Cross head 09-05-03

A snafu situation

What should a sub do when a writer uses an acronym so old that few people under 30 know its meaning? Take a straw poll of other subs? It surely comes down to judging what your readers will understand. One “anacronym” cropped up in Saturday’s Times when Kate Muir, describing an Easter break, wrote: “Our only snafu is my three-fleeces-no-T-shirts packing policy, which means bare tummies all day.” I only know about snafu because, first, my brother ruined my childhood playing the LP Situation Normal: All Funked Up by the Seventies band Snafu and, second, my mother visited a US Air Force base during the war in search of nylons and chocolate (I believed her) and picked up GI phrases. Some claim it stands for “Situation Normal: All Fouled Up” but a much stronger F-word was used. The GIs also gave us FUBAR (“Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition”) but we Brits didn’t take to it, hence the caps.

Rhythm method works

Life for racing subs used to be fun. All the great horses had proper, headline-friendly names: Never Say Die, Santa Claus, Nijinsky. But when Arab owners arrived they gave their nags nightmare names. In recent years the 1,000 Guineas has been won by Hatoof, Shadayid, Sayyedati, Harayir, Lahan and Ameerat. But in a return to the good old days, this year’s renewal on Sunday was won by Russian Rhythm. To make it a win double for subs, the 2,000 Guineas went to Refuse To Bend. Will it be a treble in the Derby? Maybe not. Among those fancied are Alamshar, Almushahar, Muqbil and Ikhtyar.

Tool of the week

Subbing a story about a Blackpool soldier out in Baghdad and need to check the distance between the two? Visit this distance locater ( and it’ll work it out for you (it’s actually 2,703 miles).

Quark 6 on horizon

Good news at last for Quark. MacUser says the company is “finally ready to release” Quark 6. In a review of a pre-release version, MacUser ‘s Alistair Dabbs writes: “XPress is looking good, but unless it tries harder to improve functionality, Quark could be relying a little too much on goodwill and OS X support.” A summer release is expected. Meanwhile, Future Publishing, which has 80 magazines in four countries, has revealed it considered switching to Adobe InDesign after a successful trial, but has decided to stick with Quark XPress because of “compatibility problems” with international licensees.

Cross Head returns in two weeks

Next week: Dr Deadline

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