All good pubicity

What is it with typos at the moment? One that seemed too good to be true turned up in the Guardian last Wednesday in a report on a (stupid) survey about ‘guilty reads’: ‘85% of those surveyed admitted to having an author they turn to for sheer gratification, but whom they might not admit to reading in pubic,’ it read (er, my italics). I posted this to an existing thread on typos at YakYak just after I discovered it, keeping a screenshot of the offending article as I did with the Prescott story below as I thought the Grauniad were bound to pick up on it. I even emailed their letters page hilariously pointing out that maybe it was having to read the books ‘in pubic’ that caused the respondents to feel awkward – I mean, the mind boggles, doubly. But they didn’t print the letter and even as I post now the typo still hasn’t been fixed, so we must presumably conclude that it wasn’t actually a typo in the first place.

Seriously, the idea of ‘guilty reads’ irritates me. How arrogant and/or insecure do you have to be to worry about what other people might think of you from the book you’re reading? It reminds me of something a friend once said to me years ago when he was studying English at university, or not long after: ‘I’m reading The Hound of the Baskervilles at the moment, which falls into the category of what I call “good-bad books”.’ I hadn’t been to university (more’s the pity) but even if I had I would still have been annoyed by the categorisation. These people seriously need to get a life. It’s a bit like dancing when you’re not a very good dancer – you spend all your time worrying that the other people on the dancefloor will think you’re making a tit of yourself, when in fact all they’re worried about is whether they look a tit or not. As soon as you realise this, you start dancing properly.

YakYak incidentally, which has received passing mention here before, is a great internet place where I hang out a good deal of the time. It’s principally a video gamers’ forum – I’m not a gamer myself but I was when I was a kid, and YakYak was started by one Jeff ‘Yak’ Minter who was a childhood hero of mine – but its ‘Bleatings’ board is a bit like a pub full of Really Good Blokes (I include women in that) where you can bring up anything, chunter about it and get decent advice. It’s one of the reasons I don’t post here as often as I’d like (i.e. I’m more often posting stuff over there): blog something and although it’s rewarding in itself, most of the time you feel as if you’re talking to an empty room, but post instead to a well-populated discussion board and you get a response more or less straight away. The two ostensibly differ because the board has a limited ‘community’ of readers and posters, whereas a blog is technically open to the whole world. In reality though a blog’s readership is also a community – just a looser, more casual one. Then again, there is a subtle but important difference between a blog post and a forum post – hard to put my finger on exactly but I wouldn’t post this entry, for instance, to YakYak or probably any forum – not because it’s off-topic or deeply personal but because I’m thinking out loud, really, and airing an opinion rather than looking for a response. Which probably answers my own point about empty rooms. I’ll go away now.