The Times, June 2, 2017
Here is a great example of how a small subbing change can make all the difference. All you need to do is move the last sentence to the start of the last paragraph, with just a light tweak. The quote then reads on from it, and gives a wonderful pay-off. Thus:
On days off from Coronation Street, Barraclough could be spotted at his local supermarket, alert to verbal gems in the conversation of fellow shoppers.
A quiet man, he said: ‘An actor is really an observer of life and people. To be an observer, you must be in the background, and I don’t subscribe to the business of the public knowing all about you. All the actor owes the public is a bloody good performance.’
i newspaper, June 1, 2017
There seems to be a lot of confusion about past tenses. The past tense of ‘spin’ is ‘spun’. Maybe the writer (the editor, no less!) was trying to avoid the error mentioned in Post 104, where the past tense of ‘shrink’ was rendered as ‘shrunk’ (the passive or pluperfect) instead of ‘shrank’. Yes, English is irregular, but writers should be familiar with it.
The Times, June 1, 2017
‘Nonplussed’ means ‘baffled’ or ‘confused’, but it is clear from the copy that Murray feels the opposite. The right word or phrase here could be ‘not bothered’, ‘not perturbed’ or maybe ‘unfazed’. Apparently in the US ‘nonplussed’ is coming to mean ‘not perturbed’, ie the opposite of its meaning here, but the Times is not a US paper.