Shire Proofreading

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Shire Proofreading Update – February 2024

February is here after what was a mercifully mild January. Candlemas Day was rather dull here in Yorkshire.

According to old wisdom:

            If Candlemas be fair and bright, winter has another flight.

            If Candlemas brings cloud and rain, winter shall not come again.

Although this is about as likely to hold true as the predictions of the groundhog, it always gives me a boost.

What I’m working on

I have enjoyed producing the March–April issue of Round Up magazine. The front cover features images heralding the onset of spring in our two villages. Winter is certainly not over, but the snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses push through the earth regardless.

The advent of spring triggers a flurry of events to raise funds for local, national and international groups. There are many events happening over the Easter period, both religious and secular.

Editing and proofreading such a variety of content is very satisfying. I particularly enjoy designing the front covers.

What I’m reading

I remember hearing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits for the first time in 1981. I was captivated by this song and it reminded me of my father’s liking for West Side Story. Although I’m not keen on some of the music by Dire Straits, there are many songs that I love. On a whim I read My Life in Dire Straits by John Illsley. John was the bassist in the group, and the story of his childhood, teenage years and chance meeting with David Knopfler is enlightening. How many of us have dreamed of fame and fortune at some point? But how many of us could keep a level head when they came knocking?

What I’m doing

I am grateful to have been accepted as a member of York Editors. This is a group of editors and proofreaders based in or near York and I am looking forward to meeting other professionals. I have been busy working on my entry in the York Editors directory and you can view it here

What I’ve learned

One of the most common grammar errors is the past participle of the verb to lead. The past participle is always led, but this is so frequently written as lead that it becomes difficult to remember that it should be led.

I lead the team to victory this afternoon. I led the team to victory yesterday. I have led the team to victory. I had led the team to victory.

I don’t think I misled you with these statements.

What I’m listening to

To my shame, I have never read a novel by Georgette Heyer. However, this may change after listening to her biography, written by Jennifer Kloester. This is a wonderful account of Georgette’s life, and I was struck by how much of her life was influenced by her father.

My next audiobook is one I have wanted to listen to for quite some time – Becoming by Michelle Obama. I heard extracts from the book on Radio 4 some years ago and added it to my list.

What I’m stitching

I have had enormous fun stitching my latest project titled ‘Garden Paths’. This is a band sampler designed by Patricia Ann Bage to represent many varied styles of paths through a garden. Each band features different speciality stitches. This makes band samplers a most satisfying way to expand my repertoire and perfect new techniques. This sampler was stitched with Kreinik Silk Mori Milkpaint floss, which replicates the milkpaint look of colonial and early nineteenth-century periods. The solid cream bands were stitched with DMC Perlé floss. The next job is to stretch the linen and frame the piece.

What I’m looking forward to

Now that I am a member of York Editors, I am looking forward to my first meeting. We will be meeting in person at a small hotel in York. It will be marvellous to make new connections and put faces to names I know well. I hope to learn from experienced professionals and have a jolly good lunch and chat to boot.

Shire Proofreading Update – January 2024


January is my least favourite month of the year; the Christmas decorations have been stored away for another year, the weather is often at its worst, and the New Year resolutions are being broken with abandon. However, by the end of the third week, the days are lengthening (despite the cold strengthening) and this lifts the spirits.

What I’m working on

I have proofread another academic essay on the attitude of the Irish population to the British Imperial Project between the 1850s and the 1940s. I enjoy this genre of work enormously because it enriches my knowledge. The history of Ireland is complex and troubled, but this essay has given me insightful information on the origins of the country. Did you know that letter boxes in Ireland were all painted green after Ireland became a Free State in 1922? Some letter boxes still have the original GR (Georgius Rex) embossment under the green paint.

What I’m reading

As a teenager, I was captivated by the televised series of the Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited in the early 1980s. I fell hopelessly in love with Anthony Andrews and found the series utterly compelling. Castle Howard in North Yorkshire was used as the location for Brideshead; on a visit there I was transported back to the 1920s and could almost see Sebastian Flyte sweeping down the steps with his cricket jumper tossed nonchalantly around his shoulders and Aloysius in tow.

On clearing out my parents’ house, I came across a first edition of the novel in hardback with a somewhat tattered dustjacket. This copy even contained a receipt made out to my paternal grandmother in the princely sum of ten shillings and sixpence from The Book Society Ltd, dated 28 May 1945. It is my pleasure and privilege to read this novel for the first time.

What I’m listening to

Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries is every bit as entertaining as I anticipated. It is an intriguing insight into the life and thoughts of Alan Rickman, and it lays bare characteristics that may not appeal to everyone. It is a truly honest account and explains how he was able to play villains with such conviction.

What I’ve learned

Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process; it is strictly confined to correcting errors. Style choices, rewording and contextual inconsistencies should have been tackled by the point a proofreader receives the proof. Although I know this, I have to keep in the forefront of my mind that proofreading is correcting only what is WRONG.

What I’m stitching

I completed a large cross-stitch map of France highlighting the country’s regional specialities. The chart for this piece was given to me by a dear friend who has lived in France. This was such a fun piece to stitch; it was exciting to see the regions come alive as the motifs were added and the finished work will be a lovely conversation piece. I now have the pleasure of returning to band samplers. These are my favourite pieces to work on. They are usually longer than they are wide, and they consist of horizontal bands, each one of which features speciality stitches in a limited range of flosses and colours. That allows me to focus on perfecting one particular stitch per band, and I don’t have to change flosses frequently. The whole exercise is very relaxing and rewarding.

What I’m looking forward to

I’m looking forward to the next meeting of my local CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) group. Although it is a virtual meeting, I’ll be able to meet up with local editors and proofreaders to discuss our craft. The topic of this meeting will be AI and how it is impacting our work.

Shire Proofreading Update – December 2023

Twixmas is the one saving grace of the Christmas and New Year period. The main event is over, and I can relax and look forward to the New Year. My family always treats New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as a repeat of Christmas but without the stress.

What I’m working on

I have proofread an academic essay on the death of Christian Britain. When the student was asked by a friend what the topic of his essay was, the student replied ‘Christian Britain’, to which the friend replied, ‘Who’s he?’ The student replied, ‘The husband of Vera’! This only works in speech because Vera’s surname was spelled ‘Brittain’. This essay gave me the opportunity to learn a new word: milquetoast.

I produced the January–February issue of Round Up magazine. Those winter months are always quiet in the village and it’s not easy to find sufficient interesting content. When a space proved impossible to fill, I wrote a winter poem with a religious tone – it is a church magazine after all. I was determined to include my friend’s favourite word (crepuscular) in the first line.

What I’m reading

I have several weighty tomes on the history of R.M.S. Titanic, and the recent showing of James Cameron’s film on television over Christmas prompted me to dig them out and refresh my knowledge. I find it surprising that there are no images in existence of the Grand Staircase on Titanic; the famous images were all taken on her sister ship R.M.S. Olympic.

I am also reminded of how much I dislike the film despite its huge success.

What I’m listening to

Having been so busy in the run-up to Christmas, I am now catching up on The Archers. My next audiobook is Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries. As Hans Gruber, he was the consummate villain in Die Hard.

What I’m remembering

Twelve months ago, I had to say goodbye to my dear old cat. She had been my constant companion for twelve and a half years, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve done to stroke her head and comfort her at the vet’s surgery. To commemorate her life, I stitched a bellpull; this has pride of place on my wall. I take a moment to look at it every day, and I am reminded of the many wonderful years we shared.

What I’m looking forward to

The New Year will be a time of growing my business and developing my proofreading skills further. My New Year resolution is to become much better acquainted with New Hart’s Rules. It is an indispensable guide for proofreaders.

Shire Proofreading Update – November 2023

As November draws to a close, the winter weather is knocking hard on the door. A brisk afternoon walk has to be just a little less brisk when ice is crunching underfoot. But the glorious sight of a setting sun piercing through the trees and warming the face is one that keeps me getting out there every day. The opportunity to chat with fellow walkers is always welcome.

The formal hall at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge lived up to every expectation. I love a bit of pomp and circumstance, and this evening did not disappoint. The dining hall looked stunning and we all rose when the gong heralded the entrance of the fellows, one of whom read grace, in Latin, of course. The meal was very tasty – if you discount the figs.

What I’m working on

The January–February issue of North Duffield and Skipwith Round Up magazine will soon be on the horizon. This issue will be filled with seasonal events, such as switching on the lights, Christingle services at St Helen’s church and our annual pantomime, for which I always design the poster. The pantomime is a wonderful opportunity for our residents, young and old, to get together, show off their theatrical and musical talents, and have a great deal of fun.

What I’m reading

Having finished Diana, Remembering the Princess, I am now immersed in The Kennedy Curse by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen.

What I’m listening to

Who Killed JFK? by Rob Reiner and Soledad O’Brien. I don’t generally subscribe to conspiracy theories, but I make an exception in the case of JFK.

What I’m looking forward to

I’d like to say Christmas, but I always find it a bit of a chore with endless thinking time about what presents to buy. Shall I be brave and cease the Christmas card routine? I’m looking forward to Twixmas – a word that is quickly being assimilated into the English language.

Shire Proofreading Update – October 2023

The evenings are drawing in, and the great outdoors is just that little bit less inviting. Nevertheless, it’s good to wrap up warm and get out there. The autumn colours are stunning, and dappled sunshine on the bracken creates a russet glow. Walking gets the blood pumping and provides endless quirks of nature to wonder at. That’s what I’ve been doing when I get the chance.

What I’m working on

I had great fun producing the November–December issue of the North Duffield and Skipwith Round Up magazine. There are so many events happening in the two villages in the two-month run-up to Christmas, and it’s wonderful to see our communities raising so much money for local charities. Singing carols on the Village Green at the Christmas Lights Switch-on is a highlight, especially when mulled wine is on offer.

What I’m reading

As a proofreader, it comes with the territory to read prolifically. I thoroughly enjoyed On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming. My current read is Diana, Remembering the Princess by Ken Wharfe and Ros Coward.

What I’m learning

Having completed the suite of three proofreading courses offered by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, I’m now tackling Essential Proofreading offered by the Publishing Training Centre. I must be a glutton for punishment! However, continuous professional development is a must in this profession.

What I’m planning

I’m working towards expanding my proofreading business and gaining new clients.

What I’m looking forward to

I have a wonderful opportunity to attend formal hall at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge next month.

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