‘Da Vinci’ artwork sells for record $450m

Dr Tim Hunter, who is an expert in Old Master and 19th Century art, told the BBC . . . “Da Vinci painted less than 20 oil paintings and many are unfinished so it’s incredibly rare and we love that in art.”

BBC News online, November 16, 2017

The artist’s name is Leonardo; da Vinci is not a surname but the name of his home town. He should always be called Leonardo after the first reference. I would have expected BBC types to know this but obviously not. Moreover, it is inconceivable that an art expert would make this elementary error, so someone must have made up his quote or changed it. If I were Dr Tim Hunter I would be very angry at being made to look a fool.

NB Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code must be responsible for a lot of ignorant people thinking that Da Vinci (or da Vinci) is correct.


He was ejected from Wimbeldon in 2000 for smashing a journalist’s phone, the

The teenage star’s career peaked when she made the Wimbeldon quarter finals

He was ejected from Wimbeldon in 2000 for smashing a journalist’s phone (pictured)

Mail Online, November 11, 2017


I tend to avoid using Mail Online because it is too much like shooting fish in a barrel, but here is a particularly shocking example of its total lack of quality control. I might have put it down to mistyping (which is bad enough if it goes on to the website) but getting it wrong three times shows that there is at least one cretin there who can’t spell Wimbledon. Presumably this person gets paid! This is taking money under false pretences.
PS: 24 hours later, the article has been updated but the Wimbeldons remain.


i newspaper, November 8, 2017, page 1

i newspaper, November 8, 2017, page 11

Imagine the joy in media offices when this story came in: ‘Now we can trot out all those stupid phrases with “ewe” in them!’ Never mind that they don’t have anything to do with the story. The i newspaper went mad and used two. They missed this one, but the Times didn’t:

Hello ewe: sheep recognise a famous face, say neuroscientists

At ITV Online they disinterred this one:

Would ewe believe it? Sheep can recognise celebrity faces

At the Guardian, they thought this was clever:

Is it … Baa-rack Obama? Sheep able to recognise celebrities, say neuroscientists

It isn’t, though, is it? Not remotely.

Nor is this, from the Yorkshire Post:

President Obaa-ma, I presume? – sheep can recognise human faces

I would have been tempted to try something on the lines of

Smarter than they look – sheep can recognise human faces


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.