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Archives for May 25, 2008 - May 31, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

15:36 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

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

1. Kingsley Amis wrote a Bond follow-up.
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2. One of the earliest Mars Bars was pineapple-flavoured. It flopped.
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3. Charles Lindbergh invented the first pump to keep an organ alive outside the body.
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4. San Marino officially has just three British people.
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5. Amazonian tribesmen can show aggression by painting themselves red.
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6. Within the concept of karma, it's the motive for doing something that is important.
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7. Emo, among other things, stands for "emotional hardcore".
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8. Women are banned by law from Mount Athos in Greece, home to 20 monasteries.
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9. The Stonehenge site was a burial ground for 500 years.
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10. The first known science film was a one-minute close-up of cheese mites filmed through a microscope.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Melissa Knott, Christchurch, New Zealand for this week's picture of 10 rubber ducks. "My 2.5-year-old daughter's joy. Together we arrange them alongside her bed each night, and they are the first things she sees when she wakes."

Your Letters

15:06 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

Are the gremlins back? I can't see the story that Malcolm Reflexpost (Thursday's Letters) is referring to - would it be the one about PC Turnbull diverting a charging bull?
Mike Rosen, Dorking, Surrey

Malcolm, since you (or the Monitor) did not actually include the link, I spent ages trawling through police stories of the last few days for interesting names. I found Officers Dance and Otter but I'm not sure they were the ones. Please provide the link and put me out of my misery!
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ (ex-Scotland)
Monitor: Thanks to a technical difficulty involving rogue chevrons the link to PC Turnbull's heroic moment was omitted.

A fine example of nominative determinism in the story about a killing being made into a film. The name of the gang leader? Jesse James Hollywood.
Catherine, Leicester, UK

Am I the only person troubled by this article in which we learn of the completion of the Skynet system. Hopefully they won't turn it on on Monday 4 August. If so, I'll be making sure I'm in a desert at 2:14 on 29 August. Or perhaps it won't be turned on till 19 April 19 2011 - which gives me a few years to get armed. Does anyone have a clue what I'm on about?
James Rigby, Wickford, Essex

Eurovision: to ensure more chances for the Brits, we could also divide England up into its original seven Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Anglia and Kent.
Susan, Brisbane, Australia (but ex-Kent)

John, Sevenoaks (Thursday's Letters) actually, you've just spoilt the surprise: before reading your letter I had no idea what Monitor meant by the face-eating thing. Now I do.
Louise, Surrey

Caption Competition

13:07 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

Winning entries in the now-returned Caption Competition.

Thanks to all who entered. The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

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This week's picture honours the passing of British artist Beryl Cook with one of her pictures - Satin Dresses, kindly supplied by the Portal Gallery.

The prize, of a small amount of kudos, goes to the following:

6. thenumberten
The Sex and the City graphic novel wasn't what we expected.

5. W_K_Snowdon
When Wags breathe out...

4. Turfnell
Charlie's Angels III: Mission to Middlesbrough

3. throbgusset
"I'm pretty certain it's three glasses of wine = one unit."

2. Ed Loach
"Scary and Posh said they'd meet us at the bar."

1. greekdancer
"Why couldn't we have been painted by Lowry?"

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Just one more month in the tenure of Paper Monitor's favourite diarist, Hugo Rifkind of People in the Times. At the end of April, Media Guardian announced his imminent-ish switch from the column to writing features for the paper (the Times, that is, not the Guardian).

So there are just four more weeks of People with Rifkind at the helm, the man behind gems such as daily calls to the Iranian Embassy in London, asking it to perform the duties of a business exactly 1.7 nautical miles away. Such as deliver a pizza.

Now, with the finish line in Rifkind's sights, People is on fire. Its latest news wheeze is also connected to an ongoing hostilities situation, as it acts as go-between for Hay-on-Wye Festival organisers and a disgruntled comic novel author.

Julian Gough, shortlisted for the Wodehouse Prize, claims a complicated stitch-up and has stolen the prize - a pig. This being what Wodehouse's creation Bertie Wooster would have done.

Now a Hay spokesman uses People to point out (very politely, being a literary type) that Gough might have made off with the wrong pig and yada yada yada "it could be perceived as grossly offensive".

Oh, and in other items that please Paper Monitor's eye, People muses on one face for seven Osmonds, how a union rep might do for Woody Allen, and the NHS pledge to cut its carbon footprint: "Sounds sinister when you think about it carefully."

Meanwhile, last Friday's Paper Monitor carried the Daily Telegraph's boast that its website was the most popular of any UK newspaper. But it turns out that it is in second place behind the Guardian - and it is the Sun that keeps its users online longest. It must be for the articles.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:39 UK time, Friday, 30 May 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.

"Marrying the most beautiful girl in the world. Well, in Chester, anyway" - John Prescott reveals his proudest moment.

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Yet another classic from the former deputy prime minister as he shows his romantic side and pays tribute to his steadfast wife.

Your Letters

15:54 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008

Surely the whole point of the threat in 1984 was the fear of the unknown terror in Room 101? I fear that, for new young readers, Paper Monitor may have spoiled the surprise.
John, Sevenoaks

Since Random Stat seems to have disappeared, dare I say it, randomly, may I suggest a new feature called Bogus Stat? I'd like to nominate the stat that a 30-something who gives up coffee could have an extra £3,843 in retirement. This is based on the calculation that saving £468 per year for 30 years with 7% compound interest would give £59,127. It wouldn't. It would be £44,207.65. But this pales into insignificance besides the throwaway comment "discounting inflation". Does anyone seriously think there will be negligible inflation over the next 30 years?
Adam, London, UK

Can we run a sweepstake on how many nominative determinism letters you get about the police officer in this story?
Malcolm Reflexpost, Stirling, Scotland

The solution to the Eurovision farce (Letters, passim) is for the songs to be presented without anyone knowing their country (other than TV viewers in each nation recognising their own, which they cannot vote for). Apart from a few internet spods who might compile and circulate the full details, most people will have to vote on the basis of the music, not the nationality. This kind of "anonymous marking" is used at many universities to avoid accusations of favouritism. And it could be fun: we could sing our next entry in Russian, just to fox their Eastern-bloc buddies.
Alex Duggan, Southampton, UK

I'd just like to thank the BBC cricket writers for the headline Onions will not be rushed - Cook. Now I know why I always have to wait so long for my post-match burger.
Savo, Surrey

After watching the video in the article about the rare Javan rhino destroying a video camera can someone suggest a name for the phenomenon where, although you know something is about to happen, it still makes you jump when it happens? And makes you look ridiculous in the office to boot...
Sam, Waddesdon, Nr Aylesbury, UK

I agree with Helene Parry (Wednesday Letters). Bring back Punorama please. Then in response to the station cat in Japan, I could have sent in "Passengers are reminded that this is a No Stroking station" or even "The next train to arrive at Catform 1...".
DS, Croydon, England
Monitor note: That's enough.

Do I spy a case of nominative determinism in yesterday's letters? Ould, Nick from Peterborough writing in about Hell!
Graham, Frome

Paper Monitor

13:38 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is a bumper day for the Sun.

As well as its front-page exclusive on the allegations that an older Indian couple abandoned their IVF twins because they were girls, there are also triumphs inside.

There's a celebrity byline... only Leonardo DiCaprio. He has a personal message for the Sun - watch his new film on the environment and get about saving the planet.

There is more joy further in, with another exclusive about how Scouse builders placed a Liverpool FC-themed time capsule under Gary Neville's pool.

And on the facing page there is the picture story into the "VITAL RESEARCH INTO QUESTION BAFFLING SCIENTISTS". Cure for flu? Secret to eternal life? No, it's "How do breasts bounce?".

But if there was an op-ed triumph in the Sun in getting DiCaprio, there's another one in the Daily Express under the headline "Orwell's 1984 was a grim warning... now it is a manual for UK officialdom".

Paper Monitor isn't clear which council is using the threat of rats eating your face, but it would certainly be a strong incentive to recycling.

Over in the Daily Mirror, there's a dedicated bad puns page. Top story is the tale of students being banned from throwing their mortar boards in the air.. "LOONYVERSITY".

Picture story is the Duchess of York getting out of a car: "Scarer Ferguson".

There's a bit of grouting - a story used to fill the cracks - about the abovementioned research into breasts... "The breast... bra none".

How we laughed.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:33 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008

"The best age to be is one day old. It gets harder after that" - Shakespearean actor Gerard Murphy

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Murphy, a screen baddie in Hollywood flicks like Waterworld and Batman Begins as well as a Shakespearean thesp, clearly believes life post-baby has been a struggle.

Your Letters

16:40 UK time, Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The new Microsoft OS will have multi-touch gesture recognition - may I suggest they include recognition of one gesture, common, I am told since Agincourt, that will commonly be deployed by users when it goes wrong?
Robin, Herts, UK

Swiss Army knives are legal to carry as long as the blade is less that three inches long, and freely folds back into the handle - i.e. does not lock (Tuesday letters). This exemption appears to have been written into the law precisely to excuse Swiss Army knives, possibly due to the preponderance thereof among parliamentarians.
Bas, London

Sadly this media and government fixation with carrying knives reflects the idea that violent crime is caused by inanimate objects rather than people. The terms "knife crime" and "gun crime" merely deflect attention away from the fact that violent people commit these crimes. The crimes do not result from the presence of any particular object. The adoption of "ban it" thinking in government has led us down this blind alley and away from the truth that we have created a violent society. We will only start to remedy this when we realise that this is a people problem.
Kip, Norwich, UK

No wonder the Telegraph loses logos so easily when it can't work out the date on which their device disappeared to any closer than "between 1968 and 1978" (Paper Monitor). They must have published about 3,650 issues in that period - did they have the world's laziest work experience kid searching the back catalogue?
Edward Green, London, UK

Sebastian Faulks (Paper Monitor) missed turning his mobile-off-or-on dilemma into a great 007 story. "In court, Bond tensed as he fingered his watch. The slightest touch could activate the laser cannon, the powerful electromagnet or the stun grenades. Even a single beep could blow his cover. If only he had listened to Q. He stirred and, quite a bit shaken, left the chamber."
John, Sevenoaks

I assume that I wasn't the only one to say "Anywaaaaayyyyy" out loud after reading it in Paper Monitor? As an habitual user of "aaaaaaaanyway", I found it a refreshing change.
Emma Cox, Essex

The story about Tama, the cat stationmaster in Japan, is enough to make you scratch the furniture and yowl for Punorama. "Stand clear of the paws" would have been my offering.
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Brentford
Monitor note: You'll just have to make do with the caption comp now it's back.

The Vikings believed that Hell was cold, and some of the several Buddhist Hells are also cold (Tuesday letters). I'll get my coat. I might need it.
Nick Ould, Peterborough

According to Dante, the Ninth Level of hell is a frozen lake, kept constantly chilled by the flapping of Lucifer's wings - so yes, hell can be a very cold place indeed. (And when you point that out to people who say they'll do something when Hell freezes over, they get very annoyed.)
Michelle B, London

Isn't the Brains ad just a rip off of Napoleon Dynamite?
Ben, London

Carol of Portugal asks when the rabbit became an endangered species (Tuesday letters). I suspect the rot set in when Tufty the Squirrel cornered the Road Safety Market.
Vicky, East London

I think it's a bit harsh to have a "bad accents" poll. The people voting know that those actors are using a different accent to their usual one so it will sound a bit jarring, but I seem to remember Candace in New Jersey saying Hugh Laurie's accent was flawless. I'd take her opinion over people who have probably never set foot over the pond.
Michaela, Runcorn, UK

James suggests splitting the UK into Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England to get a few Eurovision votes (Tuesday letters). Given what happens in the sporting world, I'm willing to bet that this will simply lead to a Celtic voting group and England on nul points. But maybe I'm just a cynic...
Dan, Cambridge

Why not allow in Jersey and Guernsey too - and the Isle of Man?
Susan, Brisbane, Australia

Re the Eurovision fallout. Political voting is a complete myth. Of course, cultural voting exists - Balkan countries vote for Balkan songs, former Soviet countries for former Soviet songs etc. But isn't it interesting that not a single commentator in the past five days has mentioned the biggest advantage in Eurovision history - the period of more than 25 years where the UK, Ireland and Malta were the only countries allowed to sing in English.
We'll happily play with an advantage, but when it goes the other way, the kick our toys out of the pram.
Dave, Redhill, UK

The advertising company that came up with "Protect you and your mates from the evil of warm beer" (Tuesday letters) should have considered the grammatically more correct "Protect your mates and yourself from the evil of warm beer". Even better, they could have changed "beer" to "lager" and left proper beer alone.
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

Nice work, Ken in Tuesday letters: "local has beermats... evil of warm beer" leading to the inevitable conclusion "see how it JARS." Like it.
Kevin, Derby

Re Tuesday letters. Are PS, ZS and DS of Newcastle, Liverpool and Croydon respectively, part of some new Magazine Monitor cult? I am not usually a fan of cults, but imagine The Acolytes of the Monitor would be quite nice, all in all. I would guess they would all be far too busy discussing reflexive pronouns to engage in any form of armed stand off with federal authorities. I insist you indoctrinate me immediately.
Dylan (or DS all things going well), Reading, UK

Stop it, stop it, stop it! Why does your headline in the entertainment section have to say Michael fired from the Apprentice? Why can't it just say "Latest Apprentice fired" and then let us read the article to find out who it is. Then those of us with video recorders/Sky plus/BBC iPlayer etc won't have our viewing ruined by some annoying journalist.
Lottie D, Merseyside

Paper Monitor

11:21 UK time, Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has been caught napping and is, this morning, kicking itself. How could one have been so lax, so inattentive to detail, so easily distracted by the latest gewgaw*?

telegraph_device226.jpgHow could Paper Monitor have missed the re-adoption by the Daily Telegraph of a slogan which attempts to encapsulate the ethos of the paper. And yet, there it is, in a revived logo (a "device" in Telegraph terms) above the leader column.

The slogan sounds part-biblical, which is nice, but somehow has an overtone of the 1930s, which isn't. It goes like this:

"WAS • IS • & • WILL • BE"

Upon further research, it turns out that the paper's Christopher Howse blogged about this re-innovation (© Flexicon) two weeks ago.

He saith: "The device disappeared from the page some time between 1968 and 1978, the sort of period one might expect, when nice old things were being dumped. Perhaps some readers remember the day the device disappeared. Well, from tomorrow morning the Daily Telegraph device will reappear above the leading articles. In the age of the internet we do not fear old things. We bring the past with us as we move into the future: WAS, IS & WILL BE."

Ahh yes, the internet. Now that's a device.

A commenter to Howse's blog adds, deliciously: "You Telegraph guys just keep doing don't you? It's like the paper is run by a bunch of steam-punks. Keep it up. There must be loads of other old things you can dust off."

The paper does today have the privilege of having a column by the man of the moment, Sebastian Faulks, who has written the new Bond novel. After a few observations about how remarkable Ian Fleming's family are, he tells an awfully amusing tale about how he was watching his barrister brother appearing in court last week but then realised that he didn't know if his phone was switched off and because it was a new phone (a device, you might say), he didn't know how to check if it was on or not without making it beep or buzz. Anywaaaaayyyyy, as it turns out, the phone didn't actually go off, but boy was that a close thing. That's some anecdote.

*The latest gewgaws which distract Paper Monitor should not be taken to include the Magazine's Twitter feed, which is in truth a thing of beauty and a wonderful addition to the gaeity of the nation.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:13 UK time, Wednesday, 28 May 2008

"It's like asking someone who normally writes complex symphonic music to write a three-minute pop song" - Sebastian Faulks on spinning the latest 007 yarn.

faulks.gifThe man who has taken on Ian Fleming's mantle to pen Devil May Care - featuring a chap by the name of J Bond - does not appear to wear it lightly. Faulks, best-known for his sweeping wartime epic Birdsong, says he eventually relented to the repeated requests to write a Bond book and found it a challenge to write in the very different style of the former hack. Short sentences. Lots of full-stops. Job done.

Your Letters

17:49 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Re Paper Monitor's assertion "in fact it's as cold as hell". I thought Hell was a hot place, I do hope it hasn't frozen over or a lot of unusual things put off for that occasion are going to start happening.
Nich Hill, Portsmouth UK

Is God trying to tell the Archbishop of York something?
Edward Green, London, UK

Sonia from London (Your Letters, Monday) - in 1290, that would have resulted in a record low for the *English* Jewish population, as Britain as a country didn't exist until 1707... So it is very possible that it is a historic low for the *British* Jewish population...
Edd Payne, London

Re misuse of the reflexive (Your Letters, Friday). There is the other scenario, where it is not used where needed. My local has beermats that admonish "Protect you and your mates from the evil of warm beer". Did the marketing genius behind that deliberately not use "yourself"? Say it out loud and see how it jars.
Ken, Hornchurch

Regarding the Eurovision fallout. Why not replace UK, with Scotland, Wales, England, Nothern Ireland. That way, we can also join in with the political voting.
James Mckenzie, Aberdeen

Re Tony's point about carrying a knife (Your Letters, Monday). My father also in his seventies has been wondering if it is now an offence to carry his Swiss Army knife with him, like you he also considers it " a useful tool"
Nadia Abdul-Sabur, Southsea, Hants

While Tony Francis from Derbyshire is right that a his knife is a useful tool, so is a screwdriver. However, carrying either on your person on a Saturday night in your local pub is likely to suggest possible intent to use it as a weapon. He may feel that the law if silly, but fortunately for the rest of society that doesn't mean it he is free to ignore it.
PS, Newcastle, England

Yet more nominative determinism, "Bionic star tops bad accent poll", featuring an editor with a most appropriate name.
ZS, Liverpool, England

In Car firms clash over Bond credentials it states: "The greatest departure from Commander Bond's traditional taste in cars came during the 1980s when John Gardner had him driving Saabs.". Surely the greatest departure was actually the Citroen CV2 he drove in For Your Eyes Only?
DS, Croydon, England

Re today's mini-quiz: Since when has the rabbit been an endangered species?
Carol, Portugal

Paper Monitor

10:59 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a God-awful small affair... compared with soaring food and fuel prices, natural disasters, and Gordon Brown's poll ratings, that is. But the first crop of pictures to be beamed back to Earth by Nasa's unmanned Phoenix spacecraft provides some welcome relief from these more earthly concerns.

"Life on Mars? Pages 6-7" asks the Daily Mail on its front page, suggesting it might know something the rest of us don't. It doesn't, which is no small mercy - imagine telling your grandchildren you first heard news of extraterrestrial life from a teaser on the front page of a paper.

The accompanying picture of the Arizona desert the Red Planet perhaps portends more than it visually delivers, hence the space it's granted on the pages of the Mail and the Guardian.

The Mirror decides to add some drama to the occasion by fuzzifying its "Live from Mars" headline to look as if it too has been beamed back 423 million miles. And the Sun... well, it's just happy to call a spade a spade. "Went to Mars... all we got was this lousy photo" runs the headline, over a picture of a sweet wrapper (no prizes for guessing the brand) Photoshopped (registered trademark Adobe) on to the Phoenix snapshot, and alongside a story by "Sun Spaceman" Paul Sutherland.

There's even a guide on how to recreate your own Mars-scape, with a bag of B&Q ballast, sand and cement. Such wilful frivolity in the face of dogged scientific endeavour - next they'll be telling us it ain't the place to raise a kid, in fact it's cold as hell. Or will that be the Times?

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:41 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008

"I wouldn't have enjoyed it if I'd had to write the damn thing" - John Prescott on the joys of a ghost-written autobiography

prescott_biography.gifThe former deputy prime minister's memoirs have brought some revelations, including Mr Prescott's bulimia, but it is apparent that he is not necessarily a fan of the writing process.
More details (the Guardian)

Your Letters

16:05 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

I am 70 and I've carried a knife since I was a child. When I was at school we used to take our sheath knives to show of with. There was always some lad who'd got the latest staghorn-handled knife. I always favoured a Jack knife, I still do and I still carry one. Men of my generation do and no silly law will stop us it's NOT a weapon but a useful tool.
Tony Francis, Derbyshire

Rob (Your Letters, Thursday), as much as I confess to being something of a fascist where grammar is concerned, the telemarketer who asked you "is now a good time to talk to yourself?" might just have wanted your input. Is now a good time to talk to myself? Why, yes, I think it is!
Gina, Finchley

Re: Council kicks up pet skunk stink. Bit sad that I know this but it's actually no longer legal to de-scent skunks for cosmetic reasons, only medical reasons, even since the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and associated Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulation 2007 came into force in April 2007.
Helen , Reading, Uk

Re the child up for sale on eBay (Monday's Quote of the Day)? No wonder alarms were raised, they should have put the auction up on eBabies. ...Hmmm, that pun works much better spoken. Bugger.
Jonathan Cresswell, Badingham, Suffolk

Dear BBC and Sir Terry Wogan. My name is Patrick and i am 12 3/4 years old and a very big fan of the Eurovision song contest. I am fed up of the political voting in the Eurovision song contest. I am very annoyed about it. I think the EBU should do something like 50% of viewer's vote's are added by 50% of a jury to make it fair. Please let me know if you think it's a good idea or not a good idea.
Yours sincerley P.J. Lavery.
Patrick, Bracknell, UK

I found the new rules to the new Caption Competition almost as funny as the captions - sorry Simon from Nottingham.
Phil, Cambridge

According to "10 things..." 27% of people have opened a bottle with their teeth. I'd be interested to know what percentage of those have had to have remedial dental work as a result. Unfortunately, I can count myself amongst them, it was a screw cap.
Rob, Bristol

Re Jewish population on the increase, 275 000 can't be a "historic low" for the British Jewish population - what about when Edward I expelled all the Jews in 1290?
Sonia, London

10_pen_things126_71.jpgI am the only person to have looked at this week's link to 10 things, and the picture of coloured pens (right), and mis-read the caption underneath as "Skunks can be de-scented to make better pens"? I was about to vow never to use a pen again...
Penelope Friday, Canterbury, Kent

Re In pictures: Mars landing - picture 6. For what I don't doubt is an entirely candid photo, this does look fantastically cheesy and insincere - a bit like one of those 'freeze frame' scenes at the end of Police Squad. Brilliant.
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

13:52 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

All of a sudden the annual mirth-fest that was the Eurovision song contest has gone sour. With Britain taking joint last place in Saturday's final, the papers are asking the sort of tough questions normally reserved for events in Brussels rather than Belgrade.

Should the UK withdraw from the annual song contest after further evidence of bloc voting patterns? Is Sir Terry Wogan about to throw in the towel (for reasons to do with said voting patterns)? And WHAT ON EARTH was that Spanish entry about?

"Eurovision song con" says the Sun.

"Time to end the farce of Eurovision 'contest' " - the Daily Express, which helpfully illustrates the story with a full-length picture of the scantily-clad Ukrainian entrant (while omitting to show the Russian victors).

"Euroderision" says the Mirror, which provides a rundown of all Britain's Eurovision entries since 1956, and how they performed. It's also drafted in Cheryl Kissinger-Baker - one quarter of the UK's victorious 1981 combo Bucks Fizz - to opine about the geo-political implications of Europe's post-Cold War splintering.

So Cheryl, what are our options? Is it time to corral the big guns of Europe and despatch a rapid reaction strike force?

Not exactly. La Baker moots the idea of each country delegating the vote to a Simon Cowell-type figure; or getting each act to perform without saying which country they're from. (Quite how you get over the flouncy-shirt conundrum, in which acts betray their national origins by their sartorial choices, is not tackled.)

"It would be laughable..." says Baker. But isn't that the point? For years British fans of the contest have treated Eurovision as a sort of private "so bad, it's good" joke, which the rest of the continent is not privy to.

Now, as the Eastern bloc countries club together, Fleet St cries foul, saying the merit of the year's British entry, by Andy Abraham, was overlooked.

And no one has noted the UK's minor achievement in all this. Apart from Ireland, which traditionally throws a few points our way, the only other country to have rewarded Britain was San Marino - taking part this year for the first time. On behalf of the British population, can Paper Monitor take this opportunity to thank this landlocked European microstate.

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:21 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

"Pick up in person only" - auction details for baby listed on eBay.ebay_baby_quote2.gif

Maybe it seemed funny at the time, but when the authorities in Memmingen, Germany swooped on the home of parents who had listed their baby for sale on eBay, the humour must have very quickly gone sour. The "too loud" seven-month-old was offered for sale for one euro (about 80p) but several users raised the alarm fearing a child-smuggling racket. It has now been taken into care. "It was only a joke," says the boy's mother, Tanja, 23. "I just wanted to see if someone would make an offer. They've taken my son and I've got to take psychiatric tests next week."
More details (the Independent)

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