THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2007

  Charles Evans
COMMON ENGLISH ERRORS
 

There's an old silver Peugeot parked in the Avenue
And, on my way to Evensong, I have to pass quite near
Seeing, in broad illuminated letters right across the back
The bold announcement Quiksilver. Do you follow?
Yes, without a C in quick, for those of you who suffered
The modern education trends and cannot spell correctly
But, in my opinion, that Peugeot and the idiot inscription
Pollute the neighbourhood, and something should be done

I mean, what mindless yob would give a name like that
To such a wreck? It's bad enough when names appear
Above the windscreen, like Sharon and Kevin as if we
Want to know who occupies the vehicle, who it is who
Claps the mobile to his ear as she manipulates her lipstick
And it blares its horn at me waiting at the crossing trying
To reach St Christopher's, where the Parish Council will
Find it quite impossible to start without a Chairman

On Sunday, returning home from Matins, stepping smartly
From the pavement, I moved quickly to the silver heap
And in one deft movement slapped on the windscreen my
Sticky label, ready written, with its timely admonition
Kindly respect the rules of language and observe the
unvarying Conjunction of K with C
– when from a nearby house I heard
A shout, running footsteps, and Mobile Man demanding in a
Voice that never knew tutorials, 'Ere, what's your game?

Naturally I kept my dignity, turning to face him with a
Disarming smile, and My dear chap, I said (determined to
Be civil) allow me to offer you assistance. Do you realise you
Have committed a basic spelling error which does violence to
Our common heritage?
He paused, as if uncertain and I saw my
Chance. Reaching in my briefcase, I deftly withdrew my well-used
Copy of Fowler's English Usage (2nd Edition), which I always
Carry to Committee, and politely proffered it in his direction

I strongly recommend, I said, this little book. Please accept it
With my compliments
. – But at that moment, unaccountably, he
Aimed a vicious blow, just giving me the time to raise the book
Before my face, as it, impelled by a heavy fist, collided with my
Nose. Imagine my discomfiture, the ambulance, the noisy crowd
And then the bed in hospital, where the Sister, picking up the
Blood-stained volume from my locker, asked what Fowler was
It's a defence
, I told her patiently, against common English errors

Return to Adjudicators Report