News that leaves everyone lost for words

FAUX PAS: But misunderstandings will hopefully take our mind off the ills of our times.

FAUX PAS: But misunderstandings will hopefully take our mind off the ills of our times.

AS we try to deal with the grief, fear and anxiety of the past 18 months, mis-spelt subtitles, misprints and misunderstandings won’t cure the ills of our times, but they’ll hopefully take our mind off them.

Church Service Sheet Typos, a rather eclectic Facebook group dedicated to ecclesiastical misprints, discovered an alarming new way of fighting Covid. Pictured on the site was the following notice: ‘Please Satanise Your Hands.’ It also reported the following unfortunate text message about a primary school church service: ‘Please join us for refreshments afterwards and if we can wash your dirty willies, please bring them along.’ Followed swiftly by the correction: ‘WELLIES!’

Another one: ‘The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement’, and: ‘Low self-esteem support group will meet Thursday at 7pm. Please use the back door.’

For its part, Norwich Cathedral was quick to assure worshippers they would always find a welcome during lockdown: ‘We are still open daily, providing space for silliness, reflection and prayer.’ ‘Silliness’ was later corrected to ‘stillness’, but was the message right first time round? The cathedral had previously installed a helter-skelter in the nave, so either would have been accurate.

And the launch of Amazon’s new Swedish website didn’t go as planned due to numerous cultural gaffes/ mistranslations. Customers saw a swastika-emblazoned shower curtain for sale, frying pans listed as items for ‘woman’ and a silicone baking mould described as suitable for ‘faeces’.

The errors reportedly resulted from a poorly designed computer programme unable to cope with multiple meanings of certain English words. Amazon claimed it was ‘always keen’ to improve customers’ experiences…

But apology of the year surely came from ‘The Scottish Farmer’ (buy it to keep up with the latest ewes!) which contained the startling revelation that the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland had opened ‘a brand-new spanking pavilion’. The magazine’s political affairs editor commented: “I can only apologise for a faux pas which has brought much joy to our readers.” I bet!

Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Sentinel’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available online as eBook (€0.99;£0.99), Apple Books, paperback & audiobook.All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity  

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.