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  • Bob McCalden

The barbarian's are at the gate *

Further to the article in the Sunday Telegraph, the Telegraph Puzzles team followed it up with this little article extract on 4 September:


The barbarian's are at the gate *

By Chris Lancaster PUZZLES EDITOR

When editing our puzzles, one of the things to which we pay most attention is punctuation. Whether it's using the wrong type of quotation marks, omitting a comma, or using a comma where a semicolon is needed (my own particular pet hate), any error in punctuation is one that is pounced upon by solvers. Here at Telegraph Puzzles, we still have nightmares about "missing-colon Tuesday", as one particular day from around five years ago is known. This may sound like some terrible medical complaint, but in fact resulted from a colon being omitted from a quiz question, leading to a set of complaint emails which still brings me out in a cold sweat when I think about it. It's this aspect of our work which means that I was completely flummoxed by this story about the Apostrophe Protection Society, which ran this weekend. While many people may be baffled by the existence of this society, my incredulity results from the fact that not only am I not a member, but that I also didn't know of its existence. It's a shocking lapse that makes me question the fundamental truth of my existence. The APS was founded in 2001, but closed in 2019 when its former head, John Richards, declared that "the barbarians have won". However, the society was resurrected earlier this year with Bob McCalden, a former IT director, at the helm. In a memo sent out on International Apostrophe Day last month (August 15, if you'd like to note it in your diary for next year), Mr McCalden said he hoped to "preserve the correct use of this much-abused punctuation mark". Bob, you have our unqualified support. * Finally, in an attempt to avert what might in future years be known as "misplaced-apostrophe Monday", the punctuation error in the subject line of this newsletter is very much intentional. I'd hate to see my new membership of the Apostrophe Punctuation Society terminated so soon.


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