Sub-Standard

As sent to Times sub-editors:

From : Giles Coren

Chaps,

I am mightily pissed off. I have addressed this to Owen, Amanda and Ben because I don’t know who i am supposed to be pissed off with (i’m assuming owen, but i filed to amanda and ben so it’s only fair), and also to Tony, who wasn’t here – if he had been I’m guessing it wouldn’t have happened.

I don’t really like people tinkering with my copy for the sake of tinkering. I do not enjoy the suggestion that you have a better ear or eye for how I want my words to read than I do. Owen, we discussed your turning three of my long sentences into six short ones in a single piece, and how that wasn’t going to happen anymore, so I’m really hoping it wasn’t you that fucked up my review on saturday.

It was the final sentence. Final sentences are very, very important. A piece builds to them, they are the little jingle that the reader takes with him into the weekend.

I wrote: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh.”
it appeared as: “I can’t think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh.”

There is no length issue. This is someone thinking “I’ll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate Hunt and i know best”.

Well, you fucking don’t.

This was shit, shit sub-editing for three reasons.

1) ‘Nosh’, as I’m sure you fluent Yiddish speakers know, is a noun formed from a bastardisation of the German ‘naschen’. It is a verb, and can be construed into two distinct nouns. One, ‘nosh’, means simply ‘food’. You have decided that this is what i meant and removed the ‘a’. I am insulted enough that you think you have a better ear for English than me. But a better ear for Yiddish? I doubt it. Because the other noun, ‘nosh’ means “a session of eating” – in this sense you might think of its dual valency as being similar to that of ‘scoff’. you can go for a scoff. or you can buy some scoff. the sentence you left me with is shit, and is not what i meant. Why would you change a sentnece aso that it meant something i didn’t mean? I don’t know, but you risk doing it every time you change something. And 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.
2) I will now explain why your error is even more shit than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as “sexually-charged”. I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word ‘gaily’ as a gentle nudge. And “looking for a nosh” has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob. Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys. “looking for nosh” does not have that ambiguity. the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you’ve fucking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it. You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, fucking christ, don’t you read the copy?
3) And worst of all. 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.

I am sorry if this looks petty (last time i mailed a Times sub about the change of a single word i got in all sorts of trouble) but i care deeply about my work and i hate to have it fucked up by shit subbing.



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

GuidoFawkes Quote of the Day

Sepp Blatter speaks:

“I am not corrupt. I believe I will go to heaven one day.”

Top Posts This Week

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

PMQS SKETCH PMQS SKETCH
“Dodgy” Dave v “Jurassic” Skinner “Dodgy” Dave v “Jurassic” Skinner
Missed PMQs? Catch Up in Full Here Missed PMQs? Catch Up in Full Here
Do you have what it takes to join a GCHQ hacking SCHOOL? Do you have what it takes to join a GCHQ hacking SCHOOL?
IDS Expenses Row: Was Credit Card Suspended Or Not? IDS Expenses Row: Was Credit Card Suspended Or Not?
Questions Channel 4 News Don’t Want to Ask Questions Channel 4 News Don’t Want to Ask

Zac and Boris Warn Dave Zac and Boris Warn Dave
NHS UN-APPY NHS UN-APPY
MP Shagging His Secretary on Highest Paygrade MP Shagging His Secretary on Highest Paygrade
Owen Jones Gets Owned Owen Jones Gets Owned
Read Sajid Javid Speech Slamming CBI Read Sajid Javid Speech Slamming CBI
Watch: BBC3 Greatest Hits Watch: BBC3 Greatest Hits
LORD DEBEN’S CLIMATE ALARMISM LORD DEBEN’S CLIMATE ALARMISM
WATCH: Terror Training Exercise in London WATCH: Terror Training Exercise in London
Meet the Next Generation of Troughing MPs Meet the Next Generation of Troughing MPs
Boris on £275,000 at Telegraph Boris on £275,000 at Telegraph
Supercar Socialist Polly Toynbee Supercar Socialist Polly Toynbee
Read CPS Janner Statement in Full Read CPS Janner Statement in Full
UKIP Broke, Homeless UKIP Broke, Homeless