BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 21, 2007 - October 27, 2007

Your letters

17:55 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

If Elton John's art picture is not indecent, can we see a photo of it.
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

So, our Monarchs aren't elected, eh (Your letters)? Never heard of the Witan? And nowadays and in Elizabeth I's time, which part of confirmation by the Privy Council and Proclamation constitutes being "unelected"?
J. Paul Murdock, West Midlands, UK

Does anyone else find the disembodied legs illustrating the schoolgirl inoculation story disturbing. It seems to me to be objectifying the girl rather than preserving some anonymity - it adds nothing to the story.
Jon Gwinnett, Uphall Scotland

After reading your story "Chip fat bus takeas to the road", it got me wondering about this other recent story. What to do? Eat healthily and watch the climate change or eat chips and help the climate change but get obese in the process.
Amanda H, Northamptonshire

"LEARN WELSH. You ENGLISH..." What?! I've been trying to think of a sufficiently short noun to finish the graffiti. Or was it a Citizen Smith moment?
Kieran Boyle, Oxford, England

I look forward to discovering more people voted "no" to the question "Will you be sad to see Simply Red split up?" [Vote now replaced from Entertainment index] than in the last general election, thus proving the so-called lethargic, vote-weary British public just need something they believe in fervently to get them to polling boxes.
Dylan, Reading, UK

Re Going Postal II. All your cards may have arrived, pity it isn't like that where I live, in an "L" postcode. Going off statement dates and postmarks, the post seems to be about 20days behind!
Graham Carrington, Burscough, UK

On the smacking story. I agree entirely with the nice man that said we should treat children and adults the same. In fact I've got a list of people I think deserve a slapping.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Re Paul Greggor's letter on the North-South divide. As a Southerner - even London is north for us in Hampshire - there's nothing that strikes fear into the heart as that sign on the M25 which reads something like 'Luton and The North.' It just sounds like scary unchartered territory. Particularly the 'Luton' part.
Sue, Portsmouth

10 things we didn't know last week

17:26 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

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

1. An ai is a three-toed sloth from South America (and the word that clinched Paul Allan the title of national Scrabble champion).
More details

2. Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa originally had eyebrows and eyelashes
More details

3. Dumbledore is gay.
More details

4. A £500,000 note is not technically a counterfeit, because that word refers to legal tender - and the Bank of England has never issued £500,000 notes.
More details

5. But £1,000 notes were in circulation until being withdrawn in 1943.
More details

6. UN population projections go as far as 2300.
More details

7. Forty percent of household packaging can’t be recycled.
More details

8. Sheffield FC is the world’s oldest football club.
More details

9. One percent of organic food on sale in the UK is air-freighted in from abroad.
More details

10. Obesity rates in England were by 2005 the highest of the 15 member states who then formed the European Union.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sue Jones for this week's photo of 10 geese in flight.

Paper Monitor

11:00 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

indy_scare_no3_203.gifA service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What's the Independent trying to say? Have all those front pages about environmental Armageddon been a bluff? An exaggeration? Have they been scare stories? If not, then why the decision to label today's splash, about a UN report on the state of the Earth, "NOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL SCARE STORY"?

Talking of scare stories, the Daily Express seems to be covering its tracks after yesterday's disturbing news of "Fears for Rolling Stones Keith as he slurs speech". Now, the wellbeing of the Stones' lead guitarist may be somewhat worrying, although a seasoned Stones observer might ask: when wasn't it thus? But anyone who has heard Richards exercise his vocal cords at some point over the past 25 years, will know, what emerges can hardly be termed comprehensible at the best of times. And that's before he gives Mick temporary respite on stage by taking lead vocal for one track.

Having thrown Richards' health into question yesterday, the Express gives two pages to his restoration, knocking its own story down with a plea not to "write off rocks greatest survivor".

Over at the Mail, the pressing question of the day… well, once you get past "Is Kate at breaking point?", "How could anyone say we don't get on?", "Who shot two of Britain's rarest birds on royal land?"… THE pressing question of the day is "WHO ARE MITCHELL AND WEBB?"

Paper Monitor is never one to feel superior but, even it knows the answer to that.

Random stat

10:26 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

In a survey for Sainsbury's about eating habits, 8% of those questioned said they used only a fork to eat their evening meal. Perhaps the remainder have pizza on the menu often and eat with their hands...

Your Letters

16:11 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

So, "A complete ban on smacking has been rejected by ministers, after a review suggested most parents opposed it"? Of course they oppose it, they're the people who risk going to prison if they're caught doing it. Surely it would have been better to ask the opinions of an impartial group of people (after all, I'm sure most burglars would support the legalisation of breaking and entering, but that doesn't mean the government should listen to them)
Michael, Exeter, UK

The photo illustrating your story about smacking put me in mind of the classic guidebook "The Art of Coarse Acting" by Michael Green. I can't think why...
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Rob, Cambridge (Letters, 23 Oct)- Sheffield FC played each other. They were a football CLUB, which meant that all their members would come along and divide themselves into two teams, one week it might be married men vs non-married men for example. They invented many of the rules we see today such as throw ins, corners and...erm...heading.
Andrew Burnip, Newcastle upon Tyne UK

Oh, how splendid! Two related examples of nominative determinism in one day: a Mr Child who's a consultant at a fertility clinic (First UK birth from lab-grown egg) and a Mr Goodchild who appears in a story about instilling proper social values in children (Virtual worlds threaten 'values').
Adam, London, UK

Your map in the Going Postal II article fails to include the Isle of Man - I know it's not part of the UK, but neither is the Republic of Ireland and that got included....something one of our local journalists refers to as Miss Isle of Man syndrome!
Paul, Isle of Man

Going Postal Global: back in May my brother sent me a parcel from Memphis using the US postal service, which I never received - even though they sent someone else's signature as proof of delivery. Only last week the parcel was returned back to him - giving the reason that it was not delivered to me because I was dead!
Claire, Nottingham

Re the North-South divide. Sheffield is south, Coventry is south, Newcastle is south. Inverness on the other hand is North. Dead simple. It all depends on where you are standing.
Alex, Aberdeen Scotland

Re the North-South divide. As a Northerner now living in the South, my favourite road sign is still the one on the M80 around Stirling signposting "Glasgow and the South". Nuff said !
Paul Greggor, London, UK

Apparently Elizabeth I was a "woman who ruled unelected" (Elizabeth fatigue). So that would be a queen, then?
Edward Green, London, UK

I had always thought of commodity traders as being brash, loud yuppie-types in city centres, but the picture of the traders watching developments on the Turkish Border filled me with admiration. Wow, there's nothing like getting information first-hand, is there?
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

Paper Monitor

13:32 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The devil is in the details. Quite literally in the Daily Mail, with a front page photograph of a burning house in California that looks uncannily like a fire-licked face. And in the front garden are carved pumpkins and a flapping scarecrow. It'll be a tricky Halloween in Malibu this year.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, the Times digs out several images that cause double-takes.

One is of an advert on a back of a bus for Hampshire police. A closer look reveals perhaps why one of the PCs pictured looks quite so pleased with himself - it's not just because he's helping make "your neighbourhood safer", as the ad tagline runs. It's because (snigger) the exhaust pipe nestles in his groin area. The People columnist notes that the constable in question believes it has "raised his profile". And then some...

And before 007 raised his profile into the stratosphere, a young Sean Connery posed for life drawing classes in Edinburgh. And the paper reproduces one of these early portraits. What draws the eye is not his long muscular legs, toned chest, chiselled jaw nor (pause for breath) shapely buttocks. It is the fact the article describes what is clearly a rudimentary thong as a "towel decorously draped across his lower body".

The Daily Telegraph described the same garment as "skimpy trunks", which is closer to the mark.

Paper Monitor will now retire to a darkened room to recover.

Random stat

09:52 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

Rats are enjoying a popularity boom with a 30% rise in sales at the Pets at Home chain since the release of the Disney film Ratatouille, about a cartoon rat working in a Parisian restaurant.

Your Letters

17:09 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Re Going Postal II. You think you're badly off with the Royal Mail? Try living in the Republic of Ireland and posting a letter to Northern Ireland. It's technically European post so instead of driving it the few hundred miles up to Belfast it's sent to London first to be sorted.
Neill, Dublin, Ireland

Can the Royal Mail tell us how many of the 25m backlog items are parcels bound for Ealing in West London? I am waiting for two packages to arrive - one posted from Manchester on Wednesday 3 October (just before the first strike kicked in) and one from Sussex on 11 October. No sign of either and the anxiety is mounting.
Mike Dykes, Ealing, London UK

I sent an air mail letter on 7 Sept to Coventry. My daughter is still waiting for delivery.
Mervyn Williams, Daly City, California

Lucky old you, 10 out of 10. I am still waiting for a small package posted on 29 September to arrive. The Royal Mail has a so-called Tracking Service, but it can only trace a parcel once it's been delivered. Why would you want to track something after you've received it?
Andy Middlehurst, Spain

Re Going Postal II, it appears Sarah-Michelle Saunders got her postcard eventually, delivered slowly and caerphilly.
Daniel Morgan, Kent, UK

If Sheffield FC was the first ever football club , who did they play?
Rob, Cambridge

Re the Asterix comments in Tuesday's letters. What most people fail to remember is that characters' names (such as Getafix and Cacophonix) are Anglicised versions of their Gallic names. Ideefix just does not work in English, hence he becomes Dogmatix, preserving some of the comical intent of the name. Likewise, in one adventure there are two Romans - one called Sendervictorius, the other Appyanglorius. This does not work in French. It is testament to the skill of the English translators that we are now all calling them by the wrong name. If the books are read in context in the original language, they're just as good, if not better.

So researchers at the University of Sheffield think that Coventry is in the North and Lincoln isn't, despite Lincoln being nearly 60 miles further north than Coventry - and barely 10 miles south of Sheffield (DMQ Weds). If one were a cynic, one might feel that their definition of north and south might be chosen purely to ensure that there is a north-south divide.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Northern or Southern? I am neither, I am a Midlander - there's no magic line separating the North from the South. It's a whole other region called the Midlands - why do we always get overlooked?
Denise, Nottingham

Re the comments about Chinese symbol tattoos, when I was looking for one, I found two separate internet sites showing the same symbol translation, and as a final check, ordered a large take-out from our local restaurant and swapped a box of chocolates for confirmation of the translation when I collected our meals.
Shiz, Cheshire UK

Re Elizabeth fatigue, which says that Elizabeth's greatness rubbed off on Dame Judi Dench when she won her Oscar for just eight minutes screen time. Ah, yes, but as any film buff can tell you, that particular Oscar was a consolation for her failure to win the year before with her much-heralded performance in Mrs Brown… when she played Queen Victoria.
Phil, Angus, Scotland

Going Postal II

12:49 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Sarah-Michelle SaundersTen out of 10 to the Royal Mail. Two weeks after the Magazine launched its postal challenge to test how well the postal service was recovering from the strikes, the experiment is over.

Ten postcards were sent from west London to the four corners of the UK on the day postal workers returned to work after the second 48-hour stoppage.

The last of the 10 cards arrived on Tuesday through the letterbox of Sarah-Michelle Saunders in Caerphilly (pictured above). On average it had travelled 12 miles a day.

"It has arrived! I don't entirely think the delay was the strikes' fault, as our posties have both been off sick. It may be due to that but nevertheless, it's late," she says.

Arrival order of the 10 postcardsSo full marks for not losing any mail, but the experiment has exposed the vagaries of the postal system as illustrated by the map on the right showing the order in which the postcards arrived.

Nick Trevail's postcard arrived in Cornwall the day after it was posted, yet Sarah 200 miles away had to wait another 12 days.

A Royal Mail spokesman said it was difficult to explain but the strike backlog had been reduced from 120 million items to 25 million, which is nearly a third of the number delivered in an average day.

"Items posted now are being delivered as normal. We are taking items from the backlog on a continual basis and we try to do it in order, so the oldest items go first."

Paper Monitor

11:55 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What a shame it's not Tuesday. A sentence that rarely passes anyone's lips but, as noted yesterday, Tuesdays are health days in the papers. And the Dailies Telegraph and Mail today run a health-related doozy that must have come in a day late.

Of such import is this proven tonic to the slings and arrows of daily life that the Telegraph grants it the special status of a headline-that-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin: "Rubbing it better really does work."

Yes, Mother actually did know best. Remember that day when, after a quick game of conkers as you walked home from school, you climbed a tree and skinned your knees (for grey flannel shorts offer little by the way of protection from such war wounds). Mummy offered to rub it better, but oh no, you wanted "magic water medicine" and a sticking plaster.

But it turns out that "healing by gentle touching can not only soothe bumps and bruises, it is also said to reduce stress and pain." The article goes on to note that other benefits include "improved sleep, reduced pain levels and increased energy levels".

Hark, is that the sound of Wellbeing/Health/Lifeclass sections being ripped asunder up and down Fleet St (as was)?

Meanwhile, Paper Monitor is always fond of a nicely turned phrase from a sketch writer. And the Guardian's Simon Hoggart delivers as he likens the grilling of Met Police cash for honours investigator John Yates by a Commons select committee to a sumo match between one-legged wrestlers. "You see them hop towards each other, trying to look really ferocious ("calm down, Mr Yates," said one MP at a time when he didn't even look flustered), then fall in an embarrassing heap."

It is a image our beloved leaders will have to work hard to dislodge from Paper Monitor's mind. Perhaps a rub will make it go away...

Random Stat

09:41 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The British Christmas Tree Growers' Association is telling its members to put prices up by up to 20% in the face of a tree shortage.

Your Letters

20:26 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Re DIY Sputnik: if it's really so easy to build your own, does that mean it's not exactly rocket science?
Adam, London, UK

I couldn't help but chuckle at the arrangement of the articles on the Magazine. Next to Is it OK for a disabled person to go to a brothel? you find The art of coming second. Well done.
Andy Simpson, London

Sorry to come across a bit liberal about Is it OK for a disabled person to go to a brothel? but surely it should be "is it OK for anyone to visit a brothel" - whether they're disabled or not really shouldn't make a difference.
Silas, London, UK

Yes there clearly is a worrying growth in the incidence of obesity but is it too much to ask journalists (and scientists, who should know better) to avoid talking of an epidemic of obesity. An epidemic means simply the prevalence of a disease in a particular place at a certain time. Obesity is not, of itself, a disease merely a condition which tends to increase the risk of a number of diseases.
Andrew Cullum, London, UK

Quick question re the random stat. How can the survey be called a global snapshot when it doesn't include the US? I for one would be interested to know the statistics from there.
Helen C-W, Home of the Gods, Yorkshire

I was wondering if Rob Goforth from Monday letters would be interested in teaming up with me as a comedy double act.
Jim Multiply, Teesside

Ian, I suspect you coming second in your game of squash cheered up the person who came first (Monday letters).
Mandy, Leeds

What is Melenie talking about (Monday letters)? The article says at the end that Asterix wasn't named for the * symbol. 10 things says he was named Asterix so he'd be at the beginning of the encyclopaedia - because his name begins with an A. So why exactly are you upset?
Ailsa, London

Did Melanie never read Asterix? All Gaulish characters had names ending in “-ix” which sound like real words but with the ending modified. I'm sure both the BBC and Mr Underzo know that an asterisk is not Asterix - but the humour is in the similar sounds - e.g. Vitalstatistix (chief), Getafix (druid), Cacophonix (bard).
Sarah, Bishop's Stortford, UK

Re Christian Cook's letter about monkeys overrunning Delhi (Monday letters), I believe that this will eventually result in guerrilla warfare.
Joe Townsend, Cambridge

Does anyone else have this cold that's been going around?
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK
Monitor note: Oh yes

PS: Apologies for the late publication. The Technical Gremlins were back this afternoon - only this time they had teeth. Having been struck down by an attack several months ago, the Monitor bravely fought its ruinous foe to the furthest recesses of Gremlinland. But clearly they have been mustering their forces. The Monitor apologises for any delays in publishing its daily content.

Paper Monitor

11:46 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A service highlighting the combined food groups of the daily press.

It's all very well the papers going on about the war on obesity (Independent, p2) but shouldn't they take a long hard look at themselves before taunting their readers about weight gains. Stand up the Guardian, with its five sections today. It's just about excusable at the weekend, when we can all justify a little indulgence, but heavens, it's only Tuesday.

On the subject of diet and healthy eating – not long ago such subjects were the features carbohydrate, helping bulk out the otherwise often uninspiring diet of news roughage. But then, all of a sudden, weight became a life or death issue and got promoted up the order to the newsy pages, leaving the health sections looking a little malnourished.

Tuesday is the day to mention this because somehow – maybe it’s the dark forces of a secretive editorial cartel at work – the press deemed Tuesdays to be health day.

So, what's on offer?

- "Half-awake? Join the club" says the Daily Mail, in its GoodHealth centre spread. The piece raises the spectre of a syndrome Paper Monitor had been ignorant of until now – semi-somnia… or is that just what doctors call day-dreaming?
- A day after the papers told us that positive thinking makes zero difference to fighting disease, the Guardian's Wellbeing section tells us to "Think yourself fit", with tips on the "psychological tricks that make all the difference". Plus there's a piece about lack of sleep.
- The Daily Telegraph's Lifeclass gives the obesity story a new twist, with its agony aunt style approach – a woman writing to ask how she can tell her sister to lay off the chow.
- Fair play to the Indy – it at least calls a spade a spade, or, in this case, its health section "Health". But what's this – Paper Monitor kicked off this entry by highlighting its front of house story, headlined "British people are the fattest in Europe, says Government report". But then, tucked away near the middle of the paper, is this piece: "Who are you calling fat? We're told there's an obesity 'epidemic'. Yet there's not a shred of evidence."

Random Stat

11:24 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Only 7% of people in East Asia are obese, according to a global snapshot survey published in the journal Circulation. This compares with 36% of people in Canada and 27% of all women (24% all men) throughout the world. The study considered 168,159 adults visiting their primary care doctors in 63 countries - but not the US - across five continents.

Your Letters

16:19 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

Re your Asterix story: either the BBC or Mr Uderzo is talking rubbish - the word Asterix is NOT the same as Asterisk! An Asterisk is this * symbol. Asterix is a French cartoon character. End of story. It is just another nail in the English language's coffin when I keep hearing people saying asterix when they mean asterisk!! I can't believe the BBC has printed that as 10 things you didn't know. Get your facts right! Arrrghh!
Melenie, Worthing, UK

I came second in a game of squash at the weekend, does that cheer anybody up?
Ian, Cosenza, Italy

Re: Paper Monitor, Monday: “The Independent sounds a blast of caution, however, with an examination in the inside pages of the environmental impact of F1.” That caught me off-guard and made me laugh unexpectedly, causing me to snort tea out of my nostrils. Given that I work face-to-face with the public, a fair number of people saw this happen and I now look like a prize muppet. Thanks, Paper Monitor!
Sophie, Ireland

Re: Today's Random Stat - so we live in a classless society after all (at least for 4% of us)
Steve, Southampton

I suspect the true number of the upper classes is higher than your random stat suggests, given that it was based on a phone poll. I suspect most of the upper classes get their butler to answer the phone for them, and so wouldn't have been in a position to answer the question.
Adam, London, UK

The article, Monkey attack kills Delhi leader, on the problem of the city being overrun by monkeys, has this gem of a solution: "One approach has been to train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to go after the smaller groups of Rhesus macaques." Will we read another story in six months where the Delhi authorities are importing an army of completely livid Orangutans to scare off the larger, more ferocious langur monkeys?
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

I want a job title like 'metaverse evangelist' (When work becomes a game)
Basil Long, Newark Notts

I looked at the headline for Amazon carbon sink effect 'slows' and thought it had something to do with buying kitchen apparatus from a popular online retailer.
Rob Goforth, Teesside, UK

Paper Monitor

11:49 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Indulge Paper Monitor if you will, by briefly entering a parallel universe where the embattled English sporting psyche is in a hitherto unknown state of ecstasy.

Not only did our boys scrape a narrow victory against South Africa in the World Cup final, becoming the first team to retain the title, but the men whose job it is to rewrite history books have been working overtime after Lewis Hamilton became the first rookie driver to win the Formula One drivers' championship in his debut racing season.

How do the papers reflect this tidal wave of sheer jubilation? The tabloids have all plumped for wraparound covers, with Hamilton on the front (his victory has the edge in newsworthiness), Wilkinson, Vickery and the boys on the back. The Sun is demanding a knighthood for Jonny, the Daily Mail is promising a free DVD of England's rugby highlights from the past 50 years for every reader tomorrow. Only the Financial Times fails to offer a souvenir pull-out section. The Independent sounds a blast of caution, however, with an examination in the inside pages of the environmental impact of F1.

Of course, it wasn't to be. There are signs everywhere of the best-laid plans turning into a mopping up job.

The Guardian's man in a pub in Hamilton's hometown of Stevenage is cut down to a piece about how locals think their boy can "learn from defeat". Jonny Wilkinson's contract with the Times climaxes with a picture of the England player recovering from a hangover. The Daily Telegraph had one of its finest colour writers, Neil Tweedie, on hand in Paris. Ultimately, he has to make do with raking over the coals of disappointment.

Even some adverts look a little misjudged, such as one from EDF showing England's rugby team with the headline "World class team, world class energy". The subtext - we're the UK's second best energy supplier?

Random stat

10:38 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

Two per cent of people consider themselves upper class, according to a survey by the Guardian newspaper. Of 1,011 adults question in the phone poll, 53% said they were working class and 41% middle class.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.