10/24/2014 05:27 EDT | Updated 12/24/2014 05:59 EST

Please, Resist the Urge To Mangle a Piece of History With Your Autograph

Wandering the streets of Rhodes' extraordinary medieval city, I am confronted by an old nemesis; the tagger. The medieval Greek city of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 1309 occupation by the St. John of Jerusalem order of knights. For centuries, the knights labored to transform the city into a fortress to defend itself against Turkish invasion. It is one of the only examples of gothic architecture in Greece and it's quite breathtaking. Sadly, many of these beautiful old gothic buildings have been defaced by tourists.

Names have been carved into the ancient stones and the trees that line the moat. The city gates have been tagged so many times that you can't see the beautiful old wooden beams from which they are made. Even the cannon balls which litter the whole city; remnants of invasions past, have not escaped unscathed.

When you spray your name across the trains, or bridges or my neighbour's garage, I am (frankly) indifferent. But I find the carelessly scrawled 'Neville woz here' on places of beauty, works of art or historical treasures really gets my goat.

Sure, travelling does make your own insignificance abundantly clear. Knowing that eons of peons have toiled to make this beautiful old castle can be overwhelming. Watching history stretch out before you with the millions, or possibly billions of people who have passed this place without leaving a mark is enough to make even the most stoic among us feel somewhat small. Well buck up man! Resist, dear traveler, at all costs the urge to make your mark on the world by smearing your name on something beautiful.

Know that, even if you do manage to mangle a piece of history with your autograph, you are won't feel fulfilled or any more significant.

And while I will acquiesce that carving 'Neville luvs Liz' into an ancient tree or a historic tombstone may get you laid, passersby will not marvel at your ingenuity or spunk. We will not think to ourselves: "Wow, that Neville, what an impressive example of humanity at its most evolved." Instead, we are far more likely to think: "Neville you utter arse. Thank you for ruining a perfectly good tombstone, you sorry little imbecile."

Now I'm not picking on the graffiti artist; the disenfranchised, the bullied, alienated or otherwise "justly pissed off at the powers that be". These prophets of the subways, concrete bridges and even my neighbour's ill-fated garage are artists that often inspire or make me think. They offer profound insights, incredible pieces of public art or simply rail against those who seek to silence them.

I'm speaking here to the Neville's of the world who write only their names without so much as a thought to our entertainment. Next time you have an urge to tag something or carve your name into a tree, please think twice.

If you must immortalize yourself, do so through dashing acts of bravery, beauty or brilliance. If you are not capable of this then, at very least, donate enough money to the local botanical society for them to dedicate a park bench to you. That way, everyone who needs to take a rest, sleep off a hangover or have an al fresco tryst will whisper: "Thank you Neville... what a guy!"


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