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The Hub for Media, Creative Professionals and Artists in Tunbridge Wells.

There are some shocking subs out there but, on balance, I would say a sub is a writer's friend.

The best work with a writer to coax cogent work out of the most dodgy raw material, spot literals, correct grammar and generally stop the wordsmith looking like an arse.

I once had a row about the phrase, 'another day, another dolour'. I didn't think it worked and told the writer so. He wasn't pleased and later tried to lead me into a broom cupboard for a fight.

This remarkable tirade from Giles Coren is no way to make friends.

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Comment by Gaynor Edwards on August 10, 2008 at 12:28
Angela - you're right. Cow Gum is nowhere to be found – the closest I could find was the boringly named 'Studio Gum'. I would love to regale you with stories of huge 'Cow Balls' created as an Art Assistant on my first mag - but will save it...

Getting back to Stephen's point. In my experience, as a sub in a former life, the most precious writers are generally the least talented. It's the sub's job to clarify the story and make it an understandable read. They are working to a deadline, at the end of a production line, with the brief to make the copy fit a space. I think if more columnists and reporters did a stint in the subs dept., their copy would be better written in the first place and they'd have less cause to get their knickers in a twist.

Having said that, lazy subs do little to validate the importance of the job. I fear, as art and production departments get merged and artists are given the task of making copy fit we'll see more shoddily subbed copy which will be a bad thing for all; the profession and, most of all, the reader.
Comment by Angela Ward on July 25, 2008 at 10:26
And I am not the only person who misses Cow Gum:

This is from the site www.davidthedesigner.com

"Whatever happened to cow gum?"

There has been some exchange between Richard and I about the tools of the trade before we went out and bought Macs. My view is that they are all just tools of the trade and nothing to get misty eyed about.

The one possible exception, though, is Cow Gum. Because if you were a graphic designer pre computers, then you'd use Cow Gum every single day. There used to be an enormous factory just outside of Woking that made the stuff. I used to pass it on the train to work every day, so I'd get a 20-minute warning of the day ahead.

And it had lot's of other uses, as well as sticking bromides down on to backing boards. You could let it dry and roll it into balls which would have the most amazing bounce quality. My first proper design job was on the fourth floor of an office building in Wigmore Street (I'd better not tell you who for), and we used to have competitions by seeing who could drop their Cow Gum ball out of the window and get the highest bounce off the street below. Another favourite was leaving the can open on it's side on the edge of a filing cabinet before we left the studio at night. It would take several hours for the stuff to run down the side of the cabinet and reach the floor - just in time to catch out the cleaners on their 6am shift.

See, you just can't have that sort of fun with InDesign or Quark XPress.

But all those years spent using Cow Gum every day, and now it seems to have entirely disappeared into the ether. Almost as though it never existed. It doesn't have an entry in Wikipedia, and I can't find an image of the very distinctive red and white can anywhere.
Comment by Jez Timms on July 25, 2008 at 10:21
That is funny Angela!!
Comment by Angela Ward on July 25, 2008 at 10:19
If we had had a decent sub on my first magazine (er, it was called 'Tobacco' - a greatly missed trade publication - and I soon escaped to the heady world of International Tax-Free Trader) then they might have changed this sentence I typed in the July 1988 issue: "Lastly, there is a growing tendency among the pubic to buy long-lasting batteries...." But then we didn't have computers then - just electric typewriters without spell checks!! (However, I do miss the Cow Gum from those days..... and those rubber balls journalists used to make with the spare bits!)

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