Don’t ever rely on your spellcheck

November 24, 2016 § Leave a comment


I’m surprised I even had to write that headline – I thought everyone knew. Spellchecks are helpful – I use them as a guide – but if I left it at that, it would be corporate suicide.

I was chatting to a friend about this the other day and her reaction was: “Yes, you couldn’t afford any errors – being in the ‘words’ game.” That’s true. If I made mistakes people would be quick to point them out.

On the other hand she’s a gift retailer and her communications output is critical to her business, particularly at this time of the year when customers will be looking for Christmas presents.

She always sends an invite to a list of her customers with a message that says something like:

  • Come along for an evening of wine, mince ties and a chance to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest, hopping at leisure.

Although only something like that because it actually reads:

  • Come along for an evening of wine, mince pies and a chance to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest, shopping at leisure.

The point I’m making, is that a spellcheck wouldn’t have picked up any spelling mistakes in the first sentence because there aren’t any. The sentence just doesn’t make sense and it takes a human brain to work that out, not a computer.

In short, a spellcheck can tell you when a word is spelt incorrectly but not when it’s used incorrectly. Use it but know its limitations.


I lost faith in the offer because the copy was spelt so badly

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment



I want to do yoga – frankly I need to do yoga – so when a Winter sun/yoga offer plopped into my inbox it looked just ‘the thing’. I was nearly on my way to find my leggings and book my place. And then I read the copy.


They wanted me to believe that there were professionals at the end of this venture into yoga which, they explained, means union of “body, mint and spirit.” (Please note: this is the sort of mistake your spellcheck can never pick up because although the word’s completely wrong, the spelling’s entirely right so there’s no reason for the spellcheck to question it.)

‘Whether’ was spelt ‘Wether’, sentences were constructed inside-out and back-to-front and the punctuation thrown randomly at the copy like confetti.

This was a three-paragraph email. It’s not hard to get that right – language/writing clearly wasn’t their strength, and they should have given the job to someone who could have polished it up properly. Then more people would have actually followed through, found their leggings and booked a slot.

When I see a company can’t be bothered to spell properly, I wonder what other corners they’re cutting.

Mind your language – would-be customers will doubt your professionalism if you don’t – and you’ll do nothing for your reputation.

Where have all the photos gone?

September 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

Had a brilliant afternoon at my brother’s the other weekend. We pulled out some photo albums and took a leisurely trip down memory lane.

First of all there were the pictures of when we were kids and then pictures of when our kids were kids – and in between those weddings. holidays, birthdays – and, of course, the ever-changing hairstyles and fashions along the years (what made us think we looked great??) There were lots of ‘ooohs’, plenty of ‘aaahs’ and loads and loads of laughs. We ended up reminiscing for hours, the photos sparking memories of moments that were ‘around’ the pictures but not actually captured in them. It was fantastic.


Back in the day with my son & daughter

And then I panicked. There was something very real and everlasting about those photo albums. When was the last time I backed up my digital albums? And why am I saying ‘albums’ I’m not that organised in the digital photo world! I just click at stuff – there’s no system. When was the last time I held a recent ‘proper’ photograph?

My phone has a lot of rubbish images on it and the good stuff I don’t show people in case they flick back onto a ‘full-pout’ selfie I mistakenly took when I was fixing my hair before a meeting!

Anyway, call me old-fashioned – because perhaps it is – but I’m now in the process of having my ‘keepsake’ photos from recent years printed. I want to file them in the sort of flip album that makes them so easy to view – and stack on a bookshelf. In years to come I can’t see us crowded around a computer looking at images but I can see us passing photo albums around and having a glance at the way we were!

I called a friend today who’s recently had a baby and asked how she took photos of the little one. She takes loads, apparently, on her phone (just as I thought). But, my friend  was quick to confirm, they’d only recently been for a formal sitting with a professional photographer. Not the same, I suggested as the possibly haphazard but eminently preferable alternative of snapping away with a camera, sending them off for developing and the thrill of receiving them back two weeks later – if only to find just half being in focus. At least they’d be ‘proper’ photos her little girl would always be able to find on the bookshelf and enjoy looking at just as my kids enjoyed looking at their baby photos. Just saying ….


Further back in the day with my brother – I know, the hair! Clearly, I thought it was great then….


I have loads of these sort of albums – easy viewing – and now plan to have loads more for new pix

Spot the typos (there are 10)

October 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

There are 10 typos in this piece of text. Can spot them?

How Names Became Words

Bloomers: Baggy womens undergarement, originally an entire costume with lose trousers gathered at the ankle. Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-94) was a New york postmistress who’s championing of women’s rights included there mode of dress. The outfit, designed by Mrs Elizabeth Miller, the daughter of a New York congressman and introduced in 1894, was not a success. The innovation was much derided. Previously, Bloomers was a big draw as a speakers and published a magazine, Lily, to propogate her views on feminism and temparance.


Check your answers here

Are our minds turning to mush?

April 29, 2015 § Leave a comment


Back in the day we knew telephone numbers. Lots of them.

I still remember the number of my childhood home – and next door’s where my parents might be if I had to call to say I was going to be late.

Sitting with friends at the weekend, we all admitted that there’d been times of late when we’d had trouble remembering our OWN numbers and that had nothing to do with age but everything to do with the fact that contacts are all plugged into mobile phones. Rarely are we repeating our numbers and when we phone someone these days we just have to remember their name!

So we’re getting flabbier upstairs as far as phoning is concerned.

And now if we don’t know something or remember it, we don’t try to work it out anymore – we Google it, of course. Google can tell you everything. It’s surprising the sort of information we turn to Google for. I took a random (very random, I thought) question and searched ‘Can you fix a burnt sausage?’ It transpires Aunty Google has the answer and we can ditch common sense or trial and error.

Map-reading skills are being overtaken by Sat Nav and as much as we might moan about the woman’s voice that shows us the way or the ridiculous bell tones that warn us of speed cameras, the Sat Nav gives a much easier life than a map ever did. Map-reading is particularly difficult if you’re driving alone although we managed in the past.

Spelling is something we think we can hand over to a spellcheck – it doesn’t work though. If I write  ‘He complemented me on my blog,’  the spellcheck’s going to like that, but it’s wrong. And calculators are taking the place of mental arithmetic.

I don’t remember any ready-meals in my childhood nor sauces coming out of jars or packets but the art of cooking is also disappearing. A huge ‘convenience’ industry has grown up around us and unless we choose not to let it overtake us, our minds won’t be the bouncy, pliable matter they once were – but heaps of mush!

Spot the Typos

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here’s a piece of text with 10 typos. See if you can spot them all.

How to complain with class

There are some people who are never satisfied and who kick off at every opportunity. Then there are those who are as silent as a stealth bomber but when they blow, they really loose their rage.

Always try to be the latter. If you cry wolf to often people won’t listen when theres a real emergency. First stop and count to 10. Do you have ground for complaint? Be very friendly, present the problem and ask what they can do to assist you. You don’t want to alienate your target. Get them to empathize.

Complain in a slow, low voice. If you start at a screach you’ll have nothing to work up to. Never get too irate and don’t lose the sight of the fact that your the victim. Always get the name of the person who is not assisting you and ensure them you will be contacting their boss.


When you’ve noted down your answers, you can check them here



People on trains are rude

March 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

A percentage of people who travel on trains seem to have undergone some sort of personality bypass. A perfectly decent person who wouldn’t think twice about apologising if they bumped into you in the street suddenly becomes warrior-like when they commute. But, I think we all know many commuters are in a category of their own – I’m really talking about the rest of the train passenger population. The non-peak traffic lot.

train pic

I was travelling overground to Paddington the other day and a fair few people were standing for a fair few stops. Did they have to? No. But to get a seat they’d have had to have asked seated passengers to move their bags/hats/books/lunch from the adjacent seat.

Unbelievably, rather than risk ‘upsetting’ said seated passengers they remained standing but – much worse, in my books – not one of the seated passengers made any effort to remove their bag/hat/book/lunch to free up a seat.

Then you’ve got the ‘feet-on-the-seat’ people. This annoys me so much I choose to sit in the two-seater arrangements because passengers can’t stretch their feet on it from an opposite seat. I know it sounds grumpy but if you’re wearing anything half-decent you don’t want your bum to look dirty and dusty thanks to the grime that’s been wiped off from the bottom of somebody’s shoe.

I just came home on a busy train from Ealing Broadway where an immaculately-dressed man stank out the carriage chomping though a smelly pasty and then not-so-secretly crumpled up the paper bag it had come in and crushed it underfoot on the floor – not far from the litter bin. Bet they expect more of him in the board room….


Of course, there are even helpful notices to guide you in the direction of being polite: suggesting you offer a seat to someone who’s less able to stand. They don’t work either. Quite a few years ago I was standing and carrying my baby daughter while a carriage-full of seated passengers did what passengers do best – look everywhere but at each other. After a shaky few minutes, tottering, I asked if anyone minded giving us their seat. I’ve never seen everyone in a carriage stand up so quickly!