I understand my limitations as an author. I think I got 54 marks out of 100 in School Certificate English. My wife, Alison, my daughter Jane and I’m guessing my son-in-law, Stephen, all scored more than that. I know Jane was really close to double my score on her own. Jane and Stephen went on to earn degrees in English and Alison included English as a major portion of her degree.

I, on the other hand, stayed well away from studying my native tongue. There were many reasons. I couldn’t spell. I used too many words. I had no idea what words like participial [sic] meant and all those rules, like “i before e, or is it o, except after c or d or f” were as meaningless as the London Times cryptic crossword. I am certainly no Tolkien or Jane, Alison or Stephen for that matter.

However, what I have done is soldier on writing a blog called Swimwatch for twenty-five years. I’ve also had three books on swimming published by the very reputable German publisher, Meyer and Meyer. Those literary Everests were achieved because of a love of the subject. None of them, I would recommend for their literary merit.

What my writing experience and my close contact with real masters of English has taught me is, throw grammatical stones with caution. The next time you open your laptop might be the beginning of a glass house disaster.

With this background I was interested to read Kiwi Swimming’s Facebook report on the Swimming New Zealand Annual Report. Instead of discussing the organisation’s financial performance Kiwi Swimming went on about a misspelt heading.

“If we want our swimmers to set high standards, this is not really a good spelling example set by Swimming NZ in its Annual Report. TECHINCAL OFFICIALS.”

I read the Report long before Kiwi Swimming alerted me to the misspelt heading. I hadn’t even noticed the error. I knew what Swimming New Zealand meant. And that was good enough for me. One thing I am sure of though – Swimming New Zealand’s spelling of Technical, as sure as God made little green apples, made no difference to the standard of my coaching in the morning. How well I spell or cook a perfect souffle has no relevance to my ability to play American football. What a load of rubbish that Facebook page comes up with.

Kiwi Swimming’s public horror at Swimming New Zealand’s spelling is thrown into perspective when in the very next post Kiwi Swimming explains itself with this gem of a phrase:

“going forward in the near future”        

Well, there you go. Isn’t that brilliant English? While Swimming New Zealand’s spelling error may have missed my attention altogether, this nonsense stopped me in my tracks. I think we should all go off to bed early tonight. When we wake up, and after eight hours “going forward in the near future”, we might understand what he or she means.

PS – People in glass houses should not throw stones. I wonder what Kiwi Swimming got in School Certificate English.

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.