Remember a few years back there was a way that people – primarily men – could make a personal statement in the workplace without jeopardising their standing in the office? Remember bright socks? Colourful ties? Jon Snow on Channel 4 News still sports such a combination to show us that under that serious, journalistic exterior, lies a guy with an identity that he wishes to expose despite appearances to the contrary.
Well, I was walking along the walkway in the building where I live and over the past few days I have had my attention brought to a new statement. The welcome mat.
Within the range of about 30 apartments, over half were displaying their colourful sock equivalents.
Take my hand and I will give you a verbal snapshot one by one so you can capture the essence and gloriousness and not so hidden messages they send.
Firstly, dog on mat, indicating friendly, welcoming and warm occupants. Then a semi-circle with intricate patterning – no message, but people with their own sense of worth and style, not held back by mores of rectangular mats. Next to this are three sets of footprints. I feel these are people with cleanliness issues who are dreading you coming in unless you remove your filthy shoes before you go any further than the front door. Wipe. Your. Feet.
By far my favourite and the one that initially opened my eyes to these overlooked treasures, says “Waiting for Santa” with a friendly and bright Santa standing next to his sleigh. Well it is now October so I am not sure whether the occupant has been tardy in the after the last December clean up or is the most optimistic of us all. It shows great strength to remain so utterly out of season. A flip of the finger to us all being so tied to our traditions! The next is the polar opposite. “You again?” it screams. I wonder if they are having a fight and are putting their feet where their mouths should be.
A more gentle “Home” with a heart as the ‘O’ is its neighbour. They are probably very glad they have a separate home to go to and do not have to engage with the unruly bunch next door. More dog lovers as we move to small dog prints.
“Members only”, another invitation to underline you are in fact, not invited and certainly not welcome. Next, “Welcome” with the curious addition of what looks like a caravan. Perhaps a family that wish they didn’t live here at all and are dreaming of the open road and the freedom that only a small caravan can satisfy. “Welcome” with no fancy extras. Back to basics but with just one word too many. Then I spotted two of these – regular doormats with a red spot in the middle. Am still pondering if they have a religious or other overtone. Followed by two geometric patterns, one plain and one coloured. Safe, like a pair of socks with a matching tie. “Keep calm and come in” which has become a perennial variation on a theme over the past couple of years. Floral design and then another set of footprints. Then I reach my own which is a simple mat with no design and words or slogans. As I have lived here for over 20 years and still do not know most of the people in the flats I cannot tell if my readings are spot on or just the product of a vivid imagination. Which is another telling sign in itself. I have not wiped my shoes on any of these mats, have not been welcomed, mistaken for Santa nor a dog or given a quick lesson in spotless housekeeping.