BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 7, 2007 - January 13, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

17:34 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007

1. Scooby-Doo was named after Frank Sinatra's final phrase in "Strangers in the Night".
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2. A king's ransom is worth approximately £685m in today's money, loosely based on the sum paid by Eleanor of Aquitaine to secure the release of Richard the Lionheart in 1194.

3. Ancient coroners' rules dictate that if a body is taken to a royal palace, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Queen's Coroner and any inquest jury must be drawn from the royal household. Diana's body lay in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, hence the debate over whether a jury would be made up of ordinary men and women, or not.

4. In the mid-1980s, it was predicted that by 2000 there would be 900,000 mobile phones worldwide. That year came, and 900,000 phones were sold every 19 hours.

5. Adding milk to tea negates the health-giving effects of a hot brew.
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6. Snap decisions are more likely to be correct than those pondered over, a study at University College London found.
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7. The government has 951 websites - 551 of which are set to close.
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8. The word "jaywalking" came from the US slang "jay", a term popular in the early 20th Century meaning a rustic newcomer unfamiliar with city ways.
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9. Sophia Loren's first marriage, aged 22, to the recently deceased film producer Carlo Ponti, was a proxy marriage with lawyers taking their places.
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10. The world's tallest flower is the Titan Arum, reaching just under 3m (10ft).
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(Sources: 2. Financial Times, 11 January; 3. Daily Telegraph, 12 January; 4. Daily Telegraph, 11 January.)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Philip Watson for this week's picture of 10 cat dishes.

Your Letters

15:34 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007

Re: the story on jaywalking overseas. There's a good idea for an extended story thread here: Sub-conscious things that you don't realise are different when you travel.

How about this? You cannot park your car "opposite to the direction of travel" in NSW, Australia. Similar to the historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, when living in London, you park your car where and how you can. Despite having learnt to drive in Australia (and knowing about that rule), 10 years in London had erased that knowledge!
DRB, London

In your story Fans to fly high after match ban you state that "the airship ... will fly in international air space". Just where exactly are Wolves playing this game, the mid-Atlantic? I think the phrase you are looking for is "uncontrolled air space".
Richard Peers, Croydon

Having become familiar with seeing headlines featuring adoptions for foundling babies, lost horses and stray dogs I thought we had reached an all time altruistic high with Family found for gigantic flowers. My wife would be very happy to find a home for any size flowers I may "find".
Steve, Hamilton, Bermuda

I know we all get a little giddy when contemplating Mr Beckham's new salary but I think BBC Sports Editor Mihir Bose should have kept a slightly clearer head to avoid claiming: "That adds up to $55m. Multiply it by five and you get well over $275m." Now, I've had my calculator out and everything... and I don't think he's right!
Daniel, Southsea

Re: Your ongoing debate on how the UK could win it, I had no idea the Eurovision Song Contest was such fertile ground for sour grapes.
Sara, Malmo, Sweden (Four times ESC winners)

Re: the debate on how you pronounce words, with an accent, (Thursday’s Letters) Cathy Hood, if you pronounced "riband" like "demand" then it would be "ri-barned", at least where I live.
Ian, London

Cathy, I think you've answered your own question. If you're using the word 'riband' then you're probably trying to be posh already.
Peter Clarkson, Kingston, UK

Contrary to PJ's assertion that the Channel Islands are independent, (Thursday’s Letters) they are actually crown possessions so are not, strictly speaking, independent. Whilst Jersey was granted some degree of independence by King John in 1206 (hardly the greatest endorsement from one of England's weaker kings), all laws have to be sanctioned by the Privy Council and the UK is responsible for foreign relations.

Don't tell anyone in Jersey that they aren't independent though, they really don't like to have it rubbed in.
Martin Hollywood, sitting in Jersey at the moment

MCK of London asks (in Thursday’s Letters) where to send a photo of a potato that has grown into a rude and amusing shape now that "That's Life' is off the air - Could I suggest YouTuber?
Brian Farrar, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

Ah, at last, a picture of my ideal woman.
Pete Setters

Caption competition - results

13:10 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007



Here are the winning entries in the caption comp.

New year, resolution time, so this week, a smoker reclines atop a pile of discarded cigarette packets at the launch of a DVD to help people quit. But what's being said?

1. Sean Smith
Mrs Church takes a tumble in Charlotte's bedroom.

2. Ian
Bridget Jones celebrates her 40th in style.

3. Scott B
"Yeah, 2 days now. The hallucinations are getting quite bad..."

4. Stig
Doctors - 0: The Chancellor - 123, 456

5. Ian Butcher
"Ha...and you thought they were all empty."

6. Simon Rooke
"Only two more cartons and I'll have enough coupons for my own respirator."

Thanks to all who entered. Click on the comments form below to read all the losing entries. Don't see yours? You sent it in by the letters form, didn't you...

Paper Monitor

10:11 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Beckhams have long proved rich pickings for the papers, and David's move to an American major league soccer team satisfies any craving the couple - and the nation's editors - might have to once again fill pages one, three, four and five. Ditto on the sports pages.

And the move brings the premier league punners off the subs' bench. (Did you see what Paper Monitor did there?)

POSH AND BUCKS - the Daily Mirror, on David salary
END IT LIKE BECKHAM - the Guardian
POSH AND BUCKS - the Sun (great minds, eh?)
SCENT TO THE TOWER - d'uh, how did that one slip in? It's the Sun on the first woman Beefeater

The Mirror also sent a snapper into the Real Madrid shop, which has already taken his shirts off the rails. And the Times does a rather amateurish mock-up of what his Galaxy shirt will look like. Won't the green and yellow make you look a bit sallow, Becks?

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:32 UK time, Friday, 12 January 2007

In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what is the most hated office jargon? At the risk of irritating you further by repeating the offending phrases, the correct answer is "blue sky thinking", which is what 33% of you correctly picked, through gritted teeth. Nearly 60% of you thought it was (arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!) "There's no 'I' in team" and 9% picked (nooooooooooooooooo!!) "Let's sunset that". The survey was by Office Angels. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:57 UK time, Thursday, 11 January 2007

Your story of staged accidents is an interesting one. But I wonder how long it will be before people make false claims about being in a staged accident?
Dave Godfrey, Swindon, UK

Re: Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz on office jargon. Whenever I am confronted with the saying, "There's no I in team" I always reply, "But there is a ME".
Mark Bell, Warrington, UK

On your Daily Mini-Quiz today, surely the most hated bit of office jargon is the one most people chose i.e. "There's no I in team". So I got it right after all!
Dave, Walsall

Re: The debate over how the UK can win the Eurovision Song Contest (Wednesday’s Letters). I have a better idea than becoming a Baltic state or a Balkan state. Give Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire their longed-for independence (well, in Yorkshire's case anyway). As the Isle of Man and the various Channel Islands are already independent, we could all have our own entries, could we not? And then we could all cosily vote for each other! (Not that it's a fix, you understand).
PJ, West Yorks

On the ongoing debate over the Bowie pronunciation - I'm firmly in the "Bow as in no" camp due to my Ulster accent preventing the alternative. But can anyone definitively answer how to pronounce the word "riband"? Is the emphasis on the "ri" or the "band"? I emphasise the "ri" and say it to sound like "ribboned", but there's been heated debate with friends who place the emphasis on the "band" to rhyme with "demand". We think they're just trying to sound posh. Which is correct?
Cathy Hood, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Since "That's Life" has not been replaced on TV, please can someone tell me where I can send a photo of a potato that has grown in to a rude and amusing shape?
MCK, London

Paper Monitor

10:53 UK time, Thursday, 11 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"One morning a little rabbit sat on a bank…" Hard news it ain't, but who needs newspapers when you've got the Tale of Benjamin Bunny as a free giveaway from the Daily Telegraph. That said, Paper Monitor is smarting from the unhappy discovery that its local WH Smith, from which copies of said Beatrix Potter classic can be obtained in exchange for a token printed in today's Telegraph, isn't actually stocking the giveaway. Sniff.

So while Benjamin is no doubt merrily vegetable scrumping in a parallel universe, Paper Monitor will have to make do with reading about over-zealous Mr McGregor-style authority figures of the real world. There's Tony Blair and his road pricing plan, which the Telegraph has launched a campaign against, and then there's the Atlanta police force…

The Telegraph, along with other papers, details the traumatic experiences of a distinguished British historian who, while attending a conference in the state of Georgia, fell foul of jaywalking laws and found himself cuffed and at the feet of a clutch of disapproving cops. It was, by the historian's rather eloquent account, an unsettling episode.

But with no jaywalking laws in the UK, it is, at least, a nice antidote to the paper's ever-weary view of Britain becoming an "intrusive and meddlesome" (according to today's leader) state, as opposed to, say, the libertarian sway of somewhere like the US.

And that academic ought, perhaps, to be thankful he didn't suffer the same fate as Benjamin Bunny, who, readers may recall, was given a whipping by his father. Now that would surely be banned in Blair's Britain.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:28 UK time, Thursday, 11 January 2007

Yesterday we asked how many square metres of rainforest need to be planted to offset the carbon emissions of Tony Blair's family hols in Miami. It's 300sqm, at a cost of £89.82, which 37% of you got right. Another 35% said 200 square metres, and 28% said 100 square metres. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine index now.

Your Letters

15:26 UK time, Wednesday, 10 January 2007

With regard to that article on happiness being important in your working life, do you think Dr Devendra Singh, who has apparently "spent years examining representations of women" is happy in his job? Does he have difficulty attracting staff to help in his research and do you have his contact details.
Stig, London, UK

The debate about how Morrissey should go about writing a Eurovision hit is interesting but ultimately doomed. As chuckling Terry Wogan knows only too well, the UK will never get off the bottom rung unless it becomes one of the Baltic or Balkan states.
Steve, London

The Daily Mini-Quiz today sent me of on a wierd and wonderful train of thought. I'm going to share. If we are losing 58,000sqkm (wikipedia!) of rainforest per year to deforestation, and per 300sqm it costs £89.82 then we need about £17billion a year to replace said forest. Which is £2.89 per person in the world per year. That's a cost of £173million a year from the UK. Could we, and would we, do it?
Tom Webb, Epsom, UK

Re: Diana, a year in headlines. Nice to see PM has saved all its copies of the Daily Express and gets them out from time to time to read. Most of us just use it to fill our landfills.
Lester Mak, London, UK

Any readers out there want to create a flexicon entry for when you blame 'technical difficulties' for never having anything published, when you full-well know it's because the entries aren't any good?
Ben Hill, Cardiff, Wales

Surely the pronunciation of Eva Liina Asu-Garcia's name is self-explanatory? Eva Liina (as 'U-Garcia').
David Dee, Matola Mozambique

Hurrah! Finally we see pictures of the elusive Paper and Magazine Monitors - at the top of the You've got to Laugh article. The female on the right is clearly PM looking perplexed at that day's Diana offering from the Express (and before she's had her morning pastry) while the male on the left is MM, enjoying the latest Punorama offerings. How nice to finally see you both.
Robin, Edinburgh


12:12 UK time, Wednesday, 10 January 2007


It's punorama result time again.

We provide the story and you provide the pun. This week it was the news that former Smiths singer Morrissey is in talks to write the UK's entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

The BBC says it's in talks with the singer to write and possibly perform a track for this year's contest in May.

There's obviously a lot of Smiths fans out there and many of you were thinking along the same lines when it came to using song titles.

How soon is nul? was suggested by Jason Witcher, while El went for How soon is nul-point? and Joel for How soon is naff?

Heaven know's it's pop drivel now was sent in by Stuart, Heaven knows I'm musical now by Pix6 in Vienna and Helsinki Knows I'm Miserable Now by Ruaraidh Gillies and Luke W - to name just a few.

There was also Nill Points Strikes Again! from C J and Bigmouth's Trite Again from Stuart.

Looking to Eurovision for inspiration was Steve with Brotherhood of Moan and Dave Smith with Theres Nul Point in carrying on.

Honourable mention to Tim knott for Alas, Smiths and Moans.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:41 UK time, Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year for 2005 was. The answer was "truthiness", meaning what one wishes to be the truth, regardless of the facts. Only one in five of you got it right. A whopping 70% thought it was "podcast". In 2006 its word of the year was "plutoed", meaning to demote or devalue. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

Paper Monitor

09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 10 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a right Royal feast for The Express this week. For the first time in years it had what many people would consider its first genuine reason for having Diana splashed across the front page on a Monday. Today, it has a genuine reason for putting Mrs Prince William on the front - her 25th birthday.

It maintains standards by managing to get "controversy" into the headline about Kate Middleton's big day. PM is just glad her birthday didn't fall on a Monday, the paper would have faced a real dilemma about whose picture to run with. Of course, we all know who'd win.

But the Express isn't the only paper that must be happy with its front page today. The Daily Telegraph has stories on school catchment areas, the fight against road pricing and the iPhone, as well as a plug for a feature inside on how to look chic on the ski slopes. Only the inclusion of a picture of a posh pin-up could have improved things for its readership.

The free poster/sticker/wallchart/DVD/book wars have kicked off big style in 2007. The offerings from the Daily Mail - a free Reiki DVD - the Daily Telegraph - a free Beatrix Potter book - and the Independent - a wallchart on how to stop smoking - are laughable when compared to the Daily Mirror. It's offering a wild animal DVD, plus posters, plus stickers. And PM thought the Guardian was spoiling us with its recent salad wallchart.

Oh, and Sienna Miller is supposedly dating an actor who is not famous. Is that news? You'd better believe it, worthy of the prime Page Three slot in the Sun. But then again, its front page "exclusive" is about Jade Goody having liposuction. Suddenly that salad wallchart is looking a bit more interesting.

Your Letters

15:57 UK time, Tuesday, 9 January 2007

It would seem it isn't just the tabloids that like publishing pictures of Kate Middleton. Maybe PM should have a word with the folk over at the In Pictures section. I doubt the photo of her leaving Waitrose was a posed publicity piece.
Paul Fitchett, Oxford, England

So MI5 are to issue terror alerts by e-mail. Anyone like to offer odds on how long it will be before the first "hoax" viral emails start to circulate, purporting to originate from MI5 and asking you to pass them on to family and friends etc?
Alex D, Southampton, UK

Bindi Irwin is not being pressured into the limelight says her manager. Then why would she need a manager?
MCK, London

Bow ie or Boh ie? Perhaps at the advanced age of 60 David may have forgotten that he named his first son Zowie, not Zoh ie - rhyming with Bowie not Boh ie. Unless of course gender confusion was intended as may have ocurred with his daughter Zoh ie Boh ie.
Louise Baxter, Aberdeen

Interesting piece on Bowie and whether it's pronounced Bow-ee or Boh-ee, He's just Dave to me.
MJF, Liverpool

Whilst not wishing to decry your wonderfully interesting pronunciation service, I must say that I find 'Bowie rhymes with Joey' in your 'Starman at 60' feature much easier to take in than the version from Eva. Incidentally, is that really her name or is it an anagram or some other cryptic message?
Rory, Sutton Coldfield UK

Please can we have clarification on how to pronounce the name Eva Liina Asu-Garcia from the BBC Pronunciation unit.
Chris, London

Paper Monitor

11:07 UK time, Tuesday, 9 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Bad news for Keira Knightley… the Daily Telegraph's posh pin-up seems to have migrated downmarket to the Daily Mail, which is claiming she has lost weight. Don't believe Paper Monitor? To assist your judgement, the Mail does its readers the service of publishing before and after pictures of the Hollywood star in a bikini to make its point. What Paper Monitor finds remarkable is how unchanged she appears.

Elsewhere, though, Keira risks being eclipsed in the classy crumpet stakes by Mrs Prince William to be (at least, that's the speculation) Kate Middleton.

The Guardian manages a sideways look, assessing comparisons between Miss Middleton and the late Diana, Princess of Wales (who, incidentally, is more than just a Daily Express phenomenon today, thanks to Monday's preliminary inquest hearing).

To the Times, meanwhile, Miss Middleton is a piece of cake that warrants devouring. The paper's front page features a snatched shot of her in the street, to highlight, get this, a developing row about press intrusion in her life. There's another shot inside, although Paper Monitor senses these could be the last for a while, after the news on today's Guardian website that News International (publishers of the Times, the Sun and the News of the World) is banning the use of paparazzi photos of Miss M.

Wasn't there supposed to be just such a self-imposed ban, across the tabloid press, in the wake of Diana's death almost 10 years ago?

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:30 UK time, Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz marked the passing of quiz show titan Magnus Magnusson by re-running the first question he asked on Mastermind: in what year did the bombing take place which inspired Picasso's Guernica? The right answer was 1937, although the running was very much with 1936, which amassed 48% of all votes. Get hip to the Magazine page for today's Daily Mini-Quiz.

How to say: Bowie

16:02 UK time, Monday, 8 January 2007

A weekly guide to the words and names in the news from Eva Liina Asu-Garcia of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

This week is the 60th birthday of David Bowie who was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on 8 Jan 1947. Although his name is often pronounced as BOW-ee (-ow as in now) the pronunciation that he uses and we recommend is BOH-ee (-oh as in no). He is married to the Somali-born supermodel Iman (pronounced ee-MAN).

(For a guide to our phonetic pronunciations, click here.)

Your Letters

15:53 UK time, Monday, 8 January 2007

If there were to be a jury formed for an inquest into Diana's death, I suspect the first question asked of each potential juror, to determine his or her suitablility, will be "are you a Daily Express reader?"
Jennifer S, USA

Re. Sorry To Say. Is this just another this-country's-going-to-the-dogs story? Standard January stuff I suppose.
But if we've resorted to stories about us saying sorry too much, then things can't be that bad, surely?

Chris, Sheffield

The article about the word sorry illustrates the "nervous middle-class caricature in old sitcoms" with a photo of Terry and June. Am I taking things too literally in thinking that a more appropriate image would have been Ronnie Corbett in Sorry?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

I couldn't help but notice the apparent extraordinary shape of buses in Brighton. The burning question is, of course, does it take more or less Brighton double-decker buses to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool?
Elaine O'Neill, Englefield Green, Surrey

Reading that Americans have chosen plutoed as the word of the year, I naturally assumed this was something to do with the neuronally challenged Disney cartoon dog. How refreshing that instead, there is a scientific basis for the choice.
Steve, London

Ann Hathaway is a mafia wife!?
That certainly makes me look at Will Shakespeare in a different light... the Godfather of C-Rhyme?
Andrew Nicholson, Milton Keynes

I've answered a Mastermind question correctly! Amazing! That's the first time ever I think! Thanks DMQ!

Paper Monitor

12:13 UK time, Monday, 8 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's the first full working week of January, and that presents an opportunity to take advantage of our collective New Year neuroses.

The Independent does the whole thing with a retro 2006 feel, deploying… wait for it… wall-charts. Just when you thought these glossy giveaways had been consigned to the recycling bin for good, the Indy kicks off a week of "Change Your Life in 2007" wall-charts with "How to lose weight".

Others to come include stopping smoking, getting fit and controlling your drinking.

And just when you thought that would be make-over enough, the paper is flagging up a "Double Your Brain Power" Saturday give-away of free book, CD and information sheets.

The Daily Express (complete with de rigeur Diana splash… it IS Monday after all) is chasing similar insecurities: "Your essential 10-step guide to being happy and feeling fabulous."

The Daily Mail is giving away a free "life enhancing" DVD every day for the next three weeks – well past when most new year's resolutions have evaporated into an full ashtray and empty pint glass.

The Times has signed up hypnotherapist Paul McKenna for a five-step "change your life" plan.

Of course, all this bubbly wellness advice sits rather uncomfortably alongside the usual array of depressing headlines, but Paper Monitor supposes that's the point. Read the paper, get thoroughly disheartened by war in the Middle East, rising crime, conspiracy theories, global warming, the relentless tide of political correctness etc, and then perk yourself up with advice such as this from the Express…

"Become an optimist. Once you realise you're going down a gloomy path, stop. Refuse to go there."

Ahhh, the load seems to be lightening already.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:51 UK time, Monday, 8 January 2007

Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked on average how close are people in London to a rat? The answer is not as close as most of you think, evidently. Only 5% picked the correct answer, which is 14 metres. Three quarters of you thought it was only seven. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine page.

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