Going through some old papers today, I came across my “Black File” of bloopers culled from various places over the years.
For instance, the1984 AP story from Houston about a French student at the university there. It quotes consular records as showing that 3,500 French nationals lived in Texas and Oklahoma then.
“In addition,” it continues, “Elf Aquitaine, a consulate official, says ….”. A consular official with a sense of homour, evidently, as she (most probably she) identifiied herself to the innocent reporter using the name of a major French oil company …
Then there was the speech by Pope John Paul II on arriving in central Paris – the esplanade des Invalides, I believe – on his visit to France in 1980. As translated by the Vatican, his closing statement read: “We shall now have to put an end to this first contact. I shall now go to the basilique Notre Dame, the mother Church of this bishopric, as well as one of the most venerable religious erections of this country.”
There was the message from AP’s Frankfurt photo office, asking “Anything picturewise on [woman's name] who spoiled her honeymoon by dying of concer?”
On a more elevated note, a correction by the AP’s stringer in Madagascar to his report on a speech by President Didier Ratsiraka: “Priere de rectifier: au lieu de ‘Conscience, conscience, installe-toi…’ lire : ‘Conscience, conscience, instinct divin, immortelle et celeste…’
Africa featured again in a message to London listing the AP’s Abidjan office photo assets. It said inter alia: “Had a couple of skylight filters but one smashed by a gorilla…”
But I was particularly delighted to find I still had a copy of the most famous press release in motor sports, that for the 24 Hours of Montjuic motorcycle race in Barcelona in July, 1979.
At the end of 2 1/2 pages of seriously mangled English, the organisers “…greet to the misters representing of the informative medias in their arrive into the Condal City, and they hope a wire brush stay and their cordial gratitude.”
“A wire brush stay” – often transmuted into ” a wire brush weekend” – became a staple of the motor sport press for many years. One Spanish journalist attempted to work out how the dictionary-wielding translator got to the phrase – we thought his finger had slipped from the right word – but never did find any rational explanation.
Anyone out there have a clue ?