Shire Proofreading

Putting proofs through their paces

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.

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