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Archives for September 28, 2008 - October 4, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:40 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

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

1. JK Rowling makes £5 every second.
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2. There are two £1m banknotes still in existence. Nine were made after World War II.
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3. Television presenter and artist Tony Hart served in the Gurkhas.
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4. Paul Newman was prevented from flying on an ill-fated World War II mission by his pilot's ear infection. Everyone on his detail was killed.
More details (Guardian)

5. Egham receives more spam than any other place in the UK.
More details (Observer)

6. The chief designer at Waterford Crystal was not Irish, but Czech.
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7. Human HIV infections could have started as early as the 19th Century.
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8. The 1950s was not a golden age for train travel.
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9. Bradford and Bingley has registered the raising of the bowler hat as a trademark.
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10. The man who designed the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Eero Saarinen, also designed the Sixties classic, the Tulip chair.
More details (Times)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Rachael Walker for this week's picture of 10 sweetcorn cobs, all from the same plant.

Your Letters

16:57 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

In "Officer resigns over BNP badge" we learn that 'Mr Janaway was "required to resign"'. What is the difference between that and being dismissed?
SA, Salford, England

Re Today's Quote of the Day. Whoever had the job of reading that announcement would have surely being a shoe-in for employee of the month. Although whether anyone else would be around to present it to them is another matter altogether.
ZS, Birmingham, England

Re this story Sorry to be pedantic but a double helix typically consists of two congruent helices with the same axis, differing by a translation along the axis, which may or may not be half-way.
Stuart, Croydon

Daniel, London (Your Letters, Thursday) rest assured. The closest phyton to Lancashire was Michael Palin, born South Yorkshire.
Nuno Aragao, Aveiro, Portugal

So iTunes are taking 79p for 4 seconds (Steve W's letter, Thursday), effectively taking just under 20p a second? Impressive, but it pails in comprassion to JK Rowling's £5 per second ("Rowling 'makes £5 every second'").
TS, Bromley, England

iTunes has a track which is even shorter than the one he mentions. The album Six Demon Bag by Man Man has a track called "Fishstick Gumbo" which clocks in at an impressively short three seconds long.
DS, Croydon, England

Four seconds is an absolute age. "All" by The Descendents is apparently three seconds long (according to iTunes), though two of those are just silence; "You Suffer" by Napalm Death is pretty similar - nominally clocking in at four seconds, but actually just someone going "Gwarrr"... Neither of them really count as a musical masterpiece.
Dan, Cambridge

Actually Anne, () I believe a person that measures eyesight is an optometrist. The optician only dispenses the lenses.
Claire, London

To Anne, Chester, it's actually an Op(h)thalmologist, common misspelling, even within hospitals!
Tom, Truro

Your Letters is normally of such a high standard that one feels a special thrill to have a letter published, having thought of something sufficiently witty or urbane to merit inclusion. But then there's the odd stinker that makes you wonder how it got through... I'm not naming any names, but there are any number of quite obvious scenarios whereby Euan Blair would know his flat was flooded, yet be in Japan. Maybe it flooded before he left?
Craig, Edinburgh

I note in your 7 days 7 questions competition that you asked what space smells like. This is especially impossible unless you own a working smell-o-scope.
Cuvert Farnsworth, New New York

Caption Competition

13:22 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008


Winning entries for the caption competition.


This week's picture is of Wall Street, in West Yorkshire.

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

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

6. Dodie_James
"You think you 'ad it bad? We used to get up in t'morning, have a three course breakfast, 'ave butler dress us, get chauffeured to school, pay fer swot to do our homework..."

5. Speedingmal
Sat-nav shares predicted to drop.

4. Caddyshaq
They still talk about the great crash of 1929 around here. The milk cart horse was never the same afterwards.

3. TheRealCatherineO
Betty was relieved to discover that her Wall Street dealer son was merely dispensing narcotics in Keighley.

2. SeanieSmith
"Ay son, we used t' have these things called banks..."

1. John_Sevenoaks
Wall Street 2, The Sequel: Grief is Good.

Paper Monitor

12:36 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Florid language is salt and pepper to the Guardian, liberally sprinkled to add flavour and bite to copy. Or perhaps fresh coriander and harissa, or vanilla pods and cinnamon sticks, might be better analogies for this particular paper.

Whichever is your seasoning of choice, imagine it not so much sprinkled as ladled on by Newcastle's interim manager, Joe Kinnear, who conducted his first official press conference in language as far from the usual football cliches as possible.

JK: Which one of you is [Daily Mirror football writer] Simon Bird?
SB: Me.
JK: You're a CENSORED.

The BBC's taste and decency rules prevent Paper Monitor from reprinting what Kinnear actually called Bird, but neither of their mothers would be very pleased.

He continues in this vein for a considerable length of time, and several papers print transcripts of the extraordinary exchanges between a livid Kinnear and the assembled journalists. Suffice to say, Bird is not the only one in the firing line.

While some edit out the rude words, the Guardian edits for length alone. Bird's report in the Mirror notes that Kinnear used "52 swear words in an amazing five-minute blast", most of which are rude enough to be starred out completely ("f*******" being the one exception as it is mild in comparison).

Interestingly, the name of Bird's rival on the Daily Express, who also came in for a tongue-lashing, is also starred out completely - the same treatment given to the most anatomical of Kinnear's expressions.

The Sun avoids all mention of those singled out for criticism. Its man tried to pour oil on troubled waters at the press conference, suggesting that as grown-ups they should concentrate on the football - prompting the beleaguered press officer to attempt to make the taunts and insults off the record.

"Is that what Joe thinks?" asked one journo. "Write what you like," was Kinnear's blustering reply.

And they did. Paper Monitor imagines that if this press conference was a vindaloo, then the next will be a phal. Spicy.

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:22 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

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

"This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service" - Opening of BBC radio transcript to be read in wake of a nuclear attack

This chilling BBC script was for an announcement to be broadcast if the country came under nuclear attack in the early 1970s. The script has only just been made public by the release of files in the National Archives in Kew, west London. Interestingly, the government was concerned the "right voice" did the speaking, because a familiar one may stoke fears the BBC had been destroyed.

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:38 UK time, Thursday, 2 October 2008

I'm astonished that the Daily Mail, of all papers, is advising people to walk through the park and watch children play football. If I, as a middle-aged man, sat in a park watching children play football, how long would it be before a gang of Daily-Mail-inspired vigilantes would assume that I must be a paedophile and set about me with pitchforks and other implements of destruction?
Adam, London, UK

In answer to Tom, Cambridge (Wednesday letters) an eye doctor is an opthalmologist, not an optician. He or she can carry out surgery on eyes whereas an optician measures eyesight and prescribes glasses.
Anne, Chester, Cheshire

Presumably Hovis is better for boys.
David, Hong Kong

"The wife of the former prime minister, one of the country's most prominent QCs, and now an author, is organising the fixing of a flood in her 24-year-old son Euan's new flat. He is away on business in Japan." If Euan was in Japan, how did he know his flat was flooded?
Martin, Bristol, UK

I am so grateful to the author of this story without whom I may not have known that pythons were not, in fact, native to Lancashire.
Daniel, London

I see the music publishers are asking for extra royalties from iTunes. Don't they think it's a bit rich for very short tracks? There's one on Queen's Made In Heaven album which is only 4 seconds long, but is still charged at 79p per download. Is there a shorter or more expensive track out there?
Steve W, Southampton

Die Fledermaus, perhaps?
Lee Pike, Auckland, NZ

Paper Monitor

12:48 UK time, Thursday, 2 October 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Excuse Paper Monitor for momentarily rewinding, but so consuming was yesterday's discussion of the finer points of Natasha Kaplinksy's boat that it forgot to mention the Daily Mail's gloriously random page three feature "15 glorious things you can still do for free".

Some of the choicest suggestions...

"1.Understanding the credit crunch is no walk in the park. So why not take a real walk in the park instead.

"2. On your walk in the park, why not watch children play their impromptu football games? It's often more entertaining than their professional counterparts. And you'll never see a bad or violent tackle."

Eh? Which park have you been sauntering through recently? And what happened to Broken Britain?

Here it is, on the front of today's Sun, just above a picture of David Cameron dressed as Bob the Builder. (Don't ask). "Tory leader on Broken Britain".

Meanwhile, the Mirror is going big with its annual antidote to Broken Britain - the Pride of Britain awards. Given the paper's leftish sympathies, does it deliberately schedule this annual awards ceremony to coincide with the Tory leader's keynote speech?

Talking of which, the Times highlights how Mr Cameron plumped for the safety of the lectern after last year's note-less speech. In doing so, the Tory leader sought to "emulate the Conservative's best speechmaker, William Hague... who uses a technique that minimises the need to look at the text, enabling him to maintain eye-contact with the audience, particularly at the beginning and the end of sentences."

Always on a self-improvement mission, Paper Monitor is hooked. What is this mysterious technique? Alas, the Times shows itself to be just a tease - revealing nothing more about Hague's intriguing technique.

Time to seek advice elsewhere...

"11. Then there's music. Never in history has there been so much variety for everyone to enjoy at the click of a radio switch.

"15. With the frosty, clear nights just around the corner, you can enjoy one of nature's most wondrous freebies. Just look up and enjoy the sight of a thousand twinkling stars."

Daily Mini-Quiz

11:05 UK time, Thursday, 2 October 2008


For those led here by Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, here's one-time punk John Lydon starring in an advert for Country Life butter.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:11 UK time, Thursday, 2 October 2008

"We've had Dutch people here, Danish, Asian, Indonesian - you name it and they've been driving into the cul-de-sac" - Resident of Dulais Close on drawbacks of sharing your postcode with a tourist attraction

It's another "perils of satnav" story... This time, the residents of the distinctly unremarkable-looking Dulais Close, in Neath Valley, South Wales, are contending with sharing the same postcode - SA10 8EU - as the nearby village of Aberdulais, home of the beautiful Aberdulais Falls and Europe's biggest functioning water wheel.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:18 UK time, Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Re Simon (Tuesday letters), it may be a case of inconvenient timing - if Peggy had her birthday between 30th September and 3rd October then both stories check out. I hope you've sent a card.
James O, Oxford

Monitor Note: Thanks for the huge interest in Peggy's birthday.

Postman Pat (Tuesday letters) is obviously a drug dealer and Mrs Goggins is the wholesaler. I suspected this years ago, and wondered whether Clint Eastwood would ever utter, "Make my day, Goggins!" And while we're about it, what exactly did Mary, Mungo and Midge live on? Were they the importers, maybe? The music boat in The Clangers must have had a few secret compartments! Did you ever see a customs inspector, hmmm?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Actually, Daniel Evans (Tuesday letters), one of the tunnel boring machines was, for some time, readily visible from the M20, where it sat near the (now closed) Channel Tunnel visitor centre in Cheriton. I'm not sure whether it was French or British, but as it had a 'For Sale' sign around its drill point, rather than an 'en vente' sign, I would suggest that it was a British one. Now, that was boring...
Sara, London

Oh my God, the poor Channel Tunnel boring machines were forced to dig their own graves (Tuesdays letters). I'm sure employment law would have something to say about that. Anyway, why didn't they just bore their way up to the surface and escape?....(thinking)....duh!
Jane, Northampton, uk

So, unlike those boring machines, the word 'Chunnel' has resurfaced. That got me thinking ; nobody seems to be 'bonking' any more these days. What would it take for that expression to sweep the country again ? If it does, and I get the blame, I'm emigrating ! Oh, I already have......
Graham, Purmerend, Netherlands

David Richerby, (Tuesday letters), given the Belgium theme to your Monitor letter on Tuesday, I assume that the coat with which you left was a duffel coat?
Grumpyoneuk, Ilford

Regarding the news story about the new film Blind , since when have British people referred to opticians as eye doctors? Is this yet another example of the BBC adopting American and generally "dumbing down" the English language?
Tom, Cambridge

If the credit crunch is going to force me to eat turnips then I'm off. Don't care where, sun or rain will do just as long as the turnips are a long way away.
Nick Morton, Camborne, Cornwall

I see that according to The Sun there will be a baby boom as the credit crunch is forcing people to entertain themselves at home... presumably these people can no longer afford to walk/drive to their nearest doctor/family planning clinic given that most contraceptives are free from them!
Lucy, Maidstone, Kent

I know the credit crunch is biting deep but ouch - a pound really doesn't go as far as it used to does it!
Phil, Angus, Scotland

Hurrah for the return of Crunch Creep. I was afraid that it had itself been a victim of the credit crunch and had been "redeployed to the talent pool"...
Darren McCormac, London

Paper Monitor

12:42 UK time, Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Natasha Kaplinsky has had her baby and Five has released an artful black and white photo of their star newsreader and her tiny bundle of joy.

This is a woman who has always made every effort to look immaculate, from perfectly-plucked brow to polished shoe tip.

So one wonders how she will feel about the Sun's reproduction of said portrait, in which the picture editor has thrown the switch to maximum contrast. Rather than go with the flatteringly overexposed image run by the Dailies Mirror and Mail (anyone with freckles knows what I'm saying), the Sun's version throws any facial creases into sharp relief.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph has an equally revealing montage of David Cameron. Ever keen to present himself as a fit and active go-getter (remember the just-short-enough shorts he wore for those Cornish holiday snaps), he donned running garb while out and about in Birmingham.

"Walk before you run," is the paper's headline. "The Tory leader went for a stroll yesterday morning... but picked up the pace as soon as the cameras caught up with him."

As the old adage goes, men sweat, women perspire and those likely to be photographed jogging prefer to glow.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 1 October 2008

"I just plan to live like a normal student and not like a millionaire. I love my beans on toast" - Teenage lottery winner Ianthe Fullagar keeps it humble

Oh there is great joy in the nation's newspapers when the latest lottery squillionaire turns out to be a comely 18-year-old. And she speaks in quotes. And she hid the winning ticket in her bra. And her dog bit her on the bottom.
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Your Letters

15:02 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

I've never heard of this Rich Flanders guy. Is he some sort of City Ghent? Will his autonomy come at the cost of burning his Bruges? I'll get my coat - I was just Leuven anyway.
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

Monitor note: The horror.

RE MCK from Coventry (Monday letters): The three British TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) were driven into the ground below the tunnel and buried, while the three French TBMs were dismantled. Maybe the dismantled ones got to live out the rest of their days in a scrapyard in the south of France...
Daniel Evans, Telford, UK

Sorry to disillusion you, MCK, but the Channel Tunnel moles are not enjoying a well-earned retirement. By the time they met in the middle of the Channel, the tunnels behind them had been lined and were too small to allow the machines out again. They were mainly dismantled on site in the tunnel, although some large parts are still down there, buried in a short branch tunnel dug by the machines for the purpose.
Tim, London

I believe they left the boring machines down in the tunnels, as the alternative (shooting them into outer space and letting them burn up on re-entry) was considered too costly.
John, Sevenoaks

Having just been to Paris and back on EuroStar, I was reflecting only the other day that nobody seems to use the word "Chunnel", in reference to the Channel Tunnel, anymore. Even MCK (Letters, Monday) doesn't use the word, when asking about the machines that dug it. But Paper Monitor used it in the header. My conclusion was that it had fallen into abeyance because it's a silly word: perhaps I'm wrong? Or is Paper Monitor trying to resurrect it? I fear you're on to a loser there, Paper Monitor.
Rob, London, UK

Paper Monitor can sleep safely now. I've tracked down and killed all the baby-eating lizards. I'll be using them in my own celebrity lizard sauce to be launched next week.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

To Helen in Leicester (Monday letters). Postman Pat may have forgotten his three letters, but things started slipping long before then. Did you notice that he had about ten houses on his round, yet it used to take him all day to make the deliveries? A couple of years ago my mother suggested he might be delivering more than letters. I'm 26, but this still scarred me.
Helen, London

I've just read the article about the destruction of the space freighter. Very interesting, but it makes me wonder why I put so much effort into recycling soup tins when ESA are quite happy to destroy this extremely expensive piece of equipment.
Dean, Cardiff, UK

Sorry to spoil the hypothesis, but the inebriated lady the BBC are so fond of appeared on the front page of our local paper last week (binge drinking story, of course). You'd think in that state she wouldn't be allowed on the plane over.
Paul, Wellington, NZ

Has Peggy discovered the secret of eternal youth? See this story from 2006 and this story from 2008. Or are horse years different to humans?
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Crunch Creep

13:52 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Strange, tangential and often unlikely events laid at the door of the credit crunch.

After a hiatus of several weeks the Monitor is pleased to present a bumper crop.

"Playboy boss Hugh Hefner is laying off some of his bunny girls because of the credit crunch. The tycoon is reported to have been told to "strip back" loyal staff at his famous glamour empire." More details (Daily Star)

"Sales of turnips have rocketed in the past 12 months as families hit by rising prices look for affordable alternatives to more expensive vegetables, such as purple sprouting broccoli and baby sweetcorn... They are potentially a credit crunch vegetable." More details (Times)

"Tearooms are enjoying a renaissance in the credit crunch as people discover that sharing a pot of tea is cheaper than a round of cappuccinos. Some report a 30 per cent increase in trade over the past 12 months." More details (Times)

"The soaring cost of petrol and the impact of the credit crunch is doing what campaigners and Government initiatives failed to achieve - forcing children to walk to school." (Express)

"As the credit crunch bites, fish and chip shops have seen an increase in sales for the first time in five years." More details (Times)

"Chocolate sales are soaring as gloomy Brits comfort-eat their way through the credit crunch. Experts say millions who can no longer afford restaurant meals or holidays are opting for a 'quick-fix' treat instead." More details (Sun)

"A rise in theft of fruit and vegetables from allotments is being fuelled by the credit crunch, according to the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners." (Independent)

"A survey has revealed the latest victim of the credit crunch is the tooth fairy. It seems the economic downturn is starting to bite with the average amount left under a pillow dropping from £1.22 to 87p in the past six months." More details (People)

Britain is heading for a baby boom as the credit crunch is forcing couples to entertain themselves at home. More details (Sun)

"Dominoes are set for a Christmas comeback as parents reeling from the credit crunch cut back their festive spending. The game is being tipped as one of this year's top selling toys along with other traditional favourites Snakes & Ladders and Cluedo." (Sunday Mirror)

"It may have been the credit crunch... but this summer is expected to have been Britain's best for cinema attendance." More details (Times)

"Hard-up Brits are shunning bottled water and turning on the tap during the credit crunch. Sales are down five per cent in the past year, with experts blaming the economy and concerns about plastic packaging damaging the environment." More details (Sun)

"City workers facing redundancy could help ease a shortage of teachers in London.
Officials hope victims of the credit crunch may be prepared to switch careers for the greater job security of teaching." More details (Evening Standard)

"One in five young Brits wants to quit the UK because the credit crunch is so depressing." More details (Daily Star)

"The holiday firm which now owns Butlins has seen annual profits topping £100million as it benefits from the credit crunch. Bourne Leisure, which also operates Warner Holidays and Haven UK caravan parks, recorded a profits rise of 6.7% to £103m in the last year." (Daily Star)

Paper Monitor

11:08 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today Paper Monitor would like to highlight the gloriously diverse natures of Britain's newspapers.

Pick up any of these information repositories, wrought in ink, and it is possible to find a story that perfectly sums up the august organ's character.

It's all about the stunts at the Sun. No major news event is complete without a gimmick and in the case of the Sun today it's a chance to own a T-shirt bearing the legend "I OWN northern rock (AND BRADFORD AND BINGLEY)". Readers have to send their name and address to I Own A Bank, The Sun, 1 Virginia St.

The newspaper shows another side of its character in the centre pages with "I asked hubby for threesome with his best mate... it ruined my life". Ah, who really refers to their husband as "hubby"?

The Daily Mail, with its stock-in-trade warning of going to hell in a hand-cart, seems slightly flummoxed by the fact that we are actually going to hell in a hand-cart. What else can it panic about? Giant baby-eating lizards roaming Peterborough? An outbreak of the Black Death in Cheam?

It has to settle for "The white-flight exodus of 75,000 Britons a year".

The Daily Express manages a superior standard of frothing in its leader on the banking crisis.

"In any other walk of life the negligence displayed by the greediest bankers would be classed as criminal. In China they'd be executed." A line not unexpected for a paper that a year ago reported with a straight face that 8% of the population were keen to put criminals' heads on spikes.

White Van Man does not buy his Daily Star to hear about hell/handcart scenarios. He wants to escape from stress. The Star delivers with "£5m FOR BRITNEY SEX TAPE". Bradford and Bingley is relegated to page six.

You might expect the Daily Mirror to go on about the current crisis with a vague note of "we told you so" and it delivers its usual support for Labour with a leader entitled "Prime man for the job".

In the Independent we have "A mannequin on a toilet and dry porridge - it's the Turner prize". The newspaper has the kind of readers who want to hear about the nominees for the art prize, but do not need an sidebar asking "what is art?".

Over in the Guardian "X Factor fills vacuum left by God in schools, says head" fits the bill for pop-culture-but-viewed-down-our-noses.

The Times plays to its core audience with "Council tax freeze would bring £210 boost for middle classes".

And the Daily Telegraph has a story that is positively Telegraphalicious. "Elderly face prison for feeding birds." Handcart reaches destination.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:33 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

"Prison in Burma or the freedom of Salford? Tough choice this one. I'd stay where you are love" - An e-mailer to the Manchester Evening News reacts to the revelation that Aung San Suu Kyi is a candidate for the freedom of Salford.

There's a row brewing in Salford. The council wants to give the veteran Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs the freedom of Salford, an honour last awarded to Nelson Mandela in 2005. But union leaders think the Burmese pro-democracy leader, enduring a lengthy house arrest, would be a far more suitable choice.
More details (Manchester Evening News)

Your Letters

15:22 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

Things we learnt last week: "Scots drank two litres more pure alcohol than the rest of the UK last year, on average." I try to avoid pure alcohol, because of its tendency to kill. These Scots must be built of stern stuff.
Johnny, York

With the nights drawing in it has given me more time to think. My latest thought is what happened to the machines that dug out the Channel Tunnel? Are they sunning themselves on a beach enjoying retirement or is there another tunnel they are working on?
MCK, Coventry

On seeing the clip of 21st Century Postman Pat and then showing the first episode from the first series, I noticed that Pat forgot to pick up a further three letters on the Post Office counter. Was this the first time things were slipping up for Royal Mail?
Helen, Leicester

Does anyone else notice, now the Eurostar's become less reliable, the sudden spate of more innovative ways and of crossing the Channel? Can anyone suggest other alternatives?
Jel, Swansea

From The Caspian Sea Monster: "The project owes much to the development of hydrofoils - fast boats that lift out of the water as they pick up speed. Today, hydrofoils are a staple of many ferry operators around the world, but it was the Soviets who had invented them."

I can find no reference to the invention of the hydrofoil by the Soviets. The inventor seems to be either the Brit who reported the effect (Thomas Moy 1861) or a Frenchman who filed the British patent (1869 - granted to Emmanuel Denis Farcot).
Lawrence Menten, Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA

Does this mean we finally know where she's from?
Steve, Evesham

Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's not every Tory politician who prompts wolf whistles just for walking on stage. Indeed, it is a rare politician of any stripe who elicits such a response.

But Boris Johnson does not fit the usual template. He is, as the Times sketch writer Ann Treneman summaries, the party's "favourite stand-up". Ho ho ho, David Cameron appears to be saying in the accompanying photograph of BoJo's delighted audience. Nor does he appear to be laughing through gritted teeth, though Treneman notes the Tory leader's grin became more fixed as the adulation wore on.

But before Boris made his appearance, Mr Cameron "slipped" into a seat in the auditorium (quotemarks Treneman's own) and sat watching himself deliver a pre-speech tribute to the former MP for Henley, "his preternaturally squeaky-clean face looking even more squeegeed than usual".

For that description alone, Paper Monitor would happily award the mighty Treneman with muchos kudos.

And that is before she recounts the court jester's passive-aggressive power struggle with his master, masked as blokey joking: "'Dave!' he cried, his arm going up in mad salute. 'Can I call you Dave?' he cried. 'Yes I can!'"

All of which does rather undermine the foundations of the "untriumphal arch" the Daily Telegraph imagines Mr Cameron constructing in Birmingham, in an effort not to appear hubristic. "How we trembled for this modest edifice when the Mayor of London came on to speak," writes Andrew Gimson in his conference sketch.

Boris has previously vowed to emulate Emperor Augustus, a leader famous for his transformation of Rome from a city of brick to one clothed in marble. Gimson again uses this comparison to draw out his architectural analogy, as London's mayor spoke of his grand hopes for his city come the 2012 Olympics.

Really Boris? What have the Romans ever done for us?

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:37 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

"My girlfriend mentioned you used to be a movie star. Is that so? If you act as well as you make sauce, your movies should be worth watching" - A Paul Newman fan writes the actor a letter of appreciation.

Newman used to joke that he was as well known for his food ventures as his acting, and here's the proof. While more egotistical film stars might have bristled at such a letter, Newman was so fond of it he hung it on the toilet wall of his office.

More details (Daily Mirror)

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