There aren’t many things in life that one can rely on in life and over the last few days hundreds of thousands of London commuters have had to deal with something that even puts Brexit in the shade. Namely the loss of possibly the most seen graffiti in London if not all of the U.K.
For as long as I can remember, high above the western route of the M25, there as been an old Edwardian train viaduct which was emblazened in Graffiti. In fact, it is such a landmark that you can even search for it on Google Maps as I just did for the photo below or visit the Facebook page dedicated to fans of the bridge and graffiti.
Despite the decades that have passed no-one is quite sure how the writing appeared over the Chalfont Viaduct. Was the artist using climbing equipment or was his drunken friend just holding him over the edge of one of the busiest stretches of road in Europe.
The mysteries of its origins almost pale into insignificance compared to what the writing is all about. Obviously the whole phrase is a play on words, referring to John Lennon’s song Give Peace A Chance which got to number 2 in the charts in 1969 but what could it mean?
- Clever advertising for Bird’s Eye attempting to subliminally entice you buy some peas for dinner?
- A peace campaigner trying to share a very worth message but suffering from appalling spelling?
It’s common consensus that the first stage was the bridge being tagged with the word “peas”, a moniker of a supposed London graffiti artist. Then not too long later the words “give” and “a chance” were added to the bridge, leaving us with the perplexing and yet catchy slogan “give peas a chance”.
Apparently the added words were in reference to the grafitti artist Peas frequently being arrested and so someone on his behalf made a not so subtle and very public plea for leniency, though it being a play on the famous ‘peace’ phrase can’t be ruled out.
Graffiti isn’t very common in London compared with other cities and when it occurs, is generally removed very quickly. It is often said that the bridge inspected before it was de-faced and was awarded a “listed” status meaning that no modifications can be made to its appearance. However during the wait for the classification to come through, Peas struck and as such we have all been looking at his handy work as no-one has been allowed to remove it.
Give Peas A Chance has unwittingly become a huge landmark, it features on BBC news titles, gets name-dropped by traffic reports and brings a smile to many a traveller who has grown up with it. For many, including myself it was a welcome sign that we were nearly home and about to arrive in Hertfordshire after a long journey home. Due to the appalling traffic on the M25, many millions of people have no doubt spent too much of their life staring at the graffiti as their cars are stuck in endless traffic as you can see the bridge from a long way off.
Tragically, over the last few nights, the iconic ‘Peas’ has been removed.
With much of the Twitterati and Facebookers of London up in arms at the desecration, representations have already been made to Network Rail who are responsible for the bridge, to have this terrible interloper removed and replaced with the equally illegal but much loved original grafitti tag and a petition is already garnering support for a debate in Parliament.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “While the graffiti is well-known to motorists, we can’t condone people putting lives at risk to vandalise this bridge. If graffiti is offensive, we will look to remove it as quickly as possible. We would discourage anyone from trespassing on the railway for any reason.”
Now all I have to comfort me is the Night On My Mind graffiti on the trainline just out of London Euston station which is about 4 years old and the “Prepare To Meet Thy God” sign which though recently modernised has been there for at least 30 years as far as I can remember.