I’ve been sending out pens today and I was once again, as I often am, struck by the strangeness of people. Did you know that there are people out there – quite a lot of people, alarmingly – who never seem to use their shift key, or use it only now and again, so that they capitalise their first name but not their surname. Whole addresses and postal codes are done in lower case, or sometimes it’s a mixture, like Kw8 9fM. WTF, one asks oneself. What’s it all about?
I have a dear friend in New Jersey who regards not using capital letters as a point of principle, so James becomes james, France is france and God will never be anything but god for her. I believe she thinks that in some way she’s puttin’ it to da man by refusing to use the shift key. Maybe she took issue with the authority figure who told her in school that proper names begin with capital letters and she’s striking a blow for freedom every time she obstinately sticks to lower case. She’s about 64 now so that teacher has probably been pushing up the daisies for quite a while but still she relentlessly sticks to lower case. That’s a lotta payback, except I don’t suppose that long-ago authority figure ever noticed. Me, I think it’s a sign of insanity but she’s a nice lady in most other respects and as long as she’s satisfied with substituting lower case for upper case letters she probably won’t start taking off her clothes in public places or whacking her husband with a ball-peen hammer.
She’s an exceptional case, though, but what about the others? I can’t believe that they’re all nuts too. So what is it? Is it a strange form or dyslexia or dyspraxia or some such ailment? Do they aim for the shift key but never quite hit it? Can it be that there are adults who don’t understand that there’s a point in capitalising the letters in their postcode? Or are they (hush, don’t say it aloud!) just bloody stupid? Or can it be that they, too, are on a maniacal crusade against the tyranny of the capital letter, holding their heads high in pride at their avoidance of the shift key, like the idiots in the seventies whose proudest boast was that they never wore a tie?
What’s next, a revolt against the hegemony of the dictionary, so that every word can mean whatever we want it to mean? (Mirthless, Jacobean abercrombie delinquent sputum). An end to the overweening overlordship of grammar, syntax and speling?
Oh dear. I do hope not. I’ve just scared myself with that idea.