I love a bit of wordplay. My friend Mim and I indulge in it all the time. Writing being our day job we like to rip off our corsets (so to speak) when we’ve punched out for the day. I pray there’s no posthumous publication of the Collected Emails of Laurie and Mim. ‘Good grief’, readers would say. ‘Published writers! And they thought the past participle of ‘arrive’ is ‘arrove? Why didn’t somebody tell them?’
But you see, when words are the nuts and bolts of your trade, playing with them can be very refreshing. Dialects too, and individuals’ verbal quirks. We love them all. Mim is particularly strong on archaic usages. M’learned friend knows St Giles’s Greek and all sorts of equally useless but entertaining oddities. Typos are my favourites. For me they’re the writer’s equivalent of a cool shower and a brisk rubdown. Something inadvertently funny that makes a writer reach for her biro and think, ‘That’d make a great book title.’
This past week has been a bumper one for collectable typos. It began with Vlad the Impala, for which thanks to my fellow History Girl, Mary Hoffmann, who wasn’t its author but who generously shared it. The next day I spotted The Enema Within, the handiwork of a crap copy-editor, I’m sure, but how much duller our lives would be without them. Two corkers in as many days. Could I make it a hat-trick? Yes, siree Bob! Yesterday I found – and I think this is my favourite, by a whisker – Death, Where is Thy String? I’m protecting the source of that one. Anyone can make a mistake. We’re none of us prefect.