Already, at six, our youngest, Max has mastered something which, even at their towering heights Mick, Keith and the other Rolling Stones couldn’t get right.
He knows how to use the apostrophe of possession.
Last night doing homework at the dining table Max shows me a picture- a vague, blobby creature fashioned from newspaper. “I have to write a story about this person.”
And so we invented some of the creature’s backstory. Max decided that, like all good creatures, this one would play basketball. He named him Bob. With the character established I explained to Max that his story needed some action, some conflict and then, without any prompting from me, he opened his second paragraph just like this
“Well done Max. This is one of Dad’s best days ever! Who taught you to put in the apostrophe?”
“Nobody. I just know it.”
Apostrophes suffer enormously in our world. Often cruelly forgotten. Sometimes put to work when they shouldn’t be. Abused by café-owners and green-grocers alike. How many pub menu boards advertise these?
Sausage’s and mash- $12
I love apostrophes, but Mick and Keith, in the midst of their astonishing run of form over a decade from the late sixties which included Let It Bleed and Exile on Main St omitted these. Twice. Their albums Beggars Banquet and Goats Head Soup, depending on the number of beggars and goats (that’d be a great party), should probably be Beggars’ Banquet and Goat’s Head Soup. This seems an odd mistake to make, given that Mick is happy conversing in French about noted seventeenth-century philosopher François Poullain de la Barre.
Of course as part of my concerns for your grammatical health, I should now remind you about the importance of using capital letters as evidenced sharply in this sentence
I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse.
But, last night at our wooden table, with a simple flick of his Bic, Max made my week with a punctuation mark.
Go on, hug an apostrophe!