Age: About one year old.
Appearance: Um … HELCH.
And who or what is a helch? It’s a word.
I understand that. But what does it mean? It means someone has written the word HELCH on something.
Are you trying to annoy me? No, but someone is. Whoever is responsible for HELCH has made a lot of enemies, by painting it in block capitals on various buildings and bridges in the south of England.
Ah! So it’s a graffiti tag? That’s right. It seems that the first one arrived, very controversially, last September, on the side of the Chalfont viaduct over the M25, north-west of London.
Isn’t graffiti always controversial, being vandalism and thus not allowed? Yes, but this one replaced a very popular piece of graffiti, which had been there for many years, which read GIVE PEAS A CHANCE.
How sweet. But over the course of three nights, it was turned into GIVE HELCH A BREAK.
So they vandalised the vandalism? I’m afraid so. To date, 6,919 people have signed a petition to restore the original, without success. Network Rail, which owns the viaduct, can’t encourage illegal graffiti, you see.
I suppose not. Still, I hope whoever was behind it learned a lesson from the backlash. I don’t think they did. Over the past year, HELCH has started to appear all over London, sometimes replacing historic and much loved “ghost signs”, such as the Philco advert in Hanger Lane, or another in Chalk Farm.
That’s just mean. Then, this month, HELCH went to Bristol, where the words “Boris is …” had recently been removed from a bridge over the M4. The same site now reads, “Boris is HELCH”.
I suppose at least Boris Johnson will prefer that. Most shockingly of all, a gigantic (3m by 18m) HELCH recently appeared on the side of another viaduct in Windsor – right in front of Windsor Castle as you enter the town.
Good heavens! I know. “The Queen was extremely upset,” according to an unnamed royal source at the Sun.
What about all the other residents of Windsor? Many locals want the Windsor HELCH removed. Except … again, it is painted on Network Rail’s property, and its policy is to remove only graffiti that has an obscene meaning.
Which “Helch” doesn’t? Not as far as we know. It’s a conundrum.
Maybe the Queen could tell her servants to add some swearwords overnight? Then Network Rail would have to clean it off. Good plan!
Assuming Her Majesty knows any swearwords? I expect Philip can help with that …
Do say: “Why do people have to deface public buildings just to get our attention?”
Don’t say: “Because it works?”