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From AJR,   April 2000  issue

From the Birthplace of Monty Python   

London's Guardian oft times pokes fun at its published blunders.


By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

LONDON'S GUARDIAN TAKES advantage of correcting its blunders to inject some dry, British humor, or humour, if you will. The "Corrections and clarifications" column, written by Ian Mayes, oft times pokes fun at the mistakes.
Mayes, 63, and previously an assistant editor at the Guardian, began writing the column in November 1997 as the paper's readers' editor, a full-time ombudsman slot. In the first year of the column, the number of complaints directed to the Guardian's lawyers fell by about a third. "When we apologise we do so properly and unreservedly," he wrote in an e-mail to AJR. "When we make corrections of matters that are not exactly earth-shattering we try to be not too po-faced and pompous. People seem to like that."
Some of the Guardian's fun:

"In our magazine, The Editor, page 3, February 11, we referred to the Six nations rugby [union] tournament in which we said "Wales thrashed France"--a possibly partisan way of interpreting the actual result: Wales 3, France 36."

"In our obituary of the film director Claude Autant-Lara, page 18, February 7, we appeared to anticipate his death, saying that he died on February 12. In fact, he died on February 5. Apologies."

" 'Political pie throwing has a long history,' we wrote in a much-quoted item, page 5, February 3. But for Belgian surrealist Noel Godin to have pied Marilyn Monroe in 1973 would have been some feat. She had been dead since 1962."

"In our report of the Olivier Awards, page 9, February 19, we began, 'It should have been a shoe-in for the might of Disney's The Lion King...' The term, as we have pointed out twice before in the Corrections, is shoo-in, an Americanism, meaning a dead cert. We seem to have grasped the meaning if not the spelling."

"An unwanted hyphen changed the meaning of the following passage in our review of the film Topsy-Turvy, page 8, Friday Review, February 18: '...when Gilbert and his wife visited a Japanese exhibition, which is shown as inspiring the Mikado, his wife claims to have seen three-minute Japanese ladies there...' We meant to say small rather than brief."

"In 'A (very) occasional series in praise of the sub-editors' craft', page 7, Media, yesterday, we repeated a seven-line section practically word for word. We did not notice but you did."

"Our art critic Adrian Searle is the latest to misspell the name of the artist Lucian Freud (the Visual arts, G2, page 12, February 22). Freud does not spell his name Lucien. This is the sixth appearance of this correction in the past two years. It has appeared previously on April 25 1998; June 4 1998; January 16 1999; January 21 1999; October 23 1999."

"In a piece about BBC weather presenters headed Turned out beautiful again, page 5, G2, February 22, the writer suggested that one of them, David Braine, at 37 was 'no spring solstice any more'. He never was. There is no spring solstice. There is a summer solstice, a winter solstice, an autumn equinox and a spring equinox."