Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Escaping the Spanish Inquisition.

I was in a Poundland store today and noticed a banner at the back of the shop which said:

For GREAT Value Everyday

Well, to a fussy old grammarian like me, such an offence to the mother tongue is reason enough to shrink a little inside. I soon get over it, though, since I know what ‘context’ means and I’m not entirely devoid of a sense of priorities. Nevertheless, I thought I’d drop it into conversation when I went to the till, purely for the sake of dropping it into conversation. I didn’t expect a response.

‘Did you know that “everyday” should be two words?’ I remarked casually to the woman on the till.

‘I’m sorry?’ she replied.

Oh. I hadn’t expected a response. Oh well…

‘Your banner says “great value everyday.” Everyday should be two words. It’s an adjective and a noun.

Thinks: This is getting too deep already. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.

She regarded me quizzically for a few seconds, and said:

‘I don’t follow you.’

Did I expect the Spanish Inquisition? Nope.

‘Your banner at the back there. The word ‘everyday’ should be two words. It’s only correct as a single word when it’s only an adjective, as in the expression “the everyday story of country folk.”’

‘Oh, I see.’

You don’t look as though you see. Please God, can this be over now?

She thought for a few more seconds, and then said:

'Ah, right. So the D should be a capital letter?'


'Well, yes, but the basic point is that "every" and "day" should be separate words.'

The light of apparent understanding appeared at last. 

‘You know, I do believe you’re right,’ she said.

‘I am.’

Should I offer some credentials to back up my assertion? No; don’t complicate matters further.

‘I’ll point it out to somebody,’ she said decisively.

No, you won’t. Can I go now?

I went.

*  *  *

Later in the evening I checked into my Blogger stats and discovered the remarkable fact of there having been no less than 227 pageviews from Russia within the space of a minute. Nothing even approaching that magnitude has ever happened before, but the first ten accessed posts were listed (Blogger only ever lists the first ten of anything) which appeared to confirm that it wasn’t just one of those odd glitches to which Google products are frequently prey.

It worried me a little. I remembered feeling slightly uneasy when I made that jokey post last night about ‘Russian’ tanks entering Berlin, just in case I’d stumbled upon one of those secret things that people occasionally stumble upon by accident before being hauled up before the Spanish Inquisition.

I wondered whether the KGB still exists. I know they didn’t have quite the reputation of the Stasi, but it was bad enough. And I know that the CIA and MI5/6 were probably just as bad, but at least they were less open about it. So may I just say this:

Please, dear Russians, it was a joke. I know nothing. I’m just one of those people who combine a good imagination with a poor sense of humour. I’m not significant enough to be worthy of your attention. I’m merely a poor English peasant seeking to demonstrate to the bourgeoisie that the proletariat might in some instances be possessed of brain cells as well as basic rights.

Please be aware that if I were to be ground down in a gulag, I would be most unhappy. And I know that being poisoned with polonium would be quicker, but it still wouldn’t do much for my joie-de-vivre. I’m an internationalist who believes in the brotherhood of mankind, even if I’m not entirely convinced that I’m one of them. I’m innocent of all charges and sometimes listen to Prince Igor. I even made it to the end of Crime and Punishment.

Can I go now?

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