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.


The Times, October 31, 2017

I have seen this error many times. ‘Coruscating’ means ‘brilliant’ or ‘sparkling’, like a diamond. The word wanted here is probably ‘excoriating’, meaning ‘blistering’ in the sense of severe criticism.


i newspaper, October 31, 2017

This is nothing like the plot of A Room with a View (Lucy Honeychurch is chaperoned in Italy by her cousin Charlotte, played by Maggie Smith). It  proves that everything needs to be checked.


Sunday Telegraph, October 29, 2017

I am sure Mr Kay Gladstone is well-known and respected in museum circles, but he is hardly a household name and his presence in this heading is mystifying to the reader. The only names that should be used in headings are those that are known to every single reader, such as Theresa May and Simon Cowell.


Sunday Times, October 29, 2017

I find this incredible. How can you possibly send this through without the relevant ages? I timed how long it took me to find out on the internet: 20 seconds. (If you would like to know, Dyche and Guardiola are 46, while Pochettino is 45.) If the writer has not got the wit to find room in 1,000 words for the ages, it is the sub’s job to rescue him. What have these people got between the ears?


The Times, October 28, 2017

Harry Kane was injured last weekend and will not be playing. Presumably six days’ notice was not enough for the Times to pull the picture and the reference. In any case, it is asking for trouble to preview sports events in this way, with the risks of injury and bad weather. There is no rule that there has to be a picture preview. Why not just list the events?


The Times, October 26, 2017

Did an eight-year-old write this? There is always a better word than the childish ‘get’. In this case, ‘Too small to be removed by filters or sewage treatment plants, the fibres are washed into the sea . . .’