As a huge crime fiction fan I do love a good mystery. Take for example the case of the vanishing watering can. This manky plastic green watering can has sat in my front garden for a couple of years with no problem, now it has disappeared. Some people say I need to let this particular mystery go and accept that the watering can is no more, but it is just not that simple to do as it has no conclusion. Whilst I suspect that Hilda 1 has taken it in order to prove her point about the number of dangerous gangs there are in the area (which I am not denying, however I imagine that carrying a large plastic watering can alongside their Ben 10 lunchboxes may have proved too difficult for even the most hardened 5 year old!) But without confronting her about it I’ll never know the truth and that annoys me.
I have the same struggle with missing parts of the alphabet. The number of texts I get that have missing letters drives me mad. The other day I was sat in a bar with a friend and a bloke offered to buy us a drink. Although what he actually did rather than speak, was throw a napkin on the table in front of us with ‘Cn I by u a drnk’ scrawled on it. Even if he hadn’t been older than my Dad, fat and balding the lack of proper words is just not the way to court someone.
I heard Stephen Fry talk last year, and someone asked him what he thought of the current craze around text speak. Surprisingly he didn’t throw up his hands and batter the questionnaire over the head with a missing vowel. He actually said that he thought anything that got people using language is a good thing, no matter how they use it. He then went on to suggest that people using text speak in order to put a point across in twitter or in the space of a single text is similar to Lord Byron shortening words and writing in different directions in his letters in order to save paper.
Well I hate to have to say it but I disagree with Stephen Fry. I realise there is absolutely no denying that he is a much more intelligent, educated, witty and articulate person than I am, however safe in the knowledge that he will never read what I’m about to write. I think he is wrong.
Text speak annoys me terribly. I don’t mind the odd ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘tom’ instead of ‘tomorrow’ which is always a tricky word to spell. But as soon as I find myself having to re-read a message to try and understand it then it makes my blood boil. I don’t even believe it’s a youth thing, as I have had some perfectly legible messages from some of the younger contingent in my acquaintance and some barely understandable vowel-less nonsense from those old enough to know better!
The case of the missing letters is one that is always going to bug me. I understand sometimes its necessary. I will always shorten words that I struggle to spell however with good old predictive text even bad spelling isn’t the barrier to good English it used to be. I accept there are times when you are in a rush and want to send ‘c u in pub’ rather than ‘One is very much looking forward to seeing you in the public house later on this evening’ but on the whole there is just no excuse.
I’m sure all authors would agree that words are something that should be treasured, and enjoyed, not things that are just cast aside as though unimportant. I might not be able to solve the vanished watering can mystery, but I can at least make sure I try to not lose letters!