BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for July 20, 2008 - July 26, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

18:10 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008

10_ducks_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Having fat friends increases your risk of obesity.
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2. The temperature of outer space is -270C (-454F).
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3. There are about 50 species of ants in the UK.
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4. Drumming is as energetic as playing professional football.
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5. The average Brit's savings would last 52 days if they found themselves out of work.
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6. Scrabble is huge in Senegal.
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7. The actress who played Brian's girlfriend in Life of Brian is now the mayor of Aberystwyth (and could end a local ban on showing her own film).
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8. Faking one's death is known as pseudocide.
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9. Mothers can change the "flavour" of their breast milk by what they eat.
More details (the Times)

10. The next named number up from a trillion is a quadrillion.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Colin Regan for this week's picture of 10 ducks being fed in Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland.

Your Letters

17:31 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008

Having read Joel's comments (Wednesday letters) about too much is too much, I looked at the original story. Without a shadow of doubt, this lady is lucky to be alive, even if she does have to rely on others (Woman left brain damaged by detox). I am an intensive care nurse. I recently looked after a lady who had drunk four litres of water in a couple of hours (a similar fad diet). She didn't have time to develop seizures - the excess fluid went straight up to her head and crushed her brain, and into her lungs to drown her. She was brain dead by the time she got to hospital and we withdrew treatment to let her die that day. I know that her family will still be struggling with her death, but so am I. I would beg of anyone who is thinking about going on a diet that asks you to drink more than three litres per day to be very careful and space it out. A lack of understanding of the consequences of fluid overload are enormous.
Anon, England

The article PM 'must face leader challenge' explains that the three-day Labour National Policy Forum "divides policy into six areas - Britain in the world; communities; crime and justice; education; health; prosperity." It sounds like some new edition of Trivial Pursuit.
Christian Cook, Espom, UK

If Carry On films reflected the spirit of the age, are we to feel a sinking feeling at the imminent release of Carry On CCTV?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Does anyone really think this photo actually needed captioned to be able to allow us to identify the albino individual (In hiding for exposing Tanzania witchdoctors)?
Jennie F, Edinburgh

Surely it wasn't just me who was sorely disappointed by the choice of photo in 'Wrong bras' can damage breasts?
Adam, London, UK

Dave Clarke clearly doesn't get out much.
Basil Long, Leicester

Awesome - coming in the top six on the caption competition is actually the best thing that has happened this week. Where do I collect my kudos from?
Jordan D, London, UK

Dave from Merthyr Tydfil getting 99s for 99p? Is Merthyr Tydfil a Welsh Town That Time Forgot, or perhaps a time-travelling ice cream vendor? Do they have FABs? If so I now have a new holiday destination!
James D, Derby, UK

How does the Monitor know anything about cereal packet competitions? I thought it was porridge only around here?

Ahah! Paper Monitor's gender is finally revealed. It's common knowledge that only men can use barbecues.
Tyrone, St Helier

Dear Sir/Madam,
Yours faithfully,
J Cram, Loughborough, UK

Caption Competition

13:14 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008


Winning enties in the caption competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

monalisa_pa.jpgThis week, artist Chris Naylor sculpts a grass Mona Lisa with a pair of hedge-clippers. But what's being said?

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Jordan D
"You can have it any colour you want. As long as it's green."

5. FrankGrimesJnr
"Just give it a couple of weeks growth and that'll be Che Guevara done."

4. Tremorman
Mown mown mown that's all she does

3. W_K_Snowdon
"You've got yer urban graffiti artists, then you've got yer rural ones."

2. Watsonch
Finally brought to justice - however, Banksy appeared to be enjoying his community service.

1. SeanieSmith
Joneses 1 Neighbours 0

Some Friday Fun?

11:30 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008


bush_wallstreet.jpgGeorge Bush may not be the most effortless of orators, but he can come up with a pithy metaphor.

To wit, "Wall Street got drunk" to explain the ever-widening ripples of the credit crunch. At a private fundraiser last Friday, the president of the United States of America asked for any cameras to be switched off, and then proceeded to riff on his theme.

Of course it's much harder to be brief than it is to expound at length - anyone who ever filled in one of those cereal packet competitions ("In 15 words or under, complete this phrase...") will know this all too well.

Sounds like the kind of challenge Magazine readers might relish. So, please, 15-word explanations for world crises - using the wisdom of everyday life rather than textbook answers.

Global warming, for instance. It's coffee with too much milk - you can't take it out once it's in...

Cast your pearls of wisdom using the Comments form below. There's a special reward for the wisest, pithiest or most diverting - the chance to be featured on Radio 4's Broadcasting House this Sunday morning, which is by far the Magazine's favourite current affairs programme hosted by Paddy O'Connell.

Paper Monitor

10:38 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Well, it sure ain't fake tan. As Ronaldo recuperates from whatever he has done to his foot to necessitate the wearing of blue bootie, he has embarked on a sunbathing tour of the world.

And, as the Daily Mirror notes, the word "brown" seems insufficiently descriptive. The paper has compiled a tan chart akin to those found in paint shops to help, and the closest seems to be "Big Ronseal" - but perhaps those with an artist's eye for colour might add a little more red into the mix to replicate the exact tone.

An even closer match than their paint swatch is the barbequed sausage pictured alongside the oiled, buffed and basking Manchester United star. "Done to a turn," says the Mirror.

Mmmmm. Sausages.


Monitor note: We apologise for the interruption to this service, Paper Monitor appears to have left the building. Wearing a comedy chef's hat and clutching a rather large pair of tongs.

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:07 UK time, Friday, 25 July 2008

"Spiritual Alzheimer's" - Cardinal Ivan Dias, a senior Vatican official, states his view of "liberal" churches.

dias_quote.gifAt the Lambeth Conference, the cardinal, who belongs to the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelisation, used some neat imagery to describe churches which abandon traditional teaching on homosexuality. Clearly warming to the theme, he also talked of "ecclesial Parkinson's" in the same speech.
More details (The Times)

Your Letters

18:04 UK time, Thursday, 24 July 2008

I'm leaving! BBC has offended me in recent weeks with constant stories about homosexuality. I am a gay male and believe me BBC - it doesn't need its own promo spot. Why is it that we need to be seen in a good light or a bad light as a community? No one ever says heterosexuals are good/bad people, why are we seen as this separate group? I'm a British citizen just like Mr and Mrs Straight next door, right? Or am I?
Rant. Over.
Angel, Coventry, UK

So John Parker was inspired to take £1,000 off the asking price of his house each week by a shop doing the same to sell sofas. How much did the sofas cost in the first place?
Michael, Rockville, MD, USA

Last night I got a 99 for 99p from the ice cream van that came down my street (Wednesday letters). Amazing!
Dave, Merthyr Tydfil

Perhaps Paper Monitor lamenting the poor standard of puns in the days press, regarding the Darwins, could lead to a return of that much loved and missed item, Punorama. I'm sure that there are plenty of talented amateurs who could treat the subject with the due reverence it deserves.
Simon Rooke, Nottingham

Paper Monitor

12:25 UK time, Thursday, 24 July 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

With the Darwin verdict in, the papers are unbridled from legal restrictions and free to show off everything they've amassed on "Mr Canoe" and his wife since the story first broke at the end of 2007.

The Daily Mail devotes four pages to the extraordinary story, including a chunk of text from reporter Natalie Clark whose bizarre byline reads "who spent an extraordinary few days with Anne Darwin last year after the Mail tracked her down to Panama".

Ms Clarke relays how she too became an unwitting victim of Mrs Darwin's lies, when the latter used an interview at the time to tell her how shocked and surprised she was to discover her husband was alive.

There's no mention of this, but if Paper Monitor's memory serves it well, that "exclusive" Mail interview was somewhat trumped on the day by the Daily Mirror's exclusive picture of the Darwins sporting Cheshire cat grins as they posed for the camera in their Panama estate agent's office.

Aside from the main story, there's of course comment and speculation about the effect the couple's deception has had on their grown-up sons.

Fair point, but any progress Darwins Junior may have made in recent months would surely be offset by the effect of reading some of the e-mail exchanges between their parents, reproduced in the Mail.

In one, subject lined: "Nude and in the mood for love", Mr D just hopes "the mosquitos or other bugs don't bite or at least not in a certain place... don't want it all lumpy lol".

Over at the Mirror, Paper Monitor is lamenting the end of what had been a lucrative line in canoe puns - the apogee of which was the paper's "Canoe's this in Panama?" when it published said infamous picture.

The baton seems to have been picked up by the Sun at least, with "Canoe wants to be a millionaire" and its inspired front page headline "Shock and oar".

But one aspect that seems to have been consistently overlooked by the headline writers is the couple's surname. Surely there's some aspect for creative licence there. Yet the qualities fail this test. Not even a backgrounder on their deception entitled "Darwins' origins of specious".

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:38 UK time, Thursday, 24 July 2008

"If you are not from Lesbos, you are not a lesbian" - Banner held outside court by Lesbos islanders who failed to ban use of the word "lesbian" for gay women.

lesbosbanner.gifThree residents of the Greek island - population 100,000 - claim that the international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of Lesbians, as the islanders call themselves. But an Athens court has disagreed, saying there is no justification for them to feel slighted as the word does not define the islanders' identity.
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Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 23 July 2008

So, too much water is bad for you. Of course it is! Too much of ANYTHING is bad for you. That's why it's called TOO MUCH. It denotes an excessive amount.
Joel, Nottingham

Who'd have thought it? The feeling you get after 20 pints of beer is in fact just "water intoxication". And there was I thinking I couldn't take my drink.
Adam, London, UK

If it takes four sculptors working 14 hours a day a week to build a hotel out of sand and they charge guests £10 per night to stay there, by my reckoning they will need 217 guests before Friday to make a profit (assuming Friday's weather forecast for Weymouth is accurate, each worker is paid the minimum wage of £5.52 per hour and all materials and tools are free)... Surely it's not nearly big enough?
Michael, Exeter

gluehandshake.gifThank you for Wednesday's Quote of the Day about Gordon Brown's sticky hand-shake. I saw the story in the Metro on the way to work and said to myself "I bet Magazine Monitor won't be able to resist." I'm so proud.
Sarah, Birmingham, UK

Re Campaigner 'glues himself to PM': this story would be less surprising had it occurred to the previous prime minister. However, Teflon Gordon just doesn't have the same ring to it does it?
TS, Bromley, England

An opportunity missed for a five-word alliterative headline (Lesbos locals lose lesbian appeal). Surely "Lesbos locals lose lesbian litigation" would have been a triumph.
JoeA, Bath

I hate to disappoint Paper Monitor, but with inflation the way it is, it's been a while since a chocolate-flake-imbued whipped frozen dairy dessert has been 99p. And of course, it never stood for "99p" either, being invented in the days prior to decimal coinage. Nor did it stand for 99mm, again being from the days of feet and inches (a 9'9" chocolate stick? Only for the ladies). No, it was - apparently - just a marketing puff.
Basil Long, Leicester
Monitor note: Regular readers may remember this piece.

Poor Paper Monitor, you will surely be crushed when you finally find a Mr Whippy van and proffer up your 99 pence only to discover you're at least 21 pence short. It's been at least £1.20 everywhere I've been for years now. However I will gladly lend you the rest of the money if you pick me up a FAB lolly whilst you're there.
James D, Derby

If I found a place selling 99s for 99p, I'd get hundreds and thousands.
CS, Manchester, England

Get us a strawberry Cornetto while you're out there, Paper Monitor.
Martje Ross, Lancaster, UK

Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Food for thought in the papers today. What does a "bio-energy healer" actually do, as the Times describes Radovan Karadzic? Or for that matter a "New Age doctor", as the Sun puts it.

Also diverting is just why those organising the Anglican Synod encourage journalists to attend the indaba groups - a Zulu term for gatherings for purposeful discussion - only to refuse the Times' religious affairs reporter entry to her chosen group.

It's not like she hopes to cover the controversial chat on sexuality. Or heresy. Or the fiery discussion of a "shared mission in Europe". Her chosen gathering? "Never say no to the media."

Mmmmm. There's a 99 on the cover of the Financial Times. An organ that prides itself on its rigour and attention to detail. Which uses the photo of the Mr Whippy ice cream alongside the headline "Inside the Gelato University". Come now...
(Although Paper Monitor would happily go back to being a student again if it could do a PhD at that particular institution.)


Monitor note: We apologise for the interruption to this service, Paper Monitor appears to have left the building. Clutching 99p and humming Green Sleeves.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:17 UK time, Wednesday, 23 July 2008

"no stickiness of any significance" - Number 10 pours cold water on an anti-aircraft protester's failed attempt to glue himself to Gordon Brown.

gluehandshake.gifInvited to a Downing Street reception to receive an award, Dan Glass, a Plane Stupid campaigner - that's the name of the group opposed to a third runway at Heathrow, rather than an editorial comment - smuggled in superglue in his underpants. He then smeared the adhesive on his hands shortly before administering a manly handshake to the PM. Who managed to wriggle free without too much difficulty.
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Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Was it really necessary, in the story Living in fear: Tanzania's albinos, to point out which one was the albino in the caption under the photo "Winifrida Rutahiro (2nd left)"?
Ben, Bournemouth

Jinja, Edinburgh on accents (Letters, Mon): The voice coach's advice is not as silly as it may sound. In standard English the "l" at the end of "level" (called a "dark l") is pronounced differently from the one at the beginning. In American English, however, "dark l" is used at the beginning and at the end of words. This is also true in Scotland, so if you have a Scottish accent, you already have one element of an American accent!
Stuart Brown, Grenoble, France

Lydia from Lancaster (Letters, Mon): I don't think that you were looking at the same picture! The cartoon to which Paper Monitor was referring to was of the Prime Minister's moobs. You clearly read "Click here if you dare lay eyes on the PM's imagined moobs" and let your imagination run away with you! The fact that MM has printed the letter could in fact be a bluff to try and confuse all those guessing at the true identity of PM - either that, or a subtle hint that Gordon Brown in fact moonlights as Paper Monitor!
Dave, London

S., London (Letters, Mon): Same outfit 10 times in a year? I've been wearing the same pants for the last four days. Front; back - inside out - front; back!
Nick, Walton on Thames, Surrey

To answer your question, MM: surely everybody's oldest item of clothing still in use would be their birthday suit?
PS, Newcastle

So Radovan Karadzic has been in hiding by disgiusing himself as the Archbishop of Canterbury?
Michael Hall, Croydon

It's also got me to wondernig: if Rowan Williams shaved off his beard, which (alleged) warlord he would look like?
Al Newell, Bournemouth

Was Radovan Karadjic hiding at the Ernest Hemingway lookalike contest?
Nick, Redhill

For several months, since I stopped using Internet Explorer, I thought my witticisms had been deemed too perceptable for publication. Then, yesterday, suddenly, when I used IE as a one-off, you publish my comment (Letters, Mon). So, my question is... about to be sent using Firefox 3.0, if you don't receive the question, the answer is no...
Ray Lashley, Colchester

Paper Monitor

10:46 UK time, Tuesday, 22 July 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's palpable disappointment at Paper Monitor Towers that the Daily Express seems to have overlooked the story about drummers having the stamina of top footballers thanks to the aerobic workout of the job. So it's a missed opportunity that Express owner Richard Desmond - the man who keeps the beat behind the RD Crusaders (cf) - isn't called upon to write about his passion. Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Times is making deep in-roads into Telegraph territory with a story about troubles at the "Sloane Rangers' favourite store" - the General Trading Company, near London's Sloane Square. There's even a sidebar from a Times hack who had her wedding list at the shop, and seems to be ruing the imminent disappearance of leather pigs(interrobang) and nice boys from minor public schools.

Paper Monitor can almost hear Telegraph columnist Camilla Pashmina gnashing her teeth... not at being scooped by the paper's rival, you understand, but at the ugly portents for retail therapy in this time of crunched credit.

Lastly, all the talk may be about Batman at the moment, but the Sun knows that if there's one superhero who will appeal to kids these days it's not the Caped Crusader - it's the one man be-goggled Icelandic anti-obesity ambassador Sportacus, aka Magnus Scheving. Under the banner, "Sportacus writes for the Sun", Scheving offers some inspiration for how to keep kids busy over the hols.

Sample advice: "Even when it's wet, get outdoors. There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes."

Beat that Christian Bale.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

08:21 UK time, Tuesday, 22 July 2008

"It wasn't until the hostess said 'welcome to Turkey' that the penny dropped" - Charles Coray who with family was expecting to holiday in Lanzarote.turkey_quote.gif

As families begin the great summer geat-away, let the experience of Charles and Tania Coray serve as a cautionary tale. Flying from Cardiff, the Corays and their nine-year-old daughter had been looking forward to their break in the Canary Islands. But they were on the wrong plane. The explanation - a check-in desk mix-up which led to the couple being issued the wrong boarding passes.
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Your Letters

16:16 UK time, Monday, 21 July 2008

Do you think the Ernest Hemingway impersonators moonlight as David Bellamy impersonators?
Dylan, Reading, UK

Why is does the media have a problem with people wearing the same clothes on different occasions? I am proudly wearing a t-shirt which I have worn about 15 times a year for the past 10 years.
S, London

Never mind Princess Anne wearing the same dress, I want to know who the genius is who spotted they were the same.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

I liked practising an American accent but I'm not sure about this advice: "Saying 'l' as you do the final letters in bell, well and level, read the following: Lucky Lily liked to live in Louisiana." So say the 'l' like the final letters of those words... so like an 'l' then?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Surely the world's wettest place is somewhere in the middle of the ocean, and not in north-eastern India?
Ian, Marseille

DMQ spoiler alert
Today's daily quiz: "After the BBC in fourth place, which British brand was next?" British Airways was correct, however judging by current results, 59% of people believe it to be Marks & Spencer. Is everyone else thinking what I'm thinking? If not, then being that this brand is about recognition and people believe M&S to be above British Airways, then perhaps M&S brand is actually the more "Super Brand".
Chris Toy, London

Paper Monitor, I should have listened to your warning over the cartoon - my poor eyes!
Sasha, Edinburgh

I can't be the only person who clicked on the link provided in today's Paper Monitor hoping to be greeted with a picture of Paper Monitor's own moobs, and therefore a revelation of gender?
Lydia, Lancaster

advicetopoles.gifRe today's quote - I thought we binge drink to ease shyness. (Cue use of overused picture of girl drunk in the street.)
Mike Thomas, Wirral

I've always found something slightly and indefinably disturbing about the picture of the Facebook logo reflected in a human eye. I've just realised what makes it so creepy and it's not just that it's more common than the Bristol Drunk Girl: If it's a reflected logo, why does the word "Facebook" still read left to right? Is this what is uncommonly known as enhancing the image using Adobe® Photoshop® software?
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

She's back...
Tony Doyle, Holmes Chapel, UK

Paper Monitor

11:32 UK time, Monday, 21 July 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Last week Steve Bell penned a piece for his paper, the Guardian, on that New Yorker cover of Mr and Mrs Obama doing a "terrorist fist jab" in the White House. In it, he asked: "Can cartoonists go too far? Yes. Should we go too far? Yes." (More details - Guardian)

Yet one of his number, no doubt as polite, considered and as thoughtful as Bell, has stepped waaaaay over the line. In the Times today is a cartoon so hideous and so detailed in its realisation that the mere thought of it has Paper Monitor shuddering into its elevenses.

In Moreland's "BUSTED", Prudence catches out her beloved - Gordon Brown - naked, handcuffed and horizontal with a plumptious strumpet by the name of Ms Boom-Bust (click here if you dare lay eyes on the PM's imagined moobs. And who has been cast as the third member of this ménage à trois).


Apologies for this break in service, Paper Monitor has been lying down in a darkened room to recover. Alone.

The Daily Mail provides some light pictorial relief with important news from the front lines of fashion. The 1980s are so back.

In one dispatch - dateline Los Angeles - veteran clothes horse Victoria Beckham steps out in a black strapless dress and red stilettos with five-inch spikes in place of heels.

A few pages on, Princess Anne is pictured in the same floral dress and yellow hat that she wore when Charles wed Di in 1981. One suspects that Posh, even if she is the same dress size 27 years hence, will not provide the same then-and-now pictorial opportunities that the Mail is so very fond of.

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:07 UK time, Monday, 21 July 2008

"Complaining about the weather is a good way of starting a conversation" - Advice to Poles on how to behave like a Briton.

advicetopoles.gifOK, the welcome pack for newly-arrived Poles has been penned by the good people of the Devon Migrant Worker Task Group. But to see oneself as others perceive you can be a somewhat dispiriting experience. People of England, you whinge a lot about the weather. But don't really complain about anything else for fear of giving offence. And you drink tea to ease shyness.
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