A nation of doglovers
Last night I was reading London Gazettes of the 1670s during a quiet patch at work, when I came across this:
"Lost on Saturday last, in New Kings-Street near St. James's, a little black Spaniel, rough hair, white neck. Whoever shall bring the said Dog, or give notice where he is to be found, to the Angel in the same street, shall have 20 s. reward."(From No 1040, Nov 8, 1675)
As is still the case with many modern local papers, the classifieds make the most interesting reading; it's a salutory lesson for journalists to realise they are why many readers buy newspapers.
This was brought home to me in Australia many years ago when I kept getting complaints about how terrible the spelling in my paper was. I couldn't work this out, since although we had the odd howler, they were pretty rare. Then I looked at the classifieds, and all of the "quite" ponies. I never did manage to get them to get it right