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Tuesday, 12 October 2004

This Is Not A Spelling Bee

Yesterday I got the Christmas cards back from our printers. These are to be sent to the UK for selling and fundraising. Somewhere in between me signing off the proof and them actually doing the printing a spelling error has occurred. We have neither the funds nor the time to reprint; they must go out. I had to spend a couple of hours folding 500 Christmas cards - that’s looking at the spelling error 500 times. Do you have any idea what that is like to a grammatical pedant like me? It was like 500 paper cuts. The really nasty stingy kind. I got an email recently from a web host company. It said:

“…A company that neglects it's website may be committing commercial suicide.” wrote The Economist a few month's ago. Here at [company] we recognise the need for Company's to expand their Internet presence and to take full advantage of the domain name they currently own, which is why we have launched Premier Web Shop."

I sent them an email back saying that any company which sends out mass emails littered with grammatical errors is also committing commercial suicide. I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, once I’d folded and wrapped the cards, there was suddenly a mad rush to get them boxed up, as we got word that there was someone we knew in Lusaka who was going to the UK and would take them for us, thereby bypassing the idiocy that is the Zambian postal service (but not, unfortunately Royal Mail), but we had to get them to Lusaka before she left on a jet plane. There really are times when I miss a well-stocked office back home. And not just for the stealing. First off there were no suitable boxes. So I had to cut down a big one and try to tape it up. The stationery manager only had really weak sellotape. I tried lashing that on but after a few seconds everything started to lift up. I went and asked again for strong tape, because answers to questions here are random. If you ask for something and the answer is ‘no’, often if you ask the same question five minutes later the answer will be ‘yes’. I think they do it deliberately just to drive me crazy. Anyway, my repeat request for strong tape got a ‘maybe’. I was presented with a very old box. I delved carefully inside and pulled out something that looked a bit like packing tape, but not quite. Once I’d blown the dust and dead flies off I started to unravel it. It was like really thick brown paper, with one side gummed. I didn’t have any water to hand, so I wet the tape with the dregs of my hallucinogenic rooibos tea, and stuck it willy nilly all over the box. I have a horrible feeling that this stuff will do one of two things: either not stick and peel off completely in a wiggly octopus fashion, leaving our ‘courier’ with a bit of a mess on her hands, or set like cement, rendering the box unopenable except by use of a big knife. Sincere apologies to Office Smurf in the UK who will have to deal with this.