BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 26, 2007 - September 1, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

17:51 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

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

1. The Islamic revolution in Iran was equivocal about the role of music, and to this day, music can be heard on state television but instruments are not shown.
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2. The French word for their new Arab middle class is beurgeoisie, deriving from the French "beur" meaning child of Arab immigrants.
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3. Prison officers are on average assaulted eight times a day.
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4. The average failed marriage will have lasted 11.5 years.
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5. A woman will own an average of 111 handbags in her lifetime.
Daily Mail, Friday 31 August

6. It's an imprisonable offence to keep money you notice has been wrongfully deposited in your bank account.
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7. Orchids are as old as the dinosaurs.
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8. The chances of a woman having two sets of triplets naturally are one in 64 million.
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9. Sniffer dogs are used in the fight against pirate DVDs. They cannot smell the difference between fake and genuine though.
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10. Police speed guns can be jammed by devices used to control electronic gates and garage doors.
Daily Express, Friday 31 August


Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to John Fielder for this week's picture of 10 housemartins.

Your Letters

17:09 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

From your piece on the falling price of electronics: "But for those with less disposable income and a gadget-obsessed male in the family, the trip to Currys to admire the latest piece of kit with the wistful caveat of 'I'll have to wait until the price comes down', may not be quite over yet. Does the author of this article really only think males are interested in consumer technology? I thought that stereotype went out of fashion with Betamax.
Jools, Brighton, UK

Just wondering if I was the only one who spent a moment trying to pronounce the Quote of the day (W1T 1HQ), thinking it was some sort of texting language, before reading what it was.
Kel, Chicagoan in France

I am sure I will not be the first (being 6 hours behind you guys) but it was impossible to get the Mini Quiz wrong if all you did was answer the first option (greater than 1.7 million) since all other possible responses were also greater than 1.7 million.
Bob T., Houston, USA

Christian Cook's reproachful use of his windscreen washers reminded me of a colleague who adjusted his rear window wash nozzle so that he could wash tailgaters' windscreens for them. He never got an angry reaction, drivers just laughed and backed off.
Phil, Birmingham

Why does the reflection of the word "facebook" in the picture of the eye show the word forwards - shouldn't it be "koobecaf" as the image is reflected?
Asha, Brighton

Re James from Edinburgh and his questioners: it's much simpler than this. A "beta" feature is an improvement on a 'wers' one.
Tam, Bristol

Chris of London is mistaken. They are not fried eggs, they are obviously jam filled meringue nests.
Colin Nelson, Bletchley

Re hyperlinks, Natalie is nearly correct but has omitted the quotes around the URL within the anchor tag. These should be shaped like a hyper-isosohedron.
Ian, Winchester

May I thank MM for publishing my letter about the Mandela statue. However, in changing "from" to "circa" it has lost some of its cultural resonance. "Dancing like a robot FROM 1984" was an attempt to inject some popular music culture into the the letters section by quoting a line from the Arctic Monkeys. The line was the inspiration for footballers Peter Crouch's goal celebrations when playing for England last year, which in turn surely inspired Mandela to bust a few moves.
Ian C, Kent

I think Ian C is trying to refer to the Arctic Monkey's lyrics in "I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor". Unfortunately, the "dancing like a robot from 1984" wasn't about the year, but about a band called 1984 who had a lead singer who, well, danced like a robot. It's okay, I'm already wearing my coat.
Silas, London, UK

In your Diana mementos story, one prospective purchaser of Diana souvenirs is said to be "on the look out for mugs". It is with some cynicism that I feel a similar vigilance is being employed the vendors.
James S, London

Paper Monitor

11:36 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There is a story in today’s newspapers that shall not be referred to by Paper Monitor by name. It shall be known simply as That Story.

In the Daily Express today there is a surprisingly restrained seven pages of That Story, but the Sun really goes out on a journalistic limb by commissioning full-time controversialist Julie Burchill to write an 8-page souvenir pull-out.

Needless to say, the squeaky-voiced one loves the tragic princess of That Story, but her paean may be, how shall we say, a little ripe for many Sun readers’ tastes.

The tragic princess is described as a “chubby teenager” (in a pot-kettle name-calling scenario), Sarah Ferguson is dubbed “vulgar and slutty” and “ginger minger”, and in a similar style Burchill (the “most outspoken fan”) suggests the tragic princess had a “bitchy, minxy streak”.

The Independent puts that story in its rightful place, or at least what the Indy thinks is its rightful place, on page 45.

And in other news, the Daily Mail says cider’s back and the serious papers start a ball of panic rolling by suggesting Barclays is having to resort to loans from the big bank equivalent of those finance companies who advertise during Trisha.

In the Daily Telegraph, there’s a story with “Facebook” in it on the front. The barbarians are at the gates. It’s time for Paper Monitor to flee.

Me and my motorway

11:20 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

Comments

Motorways get an unfair press.

Look beyond the concrete, the congestion and the bad food, and feel the unbridled liberation of the open road.

Take the M2. On the outside it might seem like it merely links two dead-ends in Kent, connected to neither Dover nor London.

Far from it, says columnist Zoe Williams, writing in the Guardian.

motorway_bbc203.jpg"Start from London, to experience the full force: you cross the incredibly windy bridge over the Medway. There is a train bridge adjacent. Race the train!

"The countryside of Rochester unwraps itself before you like the credit sequence of a pastoral sitcom about vets.

"Slow down if you will, to wait for a big gust of wind, then put your foot down as you veer wildly from one lane to another."

To coincide with the start of The Secret Life of the Motorway on BBC4, the Magazine is appealing to readers for their own nominations of their favourite British motorway.

Send no more than 100 words using the comments form below, explaining why this stretch of tarmac provokes such affection from you.

Any pictures can be e-mailed to yourpics@bbc.co.uk and must be entitled "motorways", with a description attached.

Update, day one: The M4.

Sara writes: Ever since I was a child living in Hertfordshire, the M4 has meant holiday to me. I’d go to South Wales, Devon, Cornwall or visit the long-distance boyfriend - in a car, camper-van, school coach or bus. Given the choice, it was always Membury services we stopped at. There was always an early morning involved. And wrinkled noses smelling fertiliser on the fields – arr, that be the Wes’ Coun’ry! I now live at the opposite end of the M4 in Bristol, and periodically visit my mother in Constable Country. It’s still my holiday motorway. And I still pop into Membury.

Update, day two: The M50.
Rob Falconer writes: I'd nominate the M50. It was one of the first in Britain, and yet seems to go nowhere. It's quite pretty, with views of the Malvern Hills and at least one nice bridge, but its only purpose seems to be to get people from Ross-on-Wye and its surrounding farms to the M5 to reach Birmingham. What was its point before the M5 was built? My theory is that it was a practice motorway, so that the constructors could work out how to edit out the interesting bits.

Update, day three: The M6
Lewis Graham writes: "The M6 north of Lancaster, at night, in a coach. Perhaps looking for the black shapes of the Cumbrian fells against a black sky, at other times experiencing violent weather that blocks even a view of the other traffic. Then, Carlisle services: light, warmth and tea. The M6 has taken you through."

Update, day four: The M62
Very fond memories of the 4am drive along the M62 from Manchester to Leeds where I worked as a camera assistant at Yorkshire Television. I'm pretty sure that I drove through every weather condition imaginable there. I always remember the 'England's highest motorway' signs just outside Oldham. I now live in Australia, and that motorway is a prime example of just how diverse and beautiful Britain, its countryside and its weather, is.

Update, day five: The M25
Will Nichols writes: "How can anything match the spherical beauty of the M25? Regardless of it being the 'London Orbital' there is so much more, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bluewater, Lakeside & Surrey. In one trip around the M25 you can drive through the beautiful Epping Forest, take in some serious shopping at Bluewater and then head to either Stansted, Gatwick or Heathrow to fly as far from the bright lights of London as possible. Then there's the best thing about the M25, if you miss your junction you know that you can always try again the next time round."

Update, day six: The M8
Ian Parris writes: "The M8 through Glasgow is an amazing feat of civil engineering, yet also a horrific memorial to blikered 60s utopian thinking. From 12+ lanes at the M77 across the 10-lane Kingston Bridge (which they moved whilst traffic was still flowing), the scary bottleneck at Charing X, back to eight lanes (on stilts!) before junction 15 - it should've been a beautiful bend around the lost inner ring road but lasts today as a tangled fist of lanes joining and leaving left and right. It's a rollercoaster ride (outside rush hour) and I love it."

Update, day seven: The M74
Kevin writes: "The M74 is empty lanes of open tarmac through the stark beauty of the Southern Uplands. Across heather-covered hills, beside soaring peaks dotted with sheep and squeezed into narrow valleys. As you head south it morphs into the M6 through the Lake District. Rarely is a motorway relaxing and enjoyable, but the M74 is just that."

10 excuses for using Facebook at work

10:18 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

Could you justify using Facebook to your boss? Here are some suggestions from our Facebook fan club.

facebook203.jpgThe dividing line between work and play has shrunk in today's workplace and activities once regarded as time-wasting can now be seen as good for business.

So the TUC has urged employers to face up to the realities of the Facebook Age and allow staff to use social networking sites as part of their working day.

A number of major employers block access to such sites, fearing it will be a drain on productivity. But others, such as Tesco, allow it if employees can make a case for using it for their work.

It is all in the explaining, so we invited the BBC Magazine Monitor Appreciation group to come up with ingenious excuses on their Facebook discussion board. Here are 10 of the best (in no particular order):

1. Robin, Glasgow (formerly Edinburgh)
"... but Mr Cameron, you pay me to update your profile, so you can appear to be down with the kids!"

2. Rhys Wynne, Wales
"By browsing Facebook I'm not having a cigarette break, therefore saving thousands of pounds on the company's medical insurance.

3. Rob Holehouse, Sheffield
"I'm researching the competition. Because aren't all businesses, in their own little way, about reaching out to people?"

4. Aine, London
"This is Facebook?? But I searched for www.howtoincreasedepartmentproductivity.com!"

5. Sarah Harrison, Italy
Avon rep: "I thought it was my client list."

6. Janey McDowell
"I am developing shared knowledge and understanding with our customers and potential customers by using a platform which our company/organisation is not fully exploiting..."

7. Ian Dickerson, London
"I'm fulfilling my networking personal objective."

8. Sally Tanner, London
"IT asked me to - I'm testing the firewalls."

9. Kathryn Close, Bristol
"I'm researching consumer opinions of our brands."

10. Pix Mueller
"I'm vetting potential new recruits to the company."

Random Stat

09:56 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

A poll by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph found 43% of respondents thought the cause of the crash that killed Princess Diana was suspicious. This figure was brought to you by "random stat" - a beta feature in the Monitor.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:21 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2007

On Thursday we asked you if it was possible to cite snoring as unreasonable behaviour in a divorce case. A whopping 74% of you knew that to be true. Here's today's Daily Mini-Quiz.

Your Letters

18:37 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

I know you are using quotes, which indicate the title shouldn't be believed - but I still disagree with "'One in five' teens drink-drives". The survey asked whether they have, not whether they regularly do. I imagine the rates for the general public who have driven under the influence will be higher than one in five merely due to the increased time behind the wheel.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Re the "beta feature" - with two requests how could I possibly refuse. In software development the various phases are labeled alpha and beta. The alpha stage describes the early development where thing are unlikely to be fully functioning and various features still need to be written. In the beta stages the software is more or less finished, and it being tested to bugs and usability issues. Photo sharing website flickr until recently claimed it was in gamma phase, a reference to the permanent state of development of websites, and a subtle dig at the permenent beta status of many Google projects.
James, Edinburgh, UK

Re Steve C's query about including a hyperlink. To include a hyperlink (presuming we're using html here) you need to type [a href=www.websitename.com]here's the link[/a], with triangular brackets instead of square. See, Monitor, it's not so hard to explain!
Natalie Kingston, York, UK

Steve C, has it crossed your mind that the hyperlinks are added by MM before publishing the letters?
Katie, Salisbury, England

I don't get it. Custard Creams are vile.
Jack Hatfield, Brighton

I was shocked, disgusted and appalled at the bigotry implied by the title "Athletics: Gay wins second gold". I was all set to complain, but then I read the article. How disappointing.
Keith, Loughborough

Rather than "gesturing as though addressing a crowd" it looks to me as if the statue of Nelson Mandela shows him dancing like a robot circa 1984.
Ian C, Kent

Re Paper Monitor, looking at the Politics97 archive of Diana's funeral, I noticed this line from the Daily Express: "Never before, in the long and anguished history of the human race," says the Express, "has anyone been mourned as Diana is today. Never has there been such an aching sense of loss." That about sums up their position today, doesn't it?
Craig Thomson, Edinburgh, Scotland

Instead of continuing to report what events Amy Winehouse has pulled out of, wouldn't it just be easier to tell us when she is going to appear at something. "They tried to make me go to work, and I said...no, no, no."
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

In the interests of pedantry, I have to point out that the M25 is not circular (and certainly not spherical). It has two ends, joined by the A282. Physicists hope this may be able to explain the phenomenon whereby, on entering the motorway, time can be completely stopped for several hours.
Rob Foreman, London, UK

So the government has used the High Court to grant them an injunction that could see the striking prison officers fined, or "even jailed" ... has no one seen the potential paradox here?
Martin Houlden, Marlborough UK

Since when did athletics world champions receive a fried egg for their troubles?
Chris, London

Facebook at work

11:46 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

Could you justify using Facebook to your boss?

Members of the BBC Magazine Monitor Appreciation group are cordially invited by the object of their discussions to chew this over - on their Facebook discussion board - in light of the latest flashpoint in the age-old battle for workers' rights.

The TUC wants employers to face up to the realities of the Facebook Age by allowing staff to use social networking sites as part of their working day.

The call comes after a number of major employers have blocked access to sites such as Facebook, fearing it will be a drain on their staff's productivity.

But in the 21st Century workplace, the old dividing line between work and play is no longer so rigid – even Tesco will allow employees to access the site if they can make a case for using it for their work.

Often, of course, the credibility of a defence is all in the explaining. So the Magazine Monitor is asking its Facebook acquaintances to come up with ingenious excuses to tell the boss if you are found using the site.

The best will be published in the Monitor itself.

Paper Monitor

11:32 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

On Tuesday the Daily Mail reprinted its 1997 coverage of Princess Diana's death to mark the ninth year and 362th day anniversary of her passing. Today the Times pulls the same trick with a special pull-out "commemorative issue" - that's 12 pages of articles, pictures and chin-stroking comment from "that astonishing week in September 1997".

Two thoughts strike while flipping respectfully through the pull-out section. Doesn't the broadsheet version look quaint? And my, then-columnist Nigella Lawson does look young (and her byline pic just goes to show that in those days she had what can only be described as newspaper hair, as opposed to the thick, glossy mane of television hair she sports today).

Sadly Paper Monitor cannot pull the same trick and dust off its own entry from 10 years ago - the Monitor was barely even a twinkle in the BBC News website's eye on that fateful day. In fact, the BBC News website itself wasn't born until several months after the princess's passing.

But all is not lost, fans of archive material. Its sibling, Politics97, roused itself from a post-election doze to cover Diana's death. And here it is, a commemorative link to 1997's Diana Remembered special section.

So that's the last Tunnock's tea cake for Paper Monitor then?

Random stat

10:41 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

A poll by Tommy's, the baby charity, found worries over relationships, sex and money leave pregnant women feeling stressed - with one in five secretly concerned they won't love their baby when it arrives. This figure was brought to you by "random stat" - a beta feature in the Monitor.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:29 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

Yesterday we asked what proportion of brides, like Babs Windsor, are older than their groom. More than four in 10 of you correctly answered that 25% percent of marriages in England and Wales involve a younger man (with the same trend elsewhere). Another 30% said a tenth of weddings have a younger groom, and 28% said it's one-third. Today's mini-question - about divorce - is on the Magazine index now.

Your letters

17:02 UK time, Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I was discussing 'road etiquette' the other day and discovered another person like myself who uses a windscreen wiper wash as a halfway step between doing nothing and beeping the horn when stuck behind someone who is hogging the overtaking lane without actually going faster than the traffic to the left.

So I would like to put forward the suggestion to the MM Standards Body that if beeping the horn is akin with angry shouting then use of windscreen wipers in dry conditions should equate to raising one's eyebrows.
Christian Cook, Espom, UK

With prison officers on strike, shouldn't we see the headline "prisoners walk out" rather than "prisoner officers walk out"?
Henri, Sidcup

I don't know why you're bothering to read this, it's already been published.
Tyrone, St.Helier

Having been away for a while I have only just read Monday's Silly Season Quiz. I think I have worked out exactly what happened to Lord Lucan. By the looks of the photo he went on to have a very successful career as lead singer of Queen...
Ian C, Kent

I don't suppose you'll print this either but could you PLEASE put into print an explanation of what a beta feature is?
Andrea, Scafati (Darkest Italy)

So how DO you include a hyperlink to a story in a letter? I've tried various methods but, never having had anything actually published, I've no idea what works. And as I bet you won't even publish this, let alone answer it, I'm sure I shall remain ignorant.
Steve C, London Docklands

Monitor note: If we tried to show you it would appear as a hyperlink

Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Wednesday, 29 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

You might remember Paper Monitor mentioning film-maker Nick Angel spending a month reading nothing but the Daily Mail. In that spirit, your humble servant this morning decided to undertake a similar project - to read nothing but the FT for a month.

It might be a bit daunting - all that talk of companies and markets and stuff which one is, on the whole, content to leave to our friends Peston and Davis. But on the other hand, this is a world class newspaper, which covers many bases and gives a hinterland to many of the country's brightest and best (and richest). And look, the front page offers an article by US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, which should be good.

Ahhh naive hopes. The promise remains unfulfilled... There's no bitching about his opponents, no breathless campaign whispers, no sense of building excitement, just this: "While predatory lenders were driving low-income families into financial ruin, 10 of the country's largest mortgage lenders were spending more than $185m (€136m, £92m) lobbying Washington to let them get away with it." Give us something to go on, Barack!

To be fair, along the way through the Pink Un, we do learn some interesting facts which might or might not make the cut for 10 Things this weekend. They include the existence of a French word for their new Arab middle class - it's beurgeoisie, deriving from the French "beur" meaning child of Arab immigrants.

We also learn that the Islamic revolution in Iran was equivocal about the role of music, and that to this day, music can be heard on state television but instruments are not shown.

But where oh where is the light relief? Perhaps, like the Guardian, it will be in the Corrections column?

Perhaps not. "Profits per equity partner achieve by the law firm Ashurst in 2006-7 were £956,000, a rise of 35% on the previous year, not £352,000 as wrongly stated in a table accompanying an article on law firm activity on August 28." A hilarious collection of FT Corrections and Clarifications is some way off.

How about the diary column? Well, if your idea of light relief is a discussion of why select committees rarely use their powers to put their witnesses on oath, then you're in luck. If not, you're not.

There is a cartoon, in which one youth says to another: "My new mobile phone has a gun." Didn't exactly raise a smile, whatever the acuity of its observation.

No, friends, Paper Monitor has to admit defeat. The month-long diet ends after one day. It even drove your servant into grabbing a copy of Metro, where important news about Amy Winehouse and Andrea Corr was topped off with an utterly charming picture of Myleene Klass and baby. Beautiful. And, in tiny print, a statement: "At Myleene's request, Metro has given a donation to the National Children's Home in return for this photograph."

Tabloid agenda, all is forgiven.

Random stat

10:25 UK time, Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Civilians hold 75% of the guns, handguns and rifles in circulation, says a report by the Graduate Institute of International Studies. This figure was brought to you by "random stat" - a beta feature in the Monitor.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:14 UK time, Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Yesterday we asked which is the nation's favourite biscuit. It is the mighty custard cream, which garnered 72% of the vote (and 93% in the original survey which prompted this question). A quarter of you opted for bourbons, and just a tiny sliver of the vote went to garibaldi biscuits. Today's question is on the Magazine homepage now.

Your letters

17:14 UK time, Tuesday, 28 August 2007

If Harold Wilson sued The Move, was the 1960s the era of Writpop?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

I enjoyed reading your article about custard creams being the nation's favourite biscuit as I am partial to one or two myself! However i was surprised on reading further down the main page that the daily quiz was about the nations favourite biscuit! As Homer Simpson might say, doh!
David Scott, Belfast

The quote "it is not known... what they have done with all the soil" in this story perhaps explains the prevalence of baggy trousers and vaulting horses in the Manchester area.
Norbert, Fife, UK

I was so excited to read that 'the dishwasher could feasibly be charged with a criminal offence' in this story until I read the whole paragraph, that is.
Diane, Sutton

From today's front page, two stories I pray aren't related: "Shoppers 'face meat price rises'" and "Hedgehogs join 'protection' list". Although that hotdog I had yesterday did taste kind of strange...
Robin, Glasgow (formerly Edinburgh)

Personally, I do trust the timetable: it's the buses I don't trust.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Paper Monitor

11:08 UK time, Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A momentous occasion in the calendar this - the 1,000 entry in the new-style, blog-friendly Monitor. Unfortunately, Her Majesty's Press fails to reciprocate with a similarly significant clutch of stories.

Kids are still roaming the streets as those endless summer holidays stretch on into a childcare-induced parental nervous breakdown, but in Newspaper Land the Tuesday after the August bank holiday has a definite "back to school" vibe. Here endeth the Silly Season, in name at least – the point being that editors these days don't need to shoehorn frivolity into the summer months.

The only fly in the ointment of this theory is that there's very little serious news doing the rounds.

The Daily Mail does its best to make a good fist of things, by simply summoning the news from 10 years ago – when Princess Diana died – and rerunning its coverage.

Such a stunt requires a little dressing up if punters aren't simply to ask themselves "Why am I stumping up 45p of my hard-earned cash for a four-page cuttings job?" Hence: "To mark the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, the Mail is reprinting its compelling coverage of those historic days."

By reproducing the front page of its 2 September 1997 edition, the whole thing rather has the feel of a pull-out… until, four pages in, you get to "Cuckoos and hedgehogs on the at-risk list" and you are plunged right back into the late August 2007 news drought.

Oh well, back to those pictures of elaborately attired and smiley carnival dancers that seem to sum up the Notting Hill Carnival for most picture editors… and not a hint of the caned masses who, as any seasoned carnival-goer will tell you, are by far the most common sight of the August bank holiday in London W11.

Random stat

10:31 UK time, Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Only 29% of people thought bus timetables were clear and accurate, according to a poll by the pressure group Transport 2000. This figure was brought to you by "random stat" - a beta feature in the Monitor.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:24 UK time, Tuesday, 28 August 2007

On Monday we asked you what game was the joker in the pack at the Mindsports Olympiad in London. The fictional section was Bang!, which only 16% of you got right. The real events were Nubble!, Decamentathlon and Settlers of Catan. Why not try your hand at today's Daily Mini-Quiz.

Your Letters

14:36 UK time, Monday, 27 August 2007

Are we now unable to use adjectives in headlines? What is a China girl and Russia writer? Will we talk soon of the Britain weather and globe warming?
Z R, London

Assuming the Universe has unlimited possiblities and that time repeats itself, then this letter has already been published an infinite number of times. But I still bet you don't print it.
Robin, Glasgow (formerly Edinburgh)

With reference to all the letters stating "I bet you won't publish this" which you do, are there any declaring "I bet you will publish this" that you don't?
George, London

Nomination for quote of the day: "The wanting, and the more, and the porridge." - Clive James' 2-year-old relative
Andrew Agerbak, Harrow, Greater London

I remember when I last stayed at the Abbey on Iona they used a grace at breakfast time whose general message was that appreciating the food on the table would put us in harmony with the universe and the divine. My first thought was that this is a lot to ask of a bowl of porridge. But then my second thought was that, if any food could do this, it would indeed be porridge.
Cally, Scotland

I knew nine out of the 10 things on before last week. The only thing that came as a shock to me was that chickens could be diagnosed as depressed. Does that make me some sort of super-genius, or just a nerd with a lack of interest in chickens?
Michelle, London

Paper Monitor

12:53 UK time, Monday, 27 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Sun is at it again. Seemingly unrepentant after the mysterious-case-of-the-Cornish-Great-White-Shark-that-just-so-obviously-wasn't, they are back for more.

This time it is a man-eating mako shark, reportedly filmed from an oil rig off the Aberdeen coast. Soon the expression "to cry shark" will replace "cry wolf" in the lexicon.

Elsewhere, the fall-out from Samantha Cameron's plug-tastic appearance in US magazine Harper's Bazaar continues. La Cameron - who took every possible opportunity to promote products from pricey stationers Smythson - is accused of "blatant profiteering from her husband's position" in the Daily Express.

The Daily Mail has the offending items in all their glory. The aggressively pink calfskin bible and the fluorescently yellow picture frame. Oh, the horror, the horror.

Elsewhere in the Mail there is a terrible story of deprivation in Britain at its worst. "Foreign holidays are out as private school fees spiral" is the terrifying news on page 33. Paper Monitor thinks it can hear a little violin playing somewhere.

There is more outrage in the Daily Mirror where Tony Parsons has identified the cause of emigration from Britain. It's apparently the "increasing hoggishness of everyday British life", including "loudness" and "profanity". Can this be the same man who was once "a punk writer and taking drugs with the Sex Pistols"? Surely not.

Hats must be taken off to the tabs today for their glorious use of pictures of two kittens sitting in miniature deckchairs.

Now that's what Paper Monitor calls mews.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:52 UK time, Monday, 27 August 2007

Friday's quiz asked you what area, excluding London, had the highest average household earnings. It was Beaconsfield, which only 14% of you got.

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