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Vandal or 'Punctuation hero'?

Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 26 Aug 2009

“After enduring sloppy punctuation on the street sign outside his home for more than a year, Stefan Gatward could stand it no longer,” writes Colin Fernandez for UK’s Daily Mail.


“The 62-year-old former soldier decided to launch a one-man crusade against 'dumbed down' Britain, and picked up a paintbrush to insert a missing apostrophe.


“This turned the incorrect St Johns Close into the correct St John's Close.


“But he was immediately accused of being a vandal by one neighbour, and his amendments have been scratched off by others who apparently prefer the wrong version.


“The 62-year-old's defence of the apostrophe comes after Birmingham council announced it would scrap the punctuation from council signs for the sake of 'simplicity'.


“Mr Gatward moved into his flat in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 14 months ago.


“He said today: 'As we are off St John's Road and opposite St John's Church, both with the apostrophe, St John's Close should have one too.'


“But when Mr Gatward decided to correct the crime against the language by painting in the missing punctuation mark, he was jeered by a neighbour.


“'He told me I was wrong. He called me a vandal and a graffiti artist,' Mr Gatward said.


“'He tried to tell me that the Post Office would not deliver to the street if you put in an apostrophe.'


“Mr Gatward, who served for four years in the Gordon Highlanders in the 1960s, is not just a campaigner for the apostrophe.


“He will not join the 'five items or less' queue at the supermarket, in protest that the sign should read 'five items or fewer'.


“He also gets annoyed when people-neglect the 'Royal' in 'Royal Tunbridge Wells', and was vexed when he saw a major chain store advertising sales with signs saying 'until stocks last' rather than 'while stocks last'.


“'I fought for the preservation of our heritage and our language but some people seem happy to let that go. I'm not,' he said.


“'I feel very strongly about the English language. These days people write in text-speak and nobody knows how to use the apostrophe.'


“He added: 'I'm not going to go round with a can of paint and change everything - it would be a full-time job.'


“A spokesman for Tunbridge Wells council said that the builders of Mr Gatward's estate were responsible for erecting the signs, and the council is responsible only for maintaining them.


“However, developer Linden Homes said any fault rested with the council. 'The sign was approved by the council, that's our position on it,' said a spokesman.”


Read the entire article here.



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