (1900), from the Royal Academy, London. Below: a Haitian sequinned voodoo banner depicting horn-blowing water spirit La Sirene.
“Siren Security”, Tower Hamlets: Fairfield maiden