#82

The Times, April 24, 2017

Yes, they certainly do say it, over and over again. This really is an unimaginative way to end a story. It is a pretty safe bet that if you find yourself writing ‘as they say’ you are about to repeat a cliche.

#81

Daily Express, April 21, 2017

A total like this is meaningless. In this case we are not given the tools to do the mental arithmetic to obtain an average length of sentence (which would convey something) until the ninth paragraph, and even then it is not a simple sum.  This is how I would do it:

A gang who grabbed more than half a million pounds by blowing up cash machines have been jailed for up to 19 years each.

You don’t need to say ‘A judge has jailed . . .’ because that is the only way anyone is sent to prison. I wouldn’t put ‘in outrageous raids’ – to me, the intro speaks for itself.

 

#80

i newspaper, April 22, 2017

(53 words)

When I read this I wondered how ‘cleaning the air’ could ‘restore’ a painting, so I looked it up. It is not being ‘restored’, it is being preserved.

‘Facing’ has a suggestion of something bad about to happen, as in ‘Prisoner faces execution’, so it is not appropriate here.

The painter’s name is Leonardo; da Vinci means ‘from Vinci’ so you don’t cap it (The Da Vinci Code notwithstanding) and you refer to Leonardo in second and subsequent references.

This is how I would tackle it:

The Italian restaurant chain Eataly is hoping to preserve Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper by installing an £800,000 air conditioning system in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazia in Milan, where the late 15th century mural is on display. This should stop microscopic particles of paint flaking off. (51 words)

This adds the date of the painting, the fact that it is a mural, and how the rescue attempt will work. I don’t think you need to give the sum of money in euros, and you certainly don’t need the phrase ‘one of the artist’s most famous works’.

For the heading I would do:

Restaurant chain to
save The Last Supper

 

 

#79

Some years ago Giles Coren was upset when a sub deleted the word ‘a’ from his Times restaurant column. His memo about it went viral in the subbing world. Here are a couple of extracts (please do not read if foul language offends you):

Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed ‘a’ so that the stress that should have fallen on “nosh” is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you’re winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not fucking rocket science. It’s fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and I have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

The way you avoid this kind of fuck-up is by not changing a word of my copy without asking me, okay? it’s easy. Not. A. Word. Ever.

Last week Coren put the wrong Latin phrase into his review (see Post #74). This week he has got a chef’s name wrong.

The Times, April 22, 2017

The normal shortening of Jonathan is Jonny, not Johnny, so, as Coren claims to have done, I looked it up on the internet – and lo and behold, it is Jonny Mills. Still, better to make mistakes than have subs changing your golden words.

 

#78

i newspaper, April 21, 2017

(59 words) Saying ‘A Slovakian company called AeroMobil’ makes it sound as if it is has never been heard of before. In fact there have been stories about Aeromobil and its flying car for years. ‘Its version of’ adds nothing. ‘Whose’ is a word for people and animals. It can technically be used for objects but it feels clumsy. The wings do not fold back ‘like an insect’, but ‘like those of an insect’. I presume that ‘boosted’ means ‘powered’. ‘License’ is the wrong spelling; the noun in English is ‘licence’. (License is the verb and the US spelling of the noun.) I would hyphenate pre-order. And the big question: How much will the thing cost?

This is how I would do it:

A Slovakian company has unveiled a flying car which will be available for pre-order this year at a price of about £1million. The Aeromobil vehicle is a light-frame aeroplane with wings which can fold back, like those of an insect. It is powered by a hybrid engine and a rear propeller. A pilot’s licence will be needed to fly it. (60 words)

And what about that heading? ‘Set to’ is horrible. ‘Out of this world’ is meaningless in this context. This would be my effort:

£1million flying car
prepares for take-off

 

 

#74

The Times, April 15

If you are going to try to show off by putting Latin phrases into your copy, it is a good idea to use the right one. ‘De facto’ means in reality as opposed to theory, for example ‘the country is de facto two separate states’. The phrase needed here is ‘ipso facto’, meaning ‘inevitably’ (literally ‘by that very act’). Or you could put ‘inevitably’.

#73

Daily Express, April 8, 2017

As with many words and expressions, the ‘up’ is unnecessary. There is no such thing as a ‘downsurge’ from which it needs to be distinguished, so ‘surge’ is quite adequate.