Friday, February 08, 2008


This bit of chalk graffiti, found along Retreat Lane (a little alley somewhere between the university and the city centre), has long fascinated me. It is totally ungrammatical, but boldly asserts that - well, AH GOOD THE SEA.

I've often wondered what it meant. Adding to the curiosity was the fact that it's been there all three years of my university life - and even before, according to the seniors! Surely there must be some deep meaningful story behind this mysterious phrase that causes people (students?) to restore it, year after year?

A Google search turned out a couple of sites, but all of them were specifically talking about the very same graffiti. seemed to offer some hope at explaining this with the claim that it 'was the working title for the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie', but that turned out to be false. Apparently it used to (obviously, deliberately and hilariously erroneously) claim that it was 'the first line of Moby Dick'.

So apparently nobody really knows the origin and meaning of the phrase.

Perhaps it'll be interesting to add to the scrawl, maybe add to in using other languages. Some suggestions generated by Google Translate include...

Ah profundo del mar

But somehow, they all seem to lack the hypnotic catchiness of the original English form.


lin said...

Shouldn't the chinese one be: 啊好的大海!


lost said...

let's add to the graffiti man.

when you get back we'll write it out somewhere near the current one.


Anonymous said...

I was variously at York University between 1995 and 2001 and passed the grafitti most every day.

I heard that in fact it was an advert for a band, but I'm afraid I cannot verify this. I would presume the band name was The Sea.

I was quite disappointed when I heard this as I prefer it to be a little more surreal and pointless; but that is just a personal slant on things.

Otherwise, there is another great grafitti slogan nearby in Tang Hall:

"Eat; Sleep; Work; Die. We've all been conned."

Anonymous said...

I was at York University from 1986-89 and the graffiti was there back then. We used to speculate as to what it meant, but could never figure it out. I don't think it had anything to do with a band (although a band I was in did eventually have a song with that title).

Also on the opposite wall of Retreat Lane at the time was "No wife, no horse, no moustache", but I eventually found out where that particular one came from.