BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 21, 2007 - January 27, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

17:15 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

10chesspieces.jpgSnippets from the week's news, harvested, diced and sliced for your convenience.

1. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, was asked to be on Celebrity Big Brother.

2. Rail passenger numbers could increase by 30-40% in the next 10 years. (More details)

3. Dishcloths are purged of 99% of their bacteria during two minutes in a microwave. (More details)

4. But they can pretty easily catch fire while doing so. (More details)

5. Only four postcodes in the UK do not have a Tesco. They are the Outer Hebrides, the Shetlands, Orkney and Harrogate.

6. Uninsured vehicles are 10 times more likely to be involved in hit-and-run crashes.

7. Guinness turns out red, rather than black, if the barley is roasted for less time than normal.

8. Today presenter John Humphrys gets up one minute before 4am and is in the BBC studio at 16 mins past.

9. People who live within 500 metres of a motorway grow up with significantly reduced lung capacity.

10. A haddock's mating call starts as a slow knocking sound, before turning into a quicker hum similar to a small motorcycle revving its engine. (More details.)

Sources where stories not linked: 1, Press Association. 5, Evening Standard, Wednesday. 6, Times, Friday. 7. Times, Friday. 8, Press Gazette. 9. Guardian, Friday.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Alan Chesterman for this week's picture, 10 glass chess pieces.

Caption competition

16:42 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

beach.jpg

It's time for the caption comp.

This week, beachcombers inspect a barrel washed up on Branscombe beach in Devon, after the stricken container ship MSC Napoli ran aground a mile out to sea. But what's being said?

Technical gremlins have again delayed the results - so, no time this week for the "ones that didn't make the cut" - but the Monitor is pleased to announce the winners are as follows:

6. "No, Trinny, horizontal stripes never work"
Mark Esdale

5. "I THINK he said' I tell you I AM David Blaine'"
Eddie H

4. "Yes Gladys, I believe bunghold is the proper term"
Norma Seal

3. "I've always wondered what a BMW gearbox looks like"
Graham

2. "I think we'll call it Beryl"
Catherine O

1. "I'm telling you Liz, the prisons are full. Now let's just take it"
Mark

And an honourable mention to Nigel Macarthur for Services to Monitor Staff: "He sent his entry via the letters page and they put him in this!"

Your Letters

16:00 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

So you found it to be hot and bright? Which part of the Health and Safety Executive's statement "We would not advocate people photocopying their faces" did you not understand?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Did he mean to say this? "It's not a good idea, let's face it," says Chris Inglehearn, Professor of Molecular Ophthalmology at Leeds University.
Stig, London, UK

Re: Foie gras and bird life: I'd expect a free-range organic chicken to have better taste than to watch Neighbours.
Dan, UK

So there's not enough room in the prison for the baddies. What if, and call me over-simplistic if you will, but what if there were more police, stopping people from committing the crimes in the first place?

Oh yes, and re: Pirates (Thursday’s letters). Why are pirates called pirates? Cos they Arrrr!
Nicola Turton, Old Basing, England

Don't worry John Thompson (Thursday's letters), all Scottish students now have to pay a graduate endowment of £2,000. Enough of the regional debates though, shouldn't we all be making up flexicon words and talking about cabbaging?
Morven, Edinburgh

So Scottish students don't have to saddle themselves with debt? So how come my wife still has £27,000 to pay back in student loans eight years after being at Glasgow University? Wonder where you got those figures from?
Steven, Glasgow

K, Edinburgh, not being a Londoner you probably wouldn't know that more of the London Underground is overground than under it. - I think about 60%
Bob, London

K, Southerners do get on with their lives when it snows. It's the Londoners who get all over-emotional and silly.
b, Sussex

It's 40 degrees here. Will anyone shout at me if I say "It's just toooo hot"?
Rachel, Perth, Australia

Paper Monitor

11:31 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ah, the old gags are always the best... an adage the Sun has clung to for two days running, recycling Spitting Image's serial thriller, The President's Brain is Missing.

Only the paper replaces the befuddled Ronald Reagan with a more contemporary figure whose brain has made a bid for freedom. And it's not George W Bush, he's already starred in the New York Times' own rip-off of the joke.

"NATIONWIDE HUNT: JOHN REID'S BRAIN IS MISSING," trumpeted the red-top on Thursday. "A huge hunt was underway last night for Home Secretary John Reid's walnut-sized BRAIN following his abysmal failure to solve the jail crisis."

But wait, there's more today: "BRAINLESS," it repeats, again gracing its front page with a snap of the home sec - described as looking "vacant" - with a hole cut in his forehead.

The paper reports that its observant readers have joined the hunt, with one claiming to have seen the brain among the cargo of the wrecked MSC Napoli in Branscombe, Devon. "But he said: 'Looters took it while cops were sifting through anti-terror legislation to see if they had power to touch it'." How gallant, allowing a reader to make the best gag (just like Paper Monitor).

Intrepid reporter Tim Spanton is pictured performing a fingertip search outside Westminster, kitted out with a white forensic suit, and there's a snap of Mr Reid with stitches in his forehead.

Gosh, where do they get their ideas from? If he's pictured in tomorrow's paper bedridden, with the button for "nurse" dangerously close to one marked "free 'em all", then we shall know for sure.

Naturally, one would expect Mr Reid to rise above this sort of ridicule. He has after all got more pressing things to think about than newspaper headlines. Disturbingly, however, the Times' sketch writer Ann Treneman relates how in a press conference yesterday the Home Secretary ceremoniously presented a Walnut Whip to the Sun's political editor George Pascoe-Watson.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:25 UK time, Friday, 26 January 2007

In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked the average value of a teenager's outfit. Less than one in 10 of you got it right. It's £729, including gadgets, according to a survey by Cornhill Direct. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Thursday, 25 January 2007

Apparently the head of Channel 4 has said the race row stopped the programme from being boring. When was Gerald Ratner appointed to the job?
Rory, Sutton Coldfield UK

Regarding US Heatray Gun. The weapon is described as "a beam was fired from a large rectangular dish mounted on a Humvee vehicle". If the picture on the article bears any relation to the weapon, i'd suggest the writer looks back at some magazine school quizzes to remind him of the basic shapes.
Kieran, Derby

Re: Schools to teach britishness. Here's one thing to get the ball rolling - English students must saddle themselves with debt if they want to go to University whilst Scottish students don't. Discuss.
John Thompson, Southport, UK

Really, how is "Snow falls lighter than expected" a story? In Scotland it snows and people get on with their lives. In England (south of particularly) it snows 2cm and it becomes headline news for the rest of the country. Also, I'm maybe just being stupid, but I' struggling see how snow can cause delays on the underground. Is the clue not in the title? Or should the moles be looking out too?
K, Edinburgh

Re: Daily mini quiz. The average teenager leaves the house in an outfit worth £729. One assumes that the relevant survey was carried out in Beverley Hills?
JFK, UK

So disappointing that Paper Monitor's coverage of the snow in London didn't seem to include any of the splendid excuses from the train companies. Mind you, they'd have a tough job to beat one I heard when it got cold last year. We were told that they were aware of the trouble that could be caused if the points froze, so they got their heaters out. But it turned out that the heaters didn't work in cold weather.
Adam, London, UK

Pedants corner alert! The Express cannot have a picture of Big Ben covered in snow unless the roof is open to the elements. Now the clock tower of Big Ben is entirely different!
I'll get me coat.
Owen, Stevenage, Herts

Roy (from Salzburg) - many pirates would disagree. What about 'Arrrr'?
Robert, Frimley

Male, female, who cares. We now know that Paper Monitor is most definitely not a born Londoner. From the humour, I'm guessing Yorkshire.
Jennifer

Aha! The mystery surrounding the identities of the various members of the letters and Paper Monitor teams deepens. Judging by the sarcastic tone used when slating the press for going to town about the snow, I can deduce that some of the team clearly ain't what many of us "oop north" like to call... Southerners!
And I have to say, biased as I am, that I suddenly find myself liking them all the more!
Phil, Angus, Scotland

Paper Monitor

11:02 UK time, Thursday, 25 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It snowed on Tuesday night. It often snows in January in the North, Scotland, the high grounds of central England and the West Country. But this snow was different. Why? Because it SNOWED IN LONDON! Whaaaaat! You know what that means – it's no longer snow as an abstract concept, a climatic occurrence that might as well be in Lapland. It's snow as in the trains being delayed… cars needing de-icing… reporters arriving late into the office… photographers hardly having to fall out of bed to grab cute shots of kids building snowmen. Now that's what the papers call real snow.

Cue London landmarks covered in snow pictures. For the Telegraph it’s an Underground train in the snow, and one of the Trafalgar Square lions; the Mirror has Buck House in resplendent white; the Express does the same with Big Ben. The Sun sidesteps any obvious landmarks, in favour of Richmond Park in the snow; Barnet, north London in the snow; "tracks… walking in London" in the snow and London Bridge Station in the snow.

The latter does though include a handy "3/4" actual size" depth of snow indicator to hammer home the point that Britain's rail network is not very good at dealing with, er, adverse weather conditions.

The Sun puts the Oscar nominations of recent days to, er, novel use in a centre page spread called Best Unsupported Actress. Fancy seeing those stalwarts of British luvvidom, Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench in the buff? Probably not, but on the off chance... It's sure to turn your face a shade of snowy white.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:36 UK time, Thursday, 25 January 2007

In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked how many people say they are working class, according to the latest British Attitudes Report? The answer is 57%, which only 23% of you got right. Most of you (53%) mistakenly picked 37%. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:37 UK time, Wednesday, 24 January 2007

So scientists have discovered that microwaves can kill germs on sponges? If they'd watched Anthea Turner's Perfect Housewife they'd have learnt this months ago when she said it. What next? Scientists discovering that shoes are tidier in wardrobes if they are put in labelled see through plastic boxes?
James Carter, Manningtree, UK

For the record, my grandmother Margie Geddes's affair with John Betjeman mentioned in Paper Monitor lasted for three years, not two decades. It began after her divorce and ended when she met the man she was to spend the next thirty years with until his death in 2003. The Telegraph article was inaccurate on many counts.
Tabitha Kelly, London

Re: the story on the new Channel Four furore over Shipwrecked. May I say how apt the caption directing the reader to the position of Lucy Buchanan in the photograph is?
SG , UK

In today’s Daily Mini-Quiz - How many people say they are working-class? I got this right, because I know there's a lot of inverse snobbery about. My friend, who got his BA, MA, MB and PhD at Cambridge and is training to be a brain surgeon (no joke) thinks he is working-class. We laugh at him often and say he's posher than the rest of us put together.
Lucy Jones, Manchester

Today's snow will have really confused my garden. The bulbs are up, there are buds on the jasmine - a vine that usually flowers in April - and the neighbour's climbing rose has sent a salmon-pink bloom peeking over the fence. Will all these darling buds now wither and die, never to return come spring proper?
Eve, Walthamstow

Gosh I never knew monkeys were so widely used to do jobs more traditionally associated with humans. (Tuesday’s letters) I guess that explains a lot about my latest dealings with the customer service department of my phone company.
Adam, London, UK

As regards the job of a local paper to 'champion' the community it serves (Paper Monitor) it may interest readers to know that the Chertsey and Addlestone Herald on 17 January dedicated a whole page to a girl with a fear of retching. As Michael Aspel used to say: strange, but true.
Martin, Chertsey

Re: Pronouncing H. Flamin' Nora, call it a different dialect if you wish, but it's not an different accent. You won't find "haitch" in the dictionary, but you will find "aitch". Trust me, it won't earn you anything in Scrabble or on Countdown either.
Lester Mak, London, UK

When pronounced correctly, "aitch" is one of two five-letter words in English from which you can remove four letters without changing the pronunciation - the other being queue.
Roy, Salzburg

Chris, if you find it irritating why not move to Yorkshire, none of us use Hs here.
Dee, Sheffield

Has anyone noticed how Andy Murray seemed to "bow out" of the Australian Open this week, rather than crash? How did he manage that? Never happened to our Timmy. Perhaps it's a Scottish thing.
Luke L, London, UK.
MM: Well he did give Rafael Nadal quite a game…

So nice to hear the Queen is up for an Oscar. Good luck to you ma'am.
Trina, UK

Punorama

15:34 UK time, Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Comments

It's Punorama results time again..

duck203.jpg

You know the rules - we give you the story and you give us your best pun.

This week's it was about one plucky duck who survived gunshot wounds and a two-day stint in the fridge.

A hunter in Florida shot it, and took it for dead, home to the refrigerator.

When his wife opened the door two days later, the duck lifted its head in a burst of life and she rushed it to the wildlife sanctuary for treatment.

It now has a 75% chance of survival.

How'd you all do? Magnificently.

As usual, there were some very popular entries. Quack from the dead was sent in by Helene Parry, Susan, S Murray, Brian Ritchie, Nick Jones, W Mobberley and Jip Foster. Along the same lines was Rajat with Quack to life.

The charming Cheese and Quackers was suggested by Tom Ralph and Tony Doyle, while Chill Bill was sent in by Anne, Jeff and Steve Jackson. There was also Canard-ly believe it from Savo in Surrey and Peter Forrester.

Honourable mentions go to Dave Smith for The Duck of Hazard, Nigel Macarthur for See you later, (in the) refrigerator, Rod Evan for Hard Duck Story and Tim Francis-Wright for
Webbed Feat .

But our favourites this week were Duck-billed Lazarus from Gareth Jones, Mall-'ard as nails from Giles and "Charged with faking your own death, how do you plead?" "Not guilty, Mullard!" from David Regan. Bravo.

Paper Monitor

09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 24 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Oscar nominations are in - the British media's cue to makes its annual transformation into a local paper. It is part of a local paper's brief to champion their community against the monolith that is a dominate power, to detail the exploits of plucky locals lucky enough to find themselves at the centre of a big story.

And that's exactly what has happened here now that the voters in the all-powerful Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - in the United States, no less - have picked who is up for top gongs at their annual awards bash. It's the biggest in the business, you know.

So let's hear for Essex girl Helen, 61, Kate, 31, from Reading, and Yorkshire lass Judi, 72, who have been nominated. In America! Watch out, Yanks, the Brits are coming!

BATTLE OF BRITAIN'S LEADING LADIES - Daily Telegraph
LEADING LADIES: BRITONS COMPETE FOR BEST ACTRESS OSCAR - the Guardian
DEAD CERT - Daily Mirror
DAME HELEN IS OSCARS FAVOURITE - Daily Express, always fond of a blonde royal on its front page.
OUR GIRLS GONG UP ON OSCAR - the Sun, which adds an "Oscar Approved" stamp to its free DVD of Prime Suspect.

And three cheers for Peter, 74, from County Galway, featured in both the Times and the Independent. Let's make it eighth time lucky, eh Pete?

The Telegraph even goes to its version of a local mayor for comment: "Buckingham Palace said it was thrilled by the British showing... but did not disclose whether the Queen had seen the film."

But that's not to say our own awards are unimportant. Oh no. The Baftas are a crucial barometer of which way the Academy's mood might swing [now they're timed before the Oscars, not after], don't you know.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Express's Oscar coverage comes just after a new survey on Britishness: "Less than half of the people living in England - 48% - say that British is the best or only way of describing their national identity," the paper cries, before adding that many instead now choose to describe themselves as English.

Come on, you Brits! Go English roses! And that bloke from Ireland!

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:10 UK time, Wednesday, 24 January 2007

In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which signature is the most sought after, among a collection one autograph hunter hopes to sell for a million? The answer was Greta Garbo, which only 25% of you got right. Most of you (56%) mistakenly picked James Dean. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

16:04 UK time, Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Re: Taking booty from the Napoli. Can the scavengers of the shipwreck apply the finders keepers, losers weepers law?
MCK, London

In the story about India’s first successful space mission - the understatement of the week award goes to the BBC's Habib Beary for: "The re-entry and recovery phases of a spacecraft are essential for any manned mission to space."
Owen, Stevenage, Herts

Re: Providing monkeys on the NHS (Monday’s letters): Monkeys for the disabled are used quite extensively in the US, to do simple things like open doors, jars, get things off of shelves, turn on light switches - hundreds of things.
Michelle B, London

Dear Jo, the web site of a provider is Helping Hand Monkeys.
Stephen Peacock, Wolverhampton

Helper monkeys are common enough to have appeared in The Simpsons, and the US government even has specialised rules about how to scan helper monkeys at airports.
S Murray, Chester, UK

I'm more excited about the PM's response to this survey. I doubt it will be positive, but if we all campaign, you never know!
Chloe, Chelmsford

Re: Pronouncing H with an aitch (Monday’s letters) Chris, It's called an accent. We all have them, good and bad. Things wouldn't be quite the same if we all spoke in RP.
Flamin' Nora, UK

On the debate about tunes stuck in your head. I am a little concerned that perhaps I watch too much satellite television. The background music from the Sky+ viewing planner gets regularly stuck in my mind and I had no idea what the tune was... until I caught myself humming along whilst deciding what to watch next from the list. I wasn't even aware there was a tune...and if you asked me to hum it now I couldn't, but I can guarantee that it will make an appearance at some stage today!
Vanessa, Dorset

I wouldn't mind so much if I knew the words. Now I've got "La cucaracha! La cucaracha! Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo..." running through my head. Thanks a lot, Monitorites.
Kel, Chicago, USA

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "Chim-Chimney" from Mary Poppins. Not only can you not get it out of your head, I defy anyone to start singing this and not end up singing it in a Dick van Dyke fake cockney accent. I can confidently state that this is impossible, having challenged people in the past. I'd be interested in hearing how people with a real cockney accent get on with it though?
David, Ayr

Why not try the following (different) experiment:
The next time you are talking to someone face-to-face, do an action - folding your arms or lean against a door frame for example. Then wait until the person you are talking to does the same. Then do a new action... The trouble is you completely loose track of what you were talking about.
Nigel Goodman, United Kingdom

Congratulations to Mr Ben Dirs from BBC Sport who kept us entertained with his running commentary of Andy Murray's match against Rafael Nadal yesterday. Such gems as 'bugs the size of badgers' and 'dreamy touch' lessened the blow of Murray losing.
Vicki Powell, Manchester

Can I just point out the surreal brilliance of Ben Dirs' virtual tennis commentary? My favourite quote: "someone check that man's bananas"!
Ian, York

Re: The request for a flexicon for those who keep asking if there is a flexicon for something (Monday’s letters) - flexicontinual.
Derek Behan

The adjective for such a person is unimaginative. Failing that, how about flexless or unflexed?
Sam, London

Dean 's letter is an example of a flexiconquestion (actually, a reflexiconquestion to be more precise). To keep asking would make it flexicongestion. And so people whose responses get published are flexiconquistadors; though I suspect some would prefer to call them (or may I say "us"?) flexicon-artists.
Brian Ritchie, Oxford, UK

How to say: Barack Obama

11:38 UK time, Tuesday, 23 January 2007

A weekly guide to the words and names in the news from Catherine Sangster of the BBC Pronunication Unit.

This week's pronunciation is Barack Obama, who seems certain to run for the U.S. Presidency in 2008. His name should be pronounced buh-RAAK oh-BAA-muh. When he first came to prominence, there was some disagreement about his first name, which was also sometimes pronounced buh-RACK or even BARR-uhk, but our recommendation is based on the pronunciation he uses himself - he can be heard saying his own first name here.

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

Paper Monitor

10:27 UK time, Tuesday, 23 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Who needs the Big Brother house to shine a spotlight on the state of the nation when events at Branscombe beach let the papers take our pulse?

With the dilemma set between "Ooh, don't look, the greed's terrible" and "Crikey! Have a butchers at what's on offer down here", the papers give their verdict on the cargo-trawling booty-hunters.

A picture of the beach, strewn with rubbish and resembling the aftermath at Glastonbury, takes up the Daily Telegraph's front page. It takes readers back to the golden days - the 1949 film Whisky Galore! and the true story of Scottish islanders racing to save bottled goods.

Inside, the paper is torn between telling us beach-combing is an "ancient tradition" - surely therefore to be defended by Telegraph types? And stirring sympathy in the "awful" tale of a nice family from Sweden whose stuff has been picked through as it washed up en route to their South African winery. Ahh.

Three men in a boat and their wine barrels grace the front of the Times, on the Guardian an urban-looking trendy type is hauling his cask away.

Down to the Daily Mail, then, to take a dim view of "scavengers" who "swarmed" down the clifftops to "descend" on the shoreline, "almost coming to blows" in the battle to sort out who got what. How unseemly...

But over at Mirror Group towers, the seaside goings on barely raise a ripple. The Independent remains unmoved by all the free stuff. For the second day in a row it's more bothered about all the packaging we put on the goods that we do pay for.

And a different beach entirely is featured in the Mirror - a Caribbean one. PM's Formula One radar, for detecting the lame use of made-up equations as a way of generating news copy, (or, in this case, to use pictures of celebs in their scanties) picks up a bikini-clad Kelly Brook on page three.

The paper tells us that the formula for calculating her waist to hip ratio of 0.70588253 - and that's a lot of decimal places for a tabloid - means she's "so gorgeous". But of course it does - it's as easy to follow as the law on scavenging...

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:34 UK time, Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what mode of transport Dave Cornthwaite set a new world record on when he travelled 3,600 miles? Fifty-two percent of readers got it right, answering skateboard. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine page.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Monday, 22 January 2007

While reading through some of the petitions sent in to the government’s new E-Petitions website, I came across one requesting the Prime Minister to “provide free monkeys on the NHS”. In the official response from the Prime Minister’s Office, it was stated: “While we are aware of similar initiatives already in existence, the Government does not currently have any plans to make monkeys available to people with disabilities.” I was not aware of such initiatives. Has No. 10 just developed a previously unexpected sense of humour?
Jo, N. Ireland

With regards to the likelihood that Senator Hillary Clinton will run in the 2008 elections, if she does run, and wins, will Bill become the First Lady?
James Bennett, Nottingham

Regarding this plucky duck. Quack Bauer by any chance?
Lee, Teesside

Am I the only one worried that Gordon Brown, the man in charge of the kingdom's finances, cannot count to 52?
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

In 10 things it is stated that, "Cloudy apple juice is healthier than clear".
It would be interesting to know if the same applies to cider? Traditional "real" cider is often somewhat cloudy as compared to the well known commercial brands that are almost always bright and clear. Could it be my preference for the real stuff will also protect my health?
PJ, West Yorks

With the advent of high definition television, commonly referred to as HDTV, and discs compatible with this new standard called HD-DVDs, is it not time to remind the British public how to properly pronounce the letter 'H'? It can be spelt out as AITCH, and this is how it should be pronounced. I have had to suffer far too many instances of the eighth letter of our alphabet having an H of its own forced onto the beginning (i.e. "HAITCH"), even in prominent television advertisements which should surely set an example. It sounds vile.
Chris Philpot, West Sussex, UK

Re: Amelia from Aberdeen's letter on infecting other people with tunes. (Friday’s letters) As the only female on a construction site it can be good fun to sing a song first thing in the morning and see who ends up singing the song by lunchtime. A bit like musical Chinese whispers. It's even more fun when you pick a song that the person definitely would not sing themselves. My personal favourite for builders is So Macho by Sinitta. To see the biggest bigot on site singing “He's got to be so macho” really does bring a smile to my face.
Lu, Exeter

Bosses: how to tell if your employees have been reading MM instead of working. They'll be the ones who've been humming La Cucaracha all day.
Jayem, Belfast

Aaarrgh! Lee McCutcheon you are a wicked, wicked person. All I have to say to you is "The Birdie Song".
Douglas, Toronto, Canada

After some experimentation, I discovered that two most successfully 'catching' tunes are:
a) The music that accompanied the gallery in Take Hart, and
b) The music from Animal Magic.
Both are guaranteed to be 'caught' by anyone within listening distance. Trust me.
Sue, London

German has a great word for a song or tune you can't get out of your head - Ohrwurm (literally, an ear worm).
Miriam, Cambridge

There must be a flexicon entry for those who keep asking if there is a flexicon for something?
Dean, Cardiff, Wales

Paper Monitor

11:07 UK time, Monday, 22 January 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's often said that dog owners tend to have a passing resemblance to the pets in their charge, but has anyone tallied pet ownership with newspaper loyalties. Perhaps not, until now…

"Improve your health, become a dog owner," the Daily Telegraph tells its readers on the front page, carrying the results of new research into such matters. Which, no doubt, will come as welcome news to your average Telegraph subscriber, sitting, as he does, amid his sprawling country pile observing said mutts run amok behind the gazebo.

Inner city, metrosexual Guardian sorts must make do with two-dimensional renditions of man's best friend, thanks to the latest in another round of wall-chart giveaways. Today, it's dogs… specifically "utility, toy, hound and terrier" varieties. Toy dogs? Aren't they the ones you get for Christmas and discard on Boxing Day?

The Times, meanwhile, seems to be overstretching itself as the career woman's paper of choice (viz the cover of today's T2). And what's the ambitious woman's pet animal of choice. A cat, of course. Which, perhaps, explains why its story about a tiny flat for sale in central London for an astronomical sum is illustrated with a graphic of a person having "difficulty swinging a cat".

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:31 UK time, Monday, 22 January 2007

Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked who is the third wealthiest woman in showbiz, behind Oprah and JK Rowling. Forty-six percent of readers got it right, answering Martha Stewart. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine page.

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