Want to know how to enrich your life in less than six minutes? Treat yourself to an earful of the wondrous Frank Vincent Zappa's instrumental Apostrophe. No really, go and do it now. Your world will shine in brighter colours, I promise.
I grew up in the embrace of my brother's stereo headphones, destroying my delicate hearing under the sonic cascade of the Frank Zappa back catalogue. Dubious lyrical content for a nine-year-old girl, it's true, but Frank taught me the sublime joy of rock music and the correct spelling of the most misused punctuation mark in the English language (OK, so he also had misspelled track titles on that album like the classic Cosmik Debris, but that's poetic license and therefore acceptable).
The public abuse of this poor little beast (that's the apostrophe, not FZ), is evident everywhere you turn. It's not there when it should be, or it's there when it shouldn't be, or it's plonked in a spot where its only role is to hang miserably and destroy the meaning of an otherwise perfectly well-behaved sentence.
What a nit-picking crone, you may be thinking. But dang it, small details are important. And I'm not alone in my punctuation OCD. I once saw a delightful elderly lady openly deface an advertising blackboard outside a hardware shop because it had superfluous apostrophes on it. She stood there fervently rubbing them out with a spit-glazed finger (yes, spit) and then strode away with great dignity, having made the world a better place. No more Great Special's on Fruit Trees—Apple's, Pear's and Stone Fruit's ready to plant now!!! and I for one couldn't have been more grateful.
Bless her, and all you other apostrophe vigilantes out there.
I'll be blogging here at the Apostrophe Catastrophe about the wonders and tragedies of the English language, and other peculiar passions of mine. You can feel very welcome to post a comment, or have a little vent about crimes against language if you need to. We're all friends here, after all.
In the meantime, go well, go Frank.