It’s funny how such a little thing as the comma, can make such a difference. When asked to add commas to the following sentence, men and woman came up with two very opposing versions from this same set of words.
“A Woman, without her, man is nothing.”
Can you guess which sex chose to put which comma where?
No prizes for anyone in that little test but I thought you might like to see how such a small thing can change the attitude of a sentence. Of course there’s a reason for my random english lesson for the day and I am trying so very hard not to go off on an apostrophe rant, trying very hard indeed. I’ll do that one another day.
The reason is this, when I was young my elder siblings used to poke fun at me by singing ‘Johnny B. Goode’, how was I to know it was someone’s name? All I knew was that for months, if not years, any time I misbehaved, looked like I might misbehave or even just looked like I was awake, brothers and, now and again, parents would have a real laugh humming or singing and watching me fly into a rage by the first chorus of ‘Johnny, be good’ and boy could I rage! My little face would go crimson as it contorted itself as my eyes darkened. I may have been small but oh boy I was a scary little mongrel.
Of course by the time I had blown a fuse my protagonists were a safe distance away, having lit the blue touch paper of my short fuse and stood well back to watch the fireworks. I have told this story before and no-one who knows me now believes I had a temper. Well I did, a real cracker. So there it is, the misuse of a comma in a song title to antagonise and frustrate a wee lad in the Scottish Highlands, why would they treat the language so badly? Why?
My early years of fury and rage then my subsequent cool headed years, has led me to believe that every human must have the same amount of rage inside them when they are born. Therefore if you can let it all out, before your are say nine or ten years old, then you can mature into a well rounded adult, much like my good self (will you please stop sniggering). However if you hold in your fury or don’t have annoying family members taking it into their own hands to use up you allocated rage quotient, you may just be an accident waiting to happen. If you have never experienced all out yelling fits of anger then you need to start getting ragey pretty soon, whilst you still have the option of letting it out a little at a time and not going off like a hot day in Chernobyl! Control the anger but only just.
That wee lad who grew up angry at Johnny B. Goode was able for the first time ever to listen to that damn song without feeling like a taunted five year old when I saw this on YouTube
It took a Coldplay man on a piano and a guy with Parkinson’s strumming a guitar (and that ain’t easy, brother) to release my last little whimper of anger, which I have now shared with you.
Thank you Michael J Fox and thank you Chris Martin you made a wee lad stop his rage
Wish you all, the best. (it’s all about the comma)
Cue Vampire Weekend to play us out.