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the grammar lady

In the Star this morning, a journalist wrote about someone who would “plum the depths.”

Plum the depths. What would that look like, I wonder – something to do with jam? And then I got an email about home improvement from the august New York Times, and here is what I read: Add hooks to the back of doors, and see where else you can eek out extra inches.

I hear someone screaming – EEK! EXTRA INCHES! I sent a note to the Times saying EEK about the horrifying lack of copyediting.

And an article – unreal but true – about a parent in South Carolina who ordered a cake for her son with the words “summa cum laude” on it, because that was his status when he graduated. When the cake arrived, the middle word had been replaced with hyphens, because it’s a rude word.

Lord. As my father would say, “The barbarians are at the gate.”

I can see it now – I’ll be a little old lady sitting with a red pen and a disapproving expression, reading newspapers and magazines and slashing through them with my pen. There is no money for copyediting, and the few editors that are working are all 32-year old women, very sweet and well-meaning but without a basic grounding in spelling and grammar, because schools ditched all that boring stuff years ago. Soon, no one but us crabby old grumps will know that eek is actually eke and plumb is the proper spelling.

Focussing on these minor issues keeps my mind off the major ones. All kinds of interesting things in the paper today – a very courageous article by a former friend and colleague of his about the frightening megalomania of Jordan Peterson, “the world’s most influential public intellectual” at this time, a U of T professor and a darling of the alt-right. An article about the real Andrea Horvath, who, if we’re lucky, will become the new premier of this province. The tide seems to be turning, though it’s too terrifying to be complacent yet. But our very own blustering millionaire windbag idiot seems to be fizzling out. I have asked for an NDP sign for my front yard and made a campaign donation. Let us pray.

It’s not even June yet, and today felt like mid-July – sweltering and muggy. My left lower eyelid has a twitch, driving me crazy. Exciting: my neighbour to the north is right now up a ladder with his chainsaw, cutting down a dreadful messy tree that was leaning over my yard wreaking havoc.

Or, as someone might write today, reeking havoc. Why not? Who cares?

P.S. Go Ireland!

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4 Responses to “the grammar lady”

  1. theresa says:

    I am already that lady. And so is my daughter, 32, who regularly sends photographs of signs with egregious punctuation errors.

  2. beth says:

    I want to be like that bandit guy in England who goes around whiting out unnecessary apostrophes. I know, we shouldn't get too fazed about such small things, but they're a sign of GENERAL DISINTEGRATION! Ah well – glad to hear your daughter is on the case.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Are you ready for this one? Sometime in the 1980s Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited Canada. One morning I was in my bedroom and I heard howls and whoops of laughter coming from my parents' bedroom. I got up, went into their bedroom and said, What's going on? They were sitting up in bed reading The Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper!!) and on the front page was written – THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS OF WHALES ARE COMING TO CANADA. I swear it's the truth.

    Juliet in Paris

  4. beth says:

    I believe you! WHERE ARE THE COPY EDITORS?

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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