Sweet Potato

I recently ate at a (supposedly) good restaurant in Derby.

On the menu, among other things, was “sweet potato soup”, with a superscript ‘v’ inscribed in a circle to indicate that it was the vegetarian option.
And on the wine list one of the reds, a merlot I think, was described as “moorish”.

The waitress arrived to take my order.

“I’m sorry to tell you, but there is a typo in the menu. The sweet potato soup contains bacon.”

I explained to the waitress that the inclusion of bacon in the soup was not a typo…

“Why not just make the soup without bacon and then the menu would be correct?”

“Good question. I’ll ask the chef.” She left, returning about five minutes later. “The reason for including the bacon is that the soup tastes better with it.”

“I’m happy without the bacon. Could you please ask the chef to make me a portion without the bacon? I’m happy to pay the same price.”

She went to ask if this was possible.

“The chef doesn’t think it tastes good without bacon so he won’t”.

I considered making a fuss about this, but decided better of it.

I ordered a green salad as a starter and a vegetable stew.

“What would you like to drink?”

“Water will be fine.”

“Still or sparkling?”


“Would you like a glass of wine with your dinner?”

“I would. I’ll have the moorish wine. That is a typo by the way…I think it should say moreish”.

I showed her which one I meant, and explained the difference between a mistake and a typo. It was a mistake to be serving bacon in the vegetarian option just because the chef doesn’t like sweet potato soup without bacon and it is a mistake to have used a design company for a menu who was unable to spot mistakes or typos before signing off the design for print.

Perhaps I should no longer be disappointed by the continuously descending standards of English in this country, yet I am. Years spent repairing the damage done by less than able teachers who have been given positions of responsibility educating our youth should have taught me by now that one person alone cannot hold back the sea. It will take a wave of effort, perhaps a whole generation of that wave, to undo the damage done by years of falling standards in schools.

The lack of responsibility for errors also irks me. People make mistakes – that’s what people do, it’s inevitable. What I mind is the excuse…the lack of accountability for one’s actions. Calling something a typo is cover. It is meant to indicate that it’s a small detail, one of the kind of small errors that’s unavoidable. It is not appropriate to use in a context where someone deliberately acts incorrectly, and repeatedly does so out of choice.

That’s not a typo, it’s a decision, and in this context is feckless, selfish, and irresponsible.

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Adam please check your own blog it is one big mistake… with typos. So you alone are holding back the sea? Don’t you think your talents are wasted on the very mundane pastime of ruminating on the perceived failings of mere mortals? Shouldn’t you be delivering the chosen from bondage? Perhaps rewriting the ten commandments? Or my favourite, sacrificing yourself for all our sins?


In your article “Due diligence in private tutoring placements” you wrote: “As you may know, last month I withdrew my membership of The Tutors Association.”

I don’t claim to be an expert at the English language, but since you do I would like to point out that you should use the past tense when writing about even that happened in the past.