April 14, 2005

Literary controversy

It's been a while since I saw any debates in English language or literature rendered as graffiti. But last night I went to a subscribers' evening at the London Review Bookshop to pick up a copy of The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé with a five pound discount voucher I'd been waiting to use up. Given that - it being a special event - they were doing a ten per cent discount anyway, and were also laying on free glasses of wine for attendees, by the time I'd left the shop with two glasses of red and several sausage rolls inside me, and the book inside my rucksack, I'd probably made a profit on the journey.

Before I left, the two glasses of wine (and a previous Coke with a meal at Burger King, which I would have avoided had I known about the sausage rolls) induced me to use the staff toilet which is situated in the basement of the shop. Inside, there was a notice pinned up over the basin:

BEWARE!
Due to its fierce flow action, the tap requires very deft and gentle handling.
Underneath, somebody had added:

"Owing to", surely?

There's something charming about that. Or amusing. I'm not sure which, or why. And it's not just that I don't understand what's wrong with "due".

2 Comments:

At April 22, 2005 9:03 pm, Blogger Karl Yundt said...

The most erudite graffito I ever saw was on a footbridge between Canning Town and West Ham - "Mime is a Niebelung" - (an obscure and pointless Wagner reference.)
I don't know why 'owing' is better than 'due', though.

 
At December 29, 2007 9:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head:

"Due to" contains the idea of temporal causality e.g. "We regret to inform customers that, due to the wrong sort of snow on the tracks, there will be no more trains until the year 2525"; where the snow fell first, at a specific time, and then all trains were cancelled. "Owing to" expresses causality without temporality: the tap being faulty causes the water to run out with excessive force: both states are on-going.

Here, I can't help thinking, both expressions are false: surely "because of" would best suit?

I felt pretty sure Mime wasn't a Nibelung, by the way; but I checked, and he was Alberich's brother, so there you go.

 

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