After 211 years of ale-making, Daniel Thwaites Plc has this week been forced to declare the premature closure of its brewery following an invasion by travellers who razed the place to the ground over the last Bank Holiday weekend.

Mail Online, June 16, 2018


You need to look at the story to appreciate this one. Not only is ‘to the ground’ unnecessary because ‘to raze’ means ‘to reduce to ground level’, but it is not true – the building is still standing, as the pictures make clear. What, if any, thought process went into this?


The Times, June 14, 2018

(63 words) This is almost certainly the most useless court report I have ever seen. Among the basic things you must cover are:

What court is it? (Southwark Crown Court)

When was the hearing? (Yesterday)

What are the charges? (24 serious sexual assault charges against 11 boys aged between 14 and 16, alleged to have taken place between 1970 and 1988)

What is the plea? (Not guilty)

Is the trial continuing? (Yes)

Instead we get two sentences which more or less duplicate each other. The identity of the prosecuting counsel is not interesting. It baffles me how such sub-standard work can get into the paper. Is there no revising done at The Times? Or is it no longer considered necessary to do it right? Is the attitude that any old thing will do if it fills the space?

This is how I would have done it:

Former DJ and pop star Jonathan King, 73, lured teenage boys to his flat in Bayswater, central London, for sex by pretending that Page Three girl Samantha Fox was his girlfriend, a jury at Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday. King denies 24 charges of serious sexually assaulting 11 boys aged 14 to 16 between 1970 and 1988. The trial continues. (60 words)


As regular readers know, I usually avoid Mail Online because it is just too easy, but I could not resist this bumper bundle from today’s (June 12, 2018) report on the meal served at the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Translations supplied.

six-course meal that included three deserts (= desserts)

Singaporese dishes (= Singaporean)

Hennesey cognac (= Hennessy)

Hennesy ( = ditto)

prawn’s cocktail ( = prawn)

Haagendazs vanilla iced cream (Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream)

preferred flavor ( = flavour in UK)

potato dauphinois ( = dauphinoise)

Crystal ( = Cristal champagne)

HOW DO CONCLUDE THIS? ( = gibberish)

And, fittingly, this is how the story ends:

Time magazine reported early in the administration that Trump got served two scoops of vanilla iced cream at the White House, while guests got a single scoop, although




 The couple have three children, a son, Jasper, and twin daughters, Monica and Octavia (both 14)

Wikipedia entry

You do not need to say ‘both’ aged xx with twins, as by definition they will share a birthday unless they are among the very rare pairs born each side of midnight. Nor do you need to say ‘who are not identical’ if they are a boy and a girl. Yes, it is stupid, but I have seen it several times.


Sunday Times, June 10, 2018

‘Rankle’, meaning ‘to irritate’ or ‘to anger’, is an intransitive verb, so it does not take an object. A similar verb is ‘fester’. You could say ‘The experience rankled with his barrister’ or ‘The experience annoyed/irritated/angered his barrister’.

From the same column:

‘Attend to’ means to look after or deal with. The word wanted here is simply ‘attend’, meaning in this context ‘to accompany’, in the abstract rather than the physical sense.


          i newspaper, June 1, 2018

There is only one heir to the throne and that is the Prince of Wales. Technically he is the ‘heir apparent’. Second in line is the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George is third. The correct expression would be ‘Prince George, who is third in line to the throne’.


The Times, June 1, 2018

Once, the Times had a reputation to uphold, and I dare say anyone committing this blunder would have been sacked. The strange thing is that the accent is right. In French, you pluralise both the noun and the adjective, so bêtes noires. I would put a foreign phrase in italics.


i newspaper, May 31, 2018

This is rubbish. A musical note is a particular pitch, and it is the same whether it is played on a piano, a piccolo or sung.  There is no such thing as a ‘piano note’. The interval between notes, to signify higher or lower pitch, is measured in ‘semitones’.  Looking at the original research, the women’s voices were lowered by 1.3 semitones, which is a bit more than the interval between two notes (is this research significant enough to report?) Anyway, the point is that the person who handled this obviously had not the slightest idea what he or she was talking about and should have sought advice.

I would have left out the ‘more than one piano note’ from the intro, as well as ‘after pregnancy’ – being a new mother by definition comes after pregnancy. Using the word ‘claimed’ makes it sound as if you are not sure you believe them.


The voices of new mothers become deeper and more monotonous, say scientists.

They speculate that the change might be an attempt to sound more authoritative, or it could be driven by hormones.

The heading could be

Baby’s arrival makes a mother’s voice deeper



The Times, May 30, 2018

Here is a classic case of not thinking about the story. What do we want to know? Whether she achieved it or not! Are we supposed to think the photographer didn’t bother to wait to see if she did it or if she plunged to her death? Assuming she survived, all you need to do is change ‘attempts’ to ‘during’.


The Times, May 22, 2018

There must be legions of P G Wodehouse fans amongst Times readers, and every one of them will have been horrified to see Jeeves described as a ‘butler’. He was a valet (as it correctly says in the second leg) or a ‘gentleman’s gentleman’. This error renders invalid the whole premise of the story and its accompanying picture of Fry and Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster. It is a common mistake but Times readers would expect better.

PS: What did I tell you?

The Times, May 23, 2018