Frank appraisal

25th June 2004 at 01:00
Even if, as he reminded us at the Tapestry event, he is coasting towards retirement, Frank Pignatelli is not resting. The Learndirect Scotland chief was on hand to introduce the proceedings, with his trademark references to walking with the famous.

Chekhov was not one of his pals, of course, but Pignatelli sounded as if he was, quoting his short essay "The Exclamation Mark". This was about the civil servant of 35 years who was startled one day to meet criticism about his non-use of the comma.

His wife gently took him through all the other grammatical touches until she came to the exclamation mark which she described as something that denotes feelings and emphases that people wish to describe.

"In 35 years as a civil servant," he replied, "I've never once used an exclamation mark." Same could not be said about Pignatelli.

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