BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 8, 2007 - April 14, 2007

10 things

16:43 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Anti-Americanism began in Paris in the 18th Century.
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2. Only 3% of adults get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.
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3. Janet Street Porter and Polly Toynbee share the exact same birthday - 27 Dec 1946.

4. Female civil servants in India are questioned about their menstrual cycle as part of their appraisal.
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5. Complaints about noise pollution from households increased nearly five-fold between 1984/5 and 2004/5.
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6. Obesity has a clear genetic link.
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7. The closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus rex is the chicken.

8. Skinheads in London preferred Levis jeans in the late 1970s, while in the Midlands they liked slightly wider, Wrangler ones.
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9. Kurt Vonnegut used to run a nappy-cleaning service.

10. There is no legal obligation for the MoD to compensate people disrupted by low-flying aircraft, due to a Royal Prerogative.
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Sources: 2 - Observer, 8 April. 3 - Guardian, 6 April. 7- Guardian, 13 April. 9 - Times, 13 April.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Margaret Emerson from Coventry for her picture of "another 10 eggs".

Your Letters

15:45 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

Re your Skinhead story, I was a skinhead in the mid 80s and hung around with punks and mods. Oi! music was working class and political. It definitely summed up how I felt growing up in Thatcher’s Britain: no future, no hope. It gave me a wonderful feeling of power and sense of belonging to know other people felt the same too. You could go to any town and other punks and skins would just come up and speak to you because of the way you looked and you knew they were on the same wavelength as you. It has always really annoyed me that Oi! music is/was branded as racist. The punk and skinhead bands involved were pretty much all anti-fascist. Ok, so there were Nazi skinheads (something that I never understood as skinheads arose from black music) but they listened to their own bands and were despised and fought by the rest of us.
Emma J, Wantage, Oxon

"'Fifth Beatle' quits Apple Corps" - in this case Neil Aspinall. But how many "fifth Beatles" can there be? I'm sure George Martin, Brian Epstein and Pete Best have all, at some time, been called the "fifth Beatle". Surely Neil Aspinall is, at best, equal fifth?
Dave Godfrey, Swindon, UK

In reply to John C from Bath's letter on Thursday, the reason the story is of interest is it illustrates the damage that school league tables can do. The school gets judged solely on results so it cares solely about results, to the detriment of its pupils.
Andy Nichols, London

If Halle Berry is so desperate to escape fame and attention by chatting anonymously online, why does she a) talk about it in the press, and b) reveal her true identity online? Both actions cancel out her desire to remain anonymous.
Martin, Bristol, UK

From the Joey Jones profile in Blackburn vs Chelsea "Where Are They Now" (do you cover the Sports section on here as well?) I loved these couple of sentences: "Jones was adored by Blues fans for his no-nonsense heart-on-your-sleeves approach. Underwent heart surgery in 2002..." At least they didn't need to cut him open to get to it.

Re the story "Cathedral bell needs crack repair" , in referring to the bell's Latin inscription "Celis Nomen Gabrelis", press officer Reverend Geoff Crag, says "I can manage Nomen Gabrielis - the name of Gabriel - but I'm not sure about Celis". The full translation means "[In] the Holy name of Gabriel". Being a reverend, he should really have made sure he knew the Latin for Holy.
David Cormie, Cheshire, UK

Can someone please tell me what is in his rucksack?
Stuart, London

Caption Comp

12:56 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

It's time for the winning entries in our caption competition.

This week, it's American artist Mark Jenkins - somewhere in one of those bin bags - showing his work in the UK for the first time. But what was being said?

6. Simon Rooke
A quarter of a million isn't bad for Kensington and Chelsea, and it sleeps four.

5. Ian Dunlop
Extreme hoodie craze causes problems on London streets

4. Adam
"Shhhhh! Here he comes."

3. David Dee
"Oi, you lot! Biodegradables go in GREEN bags, ALTERNATE Thursdays. You're nicked!"

2. Andrew
''Tyler! Get those soft southern installation artist nonces off the pavement, along with their rubbish....''

1. Brett Mitchell
"Let's face it lads, we've been ripped off. This is not a four-man tent."

Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Remember Loadsamoney? Only me! Eranu/Uvavu? Yeah but no but? Am I bovvered? All these references from popular culture (and many, many more besides) in their time became a kind of street cred shorthand for journalists (and, come to that, politicians) eager to show that they're not out of touch.

In this culture-rich society we're living in, it's naturally quite a challenge to stay hip (though Paper Monitor has never, personally, had any trouble in that respect). So what is the cultural reference du jour? See if you can guess, with our exclusive News on Mars round-up from today's papers.

starmars.jpgLife on Cars - Classic Cortinas selling like mad (Daily Star)
Life on Mars? No, pet, it's Life on Venus (Richard Littlejohn imagines what it would be like for Gene Hunt to come to the modern day. Creative writing, six out of ten - Daily Mail)
Why women love DCI Gene Hunt (Daily Telegraph)
Monster from Mars - profile of Gene Hunt/Philip Glenister (Times T2)
Were the 1970s more or less boring than the 1960s? (Letter to Daily Telegraph)
Columnist Fergus Shanahan on 'Gene Hunt' being snubbed for Bafta - (Sun)
Big Brain Mark Lawson on the internal paradoxes of Life on Mars compared with The Prisoner (Guardian)
Life on Mars best show 4 yrs (Text message to Daily Star)
Opinion column on Cortinas becoming fashionable again (Daily Star)
'Police need to be more like Life on Mars tough guys' (Letter to Daily Express)
The bullies from Mars (Daily Mail)
Teachers blame 'Life on Mars' for rise of homophobia (Independent, Telegraph and Times)
"Never mind Life on Mars; on Tuesday night, life in Manchester felt like another planet." (Mike Hume writes about football violence in The Times)

And (JOKE COMING UP) all this is to say nothing of today's Times front page: "'Fat' gene found by scientists". Cowabunga!

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:40 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2007

In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked on which daytime television show did Simon Cowell make his debut. The answer was Sale of the Century but only 36% of you got it right. The Price is Right was wrong! For those who prefer to put their nose in a good book rather than in front of daytime telly, today's DMQ could be for you. It's on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:10 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

Can someone tell me why this story features on the main BBC News page? Someone who has got two As at GCSE isn't allowed go to a dance. It's hardly a slow news day and this wouldn't make it to the front page of a low-circulation regional newspaper, so is there something we're not being told? Is she related to someone famous, or it is just that there's a picture of her looking a bit upset in her golden dress?
John C, Bath, UK

To Simon Rooke, (Letters, 11 April) - Yes thanks, I have to been to Walsall - quite often, as I actually live there. And I'd like to point out to the cat that he's being misled - the 331 doesn't go to Wolverhampton, it goes from Walsall to Willenhall. So if he's searching for Catutopia in Wolverhampton, I'd recommend catching the 333 instead.
Aggy, Walsall

Dear Paper Monitor, Please try not to get too worked up about the good residents of Canford Cliffs. Having walked through this area once or twice, I imagine that a good percentage of them qualify under the new HSBC regulations (and I'm not jealous at all).
Elaine, Newcastle

I take issue with the suggestion that the Canford Cliffs branch of HSBC is only for the rich. Surely if you have a £200,000 mortgage, you are in fact saddled with a huge debt, which is really not the same as being rich.
Adam, London, UK

Have you been to Canford Cliffs? Don't worry, I can assure you that these measures are purely academic as there is a two-mile poor exclusion zone around the village. They won't even let you park outside the bank unless you're in a Range Rover Sport
The Poor, two miles from Canford Cliffs

Re: Quote of the Day. I'm miffed. You recently had a story about monkey DNA and whether apes should have human rights. I commented on this story and mentioned how Cheeta (star of Tarzan) would soon be 75 and, when not watching films with his grandson, paints pictures which are sold to finance primate projects. This comment was never published and yet, a couple of weeks later, he is the subject of Quote of the Day. Could it be that a Magazine researcher checked up on this (by reading the same Wikipedia article I did!) and thought it would make an amusing quote. Come on, guys, play fair. PS. You never publish my Punorama entries either!
Joel, Nottingham

In Quote of the Day by Colleen McLoughlin she refers to the cake as only "a bit of sponge". Does that make those cashing in on e-Bay spongers?
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Paper Monitor

10:27 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When the papers put the boot in often you feel a bit sorry for the target - more on actress Antonia Okonma later. But sometimes it makes you jump with joy. A case in point? HSBC. The bank's decided its branch at Canford Cliffs, Dorset, can only be used by customers who have savings of at least £50,000, a £200,000 mortgage or a £100,000 mortgage plus a £75,000 salary. Everyone else can use the cashpoint outside or pay £19.95 a month to become a member. Bargain.

The bank - which reportedly made a record £11bn profit last year - is feeling the full wrath of the press this morning. BANK BANS THE POOR, screams the Mirror, ONLY THE RICH ARE WELCOME, trumpets the Daily Mail, THE BANK THAT LIKES TO SAY...PUSH OFF, says the Guardian - and it goes on. Oh how it must be regretting the decision to use the advertising slogan: the world's local bank. Yeah, if you're loaded.

But Paper Monitor feels a bit of compassion for former Bad Girls actress Antonia Okonma. Several papers are running a story about her borrowing a £750,000 apartment in Knightsbridge and making out it was her own on the BBC show Through The Keyhole. She actually lives in a two-bed former council flat in west London, with her mother, brother and a friend.

According to the Mirror it was a "desperate bid to regain fame". It says she's been working in a call centre to earn cash after being axed from Bad Girls last year. The invitation to be on the daytime show was "a chance to get my face on TV again". But it leaves you wondering just who is the most "desperate" in this little scenario, Ms Okonma - struggling actress, why wouldn't she say yes? - or Through The Keyhole - with a long list of celebrities and stars to pick from - for asking her to be a guest? You decide.

And finally, have you heard? It looks like it's going to be a hot summer. The Express knew weeks ago and now it seems all the other papers do as well. Even the Times gets a cheeky "sizzle" in a headline. But it means the Express needs to turn up the heat on the story to still claim ownership of it, and they don't disappoint. DROUGHTS THREATEN BRITAIN announces the front page headline. Superb.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:44 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which of the following acts would not be performing in London at the green-gospel Live Earth concert - The Black Eyed Peas, Duran Duran, The Police, Madonna or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers? A very clever 33% of you correctly voted for The Police. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:21 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

With regards to A snapshot of life in statistics. Apparently life expectancy has risen by 3.7 years for women. However this statistic is given no context - what was life expectancy in 1981 for women and what is it now? And surely, the number of noise complaints does not always suggest that Britain has got noisier; just more ready to grumble. Sort it out BBC.
Sarah, Woking

The magazine article says 50% more young men live at home than women. Surely all young men and women live at home? That's pretty much what the word "home" means.
Rick, Didcot

The new school guidelines suggesting that "teachers should praise pupils five times more than they criticise them" is a great idea and an ideal preparation for life. I've noticed how my bank manager writes to me praising my prudent financial management far more often than he demands money. And the nightshift charge-hand at the factory is forever telling me I'm doing a super job and only rarely calls me an idle git.
Zed, Cumbria

Regarding the cat who caught the bus, the story isn't very clear about how the cat gets home again full of it's fish supper. Are we sure it's the same cat and not some form of escape plan by all the white cats in Walsall? Have you ever been to Walsall! Mind you is Wolverhampton the moggie promised land?
Simon Rooke, Nottingham UK

Re: Cash Dogs. Is this a new version of the BOSTON matrix: cash dogs are the new cash cows.
Andrew Carr, London

Excuse me, do I live in another country than you lot? The Daily Star and the Express go on about "sweltering" weather, while I've been freezing my nadgers off in Ravenglass today (cloudy, 12C, maybe).
Starling, Lancaster, UK

Re: Naked Rambler cleared by Sheriff. Come on BBC - surely this story deserved a better photo!
QJ, Stafford, UK

Re: How stress can strain the heart. Another candidate for things we already knew last week.
James Hayward, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Actually, A Reader , you should be very interested in my opinion on lifts, as i am the Lift Tsar and could take away your lift at any point.

I'm distraught! Tuesday's letters are nowhere to be seen and there is not even a mention of gremlins in Wednesday's Monitor. Could it be that PM has taken the concerns of A Reader seriously and decided to remove "drivel" from his/her pages? Please don't get rid of my afternoon treat, bring back the letters!
Liz, London

They're back, after a slight hiccup on Tuesday. Do you think the likes of A Reader can keep Magazine Monitor down? Never.

Punorama Results

14:09 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007


It's Punorama results time again.

As ever, we gave you a story and you sent us punning headlines.

This week it's the story of a cat who gets the bus to his favourite fish and chip shop most days.

The white cat is such a frequent passenger on the No 331 bus, which goes from Walsall to Wolverhampton, drivers have renamed his stop "Puss Stop" and often wait a few minutes for him.

"He is the perfect passenger really - he sits quietly, minds his own business and then gets off," says a driver.

Fellow passengers have nicknamed the feline Macavity, after the mysterious cat in TS Eliot's poem.

So how did you do? Marc Fox and Anne both sent in the rather inspired Cat that got the bream . Gareth Jones was also feeling all fishy and submitted Right plaice, right time, as was Phil in Cardiff with For the love of cod.

Fur dodger was this week's offering from Simon Rooke, while another regular, Muhammad Isa, opted for the simple - but excellent - Fish and trips.

Honourable mention for Bunny with Miaows on wheel, Darren for He's leavin' on that midday bus to Georges and Mal Walker from the marvellous Cat on a cod fin route. Bravo.

Thanks to all who entered. Enjoyed that? Watch out on Thursday caption competition.

Paper Monitor

11:01 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Day seven of the Iran captives' release ordeal, and finally the story has been bumped off the front pages... make that front page singular as even the Mirror had demoted it to the inside pages by yesterday. The Sun, however, is determined to get every bang possible for its rumoured hundred-thousand bucks and yesterday's Paper Monitor could hardly contain its excitement at the prospect of leading ex-captive seaman Faye Turney hooking up with John Nichol, who was also held captive in Iran, only it was actually Iraq; for 13 days, only it was six weeks; and wasn't tortured, only he was.

They must have had so much in common to talk about – not that you'd think so from reading the Sun's write-up, which is mostly devoted to Ms Turney's decision to "face her demons" and "RETURN" to Gulf duty.

Mr Nichol does, however, absolve Turney of any guilt she may be harbouring – stoked, no doubt, by those papers which failed to bag her exclusive – about agreeing to appear on Iranian TV.

But just when it looked like the whole story was about to taper off into tabloid oblivion, the Sun delivers a timely reminder of what makes it such a treasured organ of HM Press: a chance to "WIN Ahmadine-jacket". Yup, one of those freebie suits the Iranians packed the captives off with is up for grabs; just a premium-rate phone call away, if, that is, you can also crack this Enigma-like riddle: "What is the capital of Iran?"

All this ignores the fact that Sun does have what looks like a genuine exclusive on its hands – its front page splash that ITV is to bring back the News at Ten with Sir Trevor McDonald. ITV officially denies the story yet Paper Monitor can't help but wonder whether the tabloid's newshounds picked up the story as part of the joint deal it struck with ITV to buy up Faye Turney.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:11 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which two European countries have more Neets (people not in employment, education or training) aged 15 to 19 than the UK. Oh dear. Only 16% of you got the answer right. It's Finland and Italy. Nearly one in three of you thought it was Greece and Ireland. Try and do better with today's DMQ, which is on the Magazine index.

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
A rare treat for Paper Monitor today: a copy of the normally elusive Daily Star has landed in its lap. But excitement soon turns to disappointment with the realisation that Daily Express Weather© seems to have undergone a spot of in-house migration. The papers, which are stable mates, even seem to be sharing the same design team – with that giant flame-hued temperature figure, which graced the front of yesterday's Express, reappearing on the front of today's Star (see picture). As yesterday's Paper Monitor established, such stories tend to revolve around a fairly limited vocabulary of words and pictures – most of which are present and correct in today's Star. "Sweltering" – check. "Sizzling" – check. "Mercury soars" – check. "Bake" – check. Picture of young blondes in bikinis kicking water in a fountain – check.

Meanwhile, a day after the buy-out of Arthur Batchelor, it's like the Iran captives story never happened in the Mirror, which throws its weight behind the latest teenage stabbing tale on its front page. But Faye Turney was always the star of the show, and while the fall-out continues – most notably in the Daily Mail - about the Ministry of Defence's decision to allow some sailors to sell their stories, the Sun gives us Turney the devoted mother. It also sets out to prove that the leading seaman was no pushover, as she recounts how she "made tyrant Ahmadinejad squirm".

To the sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped, Turney also reveals she plans to keep the toy doll presented to her by the Iranian president prior to her release.

But just when you think this ordeal is over – prepare for tomorrow's Sun, when "Faye meets John Nichol".

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:32 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2007

In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked how many authors are on the books of Mills and Boon. There's obviously a lot of fans of the romantic novel out there. The answer is 1,300, which 45% of you got right. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:34 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2007

With regard to your article on equality for men in the healthcare system. Is it not time people took responsibility for their own health rather than relying on medical staff to entice patients to them as well as being expected to find the miracle cure for everything. Men and women are equally able to seek out healthcare advice, but if they choose not to do this it should not fall on the shoulders of an overworked doctor or nurse to seek them out and thrust care upon them.
SGW, Leeds

With regards to "lunatics, idiots, deaf and dumb" people being barred from standing for election, why are they Monster Raving Loony Party allowed to stand? Surely the clue is in the name?
Adam Lewis, Gloucester

Taking items 6 and 7 of 10 Things together, doesn't this mean that Keith Richards is barred for standing for election?
Herbert G., Leeds

Ben Lenthall. You are shopping backwards. Please stop.

To Ben: Supermarkets are designed that way round (with the vegetables first, bottles in the middle and toilet roll at the end) to give the impression that it's a fresh shop, in which everything is nice and fresh. As Eddie Izzard has so insightfully pointed out, if it was the other way round we'd all think, "This is a poo shop! Everything here is made of poo!"
Martha Hampson, Bristol

If you're reading A Reader, the rest of the letters - NOT COMMENTS - are for you. Enjoy.

To A Reader, the BBC is charged with reporting the news but also with entertaining us, both of which it does very well. It's fine for the Magazine to be about a combination of these two things. If you don't like it, stick to the actual news!
Jane, Durham, UK

A Reader has it absolutely correct. Why is the breakfast news dominated by chit-chats, phoned-in comments and other "interactive" features. There is a place for feedback (and Monitor is it). Keep the news for information, not for the ill-informed, ill-considered gossip of the masses.
Matt, Surrey, UK

I would have to say I agree with A Reader. How dare you let people express thoughts, comments and opinions. Shame on you, BBC.
Lucy, Hull

A Reader may be interested to find that there are many, many millions of pages on the internet - yes, even on the BBC - without comments sections. Generally you read what interests you, and ignore the rest, and then everyone's happy. Unless of course he is being held against his will and forced to look at our comments, Clockwork Orange style.
Mary, Suffolk, UK

This is addressed to A Reader that doesn't like drivel. The fact that you didn't add your name and location proves your cowardly disposition. Your e-mail made a valid point and was well thought out. However, if you don't like drivel, don't go to the part of the website that contains the things you don't like, and leave the rest of us to enjoy the Monitor Letters. In other words, get a sense of humour, alternatively, wha' ever. Keep smiling MR Miserable.
Mark, Guildford, UK

A Reader - yeah, whatever.
Chandra, London

Paper Monitor

11:30 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's still no getting away from them, the 15 freed sailors. They're still on most front pages, but the papers have now fallen firmly into two camps - the "haves" and the "have nots". The first group have exclusive interviews - sort of - with some of the former hostages. FAYE: MY ORDEAL screams the Sun's front page, HOSTAGES: OUR STORIES trumpets the Mirror.

But what of the "have nots"? Simple, they just devote all those column inches that are empty of any exclusive to attacking the sailors for selling their stories. OUTRAGE, says the Daily Mail and talks of a "chorus of disapproval". Of course, it also prints the best bits of the Sun and Mirror exclusives, only so we can read how OUTRAGEOUS the interviews are - right?

The Times reveals how the captives' stories failed to "lure big cheques from the sceptical press". It also warns how the sailors risk a public backlash if they take and keep any money for interviews. Again, surely this is only because they have the sailors' best interests at heart and not a case of sour grapes.

Aside from sailors the sunshine is dominating the news. It even knocks Princess Di off the front-page of the Express. It's a spot she has now dominated for years, decades, centuries? But she's there in spirit, with a picture of Prince Harry and his girlfriend Chelsy Davy running alongside the sunny story.

That aside, didn't the Express do well with the weather. It managed to shoehorn the words scorching, soaring, hottest-ever, record-breaking, record highs and sizzling - twice - into the five-paragraph story. It then tells us to turn to page eight where there are the ubiquitous pictures of a girl in a bikini, a child with an ice cream and two youngsters skipping in the sea. Masterful.

And finally, the Times flags up its "user's guide to men" on the front page, with the headline DUMP HIM! Paper Monitor would love to tell you the paper's words of widsom on boys, but one of its colleagues has run off with the publication. How selfish.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:38 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2007

In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked you what was the first job of Sir Michael Lyons, new chairman of the BBC Trust. A healthy 42% of you correctly guessed he was a market trader before running three city councils. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

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