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Thread: The message that got James May fired from Autocar in 1992

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    The message that got James May fired from Autocar in 1992

    You may have read of this little incident on Wikipedia, by which James, then Autocar's features editor (and all of 29 years old) got bored with putting together the issue's Road Test Year Book segment and decided to do something creative:

    "I had this idea that if I re-edited the beginnings of all the little texts, I could make these red letters spell out a message through the magazine, which I thought was brilliant. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was to the effect that 'You might think this is a really great thing, but if you were sitting here making it up you'd realise it's a real pain in the arse'. It took me about two months to do it and on the day that it came out I'd actually forgotten that I'd done it because there's a bit of a gap between it being 'put to bed' and coming out on the shelves. When I arrived at work that morning everybody was looking at their shoes and I was summoned to the managing director of the company's office. The thing had come out and nobody at work had spotted what I'd done because I'd made the words work around the pages so you never saw a whole word. But all the readers had seen it and they'd written in thinking they'd won a prize or a car or something."

    Intrigued with the story, I searched online and orderd a cheap back issue of the magazine. It came in the mail yesterday, after which I made everyone in my house go through it individually and figure it out. I made some hasty scans and put it online to share the hilarity that is James May's subtle rebellion:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8443340...57600242068267

    Or, in short (with punctuation added at my discretion):
    So you think it's really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up. It's a real pain in the arse.

    A little more than a decade later, this crafty freelance writer went on to be our Captain Slow. Brilliant how things work out.

    I really don't know how they could have missed that before they put it out for publication, though, unless they just trusted him enough not to mess with his own segment. The preceeding four spreads spelled out "ROAD / TEST / YEAR / BOOK" in exactly the same fashion, and even were one not aware of the trick, it just seems natural to keep on reading the red capitals.

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    Heard about this before, but great to see actual scans of it.
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    hahaha brilliant, Thanks for the pics!

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    This is even better than i thought it would be, thanks a lot for sharing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adunaphel View Post

    This is even better than i thought it would be, thanks a lot for sharing!
    2x
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    I check it out at my uni library cos.. I was bored

    The preceeding four spreads spelled out "ROAD / TEST / YEAR / BOOK" in exactly the same fashion, and even were one not aware of the trick, it just seems natural to keep on reading the red capitals.


    I seriously don't know how they missed that bit before publication.
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    That's great!

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    That's awesome, thanks for sharing! btw.

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    That is excellent. Should have given him a raise for that. Can't a magazine have a sense humor?
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    Did the magazine publish anything in the "Corrections and Clarifications" section the following issue?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blind_Io View Post
    Did the magazine publish anything in the "Corrections and Clarifications" section the following issue?
    I bet if they did, it'd be real interesting to read.
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    As if I didn't have enough respect for May, I need to buy him a pint.

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    BRILLIANT!
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    So he really did it... Good one, James
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narcolepsy View Post
    That is excellent. Should have given him a raise for that. Can't a magazine have a sense humor?
    I second that.

    Like, they're not German, you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnGuRuSO View Post
    I bet if they did, it'd be real interesting to read.
    "Autocar would like to excuse for a mistake in the last issue. For some reason, the red letters spelled a message. This was not intentional, and we are really sorry."
    Last edited by nomix; May 24th, 2007 at 8:22 PM.
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    i love james may!

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    Wow what a clever guy, he is one smart guy. Too bad he got fired, but hey he has a much better job now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper007Bond View Post
    Heard about this before, but great to see actual scans of it.
    Likewise - had never seen it, but knew of it. Top work Capt. Slow.

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    ive been waiting for that

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    Brilliant! James May is awesome.
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