The only way is ethics

Waiting for the article to appear is a difficult time, especially when you have gone to bed with a publication for the first time, as was the case with me and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

After the coupling, polite messages have been exchanged.

I had a great time.  Did you get the copy?  How was it for you?

Thank you, Adam. Nice piece.

Flatterer. I bet that’s what you tell all the boys.

Just a few little tweaks …. 

 Little tweaks turn out to be not so few and not so little, but they are hatched and despatched.and eventually the day arrives.   Up bright and early, down to the newsagent first thing, quick flick to check that we are actually in there – been caught out that way before – and for the first time, the publication is bought.  Blimey, nearly four quid.  No mention on front cover.  They can’t have liked it that much.

Quick skim-read.  The Alsace cycling tour story looks   …. long.  Eight pages!  Perhaps I should try to negotiate a rate by the page next time, if we do this again.  Pictures so-so, none of mine used even as mini drop-ins – remember not to bother next time, should there be one.  Closer read to soak up the pain of laboriously contrived links that have been brutally severed; redundant punctuation, hate words and ugly colloquialisms unilaterally inserted.  Could be much worse, actually.

Don’t the subeditors love their punning captions?   Mellow vélo – good. Lazing saddles – nice idea, but doesn’t quite work.  Wine-ding down –  sorry, no.


Madame Marie Haeberlin and her storks, Illhaeusern

Madame Marie Haeberlin and her storks, Illhaeusern


What does the Sunday Times Travel Mag have against storks?   There is something systematic about the way they have been culled from my story.  Only the stork on the waiter’s tie at the Auberge de l’Ill survived. 

Oh well.  I have been doing this long enough not to be surprised by much, but there is one thing that puzzles and intrigues me beyond the usual mild irritation that soon passes.  Foie gras – consumed at the Auberge and mentioned with the sommelier’s recommendation of a noble gewürztraminer to accompany it – has mysteriously become ‘tripe salad’.   Surely, not even google could offer tripe salad as a translation for foie gras.

On reflection, this is a little embarrassing.  The Auberge de l’Ill does not serve tripe, or tripe salad.  As anyone who has eaten there and many who haven’t would know, it is not their sort of food. And to have the sommelier recommend gewürztraminer to go with it hardly reflects well on him.

The wise contributor does not complain.  The thing is to overlook, move on, draw a line, and thank one’s collaborators for all their hard work.  But in this instance I am unable to resist asking for an explanation, in the politest possible way.  ‘I am intrigued to know how foie gras has become tripe salad!’ I write.

The explanation offered is that tripe salad was an act of editorial sabotage, carried out by some Baader or Meinhof working undercover on the subs’ desk, who disapproves of foie gras. ‘The dish has been known to get censored on ethical grounds,’ I am told.   What about the ethics of journalism?   Would it be ethical for a vegetarian sub-editor working on a review of an Angus Steak House to replace every steak with a nut cutlet?

The foie gras could easily have been removed altogether, of course, but no one would have noticed that.  As a small act of terrorism, tripe salad is much more effective.  A much better joke.

Will it be a one-time stand or are we going to do this again?  At this stage, I’m really not sure.








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