18 June 2003
So I'm watching this schlock movie, The Peacemaker, a sort of sub-Bond vehicle with Clooney and Kidman in the front seats ('top tottie for all', according to the BBC Three announcer - dear me, does no one remember Lord Reith? Not that I'm arguing...), and the baddie ('I am a Serb, I am a Croat, I am a Moslem,' which is either a way to say that he represents generic terrorism and nothing specific, guys, honest, or else it's a way to say that it really doesn't matter what he is, all foreigners are equally suspect and xenophobia is the only way to go; work it out for yourselves, I'm taking no stand on this) is smuggling his live nuclear device into New York under diplomatic credentials, and the moment before it happens I remember when I saw this at a press show, when his trunk rolls across the screen and it says DIPLOMATIC PAPERS, PRIVILEGED in letters six foot high - except that it doesn't, because nobody proofreads movies, right? Why would they? So actually it says PRIVILEDGED. Six foot high. Might be the biggest misprint in history. Definitely it's the best moment in the movie; worth a second viewing, just to be reminded. I'll probably have to buy the video, just to put it on the shelf among my small but precious collection of books with misprints on their covers. My favourite is and probably always will be a cheap seventies paperback, a tie-in novelisation of the British cop show THE SWEENEY. Which is the book's title too, and in big, big capital letters on the cover it says THE SWEENY. And nobody, nobody noticed. I don't know how that can happen, but sometimes I'm awfully glad that it does.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.