Reality Checkpoint

Reality Checkpoint

Reality Checkpoint is the name given to a large lamp-post in the middle of Parker's Piece, Cambridge, England [cite journal | last = Baker | first = Mike | title = Not in front of the parents: How 'education speak' prevents teachers from being heard | journal = Critical Quarterly | volume = 43 | issue = 1 | pages = 19-24 | year = 2001 | url = ] where the park's diagonal paths cross at its centre. The name comes from an unofficial inscription which has been painted on the lamp-post since the early 1970s. The lamp-post is also believed to be the oldest electrical lamp-post in Cambridge.] The crime novel "Reality Checkpoint" by Peter Turnbull - set in Cambridge - makes reference to the lamp-post as an allegorical device to describe the victim's state prior to murder. [cite book
title = Reality Checkpoint
last = Turnbull
first = Peter
publisher = Allison & Busby
year = 2004
isbn = 0750524545


There are three main theories as to the meaning of the name:

* It may mark the boundary between the central university area of Cambridge (referred to as the 'reality bubble') and the 'real world' of non-academic locals living beyond. One is warned to check one's notions of reality before passing. [cite web
title=Real World
work=The Jargon File
publisher=Eric S. Raymond

* It may be because the lamp-post forms a useful landmark for people crossing the park at night — perhaps drunk or in the fog — since it is the only light for hundreds of yards.

* It may be because the lamp-post is situated in the middle of two walking paths that intersect. Anyone walking whilst not tuned in to "reality" will likely collide with the lamp-post, hence "reality checkpoint".


One report claims that the name was first painted on the lamp-post by students from CCAT (now Anglia Ruskin University) under the guidance of one of their teachers.

It has been repeatedly re-painted since then in response to removal by the council or obliteration by graffiti. For the first half of 1998 the lamp-post carried an unofficial plaque bearing its name.


External links

* [ "What is Reality Checkpoint?" on]
* [ Peter Turnbull's "Reality Checkpoint" synopsis at Google Books]

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