I’m moved by a heading on the cover of the current Monaco Times – ‘All that Jazz’, (about the Monaco Jazz Festival) - to protest about headlines. You might think that the fact that no one other than the headline writer has the authority to write them would be evidence of their special skills in that area.
But if this is so, why do they turn in such crappy headlines?
I once did a piece on the summer jazz festivals of the Riviera for another paper, and begged the editor not to use ‘All that Jazz’ – even providing her with some equally pithy, (and, I thought, more eye-grabbing) alternatives. She said she’d ‘do her best’. But no, it came out labelled with the old ‘ATJ’.
You can’t do a piece on a ski resort without seeing it topped ‘Skiers slope off to X’, or a story on a rural ramble without finding the words ‘Wild Side’ in the title.
Worst of all are the Financial columns: ‘Taxing times for the Self-employed’; ‘Barclays banks on Mortgage Business’; ‘Visa: is a rate increase on the cards?’ – and so on. And puns on companies’ products are compulsory. Take your pick: this from this week’s Sunday Times - ‘Cadbury’s future looking sweeter’. Airlines’ revenues, of course, always ‘hit turbulence’. As they used to say in the funnies, Aaaugh!
All this is not to say that I disapprove of punning headlines – I couldn’t, could I? But at least I don’t use some plagiarised worn-out, hackneyed, tired old clichés. Not at all - they are my own worn-out, hackneyed, tired old clichés.