i Editor's Letter: Gremlins in transmission


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The Independent Online

Have you ever had a moment like the hapless waiter who accidentally poured a tray of beers over the back of Angela Merkel, (see p25)?

You will know the feeling: your heart leaps into your throat, and you feel sick from the inside out. You flush, and all the hairs on your arm stand up? OK, maybe that's just me.

When I was a waiter I managed to avoid disaster. But as an altar boy...! I still flush now. Yep, I spilled the wine – luckily before it had become anything else. My gormless teenage self stood before the sparsely populated congregation (Ma in the front pew!) quivering. "Get some more," the priest hissed. I hurried to the hallowed wine safe in the sacristy and slouched back, but he hissed anew: "That's not enough!". Oh, the shame, as I trudged off again, my cheeks warming the entire church.

As an editor, I once sent an email, cc-ing the subject of my "He's got a bit big for his boots hasn't he? Who does he think he is?" rant, but it's not quite in Claire Swire's league (Google it).

However, a paper I launched – on day two, and after a nearly flawless launch issue – did transpose rap star P Diddy with the junkie rocker Pete Doherty. We asked: "Just what does he have to do to get locked up?" and worse. Gremlins in transmission. Yes, it did cost us. "Gremlins" is not an acceptable legal defence. Who knew? But saying awful things is not as bad as actually doing earth-swallowingly embarrassing things, no matter how apparently accidental. Or is it?

It would be reassuring to think I am in safe hands here at i, and can rely on a crack team to save me from those gremlins. But who can you trust? A lawyer I knew once wrote to a former colleague about her old firm, cc-ing all the top brass accidentally: "I am so glad to be out of that s***hole, they are a bunch of w***ers.

I'm sure she meant waiters.