WHAT'S in an apostrophe? Well, £1200 for one grammatically sub par local authority.

In 2017 Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council made an unfortunate mistake in leaflets advertising an outdoor theatre production of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Given the event was a celebration of a "literary giant", the council decided to reprint its promotional materials.

"Unfortunately," a spokeswoman said, "Due simply to human error, a misplaced apostrophe was not picked up." It was a costly mistake but one which shows the importance of good grammar.

Punctuation has also earned Ghana a new public holiday on August 4.

Is it Founder's Day? Or Founders' Day? With the former, you have yourself just the one public holiday in honour of just the one founder.

However, Founders' Day is a far more abundant thing, creating more than one public holiday in honour of more than one founder.

The late President of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, declared the country's first president, Kwame Khrumah, the sole founder and designated September 21, his birthday, a national holiday.

However, in 2017, a different political wing came into office and the public holiday was re-named Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, with August 4 declared Founders' Day to acknowledge that the forming of the country was undertaken by a group of people.

Ah, that all important apostrophe.

So, we should care... but do we?

Retired journalist John Richards says not. The 96-year-old set up the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 to preserve and protect the "much-abused" punctuation mark.

Now within spitting distance of his centenary, the former sub-editor has decided to "cut back on my commitments" due to his age - quite reasonably - and due to the fact he believes "fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English Language."

Note that perfect use of "fewer".

Mr Richards, once a sub, always a sub, started the society after becoming frustrated at seeing the same mistakes repeated time and time again. Fellow apostrophe afficionados were urged to photograph badly abused apostrophes and send them in to the Apostrophe Protection Society where those doing the abusing could be named, shamed and corrected.

He had appealed in a national newspaper for support and received, to his delight, replies from all over the world: America, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada.

Yet, after nearly two decades of operation, the greengrocer's have won and Mr Richards has now admitted defeat.

"We, and our many supporters worldwide," he said, "Have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won." It's the end of a period.

I read a nice line that said apostrophes are like annoying boyfriends: possessive, confusing and never where they're supposed to be.

Mr Richards has three rules for their use: They are used to denote a missing letter or letters, they are used to denote possession and apostrophes are never ever used to denote plurals.

I love grammar. I love spelling and punctuation. I enjoy reading newspapers' style guides. They are, of themselves, often very stylishly written but it thrills me to see someone having taken the time to mull over the finer points of the English language and take a definitive decision on what's best and what should be disregarded.

My favourite line from The Herald's style guide is, "Never use a French phrase when an English one will do just as well." Oh la la.

I miss the days when the editor would send out edicts such as, "It's WWII, never World War Two," or "We will take capitals on South Side and West End but not city centre."

It was pleasing to know someone cared.

Language, though, naturally evolves. No longer do we write of the 'phone and 'bus. That's different to missing out apostrophes necessary for clear understanding of sentences though. Randomly spattering grammar at will across one's prose is an apostrophe catastrophe.

Is it ignorance and laziness, however? No doubt text speak and the support of autocorrect on computer documents have had an impact on our ability to punctuate and spell. There's absolutely a touch of laziness there. One doesn't even need to finish typing a word on one's phone before the technology autofills the text for you.

When it comes to being utterly rigid about language, it's hard to prevent a class-based snobbery creeping in. In one case, professional writers' poor grammar may be overlooked as eccentric habits, while everyone else is shunned as stupid.

Still, I tend more to side with Mr Richards and his ilk, for he is not alone in trying to uphold standards. See also Bristol's grammar vigilante who, in the dead of night, corrects street signs and shop fronts where the apostrophes are misplaced.

In a brutally confusing, topsy turvy world, knowing there are some rules that must not be broken is a comfort.

Up the colon. Full stop.