Monday, 11 July 2011

Is nothing sacred?

The lavender is in full scented bloom here, and walking in the meadows around the mill frequently brings up a smell of mint. Walnuts are fully formed on the trees, and this morning a red squirrel raced down the walnut tree near the bolly, bounced across a patch of tall grass and disappeared onto the lower patio only three yards from me. (A bolly, in case you are wondering, is the local word for a covered patio at the side of the house.)

The sun is blazing down from a blue sky, but tomorrow rain is forecast. We can't complain; evidently the Dordogne region has been suffering from a severe water shortage.

Back home, the row goes on about journalists hacking peoples' phones, a crime the profession seem to consider unimportant when in pursuit of a story. The News of the World, a salacious rag I remember from the days of my childhood, has bitten the dust as a result, and hopefully all Murdoch's papers will have to change their ways if they wish to survive. If a person cannot be sure of having a private phone call, what use are phones?

I read in the Daily Telegraph over the weekend that the Oxford or serial comma 'is entering that zombie half-life where all dying grammatical rules survive for a while - appreciated only by the prissy and the fussy. It's better to kill off the poor, awkward thing, rather than let it linger on, unhappily, between the covers of books published by Oxford University Press.' (In case you are curious, the Oxford or serial comma is the one inserted just before the "and" or "or" in the last item of a list of three or more items, as in the sentence 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.' Without the Oxford comma, Churchill would have offered the British people just 'blood, toil, tears and sweat.')

Harry Mount, the Telegraph journalist, goes on to say that the Oxford comma is fiddly, correct but followed only by a clever minority and smacks of smug pedantry. he quotes H W Fowler, who said in 1926: "Pride of knowledge is a very unamiable characteristic, and the display of it should be sedously avoided."

So there we are. Note to self: check and see how many newspapers Rupert Murdoch actually owns. He might actually own the Daily Telegraph for all I know.

1 comment:

Prudence MacLeod said...

Although phone hacking is a despicable crime, it does seem to be an indication of the times. Whenever I pick up the phone, answer the door, drive the car, speak to a friend, or walk down the street, I always assume I am on camera and that someone is listening. It sucks, but that is the information age we live in. True privacy no longer seems to exist.