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Followers of Mr. Waugh

The returns continue to come in on the two-spaces-after-a-period issue. The minority: Yeah, I knew that. What’s the problem? The majority splits pretty evenly between I-can’t-break-the-habit and you-can’t-make-me-stop.

In this attachment to the unjustifiable, I see similarities to the holdouts on the split-infinitive/split-verb and stranded-preposition superstitions, and similar matters addressed in these posts. A submerged memory surfaced this afternoon, a little anecdote that identified the attitude reflected in these issues.

Evelyn Waugh was far from a model officer during the Second World War, and late one night he was wandering, drunk and disheveled, across the parade ground when he encountered his superior officer, to whom he gave a casual salute. The officer braced him about his drinking and unmilitary bearing and suggested that he should shape up.

Waugh’s response: “Surely you do not expect me to abandon the habits of a lifetime merely to gratify your whim.”



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