Thursday 3 November 2011

Wildlife and punctuation

Relax, folks, this isn't going to be a punfest involving a certain species of orange butterfly or an investigation into the lower intestine of any particular creature. It's more of a eulogy to a departed soul who I didn't even know before their death, but who is now often in my thoughts.

But first, a little background.

Regular visitors to this blog will appreciate that I'm a bit of a pedant when it comes to the written word. Things have to be just so or it's the end of civilisation as we know it. Unfortunately, this doesn't make me immune to the odd grammatical slip or error of my own. In fact, only today, after commenting on a post, I noticed that a typo had crept into my supposedly carefully-crafted words.

Aaaaarggghhhh! Happily, there were enough people on hand to physically restrain me until the pedantic fit had subsided and, would you believe it, the world hadn't ended. And anyway, re-posting the correct version would have detracted from the sentiment I had been attempting to convey. Stay calm, Tense, stay calm.

Having grown up in a rural setting in the North East of England and, many years later, found myself working in a village surrounded by fields and farms, I am reasonably familiar with thunder flies, those tiny insects that seem to be everywhere at harvest time. Apart from some minor inconvenience when having my concentration temporarily broken, I have never been too bothered about their existence one way or the other. I guess that, on some level, I understood that they were part of the food web, but my thoughts did not run much deeper than that. And I certainly didn't consider their potential as proof reading time bombs.

It's only now, whilst researching for this post, that I discover that they are thrips from the Order Thysanoptera, who have two pairs of feather-like wings. Certain species are pests of economically important crops, especially cereals, which is probably why I have always referred to them as harvest flies, since they swarm in their thousands when the grain ripens.

Inevitably, for such a tiny insect, it can crawl into the smallest of gaps, and so, like many people, I have one stuck in my pc monitor. An ex thrips, (yep, the singular is 'thrips' too, something else I didn't know!) it has been there for over a year. Ages ago, when I first noticed it, it was very much alive, wandering about documents and emails like some randomly mobile comma or dash, depending on whichever direction it was intent upon heading. However, it was not long before the wandering stopped and its sad little body has remained marooned, left justified, two thirds of the way down a page, ever since. I hoped that its end wasn't hastened by having to read my interminable techno-babble, or that it wasn't given a nasty shock on meeting a forest of exclamation marks, but I do feel a twinge of guilt every day, on firing up my computer.

When proof reading documents, I have to remember where it is, lest I become confused by a sudden reference to 'attached' with an accent over the 'e', or on finding an unexpected apost'rophe in a word. More often than not, though, it's located in the wide open spaces between paragraphs, free but not free, hidden but on display.

I was going to take a photograph and upload it to Blogger, but to be honest, would you even know the difference if I just did this... ?


Rest in P's, little insect.


holdingmoments said...

And there I was trying to clean my screen.

Imperfect and Tense said...

*broad grin*

Ruth Walker said...

For the second time today:

Dad, you're awesome!!

Lubs xxx

laligalover said...

Had the same bother bro' about three years ago, so annoying. All because I'd opened the patio door. Fortunately Big M came to the rescue with his spare monitor.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Aw, come on, they're so small, I doubt whether opening the patio door would've made a difference.
Spare monitor? That must be the one he doesn't need on Sunday afternoons, then.