I was looking for something and found something else, which is quite usual with me
I found an article on newslines and it occured to me maybe you can add to them:
Perhaps the greatest “Ramsbottom”of all time was the First World War headline “French Push Bottles Up German Rear”. It left so many British soldiers helpless with giggles it could have been a German secret weapon.
A Ramsbottom, it should be explained, is a Fleet Street term. Just as to “Hammersmith” a picture is to move people or items around against a background and a “Wimborne” is an unhappy juxtaposition of headlines or pictures, so a Ramsbottom is an unintentionally funny, or indeed deeply embarrassing, double entendre.
These can appear in humble advertisements, such as in the Hitchin Gazette 30 years ago: “Pine Beds For You To Screw Together”. Nowadays it would probably be a joke, but then, middle-aged church-going sub-editors had those silver armband things on and saw nothing faintly risible about the page one intro: “Carnival Queen Elaine Buggins was surprised when her boyfriend entered her.”
Of course, the more innocent readers wouldn’t have found that funny, nor this from the Wolverhampton Express & Star: “The magnificent hall where Lord Bradford holds his balls and dances.” It was, after all, not that many years since a TV announcer, filling in at the end of Fanny Craddock’s popular TV programme, said in all innocence: “I hope all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny’s.” Er, yes.
These things are just waiting to trip us up and some aren’t at all funny. The following headline was actually set in type for the Queen’s visit to an epilepsy centre: “Welcome Fit For A Queen”, although, thankfully, that didn’t make it to the streets.
Then there was the equally well-meaning reviewer of an all-female Hamlet in the South Wales Argus: “All the girls handled the men’s parts admirably” and a gardening columnist who wrote: “This week I sat mesmerised as great tits swooped past the window.”
Talking about gardening, there was an unpopular gardening editor who, in an article about lawn care, captioned a photo of himself with a garden fork: “P**** with fork.” Another genre altogether is the deliberate Ramsbottom. In poor taste was this headline on a filler about a Spanish waiter shot in Soho: “Hole In Juan.” Much better was the effort on Michael Foot being appointed to CND: “Foot Heads Arms Body.”
And one of those American supermarket tabloids where anything goes managed on a story about a mental patient who attacked a member of staff and fled: “Nut Screws Washer And Bolts.” Then a Sunday tabloid got a deliberate one on a picture of one of the Kray twins enjoying a nice cuppa: “I could just murder a McVitie”, which is precisely what they’d just done.
Readers can also drop themselves in it, Ramsbottom-wise. Working on readers’ letters at a national paper, I once, on the same day, stopped Dunkirk veterans from saying that John Major shouldn’t give an inch to the Germans and a reader saying, in all seriousness, that young people who think violence can achieve anything should be flogged.
Laughable in its desperate localness, but not strictly a Ramsbottom, was the Reading Evening Post’s “God-King Stays With Reading Family” about the Dalai Lama. Equally the Post-Echo’s “Hemel Man Just Misses Death Flight”.
Neither do typos qualify, although the New Zealand paper where I worked, which reported that the Queen looked resplendent with a rose in her butthole, should have, of course, said “buttonhole”. Another was “Whatever people say, you have to admire the Queen’s capacity for hard pork.”
Of course it happens here too. Not long ago I saw a page describing the “second-fattest woman in the world”. She was, investigation soon showed, the “second fastest”.
Even the high-ups in the system can drop a big Ramsbottom. Sub-editors on strike in the bad old days of Fleet Street were delighted to see the following paragraph had been cast in hot metal and although I saw it on a cherished proof, I’m told it never made it onto the actual page. “’WE apologise for the inferior quality of several pages in today’s paper.
“They were produced by senior executives.”
Quite, we all thought.
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.