CROSS HEAD 15.08.03

HOWDEN THEY DO THAT?

There are some jobs where making a quiet, unannounced, fanfare-free arrival on the scene is clearly best. Candidate for Governor of California isn’t one but subbing most definitely is.

That’s why one fears for the “super six” would-be subs being trained in Yorkshire by the best brains the Daily Mail and the Press Association have to offer.

We now know that this brainy bunch, a third with Oxbridge backgrounds, will be fast-tracked on to the subs’ desks of a top regional paper, PA and quite possibly that great believer in meritocracy, the Mail itself – despite lacking experience outside the classroom. The six are, one hears, delightful people deserving of their places on the course. But for their own good, might it not be wise to add one extra subject to their timetable: how to win over those sceptical, and possibly envious, souls who feel that it is better to “do your time” first and earn your place on a top newspaper subs’ desk.

THINGS REPORTERS TELL YOU WITH A GLAZED EXPRESSION INTENDED TO SEND YOU BACK NONE THE WISER TO THE GLOOMY PLACE (IE SUBS’ DESK):

“Doesn’t it make sense? Really? But that’s exactly what it said in the press release…” THERE, THERE, NICE DOGGY When Cross Head was a youngster, the press discovered “streakers”. Now the papers and Radio 4 have discovered “dogging”. When subbing a story about this phenomenon, I began compiling an explanatory boxout and consulted a website on this sexual exhibitionism and car park hanky panky. It listed these related terms to aid understanding: “Lovers Lane, swinging, in flagrante delicto, voyeurism, dog walking, Henry Ford and Gillian Taylforth.” In Australia there is a Certificate of Competency for Dogging but this has nothing to do with the skills needed to have sex in a Mini Metro and is, in fact, a building trade qualification.

MY PRECIOUS WRITERS

An interesting mathematical formula, Gollum’s Theorem, is brought to my attention. It seeks to give a scientific explanation for writers’ resistance to having their copy rewritten, what we call “The Precious Factor”. It is: a– b c
where ais the writer’s years on a publication, bis the number of other places they have worked and c is the title’s circulation.

The higher the number the greater the preciousness.  Cross Head returns in two weeks Next week: Dr Deadline

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