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Dutch 'silly walks' crossing is a hit

By News from Elsewhere...
...as found by BBC Monitoring

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image copyrightSBS6
image captionWalk this way

A Dutch town has officially opened a 'silly walks' road crossing, in honour of a classic sketch from the 1970s BBC comedy programme Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Spijkenisse near Rotterdam has replaced the usual crossing sign by the town hall with one of a man with a bowler hat and briefcase flinging his leg high in the air, in emulation of John Cleese's performance from the 'Ministry of Silly Walks' sketch, NOS public television reports.

Aloys Bijl, a local fan of the programme, saw a similar sign put up by a prankster in Sweden, and asked Spijkenisse council to make an official version.

"Cleese parodied a man from the ministry, and sometimes strange things do happen in town halls," he told the AD news site.

Alderman Jan Willem Mijnans liked the idea, and agreed to preside at the not-very-formal opening of the rebranded crossing.

"It's nice to see people crossing the street with a smile on their face, and we hope lots of people will do so," he told the expectant crowds, before trying out his own silly walk.

image copyrightSBS6
image captionAlderman Mijnans sets an example

The crossing is one of the busiest in town, but Mr Mijnans assured the public that, no matter how silly their progress, "traffic rules still apply, and cars have to stop as normal".

He added that the sign will revert to the original if it proves to be more of a distraction than an aid to road safety.

The people of Spijkenisse have taken to the idea with great enthusiasm, and filled social media with clips of pedestrians crossing with a variety of outlandish gaits.

Aloys Bijl was also on hand to show passers-by the 12 steps of the traditional John Cleese silly walk.

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image copyrightWegmann/Wikimedia Commons
image caption'Silly walks' street art is popular throughout Europe

Towns and cities from Ottawa in Canada to Orje in Norway have indulged joke 'silly walks' signs before, but this is the first time a council has put one up itself.

Monty Python remains popular in the Netherlands, and John Cleese opened a large Silly Walks mural in the city of Eindhoven two years ago.

At least one Twitter user hopes the Spijkenisse crossing is only the beginning of a local celebration of Monty Python sketches, noting "I can't wait for a Fish Slapping Dance festival".

image copyrightEditie NL
image captionAloys Bijl shows how it's done

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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Related Topics

  • BBC Monitoring
  • Netherlands
  • Road safety