The Times, November 7, 2017

You have to be ever-vigilant for double meanings. This would have been better expressed as ‘with her then husband, the tenor Roberto Alagna’ to avoid giving the impression that there was a queue.


Daily Telegraph, November 7, 2017

(35 words) How vast is vast? Actually it is 27ft by 17ft. And what does ‘rarely seen in public’ mean? Does it hide in a cupboard and venture out for a few minutes once in a while? In fact it hangs in the Great Hall of Battle Abbey School in East Sussex, where anyone may view it.  ‘Very fine art’? Dear me.  This is my effort:

Art in the picture: Google photographs Frank Wilkin’s vast Battle of Hastings (1820) ready to go online in ultra HD thanks to a partnership with English Heritage. The 27ft by 17ft work hangs in Battle Abbey School, East Sussex. (39 words)



The Times, November 4, 2017

Here is a lesson in how not to sub a complex story. The last thing to do is try to be clever, ‘try’ being the operative word. It’s a good enough tale not to need dressing up. This is how it should have been done:

Daily Express, November 4, 2017


Sunday Times, November 5, 201

(1) The underlined sentence is clumsy to say the least. There is nearly always an alternative to ‘what is/was/could be’. I would say:

The allegations about Spacey . . . could be embarrassing for the historic London theatre.

(2) The two underlined uses of ‘had’ are incorrect. This is the pluperfect tense, which refers to a past event before a more recent past event. For example, ‘Before he climbed Everest he had been to the moon.’ If you find yourself using the pluperfect, do consider if it is necessary, because it often isn’t. In these cases the past tense is correct, ie ‘last year Spacey received . . .’ and ‘in which he starred . . . ‘

(3) ‘disassociate’ is a longer and clumsier way of saying ‘dissociate’. If a word has two forms, it is good practice to use the shorter.


Sunday Times, November 5, 2017

If a police chief insists on using an idiotic invented word such as ‘upshift’, you don’t need to encourage him by repeating it. You could say ‘an increase’ or ‘a sudden rise’.


A couple of odd headings from the i newspaper, November 3, 2017:

Page 1

The story inside is about a void newly discovered deep within the Great Pyramid of Giza. Nothing to do with a curse or any such nonsense. I can only assume that the writer of this puff tapped out the first thought that came into his or her head about pharaohs without wondering if it had any relevance to the story. It hadn’t.

Page 8

Can anyone explain this heading?

Incidentally, the cross-ref takes you to a gossip piece, but there is also a film review which is not mentioned in either story. So amateurish.



i newspaper, November 1, 2017

Bravery and courage mean doing something one is afraid to do, usually for the sake of someone else. There is nothing brave about choosing to go into the sea for your own amusement. Alternative words could be ‘bold’, ‘hardy’, ‘daring’ or ‘intrepid’. I would not put an adjective at all and leave the reader to form his or her own opinion. I would, however, say ‘Members of the Panama Swimming Club’  rather than ‘Swimmers from the Panama Swimming Club’. The heading is meaningless. How about


? I don’t normally recommend using place names in headings but in this case the freezing sea at Whitley Bay makes a nice contrast with Surfin USA set in California.