Errors and Omissions: Can you only be stabbed in a frenzied attack?

Our legendary pedant on hunting in and outdoors, the art of not giving everything away, and Boris Johnson's sporting achievements

Related Topics

Vladimir Putin, according to a news story published on Monday, “has over the years been shown horse riding, swimming, scuba-diving, playing ice hockey and indulging in outdoor hunting”.

Eh? What is “outdoor hunting”? Would that be as opposed to indoor hunting? The latter, I suppose, is what the Russian President does when he has mislaid his cufflinks. You can understand that he wouldn’t want TV cameras present at such moments of domestic omnishambles.

Cliché of the week

When someone suffers several wounds from a knife, what sort of attack is that? Why, frenzied, of course. So it was in a news headline published on Tuesday: “British football coach stabbed to death in frenzied New York attack.” In this case, it was only the opinion of the headline writer that the attacker was in a frenzy (“The rage or excitement of a paroxysm of mania” – Oxford English Dictionary). The story below made no mention of it. Had the unfortunate man fallen victim to a blunt instrument, the attack would of course have been “brutal” rather than “frenzied”.

Good shot

One of the great Westerns, John Ford’s late masterpiece The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, pops up from time to time on television. Some months ago, it featured in this column, when somebody had written a TV preview item which disclosed a crucial plot twist.

It is only fair, then, to record that last Saturday’s Radar supplement carried a spoiler-free summary that artfully managed to give a good idea of what the film is like without telling the reader anything that a first-time viewer would not want to know. Errors and Omissions Gold Star, First Class.

Down the sewerage

I am grateful to Jeff Baldock for pointing out this, from a commentary on the John Terry racism saga, published last Saturday: “You speculate at what point, if ever, the swill of sewerage will abate.” The stuff that runs through sewers is called sewage. “Sewerage” is a piece of town hall jargon that has no place in a news report: it means the provision of sewers, or a system of sewers. The Shorter Oxford admits that “sewerage” can also mean “sewage”, but dictionaries don’t prescribe; they only describe the words people use. We should aspire to the best usage.

Tough toff

Thursday’s sketch from the Tory conference referred to “Eton fives, a terrifyingly pointless means of getting up close and personal with other boys while trying to scrape their skin off with a brick wall (one at which Boris, unsurprisingly, is said to have excelled)”.

Eton fives is not like that. It is not totally unlike squash, played in a court that supposedly reproduces some historic corner of the Eton College buildings. (I know all about this depressing game, having been made to play it at school.) The game at which Boris Johnson excelled is the Eton wall game, which is not totally unlike rugby (and is played nowhere but Eton, on a strip of ground about 5m wide and 110m long). Wikipedia informs me that Boris was Keeper of the College Wall, no less.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit