When I was a boy I held the misconception that adults knew what they were talking about. Discovering that they didn’t was a relief, on the whole. However, some things should just be known.
I took a relative to hospital yesterday and as I was sitting in the waiting room I spotted a notice written on a white-board, which read:
THERE WILL BE A TWO MINUTE’S SILENCE AT 11.00 AM TO DAY
At first, I was comforted by Remembrance Day being marked by the NHS and the opportunity to tune into the collective consciousness given to the sick. Then I noticed the errors. I have never been part of the Grammar Police, so maybe it was my age, or the fact that it was a wet, wintry day, or the promise of a four-hour wait, that stirred my irritation, but I don’t think so. When I had children, I found that many of the things which had never really mattered were suddenly carved in stone tablets and hung from my neck while some bearded gent bellowed them constantly from a mountain just in case I’d forget.
The urge to walk over to the white-board and amend the notice was huge. With a little sleight of hand, my finger could erase the rogue apostrophe. The other mistakes would be more taxing. A pen, nay a dry-wipe marker pen, would be needed – I ended up wanting to rewrite the notice. Of course, there wasn’t a marker handy in case some vandal tampered with the important information, or some bored detainee doodled to pass the hours. I would have to ask the receptionist if I could borrow one.
I didn’t ask for the marker. I took out my own pen and wrote a blog post about misconceptions, notices … and regrets. I didn’t look at that sign again: my frustration was out on paper and I was content knowing that I was prepared to correct the mistakes. It was only when I left, that I regretted not having a smudge of ink on my fingertip.