Yes there's a recession on. But if you don't care, because you're financially cushioned, why not buy your own tube roundel? A proper tube roundel, just like they have at stations. Authentic, colourfast, weather-proof - screen printed in red and blue on a vitreous enamelled panel. Handmade in 4 weeks flat by TfL's official signage contractor on the Isle of Wight. It'll only set you back £895 for a one metre square. Or, if you're less rich, £795 for the 675mm × 675mm size. A bargain, I'm sure you'd agree, and would look lovely hanging in your spare bedroom or brightening up the summerhouse. But only a limited number of station names are available, so if your favourite's not on this list then bad luck.
Available tube roundel names: Underground, Mind the gap, London, Arsenal, Angel, Bank, Barking, Brixton, Cockfosters, Covent Garden, Earl's Court, Euston, King's Cross, Leicester Square, London Bridge, Marble Arch, Mornington Crescent, Paddington, Piccadilly Circus, Tufnell Park, Victoria, Waterloo, West Ham.
Those first three aren't genuine station names,you'll notice, because TfL's commercial arm aren't purists. They have an eye for names that will sell, be that major landmarks, football teams or (giggle, smirk) Cockfosters. But why on earth is Tufnell Park on that list, when more obvious moneyspinners like Knightsbridge and St Paul's aren't?
And it's not just tube roundels. How do you fancy your very own street sign? Three options are available - first the City of Westminster, then Theatreland, or else the City of London. And they're cheaper too, at either £595 or £695, which is great news if you're a little harder up.
Available City of Westminster street names: Abbey Road NW8, Baker Street W1, Carnaby Street W1, Covent Garden WC2, Downing Street SW1, Oxford Street W1 Available Theatreland street names: Aldwych WC2, Drury Lane WC2, Haymarket SW1, Strand WC2 Available City of London street names: Bankside SE1, Bloomsbury Square WC2, Brick Lane E1, Change Alley EC3, Cheapside EC2, Clerkenwell Green EC1, Cornhill EC3, Fetter Lane EC4, Fleet Street ECY, Hoxton Square N1, Kings Road SW3, Lambeth Walk SE11, Leadenhall Street EC3, Little Britain EC1, London Wall EC2, Love Lane EC2, Middle Temple Lane EC4, Notting Hill Gate W11, Portobello Road W11
Although, I don't know if you've noticed, but several of the streets in that last list aren't in the City of London at all. Bankside is in Southwark, Bloomsbury Square is in Camden, Brick Lane is in Tower Hamlets, Clerkenwell Green is in Islington, Hoxton Square is in Hackney, and three of the others (you know which) are in Kensington and Chelsea. It's not clear from the graphics on the website whether you get "City of London" plastered across the top of your street sign, or the correct name of the actual borough. Whichever, they're none of them produced to the proper design for the borough in which they're located. But what did you want for over half a grand? Authenticity?
If your preferred street name isn't on the designated list, don't despair. TfL are willing to commission a bespoke version of a London street sign for a small service charge of £150. You have to fill in a request form online first, and there's no guarantee they'll be willing to produce your chosen design. But you might get yourself a Crooked Usage N3, or Shoot Up Hill NW2,or Cumming Street N2, or Back Passage EC1, if they play ball. A street name with sentimental meaning, or else a cheap smirk, could be yours for just £745. If you've still got some annual bonus left to blow, it's worth a thought. And it's not just signs from London that are available.
Available heritage railway station names: York (North Eastern), Leeds (North Eastern), Paddington (Western), Oxford (Western), Euston (Midlands), Liverpool Street (Great Eastern), Cambridge (Great Eastern), Edinburgh (Scottish), Glasgow (Scottish), Victoria (Southern), St Pancras (Great Northern), Kings Cross (Great Northern)
These old-style railway names cost £650 (large) or £495 (small), although the 'small' is only about the half the size of a sheet of A4 paper, so perhaps that's not best value for money. Again the official list is limited but a bespoke option is available, so you could have Quainton Road or Mytholmroyd or Adlestrop or Luton Airport Parkway for a mere £800. I think it's an obvious Christmas present idea for the sign-obsessed geek in your life. Or you could buy an annual Zone 2 travelcard for the same money, but where's the wantonly impractical extravagance in that?