Review: The Independent on Sunday

The Brit parade

If there is an art to writing the kind of book that feels most comfortable in the smallest room in the house, the writer Fraser McAlpine might have just created a masterpiece of the form with Stuff Brits Like: A Guide to What’s Great About Great Britain published this week. Ever aware that “if this were a blog, the comments section would blaze with outrage and correction”, McAlpine has opened his work – which contains sections on “Dunking Biscuits”, “Conkers” and “Apologising Needlessly” (see below) – with a chapter called simply “Pedantry”.

“The question ‘Which chair should I sit on?’ is a prime target for pedants to leap at and suggest ‘On which chair should I sit?’ as the correct alternative,” he writes. “This will then provoke other pedants to point out that the preposition rule gets in the way of conversational speech and that people should be less persnickety about grammar in general, so long as the meaning is understood. This will then provoke a further point of pedantry because in Britain the word is pernickety. And that’s when everyone realises there are no more chairs.”

Has McAlpine been eavesdropping on an average day in The IoS office?

—Simmy Richman, The Independent on Sunday, 5 July 2015


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