That annoying little thing…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s joke is the one about the High Court Judge, his freshly painted pergola, and the two door-to-door Mormons – Oh, how we chuckled and guffawed out of sight in the potting shed!…

Most people are frightened of them and they go out of their way to avoid them if at all possible. Some people, in ignorance, but full of confidence, abuse them with great style and ingenuity. Yes, I’m talking grammar and punctuation here – it’s the apostrophe – did you just feel the clammy hand of fear grasp your heart dear reader?
I must confess at this point that even after all these years I still struggle with spelling and grammar. Someone once said, ‘People who can spell make very dull writers’… I like that! Ah, good old reliable Google and spellchecker! My pages light up red like a Christmas tree regularly.
The apostrophe: I think at the root of the apostrophe phobia is the inbuilt flaw in the logic of the thing itself. Just when you think you have come to terms with the brute, when you get the idea that it shows that someone, or something, possesses something: the cat’s tail, Gordon’s mongoose, your coffee’s nice white froth, Bernard’s blisters, the doorknob’s glint, men’s shoes, it all falls apart at the end of your pen – ‘the banana and it’s skin…’ No! no! That’s wrong!… It should be, ‘the banana and its skin’. How could you be so stupid!…
‘But I’ve seen the word it’s used in lots of clever people’s sentences!’
‘Yes, but that means ‘it is’ – the apostrophe shows that the letter ‘i’ is missing. Got that?…’
‘Yes, but if the banana, it, is possessing something, then it should be it’s…’
‘Shut up!…’
‘But that’s really unfair!…’
‘Of course it is – this is English!…’
‘Alright, but what was that you mentioned about people abusing the apostrophe?’
‘Oh, when you see things written on boards outside shops – Fish and chip’s, Panini’s, Apple’s, Girls shoe’s… and sometimes in a cafe window you might see “Soup” advertised – would you eat “Soup”? Oh, and going back to possessing things, you don’t put an apostrophe with his, hers, yours, etc.’
‘Nobody knows…’
‘What about theirs, should it be their’s?’
‘Most definitely not!…’
‘Why not?’
‘Er… because it sounds, and looks, too much like the word there’s… meaning there is.’
‘I’m really confused now… Can I have another cup of tea?…’
‘Of course…’
‘…and some biscuits?’
‘Yes… you may…’


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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