A PROUD MEMBER OF THE GRAMMAR POLICE

By Judith Thompson, Director

On my way to the station I pass a shop with a large sign outside that says: ‘We stock the UKs’ best range of tools.’ Now I’m not much of a DIY fan but I am desperate to go into this shop. In fact, the desire is almost overwhelming – so I can speak to them about the appalling misuse of the apostrophe. I’m the same with any form of bad grammar or poor punctuation and regularly feel the need to highlight errors on the signs, adverts and literature around me.

I can’t eat in a restaurant that has mistakes on the menu – what would that say about their attention to detail regarding the food? I couldn’t cope with Fifty Shades of Grey because I was amending the text in my head rather than enjoying the mood. And don’t get me started on random capital letters at the dentist (yes, really) and typos in theatre programmes (Romeo and Juliet ruined!).

A colleague of mine once suggested that it was like a form of Tourette’s syndrome for me. This was after a particularly challenging new business meeting where I found it necessary to point out the typo on the front of their new brochure. I thought it was helpful, but apparently it’s not when you have just printed 10,000 copies. Needless to say, we didn’t win the work.

My stepdaughter recently said that the reason she prefers maths to English is that there are defined rules whereas English is not so black and white. I tried to explain that this is simply not the case. However, if the teenage eye rolling was anything to go by, I lost her somewhere between explaining about semi colons (over used in my opinion), and the difference between affect and effect (quite tricky). The words “get a life” were clearly on the tip of her tongue but fortunately she has more self-control than me.

It is strange as I’m not a perfectionist in any other part of my life. My housekeeping is at best relaxed and my clothes sense is, hopefully, viewed as eclectic (nothing matches). I just love the written word and poor grammar and punctuation taints it for me. I refuse to accept that striving for high standards in writing is a bad thing and I will continue to be a proud (and loud) member of the grammar police.

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