Canberra Confidential: Woes of the wandering apostrophe

WHAT’s the big deal about a tiny apostrophe, one might groan?

Well, CC worries about all things large and small and driving around town the other day passed one of the grand, brown tourist-destination signs that announce the impending presence of “Calthorpes’ House”.

Signwriting... the sign as it is and, perhaps, two ways (thanks to digital mischief) we think it should be.

Signwriting… the sign as it is and, perhaps, two ways (thanks to digital mischief) we think it should be.

That’s odd, we mused, it used to belong to the Calthorpe family and, in that case, shouldn’t it be described as Calthorpe’s House (apostrophe “s”)?

But the sign suggests the house belonged to a clutch of Calthorpes, to wit Calthorpes’ House (“s” apostrophe).

CC called for a grammarian and no finer authority than Michael Travis, the retired chief sub-editor of “The Canberra Times”, from a time when things like this mattered.

Travis took to our query and intoned: “If they mean Mr Calthorpe, of course it’s Calthorpe’s house. But they may have meant the family, the Calthorpes, when of course it would be Calthorpes’, but they should say the Calthorpes’.”

Or, we agreed, simply use the apostrophe-free solution: Calthorpe House.

Right place, wrong ‘Times’

THE recent claim by “The Canberra Times” that it was the only newspaper to report on November 23, 1963 that US President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated has caused a ripple of disagreement around the newspaper industry.

Veteran Melbourne journalist Kim Lockwood writes to an industry newsletter that the “Canberra Times” “cannot be allowed to get away with its claim”.

“I know for a fact the Melbourne ‘Sun News-Pictorial’ put out a late edition, having recalled several staff from home. And what does the ‘Times’ have to say about the afternoon papers across the country [Saturday afternoon papers were still printed in the capitals]?”

Another person working in Sydney at the time writes that: “It may have been the only morning newspaper to print this, but it was not the only paper to print this news on the Saturday, November 23, 1963. Both the ‘Daily Mirror’ and ‘The Sun’ usually went out at 10am each Saturday… but on this day they produced their first editions at 9am and followed this during the day!”

Even Hobart’s “Saturday Evening Mercury” reported the assassination on November 23, 1963, and the weekly “Derwent Valley Gazette”, an hour’s drive from Hobart, reported it a week later making it possibly the last Australian newspaper to report the assassination for the first time!

Sleep tight!

AS one heads off to holiday with the prospect of languorous nights in a hotel bed reflect on this: according to the Healthy Hotels Program, the average hotel bed will be home to more than 1370 people over a five-year period. Humans shed up to 3.6 kilograms of skin each year and an average bed can contain anywhere from 100,000 to two million dust mites.

The Ohio State University entomology department says the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be comprised of up to 10 per cent dust mites and their excrement. In addition, carpets and beds which are not regularly or correctly sanitised have been found to contain high concentrations of mould spores and bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).

To add to the equation, when examined with black light, most hotel room bed heads or head walls have been found to show evidence of human proteins. Happy holidays.

Festive hmmms

christams card (email)CC is always appreciative of seasonal greetings and commends the member for Ginninderra Mary Porter for showing thoughtfulness and economy with her Christmas salutation, an email largely bereft of adornment and grammar with her economising on the apostrophe in the word “Seasons”.

MINISTER for Police and, clearly, the Bleeding Obvious, Simon Corbell, was finger-wagging at the launch of the “Safe Summer” campaign the other day urging Canberrans to take responsibility for their safety this summer and warning (clear the front page!) that police would respond appropriately to those who engage in violent or anti-social behaviour.

SOMEONE touting a strange, new dog delicacy called Ruffs Ice Bones as “a healthy snack for our furry friends” in CC’s bloated inbox, went further to suggest they are also “a wonderful stocking filler”, presumably for the primary recipients of Christmas stockings, kids?

AND another PR panhandler is proffering research that says nearly half of dog and cat owners will serve their pets a traditional feast on Christmas Day and more than half will give their pet a gift (and three quarters of them will wrap it up and put it under the tree).

LONG-time trooper for the Australian War Memorial, much-loved communications and marketing head Marylou Pooley, will retire before Christmas after more than 15 years.

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One Response to “Canberra Confidential: Woes of the wandering apostrophe”

  1. Chris
    December 19, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    But no more people sleep in a hotel bed than your own bed at home!

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