BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 7, 2008 - December 13, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:15 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

10butterflies_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Emily, of Bagpuss fame, was paid with a bag of sweets.
More details

2. Reindeers are genetically programmed to stop growing in cold weather when food is scare, cutting their calorific needs by 70%.
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3. Kissing can damage hearing.
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4. Butch Cassidy was a Geordie.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5. Councils are banning number 13 houses on new developments.
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6. Potatoes can weigh 24lbs (11kgs).
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7. The more brothers a man has, the more likely he is to have sons himself.
More details

8. Dogs get jealous.
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9. Secondary school pupils in England are the best in Europe at science.
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10. The Moon's distance from the Earth can vary by about 30,000km.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Libby Brodhurst from Somerset for this week's picture of 10 butterflies in Bangalore.

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Re the mini quiz. Is it me or are we not actually presented with a conundrum to solve? So far 3950 people (including me) have attempted to answer a non-existent puzzle.
Richard, Aberdeen, UK
Monitor note: Forgive us. All fixed now.

So Eoghan Quigg "is worth 26 points in Scrabble, and uses up all three 'g' tiles". This must be some strange variation of the game where names are allowed, as well as playing two words as one?
Ed, Clacton, UK

Yikes! A painful addition to the list of stories with all noun headlines - Toddlers' toilet seat crush peril.
Luke Worthington, Edinburgh

Re Can kissing make you go deaf? She could have conditioned her ear drum as we do in diving, with the valsalva manoeuvre to equalise pressure. Now all he needs to do in future is hold her nose and have her exhale gently as they are snogging. Right, that's sorted.
Candace, New Jersey, US

A reminder from those of us who have birthdays at this time of year. We STILL appreciate a card, maybe even a small gift, and a nice "Happy Birthday darling" in the morning. (Yes, he DID forget and yes, his dinner IS in the dog.)
Andi, Rutland, England

Congratulations please! After taking the 7 days quiz for more years that I care to remember, I got all 7 right today. Christmas has come early.
Ali, Ipswich, UK
Monitor note: Well done. And watch out for 52 weeks 52 questions starting soon...

I completely disagree with the blessed Magazine's conclusions on houses numbered 13. I don't believe the unwashed masses are particularly superstitious, but I think a lot of people believe they are... so they avoid buying the house fearing that they might have trouble selling it (i.e. they might not make enough cash from it). Which is precisely the way superstitions start in the first place. What wonderfully idiotic logic.
Kevin, Derby

Paper Monitor, I love you. Wonderful and very funny review of the papers this morning; made me smile. To quote a line from the popular sitcom Birds of a Feather "I could drink your bathwater!"
Abby, London

What, no Sympathy For The Devil Close?
Geoff Harrison, Alsager

Excuse me, but has no-one noticed that Auntie Vera has not been writing in recently? Is she OK? Best check - or your festive flapjacks could go to ruin.
Mel, Godalming

Thank you for restoring my faith in your postal operation. By publishing my letter I will indeed send you a hand-crafted Christmas card via the Send Us Your Pictures page on the news website. I'll clearly mark it as for Magazine Monitor's attention. Hope you get it...
Martin, High Wycombe, UK

Well? Any news from Carol in Portugal (Wednesday's letters)?
Jay, Belfast

Caption Competition

13:17 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008


Winning entries in the caption competition.

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


Here a broker seals a deal during ICAP's annual charity day. This, one can hazard a guess, is not normal office wear at the City firm.

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

6. RussTarbox
"It's Jeff on the floor... put it all on black."

5. HughMcKinney
Woolies finds a buyer.

4. katiemwhite
The Knave of Hearts desperately tries to explain to the headhunter that he only "borrowed" the tarts to undertake a complex short-selling transaction, and the Queen would have them back before the markets close.

3. Rob Falconer
"Hello, Buckingham Palace Call Centre, how can I help you?"

2. Candace9839
The punishment for selling short was severe.

1. SgtColon
"What am I wearing? Funny you should ask..."

Paper Monitor

09:45 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Has there ever been a more poignant front page than that of today's Financial Times?

Forget sad-eyed dolphins a la the Independent (which ditches the melancholy sea-life in favour of a steely-eyed Angela Merkel), what pulls at the heartstrings is the FT's big picture of a lone pair of pink slippers dangling on the stripped-bare shelves of Woolworths.

ft.jpgThe headline itself is a masterwork of understated pathos, and sits firmly within the genre of mini-story in its own right (Paper Monitors passem).

"The Pick 'n' Mix [sic] has been cleared, the Nintendos have gone, and just a few forlorn items litter the shelves. Woolworths holds its last sale."

Sniff. I'm not crying. That's just rain on my face.

Shopping has long been the national pastime, and now, as ailing retailers abound, it has become a bloodsport. The huntsman's bugle has been replaced by the rattle of steel shutters rolling up. The stamping of hooves is now the pawing of Ugg boot-clad feet.
And foxes rest easy - the quarry is the last Island Princess Barbie cowering on a shelf at the back of the store.

The Daily Mail, its finger as ever on the pulse, bellows: "Our guide to the best bargains in ALL the most desperate sales". Where last month its banner bore a single blood-red poppy, it now bedecks this spot with a blue lozenge bearing the legend: "We'll help you beat the credit crunch".

Over on the Daily Star, it's almost a case of "what global financial crisis?" The lead concerns the X Factor. Another headline mentions a certain supermodel's rock 'n' roll lifestyle. And there is a fetching young filly who appears to have forgotten her top. And bra. And skirt. And coat. And isn't this scarf weather, m'dear? But there, in a tiny top corner, is the headline: "Greedy Yanks loot our stores."

Not that the credit crunch is biting much at the heels of the FT's gravity defying glossy How to Spend It supplement (name checked in this Magazine story), which is as chock full of ads for diamond-encrusted timepieces as ever. Although perhaps all is not what it seems at How to Spend It HQ. How else to explain a feature which begins thus: "Migraines, backache, constant fatigue? Amy Copehalnd looks for a cure at a discreet Swiss clinic."?

Meanwhile, the Daily Sport has scored something of a coup. It's new political columnist will be... Lembit Opik. His Friday columns will, reports say, "provide news, views and what's happening in the world of politics".

Paper Monitor does not wish to cast aspersions on the interests of Sport readers, but even those with the most cursory knowledge of Mr Opik's life and times will expect him to drop in the odd cheeky mention of parties thrown for the opening of an envelope.

And finally, a gold star for the Times, for its front page strapline "Don't cry for me R2-D2" (a lovely line, no?) in reference to plans for a Star Wars musical. Turning to page four as directed, Paper Monitor is crushed. "Diehard fans may dream of Jedi Knights serenading Jabba the Hutt and C-3PO singing 'Don't cry for me, R2-D2' but they are likely to be disappointed."

Sniff. Now I'm crying.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:36 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.
les_clint203.jpg"I don't know his work. Was he like Thelonius Monk?" - Clint Eastwood inquiring about the musical legacy of Les Dawson.

Pianist Jamie Cullum told the jazz-loving Mr Eastwood that his inspiration was Les Dawson. Clint was intrigued.
More details (Times online)

Your Letters

16:33 UK time, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Looking at the long queues and empty shelves in Woolworths ("Woolworths closure sale kicks off") made me wonder what a closing down sale in Argos would look like. Hundreds of people fighting over slips of paper and pens that don't work.
Martin, Fryerning

Not sure whether to congratulate the BBC on another obvious headline or just comment that at least they were in the right place then.
Naomi P, Sussex

Re "Can kissing make you go deaf?", I was so struck by this oxymoron of branding ("If you had normal ear drums you would need to be kissing like a Dyson hoover,") I almost dropped my Burger King Big Mac.
Kat Murphy, Coventry

Re "Actor cuts throat on Vienna stage" - Austrian authorities are now pursuing known Blackadder fans.
Joe, Huntingdon

Thanks to your tardiness in publishing the letters ("Your Letters", Wednesday), I have now discovered another correspondent who is actually not far from me in Germany. Still haven't seen Steffi Graf or Andre Agassi, mind.
Michelle P, Bruehl, Germany

I'd like to have a word with Noel Hinton please (Ibid). His comment made me laugh so much that I inhaled/snorted my cup of tea. Not much on its own, but coupled with the fact that I was sneakily reading the letters whilst 'supervising' a class full of teenage students makes it highly embarrassing! Months of working to build up some respect... wasted.
Poppy , Lille, France

Noel Hinton, Holt Norfolk - count yourself lucky. We're a good 30 years behind here.
Kevin, Douglas/Isle of Man

I can't believe i just bothered to read 51 variations on "I'm here", "We don't all live in Britain you know" and "no letters = the end of my world". Seriously, what on earth was the point? Unless you turn them into a deck of cards, with this letter as the Ace of spades, that was a pointless letters page. And the Jokers? Messrs Paper and Magazine Monitor. More effort please.
Tom K Hawkey, Nottingham, UK

Susan (Ibid), I saw in a supermarket festive spice bleach! I got better things to do in my life than to make my loo smell like Christmas. I'm sure my loo won't be crying if it smells of lemon during Christmas.
Helen, Leicester UK

That is so unfair. The one day I'm not on top of the letters is the day the doors are flung open and all are welcome. What's a guy gotta do to get published!? Random fact: Rudolph of the red-nosed variety had to be a lady reindeer, as the chaps lose their antlers at the start of Winter. Congratulations Grandma Carol!
Andy, Farnham

Look here MM, I was going to send you a Christmas card this year as an appreciation of the sterling work you do, but I'm beginning to think it would be a waste of time. It would probably end up in the same place that all my thoughtfully compiled letters do. However, you have a chance to redeem yourself.
Martin, High Wycombe, UK

Monitor: Letter published. Now it's for you, Martin, to fulfil your side of the deal.

Paper Monitor

13:10 UK time, Thursday, 11 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Form an orderly queue, ladies and gents, there's more than enough of Paper Monitor to go around... if you catch one's drift.

It goes without saying that reading is Paper Monitor's number one favourite pastime, so it's heartening to see a new survey out detailing how this contributes to one's sex appeal. Rrrrrr!

In the top 10 reading materials for both sexes are "current affairs websites" - heading the list to impress a man, and a respectable sixth for attracting the lay-deees - and the Financial Times, the only newspaper to make the cut.

Oh yeah, baby. The FT. It winks in its come-hither way from midway down the pile of papers on a nearby desk. Paper Monitor is drawn, like a moth to a flame. What delights lie between its pink sheets? (Stop sniggering there, you at the back. One's intentions are honourable. Ish.)

There's lots of serious financial stuff, as to be expected. And then, like a cheeky flash of red from under a Savile Row suit, there nestles a film review on page 15. Who knew? And opposite, a problem page with agony aunt Lucy Kellaway (of the BBC's own Point of View stable).

"Dear Lucy," a reader writes. "Do I have to go to our hideous Christmas party? - Senior manager, male, 48."

Lucy answers that she too, at 48, hated to mix working and drinking. But then a frosty colleague turned warm, witty and wise with a few glasses of office plonk inside, and this memory made dealing with him throughout the year that much easier. Perhaps Senior manager, male, 48 is the same, she muses?

"To let both your bosses and your underlings see your soft underbelly (assuming you have one) will not necessarily mean that you keep your job. But it might make all the hardness that is to come a little less unpleasant.

"If I have it wrong, and you are beastly even when slightly drunk, then stay home. You won't be missed," Kellaway adds.

Paper Monitor is undone.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:53 UK time, Thursday, 11 December 2008

"Sexy and hot, young housewives. Flirty and enchanting, available today" - translation of Chinese script mistakenly used on cover of academic journal

Faces at the offices of Max Planck Research, one of Europe's most prestigious scientific journals, must have been as red as the cover of this august publication after it was revealed that the fancy calligraphic Chinese text chosen to grace the front of its latest issue was little more than an advert for women's services of a sort.
More details (Sydney Morning Herald)

Your Letters

17:35 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

I would like to thank the Magazine for providing me with the nicest reminiscence ever. I completed the quiz on the 11-plus and then started to use the skills I had just proved were still intact to think about how long it was since I had actually sat the papers myself- and worked out that its been a whole 11 years since I had the pleasure of completing the exam's notoriously confusing puzzles. I must say it served me well though- I got an A- got into a grammar school and then headed onto the dizzy heights of medicine- where I'm sitting my finals next year- although I doubt if they'll be even nearly as difficult as the 11+ seemed all those years ago.
Louise McMurran, Glasgow

I would just like to point out that the type of questions that are part of your mini 11-plus exam are of the old type used in N Ireland. They ceased being used about 15 years ago, I was the 1st year to do the new style which is of a more useful style with normal science, English and maths questions and not the number and word puzzles included in your exam. As a result of the changes made 15years ago I think the exam became more relevant to the subjects normally studied in school.
Owen K, Coleraine, N. Ireland

Is this another case of nominative determinism?
Vicky O'Brien, London

She's back!
Tinks, Reading

Hurrying through my local supermarket, I picked up my customary bag of mixed lettuce leaves, then paused and looked at the bag which was different: it now bore the legend: "Christmas Salad." Why? It's a desperate attempt to give everything a seasonal appellation. I was reminded of Auntie Vera in the Giles cartoons who, in one Christmas cartoon, was pictured clutching something labelled "Jolly Foot Powder." Anyone else seen examples of this madness? Happy Cling Wrap?
Susan, Brisbane, Australia

Was anyone able to read without putting on an accent for the last three words?
Lewis C, London

Re this story, if some of the early computer systems had 500 single key commands (perhaps the reason they didn't catch on is that few could fit the keyboards on their desks.
Adam, London, UK

Nope, have gone home by 5:30 pm... usually catch up with the letters the next day though.
Ali Longstaff, Ipswich, UK

I may not have been there last night (broken internet connection), but will be tonight. The distraction will be very welcome!
Andrew, Leicester

I'm still here, (not) working hard. And I'd quite like to know who set the timer on the 11-plus test to 6 seconds?! I know it was supposed to be hard, but that seems a little extreme. (Am a little proud of the fact that I still scored 3)
Nicky, London, UK

I'm disappointed that MM is testing us with its request for us to beg for letters (Tuesday). I would have begged quite happily had it not been for the fact that I was out of the office. Does that mean that we miss out on letters for Tuesday?
Louisa, Leicester

No I wasn't there I was on my way home for my tea (chilli). I now am here eating lunch (sausage roll and beans) and there are no letters to read, not even yesterday's.
Paul, Plymouth

Dear Monitor, No I wasn't here last night, I was Christmas shopping, and now wish I hadn't! Next time I get the urge to shop I'll stay home to read your letters page instead.
Sue, Swindon

Is anyone still there? Well yes - it is only lunchtime here and that is prime Magazine Monitor reading time!
richard, picton, canada

I come come in this morning with a slight hangover and thinking, oh well, the BBC didn't publish the letters yesterday so at least I'll be able to read them this morning. Then I just get an experiment! My brain can't deal with experiments currently. Give me some letters!!!
Tom, London

No I wasn't in, so am rather disappointed to come in and read them this morning to find that... there still aren't any letters. A late bus, a cancelled meeting and no letters - so much disappointment and it's not even 9am!!
Jennie Fisher, Leeds, UK

At 7:12am on Wednesday morning I've been up for over an hour as the beautiful sunshine streaming in through the curtains has woken up the kids. So I do have time to read through the latest crop of letters before getting my ferry into work! And all jealous responses are gratefully accepted!
James S, Auckland, NZ

Dear Monitor, I thought you should know that I cannot bring myself to leave the office until after that day's Letters have been published. My boss keeps wondering why I pull all-nighters here almost every Thursday, but I simply haven't the heart to tell him the truth yet...
Wolf, A Lonley London Office ...

I have always thought that if a TV version of the Magazine Monitor were made it would be more suited to post-watershed. Not sure if it would be BBC3 or BBC4 to start with, but that would mean working well past 6pm. Given the question of publishing letters past business hours, that now puts you with a 5 minute slot at the end of Newsround. I fear the hooded "yoof" might not get the porridge references.
Niki, Frome, Somerset

There's a snow storm outside. Highway's a parking lot. At work late waiting for it to clear and can't help but think - if letters had been posted 5 hours ago, I'd have something to do rather than work at this point.
Kat, Montreal, Canada

Hello, I'm still here! xxx
John Mac,

11.13, still here. Letters still aren't...
Andrew Fermor, Deal

Monitor - yes! Here I am, checking back at 11pm, long after the end of my working [procrastinating] day, hoping for a bounty of letters to make amends for the tardiness of the riches of today's daily press... and no letters either? It's not even Thursday. I shall have to entertain myself with some Cabbaging (all the Tunnock's Teacakes for me!).
Nich, Nottingham

Margaret O'Connor,

What a cop out! We're not all in your time zone, you know!
Pix6, Vienna, Austria

Yes. And I'm still working. Do I win?
Sue, London

I work nights, so yup, I'm still here. Post 'em anyway!
Adam, Nottingham

Hi, yes, I see your message now at 21:43 while waiting for my PhD thesis to spool to the printer!
Lisa, Bath

I am still here and if the letters are not published by the time I leave work I check for them at home as well! I even read the letters pages in order when I return from holiday to catch up! Did I just say that out loud!?
Katherine, Cardiff

I'm still here - am I too late???
Lola, Birmingham

I'm here. I am unemployed and look forward to reading the letters every day.
Nicola, Bristol

YES, I am still here and have wasted nearly half my afternoon checking back to the MM/PM page to see what bounty awaits me. And now you're asking me to JUSTIFY that??!? Hmph. I hope you're feeling really cold and... and contrite!
Nima, DC, USA

"Is anyone still here"... you seem to forget that this column doesn't just go out to the UK. I look forward to reading this column mid-Morning (still a few hours after you put new items online). So yes, definitely - don't turn every day into a Thursday.
Mark Richards, Timaru, New Zealand

Not everyone lives in the UK. Those of us in exile in parts remote (I'm in the North American colonies) are still at work hours after the motherland gets its hat and coat. Imagine, then, my dismay when I took my lunch break look at the Monitor, and found, in the space where "Your Letters" should be, a lack, nay a dearth, of said letters. Come on, Monitor -- you're just not trying hard enough. There's still a fortnight to go before Christmas, you know...
Steve, Florida

Thanks to the BBC Mobile site, I enjoy reading the letters whilst sitting on the train via my TyTN II!
Nick Thomas, Walton on Thames

Dear MM, Yes I'm still here. Due to snow and a cancelled flight I'm very much STILL here in KC. My colleagues haven't donned their hats or coats and are also still here. Please don't forget those of us abroad that work in different time zones that rely on MM just as much as people in the UK to waste productive hours pondering the relative sizes of buses and football pitches.
Michael B, London (but Kansas City right now)

I was wondering where you'd got to ! I looked to get my Letters fix around 6pm, and now, just before I leave work, thought I'd try again. So, no amusing names or obvious headlines to keep me warm while I scrape the car windscreen before heading off home.
Paul Greggor, London

It's just gone two o'clock over here, and I've come back from lunch, looking forward to today's letters (I always save them for after lunch). However, I really don't mind waiting until tomorrow if the Monitor has bad weather and a long journey home to contend with.
Nicolas, Warrenville, IL

Not only am I still t(here) I am hoping that I might be the only one, and therefore get a letter published - an occurrence rarer than a sighting of letters on a Thursday. And I live in Germany, so it's an hour later......
Harvey Mayne, Frankfurt, Germany

Some of us of course are so very blooming busy during work time that they don't have a second to call their own and have to wait until eight o'clock to read MM. So yes, I'm here, but here is home not work.
Vicky, East London

What with is only being mid-afternoon here (Atlantic time), yep, you still got me babe!
Morwenna Hancock, North Sydney, NS

Yes I'm still here, on a foreign laptop. Waiting for daughter to produce our first grandchild. Will send news as and when.
Carol, Portugal

Yes I'm still here and I will keep coming back until the letters are published (or there is something good on TV)
Mark , Exeter

I'm still there! But not all there, clearly, otherwise I'd have gone home by now.
Tom, Aberystwyth

Yes! We on the other side of the pond are still here. Porridge, Routemaster buses and nominative determinism know no time zones.
Jennifer, Connecticut, USA

Working in a mundane call centre from 09:30 to 19:30, 5 days a week, I am still here!! And! Disappointed that no letters have appered today! It's my only link back to sanity in these 10 hours! I'm going to go home and foam at the mouth! Thanks Monitor! p.s. The exclamation mark at the end of my name is to highlight how common and uninteresting my name is... Does anyone else have a more common name?! John Brown perhaps!?
David Smith!, Kidsgrove, Stoke, UK

The land of the Tonka toy never sleeps!
Rachel, Minnetonka

I'm still here! I usually check the Monitor for PM and the stories when I get into my office (8am Pacific Time) and then again at lunch to catch the letters and any exra items.
Dragon Paltiel, Concord, Calif. US

Here! (It's like school, this.)
Stig, London, UK

I'm still here, mainly because the time difference means North Norfolk lags behind GMT by about 15 years.
Noel Hinton, Holt Norfolk

I'm here - I keep checking for the letters. I'll love you forever dear MM if you print them just for me!!
Sue B, Oxfordshire

I'm here! But here is home, where I've been since lunchtime because I have a double free on a Tuesday afternoon, so I may not count.
Louise, Surrey

I'm still here! Although I'm going in a minute, lots of papers to mislay on trains, that sort of thing....
Bernard, Whitehall,

Yep - still here. Photocopier jammed. No chocolate left in the vending machine. Anyone seen the ship's cat?
Violet, Leicester

Depressingly so...
Phil, Oxford

Yes I'm still here. Am pretending it's because I'm uber diligent, but really it's because my choir practice starts in an hour and it's not worth going home in between. So once a week I can look like a model employee! But still wish you'd publish letters earlier though, as other days I'm outta here.
Sally, London

Yes, and I'll be here for a while. Should we order a pizza?
Simon, London

Yes, I'm still here. But given that you hardly publish my letters, even when some of them are maybe slightly amusing, I'm not sure if you really mind or not. Sorry, it's been a long and rather fruitless day, involving taking several hours to discover the difference between " and ' in a script I'm writing, and I've got a cold. And so has my girlfriend. And the house is freezing, and I've run out of potatoes.
HS, United Kingdom

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Life is tough at the moment, even on Hack Street, but a collective sigh of relief could be heard yesterday from work-starved journos as news spread that those cheeky mockney Britpoppers Blur are to reform.

Why, with bassist Alex James returning to the day job, one can almost hear the collective din of editors frantically riffling through their Rolodexes as they seek to tap up forgotten freelancers able to fill the void.

Although, if today's Independent is anything to go by, our Renaissance man du jour is not letting go of his writing reins just yet.

"ALEX JAMES ON PARK LIFE (& GETTING HIS OLD JOB BACK)" runs the Indy's top promo strap (see also our Quote of the Day).

The tabloids, meanwhile, are again fulminating about the state of TV, although there's a novel twist in that this time the focus of their ire is satellite broadcaster Sky, for its plans to show footage of a man committing assisted suicide.

"SUICIDE TV" says the Daily Mirror; "Uproar as TV shows suicide" goes the Daily Express; while the Daily Mail's front page is given over to one of those headlines that serve as mini-stories in their own right.

"Tenderly holding hands, a wife says goodbye as her husband dies by assisted suicide... and shockingly, tonight it will be shown on prime-time TV".

And the Sun... Paper Monitor is mystified at not being able to find even the slightest mention of the tale in the paper which, well, it hardly seems relevant, is, like Sky TV, part of the Murdoch stable.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:46 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

"Looks like I've got my old job back" - Columnist and cheese-maker Alex James. Didn't he used to be in some band?

blur203.jpgHe did indeed. Perhaps you've heard of a four-piece pop combo by the name of Blur? He was the tall one with floppy hair. Bassist. Seems they've all kissed and made up, which James alludes to in his weekly column.
More details (The Independent)

Your Letters

18:12 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

In an experiment to gauge the criticalness of publishing Your Letters at this late hour, when colleagues are donning hats and coats and frantically heading for the further reaches of various public transport networks, the Monitor is wondering - is anyone still there?

Answers using the "Send us a letter" form at the top, right-hand side of this page please.

Paper Monitor

12:28 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a tale of two Tory leaders in today's papers. Two images of David Cameron - one as man of the people, the other as, well, slightly less of a man of the people.

Image one is in the Sun, having appeared elsewhere yesterday. Mr Cameron is pictured leaving a Woolworths having managed to pluck two rolls of wrapping paper and a toy truck and digger from the 50% off retail maelstrom. He's just like everybody else.

Image two is in the Guardian, the Times and the Daily Telegraph. It shows Mr Cameron and his wife with David Ross at a swanky looking party. The Conservative leader is standing next to the mobile phone tycoon's then-girlfriend Michelle Ross. Both the Guardian and the Times feel it necessary to point out Ms Ross's past as a lap dancer and someone with a conviction for benefits fraud. Hey ho.

It is with great regret that Paper Monitor is forced to announce it missed something yesterday. It happens.

In the Guardian there was a glorious left-hand-fails-to-appraise-right-hand-of-what's-going-on moment. And the people of this parish know more than a little about that sort of thing.

Monday's Media Guardian carries a withering analysis of the relationship between newspaper Christmas gift guides and advertisers and PRs. And it's apparently a miserable job having to compile the list for the poor journos, who often have to send back the "examples".

Sadly, Monday's G2 led with their thrifty festive gift guide, a mere 10 pages of suggestions.

Hello right hand, meet left hand.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:22 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

"Eat a camel today, I've done it. It's beautiful meat, a bit like beef" - An Australian academic suggests a solution to the feral camel problem

There's estimated to be anything up to a million feral camels in Australia, the legacy of redundant beasts being released into the wild in the 19th and early 20th Century. But they're apparently damaging the fragile desert ecosystem and Professor Murray McGregor of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre has an answer. Eat them.
More details (the Australian)

Your Letters

15:04 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

Does this conform to EU regulations?
Stuart, Croydon

Monday's Quote of the Day: according to the Mail online article "Mr Brown admitted he was beaten with the belt in an interview with Sir Alan Sugar". Maybe I'll put my application for the next series of The Apprentice on hold.
David, Romford

In the interest of helping Chris Clarke (Friday letters) to fulfil his/her dreams, I'd be available for a cup of tea some time. Bonus points if I get a panino too.
Susannah, Northampton

Chris Clarke - I'm game let's sort out a Monitorite meeting then.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Yet another example of someone with a surname that matches the theme of the news story.
Helen, UK

Bears in space. This is the nicest story to appear in the news all year. Give the teachers responsible a medal.
Stuart Jenkinson, Bradford

Another entry in the "least surprising headline" competition. Are these now deliberate?

Chris Kenny, Southampton, England

Paper Monitor

13:19 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Some people like change. Some like innovation and surprises.

But there's something strangely refreshing about all the newspapers reverting to type and hitting their readers with some classic, textbook, you-know-where-you-are-with-these-stories. For the purposes of this Paper Monitor, we shall call them Stories-Calculated-To-Please-The-Archetypal-Reader (SCTPTAR)

In the Daily Express, there's a dream of a peach of a story. "NOW A TAX ON TREE HOUSES". And there's more. "Shock Labour raid on garden extras". The only minus is that this story can only go downhill from such a beaut of a headline.

In the Guardian, there's almost too many SCTPTARs to mention. The front page is "People power vital to climate deal - minister". Not bad. But with the story about archaeologists digging up Greenham Common peace camp, you start feeling you're in an April Fools piece.

A trawl of the vegan offshoot of the camp reveals a big stash of milk bottles, casting doubt on the camp's mission statement.

It has the killer quote: "It reminded me of Lewis Binford's work on the Mask Site (in Arctic Alaska) where Nunamiut hunters watched and waited."

Paper Monitor is not making this up.

The Sun has "FATFIGHTER PREZZA" on page 14.

The Daily Mail has a story highlighting Claire Curtis-Thomas's campaign against "lad's magazines" as featured in the pages of the Magazine a mere two and a half years ago.

Their description of Loaded is memorable. "The magazine has a page of celebrity lookalikes from pornographic publications. This month's include US president-elect Barack Obama."

On the front-page of the Times there's a classic SCTPTAR - "Traditional subjects go in schools shake-up".

It's all so comforting.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:28 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

"The belts were actually manufactured in my constituency" - Gordon Brown recalls being beaten with a belt at school.

It pays for a politician to be devoted to his home turf but managing to plug your constituency while recalling being beaten at school is a bit special.
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