If you cross the roads round Trafalgar Square, the pedestrian lights no longer show red or green men. Currently, they display same-sex gender symbols interlocked, or the transgender sign, instead. On other occasions, I have been told, they depict two women holding hands, or two men standing together. They were introduced temporarily for the Gay Pride march last year, but seem to have popped up again. Technically, this jeu d’esprit must be capable of wide variation — one could have crucifix traffic lights when the Passion is enacted in the square on Good Friday, or a pack of red/green hounds when the next Countryside March tramps by. But on the whole, it would be better if these lights had only one, unambiguous message. They should simply tell you when to cross a road, which can be matter of life or death. Perhaps the only way of avoiding the intrusion of the politically correct equivalent of product placement is to use the plain words favoured in American cities: ‘WALK’ and ‘DON’T WALK’.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s Spectator