They’re the words no journalist wants to hear.

“There’s a typo in your story,” said my colleague.

“What?” I quickly flicked through the newspaper to the indicated page. “That can’t be. I read that thing through at least a half dozen times.”

And yet there it was. My eyes zoomed right to it: an extra “s.” It could not have been more obvious if it were circled in cocaine and lit by a disco ball.

I’d written “professionals photographers” instead of “professional photographers.” Crap!

I know: it’s not the end of the world. But the reading public expects a newspaper’s content to be perfect. I’d let them down. On top of that, I imagined staffers at the The Competition shaking their heads, making a “tsk-tsk” sound and noting that “oh, so he’s not as perfect as he’d like everyone to believe.” Double crap!

It’s not the first time a typo has slipped through. Inevitably, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. And, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, an extra “s” is more sloppy than embarrassing.

If you’re looking for embarrassing, the king of them all is, of course, omitting the “l” from “public.”

“The mayor called for a pubic debate on the issue.” “The president was encouraged by pubic reaction to his speech.”

Ouch and double ouch. That is the epitome of cringe-worthy. And yet I have seen it done.

An interesting flip side to that was found in a magazine story I was reading about Brazilians. It read something like, “More and more men are opting to have the hair removed from their public areas.”

A typo in reverse. Now that’s a new one.

I was spurred to share these thoughts by a recent headline I spotted in one of our national newspapers.

It was datelined the United States and read “tenn girls murdered by ‘Speed freak killers’ named”.

My first thought was that the headline writer was using the abbreviation for Tennessee (Tenn.) and had simply forgot to uppercase the “T” and add the period. I was wrong. Because the third sentence in the story mentioned teen girls. So the headline should have read “Teen girls murdered . . . ”

Somewhat less than professional, methinks.

Of course newspaper typos aren’t limited to journalists — sales reps have messed up as well. Viking Woman should know. In another life, she sold newspaper ads and told me the normal chain of command would involve a design person putting the ad together, which would then be proofed both by the sales rep and the person/company paying for the ad. So that’s three sets of eyes before the ad goes to print.

Which doesn’t explain how one supermarket ended up advertising a 99-cent deal on two-litre Cock. I’m going to guess that store manager sprayed Coke out his nose when he read that in the morning paper. On the bright side, he did report an upswing in the number of female customers. I guess size – and weight – does matter.

Another Viking Woman whoopsie involved a small classified ad that was supposed to read “some shift work required.” It appeared in the paper (after passing through the proofing process) as “some shit work required.”

Not exactly a laughing matter at the time but Viking Woman did hear from several sources that various staff room bulletin boards had that ad posted and circled with remarks along the lines of “So you think your job is bad.”

An extra “s”? Yeah, I’m not going to sweat it. But lesson learned: I will be more diligent in the future. Especially if the story involves someone drinking Cock in pubic.


Maybe it was because the package of paper umbrellas was gathering dust in the pantry. Or because the bottle of pineapple juice in the fridge was within mere months of its best-by date. Or perhaps the half-empty rum bottle really did need to be finished off so it could be recycled for the sake of our greenie souls.

Upon reflection, however, the most likely reason we found ourselves at Park Estate Winery for the second time this year was because Diane Park had informed us in January that when her current supply of coconut cream liqueur was sold and gone, it would not be replaced.

According to Viking Woman’s logic, that news somehow equated to pina coladas that would never be consumed. And, apparently, that would never do.

Returning to Park Estate Winery (2087 Pakowhai Road, Napier, New Zealand; also allowed us to show JB a bit more of the countryside. And by countryside, I mean the inside of the winery’s cellar door.

It also allowed Viking Woman to re-sample the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. In January, she’d agreed with Diane’s assessment  that it needed to age a bit longer, if only to reduce the acidic finish. On this March weekend, Viking Woman was pleased to pronounce that the Sauv Blanc was coming along quite nicely, thank you very much.

Also tasted on this early fall afternoon, with Viking Woman’s comments:

2006 Riesling: “Very fruity.” “Very nice.”

2007 Gamay Noir: “Quite a spicy finish.”

2007 Chardonnay (25 percent oaked): “Very soft. Melon-y on the nose, with a vanilla finish.”

2006 Merlot Cabernet: “Very earthy, but soft.”

Boysenberry fruit wine: “It’s very nice. A very soft finish.”

As the lone non-drinker in the crowd, I could only nod and take notes and photos. I have no concept of taste when it comes to wine, but I do rather enjoy sticking my nose into a glass. I appear to have an astute sniffer, having already proved adept at telling the difference between Pepsi and Coke strictly by their aroma and, more impressively, doing the same with various Starbucks blends.

Smell-wise, I prefer reds. They conjure images of fruit drooping from trees in the hot, still summer air, backed by a hint of freshly-turned earth. Whites, on the other hand, all remind me of the sacramental wine I served up as a Catholic altar boy in the ’60s — sounding out the Latin mass phonetically and praying to Baby Jesus not to fall asleep in front of the entire congregation.

We thanked Diane Park for her insights and comments, purchased the coconut cream liqueur (only eight left now!) and drove home. Once there, I downloaded the images from my camera and pondered the alchemy involved in turning a simple grape into a liquid whose taste and smell can invoke so many different impressions.

And the ladies?

They mixed up pina coladas, drank themselves silly, and made grass angels on the back lawn.