The Anonymous Widower

Biography

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The Gestation of This Biography

One of the conversations that I would often have with my late wife, Celia, was the writing of a biography.  Just after she died, I wrote and self-published a book called Travels with My Celia(c) about the last few years of her life, my coeliac disease and our various travels.  But I felt something more substantial needed to be written, in which I told the unvarnished truth about my life and our forty years together.

Well, my expurgated version of it anyway!

Celia always felt that I should write it and may have even told me to do it, as she lay dying. So she won’t be objecting!

All we ever got to write was the title

And Now For Someone Completely Difficult!

I can’t remember whose idea that was, but I suspect it was mine and she approved.  Or it could have been the other way round! Who cares anyway? But as in many things one of us thought of something and the other approved!

Obviously, there are apologies to Monty Python.

Recently, I put the concept to the established author and one of my friends; Nick Comfort, the son of Alex. And Nick told me to get started. Admittedly after a good lunch!

I’ve also run it through, some of the people who will feature in some of the sections and got the odd approval there.

So it looks like I shall be starting in earnest soon.

The Structure

I am by training a scientist, engineer and programmer in no particular order. Although to be fair, I’ve been much more of the latter for the last forty years or so.  So these notes will be written as a tree-structured menu, that you can dip into as you want.

It will also be written in any order that comes easy and when ideas for sections present themselves, they will be written and slotted in. This may be anathema to an experienced writer, but I’ve always written large documents and programs by effectively thinking out all the headings and then filling in the details.

But as with the programs I’ve written, the first draft will be modified and expanded many times before it is fit to be published.  Or even read!

The Commas

My writing is always criticised by academic prigs and some others as having too many commas.  But then one of my English teachers said that Dickens used to use lots of them! I have read that Victorians tended to use lots of commas and so Dickens would have been only following the style of the day.

The Exclamation Marks Or Shrieks

I always write too with lots of exclamation marks or shrieks. They are delightful and it may be wrong to use them as I do, but then everybody knows what I mean by their use.

Incidentally, although the term shriek was part of my father’s printers slang, it is mentioned as an acceptable name for the exclamation mark in a version of the Oxford English Dictionary dating from 1860.

I obviously got the use of the term shriek from my father, but could I have got the comma usage from him as well. He was a stickler for high standards in printing and several times wrote to the Oxford English Dictionary for a definitive ruling.

So did he get his standards from his father, who was another printer, and being born in the 1880s was obviously Victorian?

6 Comments »

  1. But I was always taught that one should not write the word ‘lots’. There is always a less clumsy expression and it should only be used in speech.

    I can do stickler for England.

    And don’t get me onto anythink!!!
    Melanie

    Comment by Annie | April 2, 2014 | Reply

  2. Why are you writing a blog here?
    I am very lonely too

    Comment by Ann | August 27, 2017 | Reply

  3. All or family loved your fish pie recipe; I’ve tried all sorts of different ones and yours has been voted the best.

    Comment by Howard Webb | August 14, 2020 | Reply

  4. Dear Sir, an exceptional blog, well done indeed. I’m an ex-FT features reporter – and I can see anything wrong with your writing at all – not a single spelling or grammar can I see..

    You mention Nick Comfort – I worked with him on the old ‘European’ newspaper in the early 1990s – a very good writer and a gent of the old school. He also wrote a good book about the UK’s industrial decline.

    One anecdote: he and I were working on the newsdesk one Thursday morning when my phone rang. It was my sister, listening to LBC. ‘Have you heard the news? Mrs Thatcher has resigned..’ No, we hadn’t heard, and all hell broke loose as we had to change the front page which had gone by satellite to some distant print works the night before!

    I have been campaigning for years to get the UK government to protect and support our home industries. I now run a data business in London that tracks the UK’s best 70,000 smaller companies, many of which are unknown but are still world class.

    Many of the UK’s worst problems during Covid were made worse by the Government’s refusal to involve, or buy from, UK companies and bought instead billions of awful Chinese or US products.

    Plse keep up the great work..

    Comment by Marcus Gibson | May 28, 2021 | Reply

    • Thanks!

      I’m still in touch with Nick. Are you?

      Comment by AnonW | May 28, 2021 | Reply


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