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Just been sent this Giles Coren thing - thought I'd share with MN :) (Can't decide whether to applaud or stick pins in him)

(228 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 23-Jul-08 23:40:19

As sent to Times subs...

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 cunt 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. I have been
away, you've been subbing joe and hugo and maybe they just file and fuck
off and think "hey ho, it's tomorrow's fish and chips" - well, not me. I
woke up at three in the morning on sunday and fucking lay there, furious,
for two hours. weird, maybe. but that's how it is.
It strips me of all confidence in writing for the magazine. No
exaggeration. i've got a review to write this morning and i really don't
feel like doing it, for fear that some nuance is going to be removed from
the final line, the pay-off, and i'm going to have another weekend ruined
for me.
I've been writing for The Times for 15 years and i have never asked this
before - i have never asked it of anyone i have written for - but I must
insist, from now on, that i am sent a proof of every review i do, in pdf
format, so i can check it for fuck-ups. and i must be sent it in good time
in case changes are needed. It is the only way i can carry on in the job.
And, just out of interest, I'd like whoever made that change to email me
and tell me why. Tell me the exact reasoning which led you to remove that
word from my copy.
Sorry to go on. Anger, real steaming fucking anger can make a man verbose.
All the best

BoysAreLikeDogs Wed 23-Jul-08 23:42:58

Blimey that's one cross fellow

Katisha Wed 23-Jul-08 23:43:45

I think pins...

Carmenere Wed 23-Jul-08 23:44:46


bookswapper Wed 23-Jul-08 23:46:19

twist knickers in a...rearrange that syntax Giles m'boy

Carmenere Wed 23-Jul-08 23:47:12

I mean he has a point but he is being precious. If he was on here I would guess that there was something else going on in his life........

harpsichordcarrier Wed 23-Jul-08 23:47:14

my lord shock
the boy sounds in desperate need of a shag, tbh

Hecate Wed 23-Jul-08 23:47:24

I would love to read their reply!

hoxtonchick Wed 23-Jul-08 23:48:07

don't you fancy him harpsi???

Hecate Wed 23-Jul-08 23:48:10

Be honest - doesn't anyone else think he actually sounds like he could be a mner? wink

thumbwitch Wed 23-Jul-08 23:48:22

ah no, I think applause - bless him, it's like having your baby painted green to make it look better

toolly Wed 23-Jul-08 23:49:12

Giles is too far up his own arse. It's a newspaper review, it will be lining my rabbit's cage tomorrow. Get over yourself.

BoysAreLikeDogs Wed 23-Jul-08 23:50:40

Justine wtf are you doing up so late shock


PinkTulips Wed 23-Jul-08 23:50:50

pmsl grin

took me 6 attempts to see the missing 'a' blush

i kept thinking 'is it a typo, did he paste the same sentance twice by accident?'

LongLiveGreenElizabeth Wed 23-Jul-08 23:53:57

I see his point.

unknownrebelbang Wed 23-Jul-08 23:55:49

Oh dear.

He's a little bit cross, isn't he?

MarsLady Wed 23-Jul-08 23:56:18

<<mental note not to mess with Giles' copy>>

blowsy Wed 23-Jul-08 23:58:01

grin Good on him. He sounds a nightmare, but good on him.

PortAndLemon Thu 24-Jul-08 00:10:04

Pins. Definitely. It's a review in a newspaper, not a work of art. Lying awake for two hours? Having his whole weekend ruined? Pah.

Califrau Thu 24-Jul-08 00:15:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mymblemummy Thu 24-Jul-08 00:18:39


talilac Thu 24-Jul-08 07:41:44

Thats unintentionally hilarious. I like Giles on the telly, but he does strike me as being very, um, aware of his own importance.

Hassled Thu 24-Jul-08 07:56:48

He sounds scary. Those subs are going to do what they can to scupper his unstressed syllables from now on in, aren't they?

littlelapin Thu 24-Jul-08 07:58:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

justaboutagrownup Thu 24-Jul-08 08:02:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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