So, here's the thing! A nice lady reviewer of one of my books complained about me using 'stood' instead of 'standing', and 'sat' instead of 'sitting'. She also mentioned a few occasions where I'd missed the apostrophe off it's to signify 'it is', and one incidence of putting 'aloud' instead of 'allowed'! Okay, I hold my hands up to these latter minor transgressions, but... and here's the thing - I didn't know about the 'stood/sat' and 'standing/sitting' usage. I know, you're thinking, WHAT, the guy has a PhD, two Masters degrees, is a qualified teacher, and has written sixteen books! Well, first of all, let me say that I'm not using the following explanation as an excuse, merely as an explanation.
Apparently, it's a Northern thing. Some have said it's dialect, but it's not dialect it's simply the way people speak. Well, I come from Manchester, and we say 'stood/sat'. Now, when I say, "We" that's not strictly true. My wife is also from Manchester and she doesn't say it, but when we discussed this issue yesterday she said she'd been taught the correct usage at school. That revelation brings up a number of issues. First of all, we could blame her for not telling me! I mean, after thirty-something years (I can never remember how many - and I hope she doesn't read this!) of marriage you'd think she'd have corrected me when I said something like, "I was stood behind the bar helping myself to a pint of Guinness" instead of, "I was standing behind...", or "I was sat watching Manchester United thrash Arsenal 8 - 2" instead of, "I was sitting watching...", but the evidence for such finger-pointing is a bit tenuous to say the least.
Okay, if she learnt it at school why didn't I, you could ask? And you'd be quite right to ask too! The trouble is, it was probably one of the days I wasn't there, and I wasn't there a lot of the days I should have been there. My mates and I used to wag it, bunk off, play truant. In fact, I left school at 15 when the actual school-leaving age had been increased to 16. I did go back to get my razor and little Gideon's Bible, but otherwise school was a complete waste of time for me. I was in an all-boy's prison... school (Freudian slip, or what!), I mean how can they put a boy with raging hormones in a school surrounded by boys? And... worse than that, they put an all-girl's school across the road. What I did learn at school were the concepts of magnetism, torture, and corporal punishment. Yeah, unfortunately I was seen smoking a cigarette and strutting my stuff past the girl's school when I should have been in lessons. Needless to say, I got six of the very best for the privilege!
So, you can probably guess, based on the aforementioned conditions under which teachers attempted to 'learn me good', that I didn't learn a lot. In fact, I obviously missed the lesson on the correct usage of 'stood/standing' and 'sit/sitting', but you know what they say , "You're never too old to learn!" And it's true. I started doing my Masters degrees (Oh, I was able to get into University because I'd done a lot of edumacation in the Army in terms of Maths and English - and a lot of other stuff as well - but I obviously missed the lesson on correct usage again!) when I was 40 years old, and didn't finish until I was awarded my PhD in Educational Management at Lincoln Cathedral on a cold January day at the tender age of 51.
Anyway, after my sloppy English had been pointed out in no uncertain terms by the wonderful reader, I did some research! Hey, if there's one thing I know how to do - it's research. And you know what I found out? Of course you do - I found out the correct usage of 'stood/standing' and 'sat/sitting'. So, I'm thankful to the reader for pointing my error out because I genuinely didn't know! And... you wonderful readers, don't think your reviews are ignored! Oh no, they're taken very much to heart by us writers (OMG I'm a writer!). So, when you say that, "Your book sucks", you may as well go round to the author's house and stick a twelve-inch knife through their heart because that's the effect it has on us! It's as if you've put your grubby hands in the baby's buggy and throttled the ugly creature... I won't carry on with the analogy, but I'm sure you get my drift. Now, I'm not saying don't write a truthful review, but you could be gentle with us poor half-crazed writers huddled round the braziers trying to keep warm as August turns to September. I write my books in about 4 months (don't say, "It shows" like that!), but others take a year, two, three, or more, so in effect what you're saying is that a writer has wasted a large chunk of their life creating a lead balloon, a concrete parachute, a chocolate fireguard or teapot, a ... - don't you just love idioms?
Anyway, after I'd worked out the correct usage of 'stood/standing' and 'sat/sitting' (because its not easy let me tell you) I revisited The Wages of Sin and made corrections - there were a lot of them! But you you know what - now I'm using two words instead of one to say the same thing! And... after using the incorrect terms for over 40 years it just doesn't look right, but I suppose I'll have to bite the metaphorical bullet to keep you wonderful readers happy. If other writers can get it right, I'm sure I can. So, I suppose I'd better look at the other books I've writ and correct them - don't want people thinking that those who come from north of the Watford Gap services (pictured) can't write proper King's English, do we?
You know what else the woman said in her review? She mentioned an editor/proofreader! Well yeah, one of those would be great, but contrary to popular belief - they cost a lot of money, and for starving struggling authors such as myself it's a big deal. Not only that, when I first started writing, I sent six chapters of a book to an editor who suggested changes etc., and charged me an arm and a leg for doing it (I think - £180), but you know what - she was rubbish. Of course, I didn't know it at the time, but once I started teaching myself how to write properly - after I'd written three books (It's a man thing - we read the instructions after getting the flatpack out of the box and trying to put the damned thing together!) I found out that I'd paid £180 for a shoddy service. Now, I do it myself. Hey, I miss the odd 'its when it should be it's' or 'aloud when it should be allowed', but generally speaking, I'm a damned good editor and proofreader. Not only that, even the professionals get it wrong - the amount of traditionally published books I've read peppered with errors you could stack one on top of the other and make a skyscraper!
Anyway, to conclude! Now that I know how posh people from the South talk, I'll endeavour to write proper English from now on. I mean, whilst I'm sat sitting here thinking about standing up in a stood position, I could learn to be a proper writer instead of playing at it! Have a nice day y'all!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.