Last night I almost died laughing. I certainly lost a lot of sleep due to uncontrolled fits of giggles.
Last night I learned a very valuable lesson – the hard way.
The lesson is this, ‘never ever use Google to prove a point unless you have already checked exactly what results are shown first’.
My wife is my harshest critic (If you discount the opinion of the millions of internet users who still refuse to read anything at all here at Glen’s Life). I hate showing things that I’ve written to Jo. She always frowns or screws up her face at things, or shrugs her shoulders non-committedly at passages that I’d been really impressed with. She’s not a monster, she just has a better grip on grammar than I do and just can’t look past it.
She thinks I’m having an affair with commas. She has this theory that I am somewhat comma happy. She’s right. I use them far too freely (I am trying very hard not to do that today). Jo is considerably higher educated than I am and is a teacher, so I do accept her opinion on this. Unfortunately I’m the one with the passion for writing, so you’ll just have to put up with my comma love.
To get slowly to the point, last night I asked Jo to read through the ‘first draft’ of my competition fiction story (actually it was my third and very carefully edited draft, but I told Jo it was my first so that she wouldn’t get too upset at the remaining typos). I’ve been working on that for a couple of weeks, discovering just how hard it can be to write a story when you really want it to be taken seriously. I knew Jo would sniff out the one or two last mistakes that I’d missed during my read through.
First of all a miracle happened.
She liked it.
How often does your partner actually like your work? I know, well neither does mine.
Then we sat to discuss mistakes.
I couldn’t believe it. Paragraph after paragraph had to be tweaked. Not the story or anything, but commas. Occasional grammar tweaks here and there but mainly commas. Jo just looks and says “why is there a comma there?” or “full stop capitol letter” on auto – she is such a teacher. I was getting pretty fed up and mildly grumpy. I’d put so much effort into this story and was very proud of my work. Why was it so far off the mark? I have to repeat that I do trust my wife on these things.
When she screwed up her nose and asked “What does that even mean then?” about a phrase I’d used, I decided to dig my heels in. “What do you mean ‘bunkered’ down?” She asked. I explained and was told that I actually meant ‘hunkered’ down. “No” I said, “I meant ‘bunkered’ down. Just because you don’t know the bloody phrase doesn’t make me wrong”. I’d had enough of being taught things. I use this phrase often enough. How dare she just pass me off as wrong just because she doesn’t use it? The nerve of the woman! I told her in no uncertain terms that it’s my damned story and if I want to use a term of phrase then I will do and I won’t be changing it just because she isn’t travelled enough to have heard of it, thank you very much.
The argument went on for a while until I made a decision. The matter needed putting to bed once and for all. I had a point to prove and the internet would help me make it. I knew that my bunkered down was the right term, not Jo’s crappy hunkered down, so I said “Right then – I’ll prove it”
Without bothering to do any research first and with Jo looking over my shoulder, I Googled ‘bunkered down’. The results would quickly prove her wrong and force an apology out of her.
Never do this.
Always check first.
Here is the very first page of results that comes back if you use Google to search the phrase ‘bunkered down’, while your irate wife watches.
Quietly, while Jo was busily distracted holding on to her pelvic floor, I made a barely noticeable alteration to my text.