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Shire Proofreading Update June 2024

I always look forward to June when the summer arrives and gives us long, sunny days to enjoy the garden. What a disappointment the first half of the month was. Every day witnessed overcast skies, rain and wind, or a hellish combination of all three. The greenhouse seedlings struggled to get going; it seemed likely that I would not get much of a harvest this year.

What a difference a few days can make – the temperature ramped up, the sun broke cover and I have finally shed my winter clothes. There has been a burst of activity in the greenhouse, coupled with an abundance of lettuce-eating slugs. I now conduct a nightly slug patrol to relocate the little devils.

What I’m working on

During the first week of June, I was working on an academic dissertation to be submitted for an MPhil in History. This dissertation concerned the life of Henry Page Croft MP and his role in the groups known as the ‘die-hards’ in British politics of the 1920s and 30s. The deadline was tight, so this necessitated some burning of the midnight oil. There were plenty of issues to consider:

  • Capitalisation of government departments and offices
  • Correct presentation of dates
  • Conformity of number presentation
  • Punctuation of quotations
  • Paragraph formatting
  • Consistent use of commas, semicolons and colons
  • Following a strict style guide

It was a fascinating glimpse into a historical group that has been under researched, and it was a challenging piece to proofread.

Most recently, I have proofread a beautifully illustrated book concerning the history and extensive renovation of an Italian villa on the shores of Lake Como. The illustrations are sublimely beautiful and the book is sensitively written. It is always a joy to proofread illustrated books, and this one was an exceptionally enriching experience.

What I’ve learned

Proofreading the illustrated book on the restoration of an Italian villa was quite an education as it conformed to the US style of spelling and punctuation. US style always places punctuation inside the final quotation marks, no matter how short the quoted material is. US style also prefers double quotation marks – they do have the advantage of being easily distinguishable from an apostrophe.

Molly said she hated ‘that thing’. (UK style)

Molly said she hated “that thing.” (US style)

What I’m watching

I have a penchant for international football, and the Euro 2024 tournament is providing plenty of evening entertainment. I was delighted to see Georgia play so well against Portugal. I remember being told decades ago that most of the Soviet football team comprised players from Georgia.

Confessions of a Teenage Fraudster is my current series. What an enlightening and somewhat concerning watch this is. It centres on the life of Elliot Castro, who was a serial credit card fraudster from the age of sixteen. After many stints in prison both in the UK and abroad, he now works legitimately in fraud prevention. He is an immensely likeable person, and his story is captivating. In terms of falling victim to fraud, there but for the grace of God go I.

What I’m listening to

Like many others, I am fascinated by mysteries. The case of Lord Lucan is a particular favourite, and I was delighted when the Daily Mail ran a podcast series earlier this month re-examining the case with the help of two barristers, the official police report, contemporaneous testimony and living witnesses. The Trial of Lord Lucan podcast was a must-listen. It surprised me that 84% of the vote found Richard John Bingham guilty of murder. I suspect many people opted for the guilty vote even though they felt he had hired a hitman for the bungled job. If the latter is true, he could not have been convicted of murder.

What I’m reading

The Lucan podcast reignited my fascination with the case and I dug out a book on the subject that I have only skimmed previously. For anyone interested in this case, A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson is a compelling read. But beware – it occupies a lot of thinking time.

Laura Thompson, acclaimed biographer of Agatha Christie, narrates the story that led up to that cataclysmic event, and draws on her considerable forensic skills to re-examine the possible truths behind one of postwar Britain’s most notorious murders. A DIFFERENT CLASS OF MURDER is a portrait of an era, of an extraordinary cast of characters, of a mystery, of a modern myth. Part social history, part detective story, it tells in masterly style one of the great tales of our collective living memory.’

 

What I’m doing

I had a wonderful time in Cambridge, where I attended the final formal hall of the year at Corpus Christi College. The college guest room exceeded my expectations: it comprised an entrance hall, a spacious and bright bedroom with a seating area, a separate study and a well-appointed bathroom. Everything that we needed was provided, and the room was immediately next door to one of my favourite eateries, Bread & Meat on Bene’t Street. The city was on my doorstep, just a minute away from the famous Corpus Clock. Formal hall was a wonderful experience, even though the lack of fellows at High Table obviated the need for the sounding of the dinner gong and the Latin grace. There was a punt on the River Cam; I particularly liked the Pimm’s Float – what an enterprising idea. I managed to stay on the punt, although there were a few occasions when I thought I might be in for a dip.

What I’m stitching

Stitching has finally resumed after a break that was far too long, and I am working on a birthday gift for a relative. I stitched a birthday needle roll earlier in the year for my dear friend, which was very well received.

The July birthday needle roll is the same style but with larkspurs instead of roses and therefore a purple theme rather than a rose red.

Making the finished stitching into a stuffed needle roll is enormously satisfying and rewarding.

What I’m looking forward to

Several years ago I proofread a novel written by the lovely Catherine Morrison. The novel, Recovering Alice, is a heart-warming account of one woman’s struggle with addiction, and it reminds us that we all need a ‘Bob’ in our lives. I can recommend this highly to everyone whether affected by addiction or not.

Catherine has been busy writing her next novel and I am delighted that she has chosen me to proofread it. I can’t wait to get started and am looking forward to working on fiction once more.

Shire Proofreading Update May 2024

A pink rhododendron bush in full bloom.May is a glorious month; spring is well and truly underway, and the garden is responding with abundant growth and a plethora of blossoms. The downside is that there is plenty of gardening to do at this time of year to keep everything under control. The hedges require frequent trimming, and this must be done most sensitively to avoid any disturbance to birds. Although they don’t nest in the privet hedges, they do take refuge there. The longer and warmer days are so welcome. The vegetable seedlings are doing well in the greenhouse and I’m looking forward to cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, radishes and spring onions later in the year. Molluscs are a constant pest to the seedlings; any gaps in the greenhouse afford them entry where they can guzzle away to their hearts’ content overnight. My next job is to ensure their ingress is impossible.

What I’m working on

I have completed the proofread of another fabulous art book for the Zabludowicz Collection. This book featured interviews with artists who were invited to showcase their installations for Zabludowicz. When viewing an installation in a gallery, it is often impossible to understand the inspiration behind the work. The in-depth interviews with the artists give welcome insight into the artists’ backgrounds and interests, as well as specifics on the motivation that allowed the work to be created. The artists have such diverse backgrounds and the interviews allow us to delve much deeper into each piece, giving a more thorough understanding and appreciation. It is only since proofreading art books that I have begun to take modern art more seriously. I still may not like the piece, but knowing what inspired it and what it represents enhances my knowledge.

What I’m watching

I have just finished watching Criminal Record with Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo. It centres on a detective, who is early in her career, investigating an old murder case handled by a seasoned veteran after she learns of an intriguing anonymous phone call. The juxtaposition of the original investigation and the new enquiries is fascinating. The clever way in which insufficiencies and errors in the conviction are gradually revealed makes for compelling viewing. Peter and Cush play against each other so well, and the variety of characters and historical flashbacks keeps each episode fresh. I’m moving on to The Last Enemy with Benedict Cumberbatch shortly.

What I’m reading

Cover of The Sea, a novel by John BanvilleEmails! I try not to read emails while I am on holiday as downtime should be exactly that. Although out-of-office notifications are useful, they don’t stop the emails from coming. I hope to read The Sea by John Banville as my next novel. It won the Booker Prize in 2005 but, despite this, it has garnered plenty of negative criticism. The synopsis reads:

‘When art historian Max Morden returns to the seaside village where he once spent a childhood holiday, he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma.

The Grace family had appeared that long-ago summer as if from another world. Mr. and Mrs. Grace, with their worldly ease and candour, were unlike any adults he had met before. But it was his contemporaries, the Grace twins Myles and Chloe, who most fascinated Max. He grew to know them intricately, even intimately, and what ensued would haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that was to follow.’

I enjoyed many family trips to the seaside as a child, so perhaps this will resonate with me.

What I’m doing

I’m taking a couple of days off after working two weeks of twelve-hour days on a task that was not proofreading per se but contained elements of the proofreading process. I was tasked with completing a spreadsheet of 60,000 names. The spreadsheet had been compiled from scanned historical typewritten documents. The scanning process is notoriously fallible when old, typed documents are involved; almost all the names were incorrect or inconsistent. My task was to insert the correct name in the adjacent column for each row with only the incorrect name and a date given for reference. This involved an enormous amount of concentration, a keen eye for consistency, dedicated research skills and a determination to succeed. I entered the correct names for 59,998 rows. The only two rows that could not be corrected contained two names; the correct one could not be determined as the date applied to both. I think I can count that as a success.

What I’ve learned

I would like to say that I have learned to say no, but I still don’t like to refuse when my help is requested. What I have learned is that I can work efficiently and determinedly to complete tasks even when the timescales and deadlines are far tighter than I would wish. However, when I am under pressure to complete jobs both to a tight deadline and a high standard, it is vital to look after my physical and mental health. It is only possible to proofread to the level I offer by being fully rested before starting the task. Whether I am being paid for the work or doing it on a voluntary basis, excellence is still the requirement.

What I’m listening to

After returning from two weeks away, I was plunged into the spreadsheet work. That put me four weeks behind with The Archers. I am listening to four episodes a day to catch up. The audiobooks will have to wait.

What I’m stitching

Stitching suffered the same fate as podcasts and audiobooks over the last four weeks. I am looking forward to getting back to my hearts and flowers stitcher’s etui. Working on canvas in tent stitch makes a pleasant change from delicate embroidery work.

What I’m looking forward to

I am heading down to Cambridge for the final formal hall of the year at Corpus Christi College. I have managed to book accommodation for two nights in the college guest room. It will be wonderful to have the city on my doorstep and be able to explore the public areas of the college; Old Court is a favourite. I love tradition and all it entails; formal hall is a wonderful experience and I shall make the most of this final occasion. There will be a punt on the River Cam; I shall do my utmost to stay on the punt when it is my turn.

Shire Proofreading Update April 2024

A camelia shrub in full bloom around a garden bench.April has announced its presence with the advent of Easter. I often feel that Easter is becoming less celebrated than it once was; I hope that isn’t the case. I love to receive an Easter card just as much as I eagerly awaited an Easter egg hunt as a child. When my son was young, we saw a hare hopping past our full-length window; seeing his face light up with delight when I told him it was the Easter Bunny is one of my golden memories. For Christians, Easter is more important than Christmas because it celebrates the resurrection – a central tenet of the faith. There is something uplifting about Easter; not only do we celebrate the resurrection of Christ but also the resurrection of nature after a long winter’s sleep. The temperature is starting to rise, gardening can begin in earnest, bees awake to seek out nectar from the early blossoms, and early flowering shrubs fill the gardens with much-needed colour.

What I’m working on

This month sees me editing the May–June issue of our parish magazine, Round Up. The highlight of the summer season in our two villages is without doubt the Garden Fête. All the residents come together for an afternoon to raise funds for St Helen’s Church. The events include a tombola, a raffle, craft stalls, book stalls, plant stalls, games, music and refreshments. There is always a stall giving a potted history of local life, and the whole event is rounded off by an inter-village tug of war.

I will shortly be proofreading another academic dissertation of 30,000 words. This one focuses on a movement in British Politics in the 1920s and 1930s known as the diehards, who maintained that rapid rearmament in the face of Nazi aggression was essential to Britain’s survival as a world power. I’m looking forward to this one. The author wants to title the work Die Hard with a Vengeance, but their supervisor may have other ideas!

What I’m watching

I loved Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010), so I had to watch Masters of the Air, which is a companion series to those just mentioned. It is based on a book of the same name by Donald L. Miller and recounts the story of the American 100th Bomb Group; this was a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber unit stationed in East Anglia during World War II. It was every bit as riveting and true to history. That spurred me to watch Dan Snow’s The Dambusters, which recounts the story of the British 617 Squadron, formed to deliver Barnes Wallis’ ‘bouncing bomb’ to the three massive dams of the Möhne, the Eder and the Sorpe along the Ruhr Valley in May 1943. Although there is no doubt that the breaching of the Möhne and the Eder dams was a considerable boost to morale, I have to wonder (given that both dams were rebuilt in under six months) if it was worth the loss of 53 airmen and 1,600 civilians, hundreds of whom were prisoners of war.

Silent Valley and Silent Valley at WarWhat I’m reading

My TV viewing spurred me on to reread two books I bought many years ago when attending Finningley Air Show: Silent Valley and Silent Valley at War, both by Vic Hallam. I first visited Derwent Reservoir during the drought of 1976 with my parents and became fascinated by the submerged villages of Derwent and Ashopton, both of which were demolished to accommodate the new reservoir. The receding water revealed many traces of the old villages, with remains of St James and St John’s Church and Derwent Hall particularly evident. I have revisited Derwent many times over the years; it is eerie and compelling.

What I’m doing

I am busy building up my profile on LinkedIn Louise Glynne-Walton (Shire Proofreading) and interacting with other proofreaders and editors, some of whom I met at the recent meeting of York Editors. I have renewed my membership of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) for the following year. The CIEP is indispensable for professional proofreaders, providing guides, training, and a supportive and helpful community.

What I’ve learned

I am trying my best to learn not to fret if I don’t achieve perfection. A proofreader’s job is to correct only what is wrong and to minimise errors. If I can eliminate the major errors but let a few minor errors slip past unnoticed, I have done a job that is good enough.

https://blog.ciep.uk/overcoming-perfectionism/#sq_hgwhymb509

This quote from Jennifer Lawler  sums it up perfectly:

Once I embraced the idea that I didn’t have to be special in order to deserve not to starve, it freed up a lot of mental bandwidth to do the work to the very best of my ability and not fret otherwise. Letting go of the idea that I have to somehow be A-MAZING all the time actually allows me to have a more realistic perspective on my abilities and to (so ironically) do better work.

What I’m listening to

My current audiobook is Pru and Me by Timothy West. I have admired their work as actors for decades; I first saw Timothy West in the title role of Edward the Seventh in 1975 and have followed his career ever since. Who can forget Prunella Scales in Fawlty Towers? I was delighted to find his book on BorrowBox. Tim and Pru met over sixty years ago and they must have one of the strongest partnerships in the acting world. It’s hard to believe that Pru was diagnosed with dementia twenty years ago. I have nothing but admiration and respect for them both.

What I’m stitching

The Hearts and Flowers Stitcher’s Etui is turning into quite a project. It has been a long time since I worked on stiff canvas; I am much more familiar with the soft, floppy feel of pure linen. I have to learn canvas technique all over again and this has resulted in far more ‘frogging’ than I would like. I am starting to get back into it and progress is being made. But don’t expect a finished project any time soon.

What I’m looking forward to

I have a two-week break coming up, which is most welcome. It won’t be a rest, but it will be a change, and you know what they say about that.

Shire Proofreading Update – March 2024

March is finally here and the advent of spring is most welcome. My mother’s birthday was 21 March and she insisted she was born on the first day of spring. Her birth fell on the day of the 83rd Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race. As was the norm, she was born at home and fathers were excluded from proceedings; my grandfather was listening intently to the progress of the race on the radio, having coxed for Exeter College during his time at Oxford. Therefore, spring begins on 21 March in this household. The signs of spring are in evidence all around me and they uplift the spirit. Cycling can recommence, the birds are busy building their first nests, and the garden plants are showing promise.

 

What I’m working on

I am concentrating on professional development this month. Although I have passed the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading’s suite of proofreading courses with merit, I want to make sure there are no gaps in my knowledge. The Publishing Training Centre’s Essential Proofreading course is every bit as rigorous but it offers different approaches and perspectives. I was delighted to receive a distinction for my latest assignment – three more to go.

What I’m reading

Becoming by Michelle Obama has been on my reading list for too long. Although written by a ghostwriter, you can hear Michelle clearly in the words. It is a riveting memoir and guides us through her life from humble beginnings in Chicago through the front door of the White House. What strikes me is the enormous sacrifices she had to make to support her husband’s bid for the presidency.

What I’m doing

I attended my first group meeting of York Editors (link). We met in a lovely hotel in York and it took me back to the fifteen years I spent driving along that road to take my son to school. I met a wonderful, accomplished, friendly, knowledgeable and experienced group of editors and proofreaders. Everyone had something to contribute and I gleaned so many tips and so much advice – I must take a notebook next time. It was encouraging to hear other members’ stories and discover their routes into the profession. Above all it was wonderful to meet like-minded folk who I no longer consider strangers.

What I’ve learned

It’s often tricky to remember the order in which adjectives should be placed before a noun they all modify. Thomas Claire has produced this simple mnemonic, which I am finding extremely useful.

Need a simple mnemonic to remember the order in which to place adjectives in front of the noun all of them modify? Try SAC: Size, Age, Color . . . and material and condition if they apply. A big old red stone and wood dilapidated bank barn. A large brand-new brown cardboard box. Missing an adjective? Leave it out but keep the order for the remaining adjectives. Have an opinion? Put it in front of the others: A nifty little well-used brass belt buckle. An ugly towering century-old red brick eyesore. In case anyone asks, these are called—grammatically—prepositive noncoordinate adjectives. They need no commas separating them.

Many thanks to Thomas for this insight – https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-claire-12a19015.

What I’m listening to

I am so happy to have discovered BorrowBox. As a member of my local library, I have access to eBooks and audiobooks that are available on BorrowBox. The service has become so popular that many titles are out on loan but reserving them is possible. My favourite this month has been The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander. This is a bittersweet story with a dual timeline and focuses on the treatment of people with learning difficulties in the post-war period. The recent timeline is set in Whitstable, Kent – a beautiful coastal town I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago to attend the launch of a book I edited for the local library group.

What I’m stitching

No matter how hard I try, it is inevitable that I lose at least one of my gold-plated needles during a stitching project. I am determined not to do that again because my stock of needles is dwindling. When I spotted this practical and pretty stitcher’s etui by Sue Hawkins, I knew I had to make one for myself. There will be no more vanishing needles when I have this etui by my side.

Benjamin Franklin will be my guide:

a place for everything, everything in its place.

Let the stitching begin and the needles behave.

What I’m looking forward to

Warmer days – that goes without saying.

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 https://yorkeditors.org.uk/2024/02/12/louise-glynne-walton/

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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