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Hertfordshire

“4KL Crowthorne”, St Albans: forking ‘ell

4KL Crowthorne "4KL Crowthorne" burglar alarm, St Albans • The Berkshire village of Crowthorne is home to Broadmoor mental hospital – notorious for the famous murderers within – so security may well loom large in locals' minds. What 4KL stands for I have no idea however – it sounds like the title of a Prince song. Or maybe Ronnie Barker's famed epithet, "forking 'ell". • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“4KL Crowthorne”, St Albans: forking ‘ell

“M25”, Borehamwood: flooded

"M25 Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Borehamwood • As I write this, there is such severe weather across the UK that loads of roads and rivers are flooded. Something of a coincidence then, that my new theme is "roads and rivers". I start with London's orbital motorway, the M25, currently submerged in parts. • Spotted: Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hertsmere Above: The M25 (unflooded)
“M25”, Borehamwood: flooded

“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

"Rampart Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • Apart from Bastion, this is the only fortification alarm featured that doesn't actually picture its defences. It's pasted over a vintage Shorrock, unless I'm very much mistaken – although of a type I've not featured yet, I'm surprised to discover. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Rampart Security”, St Albans: un-illustrated

“Viscount Alarms”, St Albans: non-egalitarian balls

"Viscount Alarms" burglar alarm, St Albans • Of Norman origin, like all Britain's aristocratic titles, a viscount is a middle-ranking sort of peer, below an earl but above a baron. Resplendent in a coronet bearing 16 balls (see below), such a personage should be addressed as "Lord", if you're feling deferential. The more egalitarian Anglo-Saxon equivalent was the "shire reeve" or sheriff, which would be a good title for a burglar alarm in my opinion. But I have never come across any Sheriff Alarms, perhaps because of the word's unfortunate cowboy connotations. According to the comments below this Xtal alarm, Viscount were a well-run business who used to do the alarms for Shell petrol stations and Robert Dyas, but were brought to an untimely end by the failure of their parent company. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans [caption id="attachment_12231" align="alignnone" width="472"] A viscount's coronet with its 16 non-egalitarian balls[/caption]
“Viscount Alarms”, St Albans: non-egalitarian balls

“Ace Security”, St Albans: unlucky clover

"Ace Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • There are loads of firms called Ace: this particular Ace Security is a family firm based in Bedford, whose three-leafed clover is certainly unlucky for the burglar. OK, so it's meant to be an ace of clubs, not a plant: but historically the suit of clubs was also known as clovers or flowers, and is believed to originate from the German suit of acorns, so it's botanical enough. As for luckiness, you'll only find one four-leafed clover for every 10,000 three-lobed specimens plucked, so they're definitely rare. But not as rare as the 56-leaved example allegedly discovered in Japan in 2009 – something to do with nuclear contamination, perhaps. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Ace Security”, St Albans: unlucky clover

“Stevens Security”, St Albans: wrath of Zeus

"Stevens Security" burglar alarm, St Albans • Finally, the most emphatic and recent lightning strike of all, suggesting that if you tangle with Stevens Security, you'll make not just Steven but the mighty Zeus very, very cross. You'd certainly feel it if this hefty black arrow of a thunderbolt pierced you – but not for long. Tomorrow: multiples. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans
“Stevens Security”, St Albans: wrath of Zeus

“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

“Bell”, Borehamwood: not the Tory spin-doctor

"Bell" burglar alarm, Borehamwood • I'm not saying the town where I found this is boring, but there's a reason they call it Borehamwood. It's also a true blue Tory stronghold, which seems to be de rigeur for areas boasting these smart blue-and-silver Bell alarms. For that reason they always make me think of famous Tory spin-doctor Tim Bell, now Baron Bell of Belgravia (really), a founding member of the Conservatives' 1979 election-winning ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and the man credited with creating Margaret Thatcher's deep-voiced, iron-haired, pussy-bowed image. But even though he once led a company called Chime Communications, Lord Bell doesn't really have a connection with Bell alarms – apart from the fact that you will find them both in Belgravia, which is good enough for me. • Spotted: Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Hertsmere
“Bell”, Borehamwood: not the Tory spin-doctor

The mystery of “Dogs Full of Money” – solved

How I went in search of a Banksy, and ended up with a Dog Full of Money. Links to DFM Flickr gallery A few days ago I posted a burglar alarm from Bristol with a sticker of a funny dog on it. It looked a bit like a Banksy, so I decided to research it – and what I came across, via the magic of Google, was the phenomenon of “Dogs Full of Money”. Known as DFMs for short, these were a spate of photocopied stickers which appeared internationally in 2006, all bearing mutated variations on the outline of a dog-shaped charity collecting box with three coins dropping into its head, as above. The dog on the burglar alarm was too decayed to guess its author; what led me to hope it was a Banksy was its confident style, and the witty way it made the Shorrock branding read “Shock”. So I worried away like a terrier at the world of DFMs, chasing clues down a maze of ever-older and obscurer web-holes. [More]
The mystery of “Dogs Full of Money” – solved