Deep within the fabulous hoard that is the DC Thomson photo archive there lies a 1961 picture of a sign that once marked the boundary of the burgh of St Andrews.
The sign is a rather magnificent specimen. It stands on a pillar, coat of arms at the top, the lettering in an olde worlde font.
It has a distinct charm.
It isn’t easy to tell what the sign is made of. It could be wood, could be cast iron.
The photo sticks in my mind because it was attached to a report of it being stolen. I’ve always wondered: why would anyone steal a town sign? What would they do with it? They could hardly display it in their front garden.
If it was made of iron, was it valuable for scrap? Was it melted down, its glory never to be seen again? Or is it mouldering in a garden shed, shaming the sneak-thief with memories of his dark deed every time he glimpses it?
Does it have pride of place in a manic sign collector’s underground bunker, where he daily cackles at it?
One other detail of that 62-year-old photo pushes itself forward: the sign has a full stop after St, denoting the word is a contraction.
Further, if the town is named after a saint (Andrew), whose bones were (legend has it) brought to the town, then that clearly indicates this is the town of Saint Andrew. It is Saint Andrew’s town.
So the correct name of the town should be Saint Andrew’s. Not St Andrews. The evidence of the bones and full stop suggest this is so.
Modern thinkers (I’d refer to them as people of dubious intellectual rectitude) assure me that I am a dinosaur. They tell me the language is constantly evolving.
I already know this: I see the evidence of the ongoing vandalism every day.
But no one should approve of frivolous change. There has to be a good reason, a very good reason, to alter the way the language is written.
And I don’t see a pressing reason to change Saint Andrew’s to St Andrews.
Indeed, I will lay a scurrilous charge. I suggest these changes were made out of laziness. There was no compelled reason to change the town’s name; it was merely easier to write.
So, good citizens of Saint Andrew’s, you have work to do. You have signs, books, letterheads, indeed all sorts of written references, to correct.
You’d better get cracking. You wouldn’t want to go into a new year with this evidence of your forebears’ lazy ways hanging around, would you?
Word of the week
Unable to be destroyed or removed. EG: “The town’s sign clearly wasn’t ineradicable, but a town’s name should be.”
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