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