Back in 1989 (when I'd already been in the engine room for a year or two) I took no more than passing note of the popular uprising that led to the overthrow and execution of Romanian Communist head of state Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena.
It's universally accepted that he wasn't what you'd call easy going in his later years. Which would be of no relevance to the Engine Room, were it not for a factoid I picked up from a wee-small-hours cable TV documentary.
A former sub on a Romanian national newspaper recounted finding herself in horribly hot water when she missed a typo in the great man's name. He took it as a personal slight and she came close to being arrested by the secret police – an experience which was often fatal.
There's nothing funny about an experience so traumatic that its memory almost reduced the sub to tears as she recounted it years later. But I couldn't help but smile at the way her treatment threw into perspective the deserved bollockings I received over the years for missing typos. Would the threat of imprisonment and torture improve proofreading standards in the world's engine rooms?
Here's a challenge for you: without looking at this blog, write down the name of the short-fused Romanian leader. Did you get it right first time? I just googled the image you see here and got the Ceausescu right, but I put an h in the middle of Nicolae. Whoops.