One of Ian Whitten's witty sign comments.
One of Ian Whitten's witty sign comments.

Hardware wit just nails it

PETER Slipper's travel expenses, Shane Warne's looks, the grounding of Qantas and the end of the News of the World.

It's been a year to laugh about, according to Ian Whitten.

The Kawana Hardware and Garden Centre owner is well known for the roadside signs he puts outside his Nicklin Way store.

He's been providing witty, quirky, though-provoking and sometimes controversial messages since 1998 - and 2011 was no different.

"I'll tackle anything that's around at the time, whatever is current," he said. "The Sunshine Coast Daily is a great inspiration for a lot of it. You might report it one way, but I'll come at it another."

Mr Whitten said a lot of his messages came from everyday conversation.

"People will say things and I'll change the slant," he said. "Quite often I've got to write it down, then rewrite it and rewrite it."

One of his favourites last year surrounded the grounding of Qantas by CEO Alan Joyce, when Mr Whitten put up "You can all rejoyce on being stranded".

When The Daily revealed details of Peter Slipper's extraordinary travel expenses, he wrote "Slipper $1200 travel and going nowhere".

Others included "Coming soon: new Greek ruins" when there was talk about Greece defaulting on its loan repayments.

Some more highly commended signs included "Sheen for Libyanian president" in relation to Charlie Sheen and Muammar Gaddafi, "iSad" on the death of Steve Jobs and "One Silverchair needs mending" when the band broke up.

He paid tribute to the Morcombe family when news broke this year of the discovery of Daniel's remains with "We feel for you, Morcombes".

He also has caused confusion, when people thought martial arts expert and movie star Chuck Norris had died.

"My 10-year-old neighbour told me a Chuck Norris joke one day. It was 'There is no such thing as global warming, Chuck Norris just got a cold and turned the sun up'," he said.

"So I put up 'Chuck Norris found the end of the rainbow' and people thought he died."

He has also had his fair share of complaints.

When Christchurch and other world destinations were hit with a series of earthquakes in 2011, Mr Whitten put up "Mother Earth has got Parkinsons".

"I got in trouble for that one, I remember one person coming in to tell me it was unfair," he said. "I never mean any ill will from these messages."

The current sign is "2012: Year of the Mayans and maybe" in relation to the Mayan calendar expiring on December 21, 2012.

"Or maybe they predicted when Chuck Norris is going to sneeze," Mr Whitten joked.