Shire Proofreading

Putting proofs through their paces

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.

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