THIS column, as readers should
know because I have often told them so, has long been regarded as a site
of special semantic interest and an area of outstanding syntactic beauty
but, as some are asking, has it been genetically modified and is it safe
to touch, let alone read?
Some believe - wrongly - that it has been marked out
in an unholy and unwholesome series of government-sponsored and
editorially-directed experiments that would result in this space becoming
even more concentrated in the form of grammar-rich granules that could be
sent to intellectually-impoverished third world countries and, with water
added, be distributed as food for thought.
The words "musical" and "jobs"
appeared in the introduction to a recent column. Both were not home-grown,
were ir-relevant to my subject and seem-ed to be the result of
cross-contamination from another column. Harmonics are not a no-table
feature of my writing and "jobs", with its over-and-undertones of wage
slavery and trying to catch or avoid the boss’s eye, is inimical to my
work ethic as a liberated columnar spirit.
Investigations have concluded
that a mere, electronic columnar blip occurred that may never recur, but
readers have expressed unease and alarm that, despite its innocuous
appearance, this space may be prone to insidious alien influences with
harmful side-effects such as frustrational teeth-grinding, cold flushes,
feeling hot under the choler, stiffening of moral rectitude, rushes of
indignation to the head and lockjaw induced by immoderate yawning.
I said, for sudden dread had seized their troubled minds.
that readers are in columnar country where free-range ideas roam
uninfluenced by the corrupting influences of originality, where, in its
still, cerebral seas, deep observations move with the slow, fathomless
purpose of strange, sightless fish, where petty piques - mountains made
out of molehills - saw-tooth the prose-purpled sky, where bitter-sweet
oxymoron is blooming true, its leaves always a lot to be desired and in
which paradox stands proud on the horizon and irony scuttles in the
This column - and I am certain the same applies to
similar spaces in this newspaper - is pure in thought, word and deed. It
is also honest, sober and trustworthy, has no artificial adjectival
colouring, is free from hyperactivity, especially in its passive verbs,
has only editorially-approved sweeteners in its thought processes and does
not contain boil-in-the-bag, heat-in-the-foil, quick-digesting opinion
Much of what this space offers is a result of my
training in sentence drainage, paragraph assembling and military
phrase-fitting in the Royal Army Mobile Stationery Corps (The Pen-Pushers
From Hell: Regimental March - The Deil’s Awa Wi The Paper-Clips).
an African outpost of strategic grammatical importance - where the
anapaests bit and the tropical tro-chees rustled in the bush - and in
charge of native auxiliary verbs while overseeing a rough lot of
insubordinate clauses who would neuter your gender if you turned your back
on them, I soon learned the fundamentals of Army word hygiene and no-one
was prouder when, after the parsing-out parade, I received my War Office
Certificate of Field Service Sentence Construction from Brigade
Grammarian, Col J Bracket himself.
Readers will also know that this
space is a haven for misunderstood question beggars and abused or ignored
apostrophes, word-worn refugees from other journals and contains a heap of
nourishing things such as the delicious, heart-warming goodness of
home-made prejudices, toothsome, untreated verbiage and piquant
persiflage, the last made according to an age-old secret recipe of Granny
Morris, the ingredients picked at rosy-fingered dawn from a 1922 Chambers
Dictionary. It was from that dear old grammarian that I learned the value
of two-for-the-price-of-one compound sentences, to avoid cheap-skate
clichés like the plague and to seek out juicy words from which the marrow
of meaning could be sucked.
What of the future? A
refreshing, anti-oxidant-enriched, free-radical-free drink, containing
essential columnar ingredients, suitable, with modifications either as a
stimulant or soporific, and columnar-concentrated nut fudge or chewy
caramels are on the cards. The possibilities, discounting any attempt to
modify the column’s grammatical genes, are endless. Watch this space.