Fears were rising last night that a generation of Wandsworth schoolchildren would grow up in a state of barbaric ignorance as mounting evidence emerged of wanton apostrophe crime throughout the borough.
Following an appeal on Twitter to its phalanx of devoted followers, WandsworthEye was veritably deluged with complaints about missing or extraneous apostrophes on shop signs across vast swathes of SW15, 17 and 18. Even premises under the tutelage of apparently educated middle-class people have been found wanting in their adherence to basic rules of English grammar. 'I can't believe these are mere slips of the pen,' said Bertram Crudd of Wandsworth Council's Apostrophe Inspectorate. 'This is deliberate, organised apostrophe crime on a massive scale.'
The Huguenot Rendezvous, prominently located on a key Wandsworth thoroughfare, was criticised by countless readers who contrasted its stylish interior and delicious products with the wilful abandon of its rampant apostrophe abuse.
'How shameful to display this in a public place,' commented housewife Kelly Twigg. 'Buses go past there all the time, and who knows how many passengers from other parts of London will now look down on Wandsworth as a result of this dreadful contempt for English grammar. Ugh.'
Also slammed was the Carers' Centre on Wandsworth High Street, where public information boards are sprinkled with apostrophes like hundreds and thousands on a fairy cake. Standing outside the much-loved community facility, leading educational psychologist Stacey Poles warned: 'If current apostrophe trends continue, by 2014 the average Wandsworth schoolchild will be reduced to the level of a primitive grunting animal, capable only of sending very simple text messages and posting status updates on Facebook.'
'I hesitate to say this because of the strict need for political impartiality, but it's all the fault of the Liberal Democrats,' Poles explained. 'How cunning they were, falsely promising to deal with the burgeoning apostrophe crisis before the last general election! But the minute they got their sticky little sandal-wearing fingers on power, that all went RIGHT out of the window. Oh yes. It's all come home to roost.'
But the strongest condemnation of all was reserved for a shop selling infants' clothing on the Upper Richmond Road. Passers by were speechless as they drew WandsworthEye's attention to this shocking and unparalleled example of apostrophe abuse.
Clutching her weak heart and trembling with rage, frail pensioner Mabel Tweedy stormed: 'This is just beyond belief. And in front of children's eyes too! How could they do this to innocent apostrophes?'
There were signs last night that the government was preparing to intervene. A source close to Home Secretary Theresa May told WandsworthEye: 'Of course cutting the national deficit must take precedence - but once we've dealt with that, the coalition will make a massive crackdown on apostrophe crime a key priority. This is a bread-and-butter issue affecting the whole of south-west London, and ever-popular WandsworthEye is to be congratulated for campaigning on the subject with such vigour. If only all other news providers were as trenchant in their reportage as WandsworthEye.'