John and I both had car trouble last week. His stopped working completely; mine started gushing oil in the middle of its MOT. Happy days. So we spent quite a bit of time sympathising with each other over our respective motor woes.
This got me thinking about the possible link between proofreaders and their cars. The problem is clear: we drive clapped-out old bangers. This is either because we’re too busy burying our heads in books and following other highbrow pursuits to concern ourselves with cars (unlikely – I watch The X Factor in my spare time) or because proofreading isn’t exactly the most well-paid job going and the Merc has had to go to the back of the List of Essential Things To Buy.
Not that we’re complaining. I like my job, and I’m fond of Nora (that’s my car). She’s gone off to the mechanic and will come back all patched up, polished and ready to do the job she’s supposed to do.
When people ask me what I do and then say in response, ‘Oh, we do all our own proofreading at work; I was good at English at school and I always use a spell checker’, I like to use the mechanic analogy. My husband was good at CDT at school, but I don’t let him loose on Nora when she needs sorting out: I send her to an expert.
Each member of our team has between 10 and 45 years’ experience doing what we do. We proofread all day, every day. We know what to look for. (Have a look at Andy Bodle’s recent blog in The Guardian, which details exactly what proofreaders and sub-editors do – and it ain’t just spell checking.)
Our clients get the peace of mind that their communications have been looked at by experts before publication.
Like Nora, their work has been patched up (if necessary), polished (always necessary) and passed as ready to do the job it’s supposed to do.