There is no worse place to be on this Earth than to be a columnist staring at a blank screen. You leaf through the papers, you click on the old favourites, just looking for something that will trigger the muse. Then bang … you find it, and suddenly 800 words of punchy prose are in the bag before you even know it.
I thought of that when I read Monday’s story about how a university professor wanted to ‘free-up’ our native language by resorting to phonetic spelling and abandoning the use of the apostrophe. I just knew that somewhere Keith Waterhouse would be rubbing his hands with relieved glee, and so it came to pass.
And in this morning’s Daily Telegraph was a tale tailor-made for the whimsical wordsmith. Apparently stone-age visitors to Stonehenge held ‘bring your own’ barbecues which involved shipping in cattle from Wales and Scotland.
Wahey!, I thought, there’s Alan Coren sorted for tomorrow’s piece. Except he can’t be any more, and that’s very sad.