BBC Countryfile Magazine, September 2017

This made me laugh. ‘Moorish’ is the adjective taken from the North African people who ruled Spain in the Middle Ages; it usually relates to architecture. The word wanted here is ‘moreish’, meaning you would like to eat some more.


        i newspaper, March 20, 2018

(48 words) The first thing I wanted to know was what the books were called and who were the authors, so I looked up the Wellcome Book Prize website. There I found that the first book mentioned is not a novel, but a memoir, and a  newsworthy one at that.  It would be worth mentioning the value of the prize, too.

This is how I would do it:

Rausing memoir on
Wellcome shortlist

Mayhem, a memoir by Sigrid Rausing about her brother Hans Kristian’s drug addiction and the death of his wife Eva, is on the shortlist for the £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize, for works which engage with medicine, health or illness. The winner will be announced on April 30. (47 words)




Sunday Times, March 18, 2018

The idea of a headline is to convey the main point of the story, in this case that a footballer has been arrested on suspicion of drink driving. The car accident is incidental. And why are there quotes on ‘involved in car crash’? There is no doubt about what happened and it is not an allegation. Whoever was paid for this pathetic job was taking money under false pretences. This is the heading I would have done:

Gibson drink-drive arrest






The Times, March 7, 2018

‘To burgeon’ is an intransitive verb (like ‘to sneeze’ or ‘to arrive’), so it does not take an object. You can’t ‘burgeon’ a reputation. I think the word sought for here may have been ‘burnish’.


The Times, March 9, 2018

Is it funny that creatures are dying? Not to me. This is a good example of someone misguided who cannot resist trying to be smart no matter how inappropriate.

This is the way to do it:

i newspaper, March 9, 2018




Tens of thousands of homes in the UK are still without water after a thaw following recent freezing temperatures resulted in burst water mains and severely damaged pipes.

The Guardian Online, March 6, 2018

Every schoolboy used to know that it is the expansion of water as it freezes that bursts pipes, not the ensuing thaw. I don’t know if this is ignorance or carelessness but either way it is shameful.


Football Association chief Martin Glenn has apologised “for any offence” after comparing the Star of David with symbols such as the Nazi swastika.

BBC  News Online, March 5, 2018

‘Compare with’ and ‘compare to’ are routinely confused, but they are different.  To ‘compare with’ is to examine the relative values of two or more similar things, as in ‘The number of oranges sold last year rose by 50 per cent compared with 2016.’ It includes the idea of difference. To ‘compare to’ means to liken, as in ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ It includes the idea of being the same.  In this case, the FA chief was bracketing the Star of David with the swastika, or likening the two symbols, so the phrase wanted is ‘compare to’.


Giles Coren, The Times, March 4, 2018

Regular readers will know that Giles Coren is the only writer on earth who is too clever to need subs, and that’s why it is such fun finding obvious errors in his copy so often.  The correct spelling is ‘pixelated’ – quite simple, really, considering that it means ‘broken down into pixels’.



The Times, March 1, 2018

Surely there can’t be any satisfaction in doing such a poor job as this.

Going through my marks in order, what is ‘a 26ft by 26ft pod’? There should be a comma after ‘Hobbit Hole’.

A 16-acre farmhouse would be a sight to behold.

Q: Why would the fiancee’s father submit the planning application? A: Because he is the scheme’s architect.

It is Suffolk Coastal district council, not ‘coastal’.

What on earth is the last par  about? It turns out that this application has not yet been considered, but that Sheeran was refused permission for a garage in 2016. It was granted on appeal.

Lastly, it has been reported many times that the property is near Framlingham. I don’t see mentioning this as an invasion of privacy.



The Times, March 2, 2018

Sometimes an intro cries out to be re-written.  In vain.

This is unbelievably clumsy: ‘with whose manager the 21-year-old held talks yesterday’. Not to mention ‘chose’ instead of ‘choose’.

As always there are hundreds of ways of writing this in a snappy and cogent manner – words which must be a mystery to many Times sports subs.

What’s wrong with:

Scott McTominay, the promising young Manchester United midfielder, is at the centre of a battle between Scotland and England managers.

The 21-year-old held talks yesterday with Alex McLeish, who hopes to secure his allegiance, and will today meet Gareth Southgate etc etc.