Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I was going to write something deep, meaningful and insightful about last Friday, but frankly I don't think it would add much to the sum of human understanding.

I'm also not going to change my Facebook profile pic so that it has red, white and blue running through it, nor post any virtue-signalling tweets.

Instead, I'm going to support the French by doing what me and the missus are lucky enough to be able to do regularly, and what we're doing the weekend after next. That involves paying our French taxes, buying French wine, and talking to our French neighbours.

We talk to our neighbours regularly of course, particularly Mrs M with her reasonably fluent French. She had what media people would call a "breakthrough moment" during the summer, when on showing our 80 year old retired farmer neighbour a calendar featuring pictures of Macclesfield from the early decades of last century, he declared (in French obviously, for never a word of English has knowingly escaped his lips), "you're not that different to us really" - the "you" being the English/British of course. For someone who's barely left the local commune in his 80 years, this was a cultural earthquake.

By telling them we were just as shocked by last Friday as we would have been had it happened in London or anywhere else in the UK, by them seeing (I hope) 80,000 football fans singing the Marseillaise tonight, and by mentioning that parts of the debate on the prevention of terrorism in the British parliament yesterday were conducted in French, it would be nice to think a few more of them will realise that "we're not that different".

That's not to defend the EU or suggest that we should have closer political ties; I haven't made my mind up on all that referendum-related stuff yet. It is, however, to make clear that there's far more that unites us than divides us - and that unity may prove quite useful against a common foe in the next year or two, especially if it filters through to our political and intelligence communities.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

More despatches from the front in the War on Bad English

Ok, so I'm not claiming that everything I write is either grammatically accurate (or indeed interesting), but I do get to see a lot of written stuff at work and on social media. Here are some latest horrors. Most are regular mistakes, a couple are one-off hilarities that I had to include:

  1. Apologises - a regular one, this. Used where the writer actually means 'apologies', as in "my apologises for not being able to help you".
  2. Decent - much abused in the world of online cycling blogs, as in "I had a great decent down the mountain pass". Don't forget the 's' fellas. (Fellas in a non-gender specific sense, obvs.)
  3. Where/were - seems to have originated in Liverpool, because in Scouse these two words sound exactly the same, but neither are pronounced in a way the rest of us recognise. Anyway, because they sound the same, they use them interchangeably in written form. "Where you there?" "Yes, somewere" is a not-uncommon exchange. This contagion seems to be spreading to non-Scouse types now, more's the pity
  4. Defiantly - used erroneously when the writer means definitely. Another riser in this year's Top 40. Note - defiantly means "in a rebellious way", whereas definitely means absolutely, for sure
  5. "It's a mute point" - oft heard in work situations. It's not a mute point my friend, it's a moot point; when you've heard other people saying it, they've been enunciating properly, not affecting an American accent.  Talking of which....
  6. Affect/effect. I'm not even bothering to explain this one
  7. Dependent/dependant - I'm dependent on breathing to stay alive; my children are mt dependants. Again, often used interchangeably. Stop it!
  8. "I think we're going to have to change tact" - another work horror show. TACK, not tact, you odious little man
  9. Talking of which, my current work's Mr. Malaprop declared yesterday that one of the tasks on his to-do list was 'odorous'. I think he meant onerous, as working in HR I'm pretty sure he wasn't on his way to muck out a pigsty
  10. Your/you're - I think I and my legion of fellow pedants are going to have to run up the white flag on this one, on the basis more people now seem to get it wrong than right. "Your great" now doesn't get much more of a reaction that a resigned sigh; it's only "did you receive you're present?" that gets the hackles rising
  11. To/too - how hard, pray tell, is it to understand that you need to use "too" when something has an excessive amount of a quantity of something, and that an event is also happening?  Too hard, apparently
  12. A lovely one-off - the Shropshire Star website wrote last week in one of its court reports, that an individual had been described in court as "repungent". Reading a little further, it became clear that said individual was not a very nice person at all - repugnant was the word the professionally-trained journalist was groping for, but unfortunately, failing to grasp.
There. I'm sure there are others, but that should be enough to get me classified as an old-fashioned, got-no-life, sad snob. Tssk, whatever. Standards, Jeeves, standards.
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