Saturday, 19 May 2012

Much as I enjoyed Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I can't really blame my apostrophe fixation on Lynne Truss. Long before that was published, I was spotting errant usages and, occasionally, applauding apostrophal correctness. One of my favourite pieces of graffiti ever was, and maybe still is, on a bench just around the corner from where I lived in Eastbourne. Was it in marker pen or had they gouged it into the back of the seat? It doesn't matter. The inscription read, "Mel's and Stephen's bench". Wonderful.

I live in Lancashire now, but I can't blame what follows on Northern-ness: the retail giant in question has its headquarters in Cheshunt, way down in Hertfordshire. It's the Tesco store in (yes, I shall name and shame!) Burscough Bridge. Whose enormous, neon-lit, road-side sign states that here, in this store, you can purchase both CD's and DVD's. Groan. You'd think a company making that much money could afford to hire a literate proofreader.

The problem with writing about grammar, of course, is that it leaves you wide open to other writers coming in and pointing out all of the errors you yourself have allowed to creep into your prose. My excuse is that my children are watching Nanny McPhee. Not a good excuse, I know, and not one I would accept from the Tesco signwriter, but there we are.

So, to round this out, here is a link to an apostrophe test. I am relieved to say that I got 7 out of 7...

Check Your Apostrophes Now!

I also enjoyed this page with a nice little video featuring Stephen Fry which made me happy that I have never actually taken a marker pen to a Tesco sign. You should watch it to find out why.