Confessions of a dyslexic (word award winning) food writer

Cooing.  I know that’s whats pigeons do.  And I know that a typo. ‘Your’ and ‘You’re’ confuse (or is that ‘confuses’) me, so does ‘hair’ and ‘hare’.  Cooking is what I do, but typos happen, like ‘nad’ instead of ‘and’ when typing, but I can’t see when I’ve typed ‘the the’ instead of just ‘the’.  Cooing and cooking look the same to me.  That’s because I’m dyslexic.


At school it was described as bad spelling, that was the late 1990’s.  It put a barrier in my life, and it was not until I had graduated from my Masters degree that it was really noticed.  Do I let it get to me?  No.  Look at any text book, or even on the BBC News and you will find typos, even dyslexic me can see some of them, but what does this mean for work?  Not much as far as I’m concerned as I just get on with it and have won multiple global awards for my writing.  Spell checks confuse me, the options they give all look the same to me.

A few weeks about my brother phoned me, he was in a bit of a shock saying that he did a test at work and found out he was dyslexic too.  My mum is a great speller, and she spent many hours of her life teaching my brother and I to spell as children, however there is a mental block on some words that I just can not spell.  I live by the motto where “your only a victim if you choose to be one“, I wont (won’t?) let this run my life, and I won’t let myself feel bad about it.  Reading lots and often does not help it, it just makes you feel bad as your a slow reader as a result. For these people who can bring a few novels on holiday and read them all in a week causes jealousy.  My maths is affected too, and when I was back in my old school last week I saw my old Maths teacher who asked how important maths was in my life, and my reply was simply, “I’ve forgotten how to do percentages” to which I was offered a GCSE work sheet (and I was really over the moon about that).

I’ve found a programme for my Mac that helps, its called Grammarly and not only does it show my spelling mistakes, but also helps me with all areas of grammar I type, it’s not like a spell checker, it’s different.   Best of all it understands British English, but detests words that are not of the good society like ‘init’.

About 10% of the UK population is dyslexic according to the British Dyslexia Association.  Dyslexia is covered under the Equality ACT as a Dissability, but I don’t see myself like that. Social Media is worse of all for me.  The speed of the responses required and the use of the screen with big fingers and small keyboard on my iPhone never mind the autocorrect allows mistakes to happen.  Am I concerned?  not really.  SIRI does not like the Northern Irish accent!  When British English has moved to a slang culture of text talk as main stream this is easier for the dyslexic to understand, but I know it’s not right and proper for communications other than to say “Hny im hme”.  My blog is ready by over 20,000 a month, I’m proud of that fact, and thank you for not making me feel bad about my dyslexia.

However on LinkedIn one man last week made an issue of my spelling, and it embarrassed me professionally.  He may have been ‘nominated‘ for his work (according to LinkedIn), I could be catty here, but I’m not like that.  Just proud I’ve WON the World Cookbook Award 3 times with my dyslexia.  Typos happen, dyslexia is a reality for me.  I do believe (and please comment below what you think) that mistakes are ok in digital writing (to an extent), they are different for print where editors and sub editors are present.  I dont have this staffing luxury.

Just read my bio if you feel you can’t do it with dyslexia, because I have proved you CAN. And as for that person that made me feel bad, please dont say “you might want to check your spelling“, rather, please help me and let me know what the issue is, as I jsut can not  see it.  Oh, there is another example of dyslexia, I know it should read ‘just’.

5 thoughts on “Confessions of a dyslexic (word award winning) food writer

  1. James, I congratulate you on your writing ability when you have to live with dyslexia. I have known about this for a long time because you told me and I marvel at the way you write about food with so much passion and I know you also cook from your heart. That is why you are so successful and I wish you continued success, dyslexia or not. Never let anyone stop you with unkind comments. I am proud to have you as my friend!

  2. I too am dyslexic, so I know exactly what you mean about this stuff. I don’t let it stop me either. But it was just great reading about a fellow citizen that goes through the same stuff as I … thank you for taking the time to write this article it was excellent read.

  3. My son is dyslexic, but in maths and writing, but still he makes lots of errors. Where he really excels is in listening.

    I have come to the conclusion that there is something wrong with people who feel the need to correct other\\\’s spelling, and use it as a way to discount their intelligence. I call it dickishness. It\\\’s the surest sign of intellectual insecurity.

    I have found dyslexics to be persevering and joyful. I would not change a hair on my son\\\’s head. The dickishness crowd can crow among themselves. Who care?

  4. Me too…or is that two…and its no fun. Thank god for spell-check…or is that cheque. More power to you and congratulations for all you do. x

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