Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Making The Bloody Thing Up

A quick story of magazine-making fun.

In 1992, the features editor of Autocar magazine decided to play a little joke. He rewrote the ledes of the stories in the year-end “Road Test Yearbook” so that the dropcaps spelled out a message for attentive readers, spread across many pages.


The message, with punctuation added, was: “So you think it’s really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up. It’s a real pain in the arse.”

Unfortunately, one of the attentive readers was the editor’s boss. “When I arrived at work that morning,” said the culprit later, “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. But all the readers had seen it and they’d written in thinking they’d won a prize or a car or something.”

The prankster editor was promptly fired. His name? James May, who is now one of the hosts of BBC’s brilliant car show, Top Gear. (More details on Wikipedia and photos on Flickr.)

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.