Any day now I’m going to get an exasperated message on my screen telling me my document is so full of errors that Spelling & Grammar Check can’t take it any more. I’ve taken one liberty too many and brought it to its knees. It happens every time I write a book.

 ‘Good,’ I think to myself. ‘Now bugger off and leave me to monkey around with language. It’s what I’m paid for.’

Apparently there’s now an Apple program called Pages which takes this kind of editing to new levels of impertinence. Pages flags incendiary words like man or black or wife and tells you what would be more appropriate in 2012. Give Pages its head you might be surprised to find you’ve written, ‘Baa Baa outcast’ sang the midspouse to the clergyperson.

I know it’s ridiculous but I take Spell Check’s interference particularly personally. I’m an excellent speller. Wierd is just about the only word I hesitate over, which is kind of wierd weird considering I can romp through diarrhoea. If you see what I mean. 

Novelists need to play with words, otherwise what are we? Report writers? The attitude spills over too. I always have to go off-piste with recipes, always want to try singing descant when I ought to stick to the melody. Many years ago I was accused of performing unauthorised hip flicks during a belly dance class and invited to leave.  I remain unrepentant. Flick free or die, say I.

James Joyce was born just round the corner from where I’m sitting. Imagine if he’d lived to see Spell Check. And it’s old and old and it’s sad and old it’s sad and weary I go back to you my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere sight of him, the moyles and moyles of it…  

Boom! Black smoke over Rathgar and the smell of burning plastic.

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