Shire Proofreading

Putting proofs through their paces

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.

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