Saturday, 11 December 2010

How Not to Make Friends

Today's Sydney Morning Herald demonstrates how not to make friends with Tony Vincent snr:

(It would have been so easy to avoid the implication that Mr Vincent was a bit girly. All they needed to do was recast the sentence thus: " of the principals of the fraud, Tony Vincent snr, operator of a girly bar." [or "operator of a chain of girly bars", if he runs several]).

Similarly, telling Lara Bingle that you're going to write a story about how mean and unfair everyone is about her and then revealing to readers that one of her central ambitions is "shopping her girlfriends" is not going to send you automatically to the top of the Bingle Christmas list:

 Last and, I suppose I have to admit, least, you're not going to make friends with me, if:
a) you put commas in the wrong place:

("The President ...did not seem, or chose not, to get it" would make sense);

or b) you mystify me, by using a word that may well make sense in the context, but appears on an initial read to be peculiarly out of place:

Did Keith have a remunerative childhood in postwar Dartford? Unless you've read the book, you cannot know. If that is a cryptic reference to something in the text, the writer might do well to explain what he means. If he doesn't, the reader of the review just gets distracted, wondering what these 'remunerations' could possibly be or whether in fact the word is a typo.


  1. I missed the word 'remunerations' completely, reading it as 'ruminations', which I'm guessing is what was intended. It shows how easily sloppy editors can get away with this kind of stuff.

  2. How clever you are - I was planning to ask my brother, who has read the book, whether Keef was an infant rent boy. Why didn't I think of ruminations?