Bad Idea Uncut. How To Be A Better Ugandan

Today I will give you wise instructions that you can follow in your day-to-day struggle to become a better human being. Or I will try. It is not easy.

The path of a writer is a perilous one, lined with pitfalls and at every turn. But I shall try my best to leap over these hurdles and feed you, dear reader, with the wisdom you thirst for. Let’s get into it. Today, how to be a better Ugandan by carrying a pocket torch.

 

Let’s do this: A pocket torch is a piece of technology that will transform your life in this dark land of ours and make several tasks that seem insurmountable suddenly easier. Oh no. Wait.

I just saw an obstacle. It’s called the subeditor. I think it wants to destroy that sentence.

 

What that is supposed to be: A subeditor is supposed to go over the writing to make sure it does not have any egregious errors of diction, punctuation or usage in it. No matter how gifted we may be, even the best writers occasionally makes a blooper. It is nice to have someone there to catch your mistakes before they go to print.

 

What they actually are:  Subs, however, often approach the task with a misplaced zeal, and instead of a scalpel, they come to work wielding a battle axe. They just hack and chop away at the work and leave, instead of a finely-carved piece of lit, a trembling pile of incoherent shreds.

 

Example: You hand in a proper, grammatical sentence like “A pocket torch is a piece of technology that will transform your life in this dark land of ours and make several tasks that seem insurmountable suddenly easier.” and the subeditor (or saboteur) pounces, their two ungainly left paws smashing at the keyboard, to destroy it.

 

My sub, the one who has been molesting my work for two weeks now, will probably want to change that to “suddenly become easier”. And then pepper the whole thing with redundant commas.

 

Oh no: Maybe I should rephrase, just to dodge the Dirty Harry’s wild bullets.  A pocket torch is a piece of technology. It will transform your life in this dark land of ours. Tasks that seem insurmountable will be made easier. Suddenly.

 

Now it reads like it was written for a P4 student with attention span issues, but it’s the best way to protect the sense of the story. We don’t want “A pocket torch, (flashlight) is a piece of technology, that will transform your life, in this dark land of ours, and make several tasks, that seem insurmountable, suddenly becoming easier!”

 

Subeditors think I exclaim. I give them a sentence in calm, measured tones, pitched for the best sarcastic effect, pinned at the end with a snide full stop. They decide that it would sound more effective if it were screamed in a hectic spittle-flecked storm, so they remove my full stop and replace it with a ‘!’ and leave the ensuing lamentations to you and I.

 

End: So, have you ever wondered how to improve your life in a land with uneven dirt roads that are never lit, where walking at night means risking limbs to open manholes, ditches, jutting rocks and snakes? This is how. The purchase of a small torch which can fit in a bag will help you see the road ahead as you walk and make you better at getting home unscathed. There. Made it.

You may also enjoy...