Something to write home about

I’ve always been an avid reader of the Ballymena Guardian.

I wouldn’t exactly call it the cutting edge of journalism, but they do the best they can with what they’ve got, I suppose. Anyway, I always spent many enjoyable hours going through it every week, idly circling all the spelling and grammar atrocities with a red pen in my tea breaks. Do not judge me. This is who I am. In fact, Mother BonBon, if I remember correctly, used to go one step further and post her corrected copy to the Guardian office when she was finished. Mind you, she also used to correct the spelling and punctuation on chalk boards sitting outside restaurants in the town. She is my hero, in a strange sort of way.

I know I’ve waxed lyrical about poor spelling and so on in the past, and perhaps I have been too harsh. This recent thought-provoking post from Grannymar really stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder if I’ve been nasty and inconsiderate about it. Of course people should be encouraged to blog and communicate through writing regardless of their level of education or natural ability in terms of spelling and grammar. I’d hate to think that I’ve ever put anyone off leaving me a comment or writing me a note because they think I’m going to criticise their writing. I wouldn’t do that, I promise!

My problem has always been more with people who are writing in a professional capacity. Journalists, authors, anyone who is receiving payment for their work… I guess I just think that if I’m being expected to pay to read their work, they should at least have a natural ability as far as the basics go, and maybe consider a spellchecker for the rest. For example: I’d like to think that if I cooked a meal for my friends they would appreciate it and overlook small imperfections because they know I’m not a professional chef, and I’ve done my best to make them a nice dinner. But if I were claiming to be a professional chef and charging a small fortune for the pleasure of eating my food, people would be perfectly entitled to complain and criticise if it wasn’t up to scratch. I think I’m entitled to feel the same way about writing standards.

Anyway, the Ballymena Guardian appears to be no better since I’ve been away. There is still their and are can be is and plurals have unnecessary apostrophes and that sort of thing. But what has actually stood out for me this time is the news itself. In that, well, there isn’t really any. I was struck by the headline Swine flu has not come to Ballymena! in last week’s edition. I pointed it out to The Sister to check that I wasn’t being overly critical, but she agreed that it seemed a little odd to make a non-event into headline news. Sort of like putting No murders in Sainsbury’s this month! or Old lady went shopping and did not get mugged!. A little unnecessary.

For all its problems, Ballymena actually begins to seem like a safe enough place when you read the Ballymena Guardian. I did note with some alarm, however, in today’s edition, that the police are dealing with some pretty serious issues:

DSC03190It is unclear whether this was an isolated incident or part of shady mafia-type gang activities.

On the front page, however, was the main story of the week:

DSC03189It seems that some geese escaped from the park and caused havoc by wandering down Thomas Street. The horror of it all! Apparently passers-by couldn’t believe their eyes and “nearly quacked up”, according to the report. Fortunately the geese were captured and returned to their home, prompting the line: “The incident ended happily, but it could have gone eider way.” Ho ho…

Ah, Ballymena Guardian. Where every day is the first of April. :)


8 thoughts on “Something to write home about

  1. Hails, I don’t take offense for myself but think of others who might be intimidated or put off making the effort.

    You write well and I always enjoy your work. It was lovely to see you while you were home and I look forward to the next chapter of your travels

  2. Haha sounds like our Hills Shire Times which is 99% advertisements and 1% local ‘news’. Usually some NIMBY protest or a focus piece on a new restaurant. I am dreadful at apostrophe’s – see what I mean? It’s not that I don’t know how to use them, my fingers just stick ’em in where they’re not needed. As for spelling . . .I have a degree in English literature so you’d think I’d have that down pat by now!

  3. The Sister says:

    Do you not realise that geese are very dangerous?!

    This could have turned out to be a muderous killing spree…do you not remember your mother was almost strangled by an evil goose???

    I mean you only have to look at the poor child in the pitcure…sitting upright in its buggy trying to conceal its fear!

  4. Grannymar – Was great to see you, too!
    Billy – :)
    Baino – I once had a teacher who called that “salt and pepper shaker punctuation”!
    Sister – You are right, of course. Those little fluffy goslings look murderous.
    Bevchen – see Hannah’s comment!
    Hannah – :)

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