Tragi-Comedy of Errors

Galliano on his knees

A week of very public mistake-making alas. John Galliano CBE showed his true colours, claiming that work stress fuelled his support for genocide. (I always thought Gaddafi looked wrung out from the office.) So where was the NY money coming from to buy his overpriced creations? Clearly a question he never bothered to ponder.

Did you know that Galliano used to be actor Martin Javis’ dresser? What a pity dear Martin didn’t let his foot slip towards his dresser’s crown jewels when Galliano was on his knees. (Not for the first time.)

Still, the pain may yet come – France can impose a prison sentence for racism. So “Vive La France!” say I and I’m off to stock up on as many French products as I can this weekend, to show my support. (But not Dior obviously.) I wonder if we can get that CBE back?

Good English “doesna matta!”

Someone else who should have known better was the tipsy owner of a PR Consultancy who lurched his way into the conversation of my companions on the train back from London this week. Setting about my business partner for her choice of reading material (never wise) he was good enough to tell her she’d wasted her money on a book that was “half full of c**p.”  Being quick-witted, she retorted that the other half must be good then and that she used me, a writer, to guide her choices.

With a flourish, a flyer was produced. It invited me to attend a workshop “to do with PR.” (“PR doesn’t stand for Press Releases, it means Public Relations,” I was helpfully told. Wish I’d known that before I stood up to address Leeds Metropolitan University students on the topic…)

Sadly, the leaflet was full of errors. The chief error being the spelling of the company’s name. I’m all for using the “Z” when following OED guidance and heavily against using the “Z” when replacing our use of “S” in American English. In other words, if you know what you are doing fine.  But never, ever, guess at spelling!

The owner of the PR outfit (that’s not Press Releases, you know) had an interesting answer when asked why he deferred to American English when marketing his services to a UK audience. He looked puzzled. Clearly the concept of misspelling was new to him.

“We had an American lass helping ooot in the office last summer,” he revealed. And had he not realised the inconsistencies between the two languages? “It doesna matta!” he replied. “Anyways, it were only suppooosed ta be a fun conversation with yas.”

I pointed out that correct use of the English language is deadly serious to me. And handed his leaflet back. After all, if he could not be bothered to write it with care, why should I waste my time reading it? This flummoxed him. And he disappeared. (To the Buffet Car, I mean, not in a puff of smoke. Alas.)

It would all be a comedy of errors. Were it not so tragic.

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