The Grammar Police


It had been a great party with too much booze, lots of music, great company and karaoke. The next morning, when I visited the yard where the party had been held, a friend of mine said that was a great night, but oh my gosh you can’t sing! She’s wasn’t lying, I can’t hit a single note and am completely tone deaf.

Does that mean I shouldn’t sing?

Well actually that was my reply to her. She thought about the answer during a very short but awkward silence, then apologised. Let’s face it, there’s no way I have reached adulthood feeling confident that I can hold a tune and completely accept I sound dreadful. So being informed I can’t sing is pointing out the obvious and completely unnecessary. I do sing though. I sing in the car, in the shower and when at home because I enjoy it! I am allowed to sing, I am also allowed to do anything I please as long as it doesn’t involve a jail sentence as a consequence.

There are other things I am not great at but do anyway, I cook quite well but I hate it, I sew but am no expert, I’m a strong swimmer but I would stand no chance of representing my country in the Olympics. All of us do things we are moderately good at, and most of us do things we are hopeless at.

How boring life would be if we just didn’t try.

I am fortunate enough to have several outstanding role models in my life, a few would be termed high achievers, two of whom are dyslexic and one really sucks at maths. I am neither dyslexic nor suck at maths yet they all earn vastly more money than I probably ever will. I have something in common with all of those people which is why they are in and share my life.

The world does not knock us down.

They – like me – have probably been told many times that they cannot do something, but they do it anyway. Maybe we don’t respect the person telling us, or choose to prove them wrong. For me it’s because if I don’t believe in myself, then why should anyone else?

As well as singing, there are other activities I also enjoy. Of course riding is at the top, but I also love walking, travelling, reading and writing about horses.

The only criticism that I am aware of coming my way (when not pretending that I’m Britney Spears) has been about my writing. Only jibes by faceless people unknown to me who lurk on a certain social media platform. I term these people The Grammar Police. The criticism isn’t that bad to be fair, I would describe it more as nitpicking as it pertains mostly to the occasional use, or misuse of punctuation. *



I have come across mistakes and typos in all sorts of places which include news articles, magazines and books, even peer reviewed journals. Did I stop reading? No, to do so would be ignorant and yes…persnickety.

Since I started writing my horse articles I have typed approximately 30 thousand words. Now if J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson or any other popular author can stand in front of me and say that they have never make a mistake when writing…I will eat my riding hat. The day that I can afford a proof reader, and the proof reader can afford a proof reader, then my readers can expect mistakes. I will continue to write regardless, and if it’s good enough for spell checker, then it’s good enough for me. The story and the content are not lost through an occasional error.

My two friends, as aforementioned, are dyslexic, but I would never tell them oh my gosh, you can’t write. I would never tell my friend who is hopeless at maths do not sit that exam, you will fail! Those people have written and sat exams, they have conducted presentations in a room full of people, they have also excelled in their careers because nothing holds them back. Those faceless people that knock the tryers do so because they have their own unresolved insecurities. They feel the need to point out other people’s small mistakes for their own personal gratification, perhaps they need to feel important.

The world is full of people that try, the world is also full of people that want to drag others down to their level because they have already accepted failure.

Flip the bird and sing, choose your own song but sing it loud… it will drown out the cynics and pessimists.

Deborah Jane Nicholas has been around horses for nearly 40 years and has worked within the horse industry in a number of roles. Deborah’s other passions are her 2 dogs, countryside walks and writing, which she does here.

* Editor’s Note: To be fair to Deborah, the grammar error which the “Grammar Nazis” seized upon last week was one errant apostrophe in the first line. That error was wholly the responsibility of the Editor who takes full blame and has since acquired a pair of reading spectacles. Deborah’s work is normally error-free and she is a valued writer for the magazine. We’ll always defend her against these kind of fools, who clearly have far too much time on their hands and lack the manners/education of a gentleman.