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\”#Box\’s of sandwiches\” – aargh!

OK, so perhaps I was the hundredth person in her newly opened deli that morning who told her she\’d got an apostrophe wrong on her large prominently-placed notice. And probably she\’s never seen the hysterical episode of \”Open All Hours\” where Ronnie Barker teaches the true meaning and use of the most dangerous punctuation mark of them all (I couldn\’t find it, by the way – what was it called?).
***
Snarling that \”Actually, I\’m seriously dyslexic and I\’ve got a hundred other things to do and you don\’t have to buy my food…\” may not have been the ideal way to go. I offered to proof-read her notices for free and got a withering \”No!\”
***
Perhaps she isn\’t actually dyslexic, but just lazy – most of the real dyslexic people I know, including someone who\’s normally near the top of the Rich List, are immensely hard-working and always check these things out.
***
Leaving that aside, maybe she is dyslexic – but we all make spelling and punctuation mistakes. I\’ve made crashingly horribly public ones myself. The front cover of my latest book \”The Poetry Diet\” featured a beauty which was missed by the editor, designer, an experienced journalist and me despite repeated proof-reading. I only saw it by accident in the nick of time. Usually when people point out a stupid mistake I\’ve made, I grit my teeth and say thankyou because they\’re actually saving me from my sloppy self. And, yes, it matters.
***
It matters because until the apostrophe finally dies, using it correctly shows you pay attention to detail. It\’s basic, obvious and easy to check. It\’s the orthographical equivalent of washing your hands before preparing food.
***
Unconsciously, when we\’re looking at your random flying comma, we\’re thinking: If you can\’t be bothered to get that right, what else can\’t you be bothered to do?

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