Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Journey to the island of Pic Tocome

Yesterday, I said I was going to give examples of inadvertent errors — in the context of French penseur Derrida's appearance in Apple ad. I said it was probably left in by mistake from an early private draft.

I see similar things most days. I now get The Guardian delivered direct - which means it's there on my door mat every morning before I wake up. But it is, of course, an early edition. So mistakes haven't always been cleared away. A regular error is leaving the typesetting or subs instructions on the printed page. It'd be text boxes in Quark or something like that. They'd be using a template and there would be dummy words in the text boxes to indicate what should go there. 

Example? Invented in detail but typical and frequent in type. If a football match has kicked off late, there will be no result. Rather, on my printed copy, there will be words such as: Score to go here.

I do have one real example, though. It's not from the Guardian - where I did work for a while so I do know whereof I speak. It's from the Mail on Sunday - where I also worked for a while so I do . . . etc etc.

It's about a man named Roddy. He was deputy editor at the time. Being deputy editor of a major newspaper is much like being a vice president of the US. It's elevation without the fun of being able to actually do something important. So Roddy, among other duties, looked after the travel pages - which, if I remember right, came with the added responsibility that the ski writer was the son of Daily Mail's editor. Responsibility without power. A situation which makes it difficult to stay awake. Or stop heading off to lunch around 11am.

So there he is looking at a layout for a travel spread. Quick glance. Quick read of the display copy. Still hard to concentrate. Thinking of what he's going to see at the theatre that night — he was (and is) an extremely cultivated and charming and smart man. If a little . . .well, let me finish the story.

He has to say something. Like he cares. So he sees on the page what he thinks is the holiday spot being written about. And he comments on it. This is what he says: 'Pic Tocome. Excellent. Everyone tells me that's the island to go to this year.'

Only it wasn't, of course. He had just read the dummy phrase written in a blank box on the layout. It said: pic to come. That is, a photograph would be put there but it had yet to arrive.

Did anyone laugh? Come on. This was the Mail on Sunday and he was the deputy editor.

Did anyone point out his error? Ditto.

Did anyone tell him later? I just have.

Do I think it's news to him? Yes.

Tomorrow Euroswearing 2012 is back. Whose filthy mouths will propel them to victory in the semi-finals

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