Over the course of a couple of years, my loot has included such treasures as a hefty two and a half kilogram Chambers Dictionary; and Scar Tissue, the award-winning memoir of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis – a brutally frank, eye-poppingly outrageous page-turner of a book.
Unfortunately, I fear our ongoing – and largely unreported – postal strike has scuppered my very latest wordy win: Ritual Lighting, a special edition of UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s work, illuminated with sublime calligraphic art. Weeks after I was notified, there’s still no sign of it.
I’ve also gained a tea towel! Emblazoned with a clever quote from Sandy Toksvig’s last book in a contest dreamed up by the undomesticated but erudite Danish-born author and broadcaster’s publishers, it’s among my oddest wins so far.
Almost as odd is the laser-cut necklace produced especially for me by a rather zooty English custom jewellery company and displaying that fine word “fudgel”.
“Pretending to work when you’re not actually doing anything at all,” it means, which is what I was doing when I submitted it.
The common denominator among all these goodies – apart from their obvious literary links – is that I had to enter competitions to win them. I’m quite strict with myself about such things: I won’t compete for anything that requires me to promote the prize or company in any way; and I won’t enter more than once. I answer a question and then forget about it. What will be, will be, I reckon.
Imagine my surprise then when, out of the blue, a Twitter message popped up on my computer screen a month or so ago from one Drummond Moir, editorial director of a leading UK-based literary imprint, telling me I’d won something for which I hadn’t even competed. Not that I’m complaining – it’s right up my literary lane.
“Hi Stevie,” said his message. “Thanks for tweeting about Just My Typo – you’ve won a free copy!”
So how did I win? Simply by adding “Oops” and sending on someone else’s tweet featuring a rude but funny typo from the book, it seems.
Luckily, Mr Moir’s book wasn’t caught up in the strike. It was couriered to my door – and how glad I am that it was.
Here’s a couple of my favourites so far from its entertaining collection of “typographical errors, slips of the pen, and embarrassing misprints”:
“The man blew out his brains after bidding his wife good-bye with a shotgun.” [Who says commas aren’t necessary?];
and, from the UK Times: “The queen herself graciously pissed over the magnificent edifice.”
Now I can only hope this column doesn’t fall prey to Muphry’s Law (as opposed to that of its better known, similarly named cousin):“If you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” - Stevie Godson
(A version of this column first appeared in the Daily Dispatch newspaper)