If you have kept up with Monty Python’s comedy sketches in the past, you probably remember his “Ministry of Silly Walks,” which now hits Norway in the form of road crossing signs, while bureaucracy objects.
An art collective in the small town of Ørje, in Østfold County close to the Swedish border, decided to cheer everyone up. They placed two funny crossing signs in full Monty Python “Silly Walks” style at a zebra crossing in the town and watched the fun ensue.
A photo of one the crossing signs is included above and below you can see residents of the Norwegian town having great fun hamming it up when using the road crossing. As can be seen, even the motorists find the whole thing “fantastic” and “funny.”
According to Reidar Johannes Søby. a representative of the Kreativiteket art group, there is actually no deep thought behind the placing of the signs. He told the local broadcaster NRK that people “live in their ordinary lives,” but when they see this sign, maybe they can smile a little bit, have a bit of fun. He said they came up with the idea about six months ago, but how things in the small town move slowly and it has taken a while to get the signs up.
He added that the road crossing signs are meant to encourage people to use a “silly walk” when using the zebra crossing, but that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration apparently doesn’t find it funny at all. He said that the bureaucratic types are not very happy about the situation and that they do not appear have a sense of humor.
Section chief Elisabeth Bechman of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration told NRK that people should not use signs that could be confused with public signs. Another representative of the organization, Ivar Anton Cristiansen, announced forcefully that if the Mayor of the town does not remove the signs, they will.
In other words, bureaucracy in Norway does not approve as Monty Python’s ‘Silly Walks’ hits the streets and objects strongly to the idea.
On a similar note, it turns out that Norway apparently banned the movie “Life of Brian” when it came out due to what they called “blasphemy.” Reportedly Sweden shortly thereafter started advertising that movie as “the movie so funny the Norwegians banned it,” so it is easy to see the mood of the red tape department.
Fortunately the mayor of the Marker Municipality, which covers Ørje, does have a good sense of humor. Kjersti Nythe Nilsen told the media that she thinks the signs should be allowed and should stay. According to Nilsen, they are not a nuisance in any way and are, in fact, very similar to the normal pedestrian crossing signs. She reckons the bureaucrats are just being ”square.”
According to Nilsen, despite the threat by the roads administration to remove the signs, she is standing firm and resorting to a little civil disobedience. Referring to the situation as a “storm in a tea cup” the mayor says that the signs will be left where they are right now.
In the meantime, the town of Ørje will sit back and watch to see if the Norwegian Public Roads Administration will actually make the effort to come to the town to remove the harmless signs. Of course, they will also have much fun crossing the road Monty Python style.
For those who enjoy Monty Python, the original clip from “Ministry of Silly Walks” is included below, and now, of course, as the idea hits Norway, bureaucracy does what it does best and objects strongly.
By Anne Sewell