If a semi-colon was more appropriate than a comma, he would reach for the red pen. It was pedantic but precise and with hindsight I appreciate it. Accuracy matters. Bear that in mind when you read the rant below.
Occasionally I have to write advertorials for The Times. These are paid-for adverts masquerading as written pieces in the advertiser's hope that readers will pay closer attention to them than a standard ad.
You can understand why marketing companies ask journalists to write advertorials rather than get someone in their company to bash out a few paragraphs. We, after all, are supposed to have a certain talent for speling and gramar and fings like that.
Yet I get more suggestions for how my copy could be improved from bozos in promo companies than I ever do from my day-job editors. Generally they want more "core messages" inserted (as if that will make it more readable), very occasionally they spot a genuine error for which I am blushingly grateful (although we have sub-editors to do that too). But mainly they just want to cock it up through their own ignorance.
In one recent campaign, a slack-jawed gopher from a marketing company didn't like me writing "band of brothers" in a piece on the essence of sport. "Can you make it team of brothers?" I was told. Shakespeare did a pirouette in his tomb.
But an email yesterday really made me splutter with rage.
I had written a headline for one advertorial that read "The Gentlemen's Code". To which I received this reply from a promotions guru:
"Not being a grammar expert I think it might be Gentlemans' Code ie is singular and then the s with ' to indicate possession. We did a quick google check and this appears to be correct."Why would someone who admits to not being a grammar expert assume that we might be wrong? Why does he think that s' is the construction for indicating possession in the singular? And why does he use Google to check his ropey grammar?
For that matter, how did Google back him up? I just typed gentlemans' into the search engine and nothing leapt up to suggest it is accurate. Lots of gentleman's or gentlemen's but no s' option.
So not only did he rely on Google to support his intellectually stunted assertion but he then failed to read the results correctly.
This man has the title "managing director". I dread to think how dim his staff must be.