Laying down the law
Things haven’t been getting any better at the Telegraph subs’ desk of late, judging by Simon Heffer’s latest round-robin bollocking to staff.
It includes the usual spelling howlers (TV program, neighbor and not knowing whether practice is a noun or a verb), but also a classic he calls a “24 carrot gold” cock-up: “hospital patience”, which anyone who has been one will confirm is wrong on many counts.
He also moans about confusing “insight” and “incite”, the misuse of apostrophes - “how soldier’s found Hitler’s body” – and the fact that there is no such word as adaption
But these stood out:
The terms “rifle” and “shotgun” are not interchangeable. A rifle is a precision weapon that fires bullets. A shotgun fires cartridges loaded with shot that scatters in a pattern and kills or wounds anything in its path. Gourmand and gourmet are not interchangeable either. The latter is a connoisseur of food and the former simply greedy. Buckinghamshire is not in the Cotswolds.
Lay is a transitive verb (I lay down a case of claret every month; she laid the table).
When I joined the subs’ desk there in 1991, I would cringe at the disdain with which the middle aged gents alongside me treated anything they saw as “pop” culture (the chief parly sub had never heard of Sigourney Weaver and the chief revise sub didn’t know why anyone would be interested in a nib on Guns ‘n Roses).
But to a cardigan, they would all have known how to lay down a case of claret.