Friday, November 07, 2008

Such gaffes are no laughing matter

I look forward to Simon Heffer’s missives to Telegraph staff more and more. The latest was doing the rounds on Wednesday, a classic, and one that, while entertaining, worried me for one reason: the more mistakes he catches, the wittier are the ripostes.
Among the latest gems, we had phrases that told us:

If you sleep with dogs you get flees
You can connect things to a computer with a UBS cable.
Russell Brand, was not "descent".
There were "peels of thunder".
Someone "seems let to loose" something.
A cook made a meal with suede and carrots
A Liberal Democrat MP was called Normal Baker

And on it goes… including the classic mention of the fact that Lucian Freud's unfinished portrait of Francis Bacon was completed in 1967.

All very amusing. But about 12 years ago, as a down-table sub there, I let through a nib on Randolph Churchill (spelt Randolf). The next morning the managing editor, Andrew Hutchinson, had his secretary call me for “an explanation”. I then endured a ritual bollocking in which involved a glass of wine, the words, “if you are to remain a Telegraph sub” and having to sit in a glass box while the rest of the 3pm shift filed in past us.

Needless to say, I didn’t do it again.

But, had my gaffe been reduced to the folly of a jolly round-robin email, I may well have done.

As we used to in those days, subs please note . . .

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