Sunday, 24 August 2008


I just went to buy the papers, feeling relatively hopeful because for once I'd seen the picture of me in advance and I knew it was nice (often my biggest worry, in a sad sort of way). Also, my piece this Sunday was about going to Hyde Hall to give a friend some help with a garden, so I was looking forward to seeing how the whole piece looked after editing.

So imagine my sense of sinking horror on opening the paper and finding that the photo of me in the Dry Garden at Hyde Hall had been subtitled "Emma Townshend on how she turned a load of old builders' rubble into a unique dry garden". 


I don't usually feel much sympathy with Giles Coren, but I did have a little moment. 

It makes me sound like some slightly mental Baron von Munchausen compulsive liar who invented everything; and the only thing to say otherwise is a tiny little label on the photo itself saying "Matthew Wilson's dry garden at Hyde Hall". 

I just feel so excruciatingly embarrassed. The only good thing is that on the website someone / Lady Luck has intervened, and it's got a much more appropriate "School of Hard Rocks" standfirst, which seems much better at expressing my sense of making a bit of a pilgrimage to a garden I find really inspirational. 

I just wrote an email to my editor to complain, but if anyone else wants to as well, help yourself. I just think it's outrageous to change the way a piece reads that much, so that it sounds as if I'm claiming credit. 

Going away now to comfort eat about five plates of baklava. 


Anonymous said...

Do you think MW will complain?
That'd teach'em

Arabella Sock said...

Tee hee! That is your punishment for leading us to believe that MW was on GW on Friday!! Anyway you shouldn't complain at least it is a lovely picture of you! Made me want to go to Hyde Hall too.

Alex said...

My first ever byline in a newspaper as a ´cub reporter´attributed my morning´s hard work to Alistair Jackson. A memory to treasure.

I´m with you, but I´m against Coren. If anybody sent me an email like the ones he biffs off every so often, I´m afraid my Quaker upbringing would have to look away while I gave him a firm slapping.

emmat said...

In my very measured letter of complaint I did say, I'm sorry I don't email every time it's done right to say thank you, but only the one time there's a terrible mistake. It's really difficult because I really appreciate what the subs do most of the time - but that was just ... terrrriiiiibbblle.

Just got this from MW who would definitely definitely have got hired for GW if they just judged it on being nice. And handsome:

"Emma I am not in the slightest peed off about the billing of the Dry Garden at HH in the Indie, not least because I always feel slightly embarrassed about it being described as 'my' garden - I certainly designed it but it was a big ole team effort to make it what it is. I am immensely proud of it, but believe me I'm not precious about it - most of the visitors to the garden wouldn't have a clue about its provenance and quite right too. As long as people enjoy and maybe learn something from it that's good enough for me."

However, I would add, if you do go to HH, make sure you pay an extra £1 and get the plant list from the office, because it's really handy and has just been updated, and also get the leaflet about making the garden. Both really useful.

Jane Perrone, Horticultural blog said...

Feel your pain ... the first piece I ever had published in a newspaper misspelt my surname. As you say, though, best avoid a Coren-style meltdown. Life's too short, and best save your blood pressure ...

Yolanda Elizabet said...

That must have been a totally cringe-worthy moment when you read that. Not your fault though and I see that MW is not miffed at all. Nice pic of you though. ;-)

I've read the Coren thingy and can symphetize with him as this sort of thing has happened to me once or twice (well much more often than that I'm sorry to say) but I would never ever respond the way he did.

BTW how was the baklava binge? ;-)

emmat said...

Gosh, Yolanda, the English vocab you know: cringeworthy is a good one! In French, the only foreign language I speak at all, was pretty pleased with myself to discover "c'est relou" the other day for when you don't want to have to wear a cycle helmet, or want to describe an annoying weekend.

Cringeworthy totally describes it, anyway.

Did not eat baklava, ate at least a quarter of a victoria sandwich that my boyfriend made all on his own, in the spirit of village competition... top quality.

VP said...

I understand your grief Emma, but the thing that shines through reading the online version of the article is what a tippity top place Hyde Hall is to visit.

You would have loved our garden centre's show at the weekend - particularly the judges comments on the scones and Victoria sponge entries. Looks like your boyfriend has a clear field in that category. NAH for some strange reason has decided to bake a cake today (hasn't made one sice he was a student), but has gone for a fruit cake recipe instead.

emmat said...

get a photo of it! We can surely have a men only cake category, does it really have to be just victoria sandwich!?

VP said...

Done - and we've eaten half of it already. Scrummy!