Dirty Bertie home

Look out below

Basil Brush was always banging on about Dirty Gertie from Number 30 and I'm pretty certain that, if he were keeping a puppet-like eye open for apostrophe misuse, as I appear to be doing, he would quickly change his catchphrase to refer to the proprietors of Bertie's Bar in Tynemouth.

I've already expounded on the merits (or lack of) of the computer printed sign, and we've seen how these can be the source of many glaring errors. Today, while walking past the aforementioned bar, belonging to Bertie, no doubt, I noticed a sign headed:

Bertie,s Bar [sic]

Yes, that's right, they used a comma to make Bertie into the possessive. Now, I've heard of the apostrophe and its friends, the quotation marks, referred to as flying commas but I think we've found one here that has ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing!

In actual fact, this is not the first time such a phenomenon has been noticed. There's an electronic road sign in Newcastle which showed something similar. Is it simply that the comma and apostrophe, when shown on the faces of computer keyboard keys, look identical? Or are we just entering a whole new age of ignorance?

The jury's out!

22 May 2001
Ashley Frieze