The Oxford comma.
Hoo boy, now there’s a contentious subject.
Raised as I was with English literature and writing, I was – until recently – a vehement opponent of the Oxford comma.
And I love commas.
But I must confess I’ve come round to the idea and admit that the occasional Oxford comma helps to avoid confusion.
What is the Oxford comma?, I hear someone ask.
(More to the point, why is it called an Oxford comma, since it’s a very American* feature?***)
The Oxford comma is also known as the serial comma, which makes more sense.
It’s a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, and before ‘and’ or ‘or’.
For example, “an orange, an apple, and a pear”. “Chocolate éclair, lemon meringue, or rhubarb crumble”.
I always thought that final comma in a list was unnecessary. What misunderstanding could possibly arise from a list citing an orange, an apple and a pear?
Well, none, since that’s a fairly benign and simple sentence.
But let’s look at a sentence shared by renowned writer and editor Benjamin Dreyer about Donald Trump:
The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.
What does that sentence say to you? It could be merely a list of three items – but it could be explaining that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is a healthcare disaster and dildo collector.
And litigation fears would make that claim undesirable.
The serial comma is almost obligatory in American English, its ability to resolve ambiguity being the most powerful argument for its use.
However, that litigious statement about Mr Giuliani could simply be rearranged to state:
“The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with a healthcare disaster, a dildo collector and Rudy Giuliani.”
No misunderstandings there, surely.
In fact, as the Wikipedia page points out, the serial comma can introduce ambiguity. The example it uses says:
“They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid, and a cook.”
Is that a list of three things? Or is Betty a maid?
Which is why the Oxford/serial comma is not obligatory in British English and can be used at the writer’s/editor’s discretion.
Are you a fan of this grammar tool?
* This is my opinion. I’m going to look this up and confirm**.
** Wikipedia says I’m right: “British English allows constructions with or without this comma, while in American English it is common and sometimes even considered mandatory to use the comma.”
*** It was first mandated for use in Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford [my emphasis]
Hands up who's looking for a literary agent.
If you're a writer keen on getting published using conventional methods, your best bet to get publishers to notice you is the legendary literary agent.
Legendary because they have traditionally been seen as a "gatekeeper" to publishing success, and also because they are the first port of call for critical feedback.
I attended a talk by four literary agents at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to hear more about their role in the industry, and also any tips they might have for budding and ambitious authors.
The agents were:
• Emma Paterson (Aitken Alexander Associates)
• Chloe Seager (Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency)
• Abi Fellows (The Good Literary Agency)
• Isobel Dixon (Blake Friedmann Literary Agency).
They were interviewed by Heather Parry, co-founder of Extra Teeth literary magazine and the Society of Authors’ senior policy and liaison manager for Scotland.
First of all, I will say that none of the women was at all scary. Not even the tiniest bit. They were reasonable, approachable and softly spoken, so I shall cast aside my previous understanding of them as being hard-nosed and brusque...
So, first off – do writers really need a literary agent?
Chloe said: "I can't imagine the publishing process without agents. We are fighting on the author's behalf. We're managing the author's career, talking about their writing, their next steps, publicity... We are the middle man. We are on the writer's side."
That last point is the most apposite – an agent is not your enemy. They know if your writing will sell, can help you edit and rework it in the first instance, then sell it to a publisher, oversee and approve contracts, liaise with editors and publishers to see you through the process, make sure you're getting paid...
And the agent doesn't get paid unless you do, so they're going to work hard on your behalf!
(Heather added here, in her role with the Society of Authors, that authors shouldn't sign a contract with a literary agent until the SoA has had a look at it and made sure it's all above board.)
So, what are literary agents looking for among the thousands of submissions they get sent by authors? The women agreed on the following, among other points:
• The writer must have conviction (in their own story)
• The voice must be distinct
• There is an element of gut feeling, before the agent thinks strategically about whether the story can be sold
• The work should be tapping into conversations that are bubbling up (since it typically takes a year or so for a book to be published, writing that predicts what will be talked about is on to a winner)
• Sentences should sing on the page
• A rhythm and tightness of writing.
Ultimately, though, Isobel said: "The magic is hard to describe!"
While agents are canny with their knowledge of the markets and what is likely to sell, they are also human and therefore subjective, so don't be too downhearted if they don't connect with your work.
And that connection is definitely what the agent is after. Authors are generally asked to submit a cover letter, synopsis and first chapter or two of their work. You might think the synopsis would get read before the sample – the agent wants to know the plot, right? – but that's not necessarily the case.
Isobel said: "I read the letter then go straight to the first page of the sample, then to the synopsis. There is no point reading the synopsis at all if you don't like the writing."
And if the agent loves your work and is convinced by it, the author also has to have that conviction in their writing, as Emma reiterated.
"The writer must have conviction in their work because it will need to persuade [publishers, editors, readers] when it's out in the market – and before," she said. If you aren't passionate about your writing, why should anyone else be?
Passion was a concept Isobel also referred to in the relationship with her clients. She compared that professional connection with love affairs, the chemistry necessary to make it work.
"The chemistry has to work," she said. "I want to be with an author for a long time. You have to have that passion at the beginning [of the relationship]. You can't think, 'I will maybe take a punt on this.' That won't end well."
One interesting question, in this day and age, was about social media exposure, and whether agents thought authors should be active on social media platforms.
The overwhelming response was 'not necessarily'.
It does seem to depend on the genre the author is writing in, specifically whether they are writing for adults or children.
Chloe, who works with children's and YA authors, said that being active on social media wasn't important in the initial stages but authors should show a willingness to engage with audiences via social media and at author events.
She added: "It is a tricky balance engaging on social media and maybe saying the wrong thing, especially in children's and YA writing."
Abi pointed out that social media can be a toxic place, and her duty is to safeguard her authors.
She said: "There is a danger in excluding those who aren't or can't be on social media platforms."
In fact, Abi was the most vocal about the need for diversity in the industry, and the importance of making it accessible and attractive to all.
A final word on the chat about editing, which of course made me prick up my ears, because that's my job, in case you hadn't noticed.
It seems that publishers' in-house editors are more and more stretched these days, and ideally want to see work that is already as 'clean' as possible.
The agents themselves do quite a lot of editing before submitting a work to publishers, pre-empting what publishers will like or dislike.
Emma said: "You need to feel as confident as you can of the work's editorial quality."
Isobel added: "I am always looking for reasons an editor will turn a work down."
So at this point, I'd like to proffer my services as an editor who can clean up your work before you even submit it to an agent. Let's get that work of art as shiny and beautiful as possible before you send it on its journey.
I’m learning Spanish. Cómo estás? Me llamo Isla. Tengo dos hijos y un perro.
That’s about the sum total of my conversational ability.
What I’m really enjoying about the lessons, aside from my wonderfully eccentric tutor Ana Maria, are the grammar pointers she gives the class.
I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, I wasn’t taught grammar at school. Knowing what is right and wrong came organically through reading many, many books.
(Ana Maria has to give grammar pointers in English precisely because none of us understands our own language, and we have to be able to before we can understand Spanish. Rolls eyes emoji.)
I am always fascinated when Ana Maria names and explains a rule I knew but didn’t know I knew.
My latest favourite: when we use “something” or “anything”*.
I hadn’t ever paid the blindest bit of notice to when or why I say “something” or “anything” but, when you think about it, there are definitely contexts that require one over the other.
As Ana Maria explained: “If we have been for a hike, and you come back to my house, I might say, ‘Do you want something to eat?’ The assumption is that you will answer yes. The assumption is that you are hungry and will want something.
“If I say, ‘Do you want anything to eat?’ I am open to the fact you will say no.”
The implications of this rule blew. me. away.
I had never thought about it like that!
Generally, in English we use “something” in a positive sentence or expecting a positive response; but we use “anything” either in more negative sentences or not assuming there will be a positive response.
“I got something lovely for my birthday”
“I haven’t eaten anything”.
Have a think about this. Isn’t it great?
* We needed to learn this because Spanish does not use the word “anything” (or “any” or “anyone”). Depending on the context of “anything” in an English sentence, Spanish would use “something” or “nothing”.
One of the most important things about communication is making yourself understood.
Simple messages, expressed clearly using uncomplicated language.
Left to my own devices I’m naturally pretty voluble, thanks to my formative teen years reading swathes of Victorian literature, lol.
But where I let rip in my personal writing, when it comes to sharing essential information, I believe in getting to the point.
Management speak annoys me. Bureaucratic twaddle infuriates me. Complicating a sentence doesn’t make it more important. Making up new words in place of perfectly serviceable ones that already exist isn’t clever, it’s egotistic.
But if corporate jargon irritates me – someone who works with words – what about those with much more serious literacy issues?
The isolation and exclusion faced by those who struggle with reading and writing is something that has bothered me for some years, ever since I started helping five-year-olds to read in my children’s primary school classes.
But it was highlighted and emphasised during a workshop at last year’s CIEP conference.
The conference was hosted by Cathy Basterfield, of Access Easy English, a service which interprets written content into simple everyday language, often supported by images.
The statistics Cathy shared at the workshop were eye-opening, to say the least.
Data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult
Competencies has shown that 33.1% of UK adults and 31.5% of US adults do not have the literacy to manage a range of day-to-day reading tasks.
When you think about the sheer amount of written information you encounter every day, imagine how hard it is for someone who can’t read to navigate.
Instructions for medication. Bank statements. Letters from the local authority. Ingredients on a cereal packet. Directions to a venue. Consent forms.
As Cathy pointed out, everyone has a right to access the same information, and everyone has an equal right to be able to access it at the same time.
Indeed, this right is expressed in the United Nations’ Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information.
Put simply, everyone has the right to receive information in a way that is understood, such as sign language, braille, large print, so it can be heard, using easy words and pictures, or in a different language.
It’s not just a case of being “fair” or polite*.
People with serious literacy issues are more likely to:
• live in poverty
• struggle with employment
• have poorer health
• be involved in the justice system.
It is incumbent** upon us all to make sure our message, whatever it might be, can be understood by everyone. Whatever the reason for an individual’s issue with literacy, that isn’t the point. Making information accessible and easily understood makes people’s lives easier.
And who wouldn’t want to help with that?
*At this point, some people would probably use the word woke. I’m not going to.
** I could have just said necessary
You don't have to be brilliant at writing to write a great novel.
Several authors are fantastic at building a story arc, creating gripping plot lines with believable characters, but are not so hot at sentence construction or grammar.
And that's okay – because there are people out there who can help you.
From the developmental editor, who will steer you in the right direction when it comes to plotting your book, to the copy editor who cleans up spelling and grammar, there is a wealth of experts out there who are on your side, and just as invested in your book as you are.
Here's an excerpt from a really gripping book I edited recently. The author knew her story was good (and it really is) but wanted the grammar and punctuation cleaned up.
I spent a little time reading through and changed the opening paragraphs from this:
Eight-year-old Daniel Edgar lay on his bed, sore from the welts from his father’s belt. He had overslept by five minutes making him late for breakfast, his father was livid. He tried not to give him the satisfaction of tears, had taken it like a man until he got to the sanctuary of his room where he let all of his emotion unleash. Half an hour later he heard the sound of his mother Mary entering the room, she rushed over to him, kissing his head and soothing him, she softly cried. “Why did you have to be late?” She whispered, “You know how mad that makes him. She gave Daniel some paper and pencils, “maybe you can do some drawing?”
Eight-year-old Daniel Edgar lay on his bed, sore from the welts left by his father’s belt. He had overslept by five minutes, making him late for breakfast – the welts were a mark of his father’s anger.
So many people have great ideas for a story but think they can't write; they're no good at it.
Just have a go! Sit down and type without looking at what you're writing.
Dictate your copy out loud into a speech-to-text app.
It's such an achievement just getting your story down on paper.
Read it through; get a friend to read it through. Does it have potential? Could it become a real book? Will it have readers laughing, crying or hiding behind the sofa?
Then consider getting a professional on board to whip it into shape and, voila, you have a manuscript.
Words that people get confused, part XIII
Predominately and predominantly.
I was going to write a nice little piece about the difference between the words ‘predominately’ and ‘predominantly’, explaining that people often confuse them and that’s understandable.
But now I’ve done some research to underpin my own knowledge and that has thrown up a few issues which actually undermine my knowledge, so this piece will now be a short essay on the evolution of language and how even experts can get caught out…
To begin at the beginning, as a great poet* once said…
I heard someone use the word ‘predominately’ in what I thought was the wrong context, saying something consisted ‘predominately’ of something else.
Ha, I thought, they mean ‘predominantly’.
Let’s look at the definitions:
predominate | prɪˈdɒmɪneɪt | verb [no object]
predominant | prɪˈdɒmɪn(ə)nt | adjective
Now, what I believed, and what the definitions show here, is that something can predominate in a given situation but it doesn’t do it ‘predominately’.
For example, wrens predominate (verb) in the UK as a bird species. They are the predominant (adjective) species. Birds in the UK are predominantly (adverb) wrens.
Fairly cut and dried, yes?
Turns out, ‘predominately’ can be used in place of ‘predominantly’. They mean the same thing!
I dove deeper into this lexiconic conundrum.
US dictionary Merriam-Webster states that the two words can be used interchangeably, which proves to be a contentious position, judging by the comments left on its web page.
The online Cambridge Dictionary, despite providing examples of the word ‘predominately’ used in sentences, says the word isn’t in the Cambridge Dictionary yet.
Wiktionary states that, though ‘predominately’ is the older word (by 100 years, being recorded in use as far back as 1594), ‘predominantly’ is now preferred.
It seems that what happened is that English, having as its foundation several squillion other languages, took two words meaning the same thing from two different languages and kept them both, like a vocab hoarder.
Predominantly is derived from Middle French, while predominately is derived from Medieval Latin.
I think we need to do a little Marie Kondo clear-out of our language so we don’t keep getting confused.
In the meantime, of the two words, the one I will predominantly be using is…
* Dylan Thomas.
Kangaroo words. Turns out they’re a thing. I discovered them relatively recently, and only because they’re an added fun fact in my daily puzzle page app.
But now I dig deeper I discover there’s a whole website devoted to them (https://kangaroowords.com*).
So, what is a kangaroo word? Is it one that jumps about on the page? Is it Australian slang? Is it one that keeps a baby joey in its pouch?
No, no and sort of.
Yeah, sort of.
According to the website, a kangaroo word is one that ‘contains letters of another word, in order, with the same or similar meaning’.
So it sort of contains a baby joey word in the pouch of the bigger word.
That’s literally why they’re called kangaroo words.
p R O m e n A D e
You can see the word ‘road’ picked out as capitals in the synonymous word, promenade.
Another good one is C o n T A I N e r, which, erm, contains two synonyms, ‘can’ and ‘tin’.
That’s known as a ‘twin kangaroo word’, for obvious reasons.
A ‘grand kangaroo word’ is one that has two joey words but one within the other, so even the baby joey has a pouch containing another baby joey.
e x P U R G a t E, which incorporates ‘P U R g E’, which contains ‘pure’.
I’m not going to lie, I love this little wordy gimmick. It was clearly an accidental development but very much suits my penchant for linguistic schtick.
Whoever noticed this particular coincidence** and named it also saw fit to note the ‘anti-kangaroo word’, which is not, as you might think, just two words sitting next to one another, but a word containing a joey word that is its antonym, such as
A n i M o s I T Y.
Animosity here holds the word ‘amity’, a word very much opposite in meaning.
And now you know about them, I’m sure you’ll be going through all the words – yes, ALL OF THEM – with a fine-toothed comb looking for little baby joey words.
*If you do visit this website, you will find it is a veritable rabbit hole of interesting etymological information.
** Ben O'Dell, in an article for The American Magazine in the 1950s, later reprinted in Reader's Digest. Sadly, though I scoured the internet for about 15 minutes, I couldn’t find out anything more about Mr O’Dell.
I was really glad when the summer holidays were over, and I’m a bit nervous we’re now into the school half-term holiday… and here’s why.
Every time someone misused the word ‘staycation’, a little piece of me died.
Okay, I’m exaggerating but only just.
As far as I’m concerned, a staycation is a holiday spent in your home. It’s a stay home vacation. A staycation.
I’m pretty sure that’s the original definition of the word and I’m backed up by various sources❡. Even Wikipedia, that bastion of all things etymological, lol, says: “This article is about a vacation where the people return home overnight. For a vacation taken within one's home country, see domestic tourism.” Burn.
But, increasingly, staycation is being used as a word to mean holidaying in your home country, and that just blows – my – mind.
This only really works for tiny countries such as the UK. Can you imagine being a resident of, say, Corpus Christi, Texas and calling your two-week trip to Tacoma, Washington a staycation?! It’s a distance of more than 2,000 miles. You’re not “staying” anywhere near your home.
Hmm. I’ve just talked myself into understanding why ‘staycation’ can be used in a country the size of the UK, which, compared with the USA, is so small that anywhere you go you are quite close to home. Lol.
But the thing about the UK is that, though it be small, it be mighty. It is rich and diverse in landscapes, environments, cultures, habits, accents, customs, and legends.
The week I spent on the windswept yet beautiful Shetland was nothing like the week I spent surfing* cerulean waves in Cornwall. And that was nothing like the weekend I recently spent in blowsy, buzzing Liverpool. Which is nothing like my matronly and somewhat staid hometown. You get the picture.
That’s my first problem – the claim that staying in the UK, no matter where you might be, is anything like staying at home.
My second objection to using the word so broadly is one involving privilege.
I was six when my mum and dad took me on our first family holiday. We stayed for a week in a farmhouse in Rutland, where I rode a horse for the first time, and saw a grass snake.
That was a holiday. My mum and dad didn’t have much cash and it was such a luxury to go away. Away being the operative word.
My second holiday was between seven and 10, when we stayed in a self-catering cottage, possibly in the Cotswolds. (My memory is so hazy I don’t even remember where it was!) There was a stable door to the cottage and a horseshoe on the wall inside. We were away on holiday.
My third family holiday was at the age of 10, when we stayed for a week in – oh joy of joys! – a hotel in Norfolk. We went boating on the canals, swam in the indoor pool and the other children teased my dad about his Scottish accent. We were, you’ve guessed it, away on holiday.
It wasn’t until I was 12 that I flew (alone! To visit an old schoolfriend) to Ireland, though that was Northern Ireland so still doesn’t count as being abroad☥.
And I was about 14 when my family and I finally made it to the extremely exotic town of Concarneau, in Brittany, France.
When I was in my 20s and living and working in London, I took a week off work and didn’t go anywhere. Or rather, I stayed at home but went visiting a couple of museums every day for a week. It was culturally enriching and hugely enjoyable. That was a staycation.
If you can leave your home and stay on a campsite, in a self-catering cottage or a hotel, avoiding chores, taking time off work, you are lucky to be able to afford to. You are on holiday. Some people don’t get to do that, and when they see folk talking about a ‘staycation’ they had the other end of the country, it can be a bit galling.
Basically, if you leave home, for however long, be it a weekend or a fortnight, you are on holiday. And this is the hill I will die on. 😁
❡ https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/staycation [Although stating a staycation can be taken “near your home” is rather open to interpretation]; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staycation; https://tourismteacher.com/staycation/#0-what-is-a-staycation
* Okay, body boarding. I’m not that cool.
☥ Though I stand to be corrected on this.
What do editors do?
It’s a fair question to ask, especially now we have things like acquisition editors, stream editors, life editors and even clothing editors…
And there are very big differences between the work a, say, newspaper editor does compared with a book’s copy editor.
I have spent more than 20 years as a sub editor*, fact checking copy in newspapers and magazines, cutting copy to fit the pages, ironing out poorly constructed sentences❡, and writing headlines and picture captions.
Now I edit websites and books (primarily fiction and creative non-fiction), and those two tasks are wildly different, too!
In this post, I’ll focus on book editing.
You’ve written your novel, and you’re happy with what you’ve done. But it will always need another pair of eyes before you launch it on the choppy publishing seas, seeking an agent or publisher. When you’ve worked on something for a while, you lose the ability to focus on its detail, or remain critical.
But you’ve heard of proofreaders, copyeditors, line editors and developmental editors. What do they all do?!
The developmental editor looks at the big picture, the story arc. They are not interested in the grammar nitty gritty – they are looking at character development, the strength of the story, whether it progresses, if the themes it contains match the genre the author is aiming for, consistency of viewpoint…
The developmental editor will offer a manuscript critique (aka an appraisal or assessment), which consists of an editorial report.
This does what it says on the tin☥ and can be a report of from two to 20 pages long, looking at character, point of view, theme, plot, pace, narrative style, etc, in greater detail. It summarises how the manuscript can be improved, with suggestions of how to strengthen weaker parts.
A developmental edit can also include an in-file edit, with tracked changes in the margins, and comments drawing attention to the specific bits that need looking at.
Your developmental editor will be able to explain what work they intend to carry out, and how much it will cost.
If you have a story but are not confident in your writing, or how to plot your tale, get a developmental editor on board. They will tease your ideas out and give them a coherent shape.
Your story is finished. You like how it is paced. Is your book ready to set sail on those stormy publishing seas? Nope.
We’re still not quite at the punctuation nitty gritty stage here, but a line editor does look at the sentence structure and writing style to make sure you’re using the best terms and language to convey your story in any one scene.
Are you using the correct point of view to impart a particular mood? Is the narrative distance drawing the reader in or leaving them untouched by your hero’s predicament? Are you repeating yourself? Does your punctuation match a paragraph’s tone?
If you’ve crafted the perfect story and just want to make sure it makes sense, hire a line editor. They’ll pick up the irrelevant paragraph, the scene which doesn’t add to the tension, and the splicing commas that slow the reader down.
The line editor fine tunes your writing to make your story sing.
Photo by George Milton from Pexels
This is where we get down to the nuts and bolts of your book’s structure. The copy editor looks closely at grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation, etc. They make sure everything makes sense, that paragraphs are formatted correctly, that there are no single quotes where there should be doubles, that style is consistent… But there is a sort of lurching into line editor territory here, and a copy editor will point out where something doesn’t make sense or is ambiguous.
That’s it. Story finished. Edits incorporated. Paragraphs flowing beautifully one to another. Ready to set sail now?
You need that final proofread (a term derived from ‘galley proofs’, the first test printed pages of a book). The proofreader checks for typos, formatting errors, makes sure page numbers haven’t dropped off… It’s basically a final quality check.
So, once your book is a perfectly formed wee kernel of work, have it proofread.
You won’t necessarily need – or be able to afford! – all these services. You decide what you are after and hire accordingly.
Just be clear what you want from your editor and make sure they explain what they’ll be providing – and charging for.
* I was once a deputy chief sub editor, which a friend outside the industry laughed at, calling me the deputy manager deputy manager. He had a point.
❡ Of which there have been mercifully few, thanks to my talented former colleagues and co-workers
☥ Hopefully it will iron out hideous clichés like that one 😁
Who doesn’t love a festival? Who doesn’t love a festival in their home town? Who doesn’t love a festival that encompasses music, comedy, literature, town walkabouts, art and local artists, and the seaside?
That’s what Fringe By The Sea provides.
Fringe By The Sea is an annual festival held in my home town of North Berwick. Now in its 13th year, it began as a week-long offering, stretching to 10 days a few years ago. I have been to various events at the festival every year since it began, and have had the pleasure of very close proximity to artists including Maggie O’Farrell, KT Tunstall, Eddi Reader, Val McDermid, Richard Herring, Mica Paris, Sara Sheridan and Badly Drawn Boy.
North Berwick, just 25 miles east of Edinburgh on the East Lothian coast, has long been a holiday destination for Scots, especially those popping over from Glasgow. The town went through an economic dip in the years before I arrived – not that I’m saying it was my family moving here that led to the town’s resurrection as the Biarritz of the North.
I think it’s called that. I don’t know by whom. I’ll just check…
Well, it’s called the Biarritz of the North all over the internet but I don’t know who coined the term first. However, my research quickly dug up this wee article, about the creation of the North Berwick Ladies’ Golf Club in 1888. It’s an article worth reading because it’s always nice to learn about indomitable women.
Fringe By The Sea has very much contributed to the growing buzz in the wee seaside town. Although already popular with tourists, a usually sedate North Berwick comes positively alive during the festival, with a vibe that reminds me of Brighton. Albeit a very small Brighton. And one with a sandy beach, rather than pebbles.
Last year, due to Covid, naturally, Fringe By The Sea was called off.
This year, though… Boy. The team behind the festival have worked flat out to bring a Covid-safe festival back to town. Rather than erect the traditional Spiegeltent, which sat resplendent in the harbour, events will be delivered in a variety of outdoor venues – in open-sided marquees and tents.
[With the weather forecast for next week looking erratic at best, visitors would be advised to wear waterproofs and hats…]
I’m so delighted to see the festival return. Though there are inevitable worries about Covid not having been totally eliminated, and the natural concerns about crowds of people gathering in the town, the Fringe By The Sea team are working hard to make sure audiences are kept safe.
I’m so confident in their efforts, I am even a member of the volunteer team this year, for the first time ever.
I’ll be donning a FBTS t-shirt and lanyard, checking tickets and making sure everyone is having fun and feels safe. After the past 17 months, it’s essential we remain cautious and responsible but allow ourselves some entertainment and enjoyment – I’d argue that looking after our mental health is just as important as protecting ourselves from Covid.
So, if you’re anywhere near North Berwick next week, do have a look at what’s on offer at Fringe By The Sea, grab some fish and chips from The Rocketeer, have fun and stay safe.
This is the bit where I write about wordy and linguistic things that take my fancy...