I am wounded! Dammit, all these years I have been spending money on my Spectator subscriptions and all they do is poke fun at me! And if you are wondering how they do that, then just look hard at the very last item at the end of my first sentence, I have emboldened it and italicised it to help you find it. Yes, there it is, another of those damned exclamation marks! (Oh sod it, there's another one! (Ooops, and another!)
I had better explain. Regular readers will know that I am haunted by the shade of Miss Woods, Eng. Lit. & Lang., circa 1950-55. A somewhat severe looking lady who did her very best to teach me English but, alas, all to not much avail. However, what she did succeed in doing was to inject me with a permanent anxiety bug that leaves me forever worrying about whether my English is correct or not.
Now, as some of you may have noticed, I am fond - oh alright then - over-fond of exclamation marks. I toss them around with gay abandon - not that sort of 'gay', do behave - and I am uneasily aware that somewhere there is a rule which Miss Woods would have taught me that governs their correct usage but, of course, I can't remember it. At the time I was so much more pre-occupied with either football or the ever-burgeoning Josie B. who had the desk next to me.
Anyway, today I was less than impressed to have Mr. Mark Forsyth of The Spectator remind me of my careless use of this grammatical device. To be honest, he doesn't take the problem forward very far and it was more than a tad embarrassing to be told that the careless use of exclamation marks is a habit I share with President Trump! Yeeeees, quite! However, what I can say is that when my, er, 'stream of unconsciousness' hits the screen then usually, but not always, my exclamation marks are meant either as emphasis or to indicate humour.
Whether that is correct or not, I cannot say, but no doubt Miss Woods will tell me in her very precise way when I join her in heaven - and I heard that!