June is upon us, the papers have been full of stories of impending heatwaves/floods (depending on your paper of choice) and it’s Pimms o’clock. Yes: the Great British Summer is under way. And it’s not just any old summer. World Cup fever hits the country – well, England, at least. Supermarkets are packed with England merchandise and 3 for 2 offers in the barbecue aisles. Meanwhile, BBC Radio 5Live pundit Chris Waddle will edge closer to spontaneous combustion with every England performance.
Aside from over-indulging in barbecued food and Pimms, the World Cup affects me in three ways.
The first is as a parent of a primary-aged child. Her ‘topic’ this half-term is – you guessed it – the World Cup, which means I’m about to know more about obscure Saudi Arabian midfielders than I ever thought possible. World Cup hype also heralds the start of the Great Playground Panini Sticker Swap, striking fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. Apparently the chances of finding some stickers, like Sunderland’s Tunisian midfielder Wahbi Khazri, are 5,000/1. That’s a LOT of stickers to get through.
The second is as a fan of Vanarama National League side Leyton Orient. Bear with me. For those of you who don’t follow the lower leagues, that’s the heady heights of the fifth tier of English football. But guess who played on loan at the mighty O’s for five months in 2011? None other than the England captain, Harry Kane. If he lives up to the hype, we taught him everything he knows. And if he doesn’t, what did you expect from a Spurs player anyway?
The third is as a proofreader. Accuracy matters, people – and not just when you’re Ronaldo aiming for the top corner. VAR – or the video assistant referee system – is (like Harry Kane) making its World Cup debut. VAR will intervene in a match when officials have made a ‘clear and obvious error’ in one of four areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Video refs watch the match remotely, with access to dozens of camera angles, and alert on-pitch officials to any mistakes. Fifa President Gianni Infantino says that from almost 1,000 live matches that were part of the experiment to test the benefits of VAR, the level of decision-making accuracy increased from 93% to 99%.
I like to think proofreaders are a bit like referees, but with a red pen instead of a whistle. We make the majority of decisions on the spot ourselves, but we aren’t averse to using technology to help us. Judicious use of Word macros and the Find and Replace tool quickly identifies style discrepancies, while good old Spell Check – despite its limitations – still has its place. Well trained, experienced pro plus sensible use of technology equals 99% accuracy.
Anyway, roll on 14 June. I’m off to swot up on Saudi Arabian midfielders and pray I get Brazil in the office sweepstake.
Come on England!
While we are thinking up tenuous footballing analogies, we’d like to pay tribute to one of our much-loved and admired clients, Jacquie, whose untimely death we heard of last week. Jacquie was a project manager par excellence: in the style of the very best football managers, she deflected attention away from her editorial colleagues, leaving us to get on with the job while she dealt with the tricky client questions. She was witty and fun with a twinkle in her eye, and was unfailingly loyal to and trusting of her team. RIP, Jacquie: we’ll miss you.