Simon Says » communiqué 019/May 2018

Simon Says: communiqué 019/May 2018

Hello everyone

Congratulations! We’ve made it to May. I hope you’re keeping well and have read some good books in 2018.

In London we have an outbreak of toxic caterpillars. And no, I hadn’t realized that urban caterpillars were a problem either…and nor had I realized that one suffered an “outbreak” of caterpillars.

Having mentioned London, this edition has a somewhat Anglo-centric feel in places, but don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.

Introductory Library

When you joined my readers’ group, you were sent the links to download my free introductory library.

The aim in giving away books is straightforward—to introduce me and my books. If you read one of my books and like it, then you’ll probably want to read more.

This is your regular reminder to download the books, or if you’ve got the books but haven’t read them, then this is your regular suggestion as to what to move to the top of your to-be-read pile.

And If You’ve Read One or More…

If you’ve read one or more of the books and you enjoyed it, then please do tell other people. If you have any family or friends who you think may enjoy these books (or any of my other books), then please forward this email to them so they can download the books.

Please also consider posting a review on Amazon/Goodreads/your own blog or website/Facebook/wherever you get books/wherever you talk about books. Reviews help me, but more importantly, they help other readers find books that they love.

If You Haven’t Got One of the Books

I hope by now you’ve loaded my introductory library onto your reading device of choice, but if you’re missing any of the books, get them here:

If This Email Has Been Shared With You

If you’re a family member or a friend who has received this email, I hope you enjoy your reading!

Please also join my readers’ group. When you join, I’ll send you this monthly communiqué, Simon Says, which will tell you about my books and any special offers, as well as giving you extracts and a few other pieces I think you may find interesting.

Spelling: UK vs US

Last month, I talked about how spelling doesn’t matter and yet how it is still significant.

More important than simply knowing how to spell words is the ability to be understood and you can still be understood if you spell “incorrectly”. I say incorrectly, whatever incorrectly means because trying to be sure about what is correct spelling can be challenge.

Having suggested that spelling doesn’t matter, let me move on to my next heresy: American English spellings (and grammatical practices) should be preferred over British spellings.

UK vs US English

Let me briefly address the Brits. And here, in case there’s any doubt, I write as a British subject.

Culturally, we won. English is the most widely used language around the globe, but our variant is not the most widely used.

American English is the most widely written and most widely understood. It is also the direction in which British English is moving. Maybe slowly, but one autocorrect at a time, one Disney movie at a time, British English is becoming more Americanized.

My suggestion to my fellow Brits—and to the citizens of the Commonwealth who speak and write a more British-infused version of English—is to adopt American English as far as makes sense. If there’s a question about spelling (color or colour, for instance), then choose the American variant.

Choose the American variant because it will be more widely understood. Choose the American variant because British English readers understand American English more than the converse. Choose American English so your writing doesn’t become dated as American English becomes more accepted in the British English world.


There will be times when British English speakers feel an overwhelming need to choose British English words—and in that case, go ahead and choose the British English—but use the American English spelling (if there is any variation).

The most obvious example of a word where British English speakers need to use the British English variant is trousers.

If you’re a Brit and you’re talking about trousers, then use the word trousers. There’s no need to Americanize…American English speakers will catch on and there’s less scope for confusion.

If you can be more specific you may get past this challenge. So for instance, if you can talk about the specific type of trousers, such as jeans, then do so. Jeans are jeans in any variant of the language.

And for the American English speakers who might be wondering what all the fuss is about, in British English, pants are underwear. No ifs, no buts, no ambiguity—underwear. If you use the word pants to a British English speaker, they will always picture you walking down the street in your underwear.

Coming the Other Way

While I am an advocate of American English in most but not all cases, also be aware of the terms that are coming the other way.

For instance the Britishisms of mobile phone and text message have largely displaced the Americanisms of cell phone and SMS. That said, even the term mobile phone seems pretty archaic these days—everyone talks about phones, and then uses these devices to do most things except phone calls.

As with spelling, there is no right or wrong in your choice of phrase. All you need to ensure is that you’re understood.

Meghan Markle, Queen of England

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on 19 May 2018. You may have heard 😄

It may seem provocative to suggest that Miss Markle could become the Queen of England, but once you understand the rules around royal succession, you will see that it is quite possible that an American born non-royal divorcee could become Queen—it just takes one death at a certain time.

And once you understand the rules of succession, you also understand that Harry’s brother Prince William may not become King.

Rules of Succession

The rules of succession are straightforward: the eldest child of the monarch inherits the throne on the monarch’s death. There’s also a twist here for the current Queen where her younger sons (Andrew and Edward) take precedence over their older sister, Anne.

On the principle of the eldest child inheriting, it is simple to see that:

So we have a simple order of succession: Charles is first in line to the throne, William second in line, and George is third in line. It seems easy, but it misses the key point: the oldest living child inherits.

Previous Expectations Count for Nothing

In order to inherit, the oldest child must be alive—if the expected heir dies before the monarch, then the line of succession passes to the next eldest living child of the monarch; it does not skip a generation.

Let’s look at a practical example.

If Prince Charles dies before his mother, then the person to inherit the throne will be Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son.

While he might be called the second in line to the throne, William is only second in line if his father first inherits. If Charles does not inherit, then William (and Harry) will drop out of the immediate line of succession. If—following Charles’s earlier death—Andrew becomes King, then his eldest child (Princess Beatrice) will inherit on his subsequent death.

Is this scenario likely? Probably not; but it is possible.

However, the Queen has just celebrated her 92nd birthday while Charles will reach his 70th birthday in November. It is not unusual for a 70-something-year-old man to die. It is uncommon—but not unheard of—for children to die before their parents.

So How Does Meghan Become Queen?

Once you understand the rules of succession, you can see that Meghan Markel’s route to becoming Queen is moderately straightforward. All that is necessary is for Prince William to die before his father.

Assuming that Charles outlives the Queen, on her death Charles will become King. In the event that William has died before his father, then on the death of Charles:

William’s children—George, Charlotte, and Louis—will have dropped out of the immediate line of succession on their father’s death.

Will this happen? Again, it is unlikely, but if you’re a betting person, what odds would you take on William dying before his father? 

Until June

I’ll be back some time around the second Tuesday in June provided the toxic caterpillars don’t get me first.

All the best