There is a vigilante that wears black and fights to better the world in his own way – a masked crusader roaming the streets combating wrongdoing wherever they find it. Gotham had Batman, New York had Spiderman; Bristol, on the other hand, has a self styled “Grammar Vigilante” who stalks the streets of the west country at night, correcting poor punctuation on business signs.
After footage widely released this week purported to show another of Bristol’s most famously elusive sons, Banksy, at a shopping mall in Israel, it is time for another of the city’s residents to take centre stage, and he has been talking to the BBC about his campaign to make the world a more grammatically correct place.
Astonishingly, the man reveals that he has been correcting business signs under the cover of the night for more than a decade now – he tells the BBC that he began his movement against poor grammar in 2003.
“The first one I did was way back in 2003. There was a council sign that said ‘Open Monday’s to Friday’s’ and it had these ridiculous apostrophes. I was able to scratch them off.”
“Then there was this really gross sign in Gloucester Road: ‘Amy’s Nail’s’. It was just so loud and in your face I just couldn’t abide it, so I had to go and apply my wares to this apostrophe. It grates – I think, how can they?”
“I’m a vigilante, I’m a grammar vigilante.”
The man descries his method for correcting the punctuation and grammar mishaps, saying that he uses stickers – not paint – to achieve his ends. He has made a special tool for this purpose, which he refers to as an “apostrophiser”, as well as an eight-foot ladder that has been modified to allow him to carry out his work without leaning on shop windows.
— Jon Kay (@jonkay01) 3 april 2017
An owner of a business that benefited from one of the grammar vigilante’s more recent corrections told the BBC that he was appreciative of what he was doing, after his “Cambridge Motor’s” sign was amended. “I thank him for what he has done, I don’t mind at all. It’s good to see people still caring about English grammar.”
For his part, the benign grammar-fixer does not believe that his actions amount to criminal damage, but admits that his “heart is pounding” while he carries out his corrective work.
“I don’t think it’s damage,” he explained, “What I’m doing is sticking on a bit of sticky-back plastic. It’s a worse crime to have all these errant apostrophes on shops and garages. I just think it’s going to teach the youth of tomorrow the wrong grammar.”
doff my cap to you sir, and to your services to grammar; may our syntax be lucid and our punctuation faultless for generations to come.
H/T: BBC (all images courtesy of BBC)