Daily Frolic 16: Will I come to a sticky end?

My Dear Readers,

I fervently hope it’s not a farewell, but if you never hear from me again, this might be because I’m locked away in the Tower of London. And this is why …

“Your Queen …”


“Elizabeth 2nd …”

“Yes, yes – why?”

“Isn’t she’s widely respected?”

“Absolutely – even by the Scots.”

“Even by the Scots?”


“And by the Commonwealth?”

“And by the Commonwealth.”

“And by Canada?”

“You numpty: Canada is in the Commonwealth. Come to think of it, so is Britain.”

“Oh … well … anyway, I’ve been thinking …”


“No, seriously, I can’t get my head round it, but I think there is a plot …”

“A plot? What sort of plot?”

“To undermine your Queen.”

“You must be joking! She is a national treasure – nobody would dare.”

“That’s what I thought, but … but … you had this independence referendum, didn’t you?”

We didn’t – the Scots did.”

“Same country, same thing.”

“Just don’t say this in Scotland. So what about the referendum?”

“The result.”


“Well, some people were very happy – weren’t they?”

“They were indeed.”

“Including the Queen?”


“And then she spoke on 19th September.”

“She did indeed.”

“But I think somebody had interfered with her speech.”

“How do you mean?”

“You said she had people to write her speeches, didn’t you?”

“All important people do.”

“That’s it, that’s it – they must have interfered with it.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know why, but they must have done; I heard it on the radio.”

“What exactly did you hear?”

“Your Queen said this.”

 “Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all.”

 “‘Things that HELPS’ – she said this?”

“She did. If you don’t believe me, just Google ‘Queen’s Speech 19 September 2014’ – it’s all over the internet.”

“I do believe you, actually – it’s a classic.”

“It is?”


“Is that why they chose this error?”


“The plotters: the people in charge of her speech.”

“Look, there was no plot!”

“But, but … she must … they must … I mean she can’t …”

“Look, I really don’t want to discuss this: as they say, walls have ears.”

“What yours have is peeling wallpaper – that’s for sure.”

“No, I mean it. You’ve heard of the Tower of London?”


“Well, I’d rather be outside than inside.”

“Why? I think you should definitely go inside: it’s very interesting; we went on this tour, and …”

“No, no, I don’t mean a tour. Look, you know I write a blog, don’t you?”

“You write a blog?”

“Yep – about common errors of grammar, punctuation, spelling, stuff like that. I try to make it funny, but it doesn’t always work.”

“I’m sure it doesn’t.”

“What? Oh forget it. Anyway, I wrote about this mistake in my very first post.”

“You did?”

“Yep. We had this Secretary of State for Education; his name was Michael Gove – well, still is. That’s what he said.”

 “I am not one of those people who HAS an instant answer.”

 “The Secretary of State for Education?”

“Yep; and Kenneth Clarke, another former Secretary of State for Education, said this.”

 “I am one of the few people who HAS met Jean-Claude Juncker.”

 “You are kidding!”

“Nope; it’s a common pattern. You see, many people get awfully confused by this ‘one’awfully – and think that they need a singular verb. But they don’t: the verb has to agree with THINGS and PEOPLE – not with ‘one’ – so it has to be plural.”

“But you said that number agreement was basic grammar.”

“It is.”

“So how come …”

“Look, they don’t like grammar here – or, at least, didn’t use to.”

“Why? Grammar is simply about how we construct sentences, isn’t it?”

“Yep, but many reckon native speakers don’t need it.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am, sadly.  Look, just read my post.”

“I will, I will. Shall we contact the Palace then?”

“And say what?”


One of the things that HELP [NOT helps]

One of the people who HAVE [NOT has]

 “Go right ahead; just leave me out of it.”


I apologise for revisiting the subject, the trigger being the Queen’s speech of 19th September 2014. The jocular post in which I wrote about this error for the first time, Accordant Waverleys and Discordant Secretaries of State (Post 1), can be found in the archives under May 2014. I actually published it on April 25th but as a page rather than a post (at the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing technology-wise – no, please don’t tell me I still don’t) and twigged only on May 9th, which is why it appears under that date.


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