One of my first jobs out of the seedy skyscraper that was the London College of Printing was on a local paper, the South East London & Kentish Mercury. By some miracle, I persuaded the editor to hire me as Leisure Editor – a dream job tripping around the comedy and music venues of Deptford and beyond. (Afterwards one of the reporters told me I’d been hired because I’d said I did my ironing to Doris Day, but of course I was also cheap – back then!)
Anyways, really I was still a newbie to layout/subbing so when the sports editor filed his review of a gig by a UK folk duo and supplied a perfectly-fitting headline, I didn’t blink. Alas, on Thursday morning I was summoned over to the news editor’s desk. Dear Roger thrust the paper at me, demanding an explanation. ‘What? What’s the problem?’ I asked. It wasn’t until he said it out loud that I realised the gaffe:
Sweet folk all!
And in a rather large type size, too. Heheh. Luckily he forgave my blushing innocence and let me buy him pints in the pub for five hours next press day. Still, the tabloid in me said ‘so what?’ – all the better for getting readers to read on, I reckoned. And hey hadn’t Kelvin Mackenzie once subbed on the same subs desk?
So I’ve been thinking, what other lovelies have there been over the years – and perhaps not so accidental… Here’s my eclectic (and possibly not all true) list of Top 10 Rudest Headlines:
- Great tits cope well with warming (BBC)
- Elton takes David up the aisle (The Sun)
- Fuchs off to Antarctic (NY Times)
- Prostitutes appeal to Pope (can anyone confirm this one?)
- Scott wants head job (Western Times)
- Butt blow for Newcastle (Guardian)
- NZ finds Black Cox hard to swallow (The Register)
- Munching Swedish beaver causes blackout (The Local)
- Zip me up before you go go (The Sun)
- Tiger Woods plays with his own balls, Nike says (AP Wire)
I’m sure there’s probably worse out there. I mean, all those science journals must surely have had some fun with Uranus… so to speak.