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The poetic beauty of Bristol’s passive-aggressive car parking notes

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What do you know about the city of Bristol? The most important thing to know is this: parking your car is fraught with danger.

Get it wrong, and your windscreen wiper will become a paper clip for a handwritten reprimand.

I'm a sucker for handwritten notes. Especially those of the passive-aggressive variety. All that rage and indelible ink. Pure communicative joy.

When I realised this was how Bristol's car owners spoke to each other, I started photographing their work.

Here are some of my favourites.

1) Were you drunk?

You have parked so badly – making it very difficult for me to get my car out. Were you drunk? You are certainly very selfish & inconsiderate. S. Banks.

WereYouDrunk

This scores highly in a number of categories. Despite the rage, it's surprisingly polite. The visible self-editing. The shunning of anonymity. And, most of all, the affixation by way of packing tape.

All wonderful.

2) That's British for sidewalk

DON'T BLOCK THE PAVEMENT!

DontBlockThePavement

Again, a high scorer in the affixation category. Why use a note under a wiper when you've got an adhesive-backed label to hand?

The caps, punctuation and no-nonsense style are to be applauded. Cut to the chase people.

3) No time to punctuate

PLEASE DONT PARK IN THE MIDDLE OF A SPACE FOR 2 CARS

Middle2Spaces

Not quite as Britishly respectful as S.Banks, but I do admire this author's use of the word 'please' in conjunction with caps and underline.

This has clearly been written in a maelstrom of fury, as the lack of apostrophe in 'dont' and the use of '2' reveals.

4) Paper? Pens? For wimps

BEWARE PARKING FINE HERE

ParkingFineHere

I like to think this sprayed message is the culmination of years' worth of notes placed politely under wipers. 'That's it Beryl! I'm spraying it on the road!'

The ambiguity is also good. Is it fine to park here? Will I be fined if I park here? Is the standard of parking here generally fine?

5) Oh Richard, you are a naughty boy

Do NOT Park You're Car like AN ASS AGAIN "DICK"

LikeAnAss

This is the note that started it all. Just look at it. The dizzying mix of upper and lower case, of caps and joined-up-ness. Glorious.

Most of all, I love the author's big reveal – "Dick" isn't even the driver's real name. Oh!

6) That's British for trunk

THANK YOU FOR LEAVING ME... ENOUGH ROOM TO GET INTO MY BOOT... ARSE HOLE!

MyBoot

My personal favourite. The crumpled paper indicates high levels of rage. The mix of finger-scrawled and pen-written text. The 1-2 combo of 'thank you' and obscene name calling.

I imagine the paper notes were written after the finger-scrawled part, only when the author realised the enormity of the original task. Quitter.

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