Rantings of a sub-editor

Want to hire me?

Sorry, no longer for hire…


I’m open to suggestions, both long and short-term. If you give me a few weeks’ notice, I’ll definitely be able to help. If it’s a last-minute emergency, it’s still worth asking.

See my LinkedIn page and recommendations here.

I can sub, write, edit and tinker around with websites. If you have anything else in mind, or if you want to see my proper CV, ask me. My email address is cathyrelf@hotmail.com and I’m @caffyrelf on Twitter.

My main clients are the Guardian Professional Networks (web), The Sunday Times (print and iPad), Emphasis business writing trainers and  The Grocer magazine. I’ve also worked for The Bureau of Investigative JournalismDrewry Shipping Consultants, The Times weekend supplements and Which? magazine, and edited novels, non-fiction books and theses. In short, I’m game.

Embarrassing testimonials

Richard Dixon, former chief revise editor, The Times:

Cathy has a fine eye for detail and obvious love of language rare in someone her or indeed any age. I’d hoped to hire her at The Times, but finances did not allow. She has an excellent blog on journalistic use of English and combines great expertise with a pleasant, personable, helpful and constructive manner. I thoroughly recommend her.

James Ball, data journalist, Guardian:

I worked with Cathy for around 18 months when she was sub-editor, then deputy chief sub, at The Grocer.

She’s tenacious, fast, and pretty much always made my copy better. She also reliably sense-checks copy and pulls up factual errors that writers – and quite often desk/senior editors – had missed.

She’s also sad enough to be genuinely thrilled/fascinated by language as evidenced by both this blog and her twitter feed.

Even better, she’s hardly ever drunk in the office before lunchtime.*

Obviously any errors in my spelling or grammar above are put in so Cathy can distinguish herself by pointing them out…

*Or after lunch. Or, to be honest, ever.

Martyn Hocking, editor, Which?:

I have the pleasure of being the editor at Which? magazine and liked Cathy the first time I met her. I think this blog may actually have been the thing that got her the job on our subbing team – the idea that someone would sub for a living and then write a blog about, er, subbing in her spare time is just adorable.

She is currently sitting at a desk about six feet from me and I think it’s fair to say that she wouldn’t be sitting that close if she had any bad personal/ social habits. She is a great sub – quick and accurate with an obvious flair for language – and I’d have been only too happy to continue employing her if she hadn’t decided to go freelance. It’s a ballsy move that reflects her ambition to stretch herself and see how far her talent will take her – hugely admirable!

Kit Davies, chief sub-editor, The Grocer:

The Relfster is a terrific sub. And she has the balance of personality that good subs need, in that she does all that copy editing/headline writing thang, but also has resilience, tenacity and speed, and spades full of flair that would more than nourish all the allotments in Brighton (and Hove if you insist).

Have I mentioned resilience? The Excellent Miss Relf gamely took up employment at The Grocer, and rose to greatness, being promoted to deputy chief sub in a matter of months, despite what must have been the disconcerting experience of working with a character from Tolkien (me) and some sort of sixties swinger, always in the same T-shirt, who covers his desk with Lego Star Wars and Transformers toys. But no, for Cathy this was a matter for tolerance and good humour.

So yes, this was the golden age of The Grocer subs desk: myself, with the upside down hair; Bunny Bamford and his toys; and Cathy, with her fondness for a spot of Japanese calligraphy and linear floral drawings in-between pages about yoghurts, wholesaling, Asda and yogurts. It was a happy two years, and how we laughed and laughed! It was just like that Truffaut film, Jules et Jim, only with a lot more proofreading.

Charlie Wright, web editor, The Grocer:

Aside from Cathy’s total, reckless failure to bring strawberries into the office while at The Grocer, it’s hard to imagine a more dedicated, professional and talented colleague.

A fantastic sub and a major asset for any office. Hire her.

Michael Barker, editor, Fresh Produce Journal:

What’s the difference between a fat chance and a slim chance? Why do we boil the kettle and not the water? Single quotes or double? Royal Wedding, Royal wedding or royal wedding?

If, like me, you have no idea about any of this and much more, then you need Cathy in your life. Her genuine love of language and meticulous attention to detail stand her apart and her almost disturbing ability to be unfazed or display any kind of stress whatsoever in the face of even the tightest of deadlines make her a real asset to any publication.

As a magazine editor myself, had we a position vacant for a sub, I would offer it to Cathy in an instant. She certainly comes with the highest recommendation from me.


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