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Archives for February 1, 2009 - February 7, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

16:58 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

Ten snow-covered beach hutsSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. The world's longest snake was 13m (42ft) long.
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2. Salt mines are ideal for storing important documents.
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3. Facebook was originally called "The facebook".
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4. The English Channel between Dover and Calais froze over in 1673.
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5. The Victoria line, and Waterloo and City line, are the only two of the 11 London Underground lines that are entirely below ground.
More details (the Times)

6. The famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster was never actually used during World War II.
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7. Being born with additional digits (fingers/toes) is called being polydactyl.
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8. Barbra Streisand is an honorary knight of the Legion of Honour.
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9. In Norway some streets are heated by pumping seawater through pipes below them.
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10. Dalek operatives in Dr Who used to wear just swimming trunks, so hot would it get inside.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Matt Gerry for his picture of 10 snow-covered beach huts at Canford Cliffs in Dorset.

Your Letters

16:42 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

All well and good - Daily Express headline in Paper Monitor today - but what does it have to do with Diana?
Jordan D, London, UK

The current crisis over salt for the roads reminds me of a newspaper headline from a winter somewhere around 1983, which read "Highways money runs out - council grit their teeth."
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

"Octuplets' mum wanted huge family." Y'think?
Julia, London, UK

The sherbet debate - I think this may be a simple semantic. I understand that sherbet means to an American or Canadian what sorbet means to us here in the UK - which is available in all sorts of fruit flavours and, therefore, colours. This is opposed to the white fizzy powder made of sugar, sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and various exciting e-numbers that is sold to children here and known as sherbet.
Weasel, Crystal Palace

More nominative determinism? One of the photographs on the BBC website of the snow was taken at Totterdown, Bristol. I would have thought from looking at the picture that there was a great danger of just that.
Dave Moore, Par, Cornwall UK

Re: "It is hardly surprising some call water 'blue gold'". Surely it is surprising they call it blue because... well, it isn't.
Anne, London

Unlikely phrase of the day: "Mr Putin danced to Abba hits and shouted "Bravo!" "
Rob Foreman, London, UK

So Jeremy Clarkson has apologised for calling the PM a "one-eyed Scottish idiot" - causing outrage from the RNIB and assorted Scottish politicians. I thought that the purpose of adjectives was to impart meaning to the use of a noun, not to suggest the terms are synonymous. I am sure Mr Clarkson was not implying that all partially sighted or Scottish people are idiots, but that in his (not so) humble opinion, the PM is. Can any pedantic Monitor readers (some, but not necessarily all of the readership) explain when this became the case?
Steve, Catford

Caption Competition

13:35 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

Winning entries to the Caption Competition.

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

bull_pa_424.jpg

This week's image shows a statue of a bull in Birmingham wearing a comic relief T-shirt and a red nose.

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

6. georgehh
After the Merrill Lynch work dried up, my agent's been struggling to find me any decent work

5. eattherich
The Brummies unwittingly wheeled the bull to the town's centre, thinking it a gift for outwitting their Coventry foes. Night fell, and a small hatch in the rump opened...

4. SeanieSmith
"Is it charging...? Nah, but I think yer 'ave t' make a donation."

3. Rockahula
"Okay, Darren, we'll wait here and you come and meet us... yeah, we're outside some shops... er, the one with a closing down sale on.... it's got posters in the window... there are people walking past it... I can't really be more specific than that..."

2. groovywobble:
"No... no I want to speak with the architect! I distinctly said vestibule."

1. fandango2
"I don't know - Spanish workers, come over 'ere and take all our jobs..."

Paper Monitor

12:23 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Her Majesty's Press would seem to be in a bit of a pickle about whether it is happy or not that Tony Blair was the first foreign statesman to be welcomed to the Obama White House.

What line to take? Is it good because he's British? Bad because he's Blair? Good because he's not French? Good and/or bad because he's not Gordon Brown? Bad because he talks about religion with the President? Good because he talks about religion with the President? Oh it's all so confusing.

For the Indie it's this: "There IS an afterlife: religion does have its uses after all. After you have left office, it gets you to the front of the line of foreigners queueing up to meet the new President."

For the Express: "Tony Blair eclipsed his old rival Gordon Brown again yesterday...."

For the Mirror: "Tony Blair beat European leaders yesterday..."

The Guardian seems hardly able to bring itself to report it at all, putting it on page 20 with just a picture caption reading: "Tony Blair, the closest world leader to George Bush, yesterday beat Gordon Brown...."

For the Daily Telegraph it's about Brown's humliation, for the Daily Mail it's a about religion: "So Blair *does* do God (31 times in once speech)", even describing his speech archly as a "sermon".

It's all an indication perhaps that Blair remains box office, and there's no sign of that changing.

Moving on, as it's Friday, that means it's time for Lembit Opik's column in the Daily Sport. Again it is accompanied by a pair of breasts unaccompanied by any over- or indeed under-clothes. Choice quote: "Do you like beer as much as this guy I know? His name's Greg Mulholland and he's an MP from Leeds. He's so devoted to beer that he shouted at me for ordering a bottle of Magners cider on Wednesday. I respect that." Surely that's a sausage as large as the Humber Bridge?

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We shouldn't let today pass without recording some cheer amid the gloom. Not particularly cheer for the economy, but cheer for the Daily Express which is able to run this headline (right) just as if it were old times.

And perhaps a final observation re the Carol Thatcher story (or as the Daily Telegraph has it today, the "golliwog imbroglio")... Interesting to note that the Mail is giving away a DVD of the Dam Busters tomorrow. At least two versions of the classic film have been broadcast in recent years - one in which Guy Gibson's dog has his original moniker and one in which it is omitted in the interests of Bowdlerisation. Will be worth seeing which version the paper distributes. (If you have no idea what Paper Monitor is talking about, it's really a bit difficult to explain here. Maybe all will become clear.)

What know you of James Patterson?

09:58 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

Comments

After a successful deployment of the Monitor meta-brain in helping less literary minded readers appreciate the magic of John Updike, another author appears on the radar... James Patterson, the most borrowed author from British libraries.

James PattersonAdmittedly, Patterson (right) has never commanded the admiration of the literati quite in the way Updike did, but while his work is known to many, it remains a mystery to others. In fact, plenty will have never even heard of him.

But anyone who has read a James Patterson book is cordially invited to sprinkle a little elucidation dust on these pages. In short, help those readers uninitiated in the Patterson cult, by telling us something about his work.

Send responses using the comments box/button immediately below.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:20 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

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

"It will be forever remembered as the game dominated not by clever tactics, but by unexpected Tic Tacs" - BBC sports reporter Kevin Gearey on the ad-blighted football game

TV viewers watching the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night on ITV were unhappy when an advert for a brand of mint sweet interrupted the game as Everton scored their winning goal against Liverpool.
Source: BBC 10 O'Clock News

Your Letters

17:57 UK time, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Walking the kids to school, I was amusing myself reading the messages written in the frost on cars (no snow down here sadly) until I came across "clean my", followed shortly by "clean my yo". It seems they were interrupted before finishing, any suggestions for what they could have meant?
Andrew Fermor, Deal, Kent

Chris Clarke (Your Letters, Tuesday's) - it doesn't matter what you write as long as you don't send a photo of your handiwork for inclusion in this collection.
Robert, Surrey

It makes me so angry to read this story and see the sign "School closed due to snow". As all good grammar pedants know, it should be "School closed owing to snow".
Adam, London, UK

I have never seen white sherbet (Paper Monitor, Wednesday), but I have seen other shades: pinks, green, yellow & orange. I guess here in the States we only get the colored (sic) sherbet. Lime sherbet is typically coloured a lovely shade of lime green, which is what I imagine sherbet-green would be. Raspberry sherbet is a deep pink, while strawberry is a lighter shade. Orange sherbet is, well, orange; lemon is yellow. I have also seen red sherbet, it was Cheerwine flavored (sic) - which, if you have not heard of is a cherry cola from North Carolina. Hope this was helpful!
Catlin, Brevard, North Carolina, USA

Re ("Peggy Sue got where?")According to the show Quantum Leap, when Sam met a young Buddy Holly the "original" words to Peggy Sue was Piggy Sueeee! (Hog Calling).
Colin Bartlett, Oxford

Another topical case of nominative determinism spotted on the BBC news last night... The head of Streetscene Services in East Riding, Yorkshire who was discussing the current shortage of grit was amusingly called John Skidmore. Let's hope that's not a prediction!
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Only four letters published yesterday (Your Letters, Wednesday)? Is this another crunch creep? Or perhaps everyone's flair for witty comment has been taken up working out what to write in pristine snow, and there's none left for the letters page?
David Price, Caldicot,

In the story about the "quantification" of intelligent alien life, if by "likelihood" one means "probability" how could it be a million to less than one? Surely then it would be zero (impossible) to one (certain). If, however, that was the number of intelligent life forms, then no, I suppose humans don't count for the "less than one" scenario.
JD, Philadelphia, PA

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your afternoon update today PM (Paper Monitor, Wednesday). I've just recently ordered a copy of the Day of the Triffids BBC series on DVD and now thanks to your tip-off it looks like I can get the book on which it's based for the price of today's The Times. Hurrah!
CS, Manchester, England

Jinja (Your Letters, Wednesday), I suspect the reason that your suggestion wasn't used as quote of the day is because it's almost impossible to say. Having tripped and stumbled over "seized seeds", you are then confronted with mon's maney belt, sorry, man's money belt. I'll get my throat.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Re "Largest snake was 'size of bus'" Yay, yet another measurement to join the ranks of Olympic swimming pools and London buses.
Phil, Angus, Scotland

So that would be a bendy bus, would it?
David, Romford

To Sera (Your Letters, Wednesday): yes, you would have to flip the flag - this is what "upside down" means. As there is no way for the other short edge to be attached to the flag pole, how did you expect rotating it to help?
Justie, London

Is it upside down or back to front flag question need not be raised - since the flag IS upside down and needs to be flipped away (or towards) the observer so the broad white stripe is next to the roundel on top of the spike. Of course, if the St George's flag had been used, none of this would have happened.
Martin Payne, London Uk

Paper Monitor

13:54 UK time, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Comments

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's demonstration time outside Television Centre again, this time because of Carol Thatcher being invited not to return to The One Show, though of course other programmes are available. The Daily Mail is very cross, saying that "friends of Carol say it was BBC's revenge on Maggie". And the Daily Telegraph asks "Was Thatcher sacked because of her mother?"

Of course Paper Monitor has no view on this whatsoever. But a corresponding question occurs - Was Thatcher hired because of her mother?

Elsewhere, Stephen Fry's adventures getting stuck in a lift connected to the world only via an iPhone and Twitter get a good look in. Twitter is ideal for newspapers keeping tabs on what celebrities are doing, though the lack of that element of exclusivity must be a bit frustrating for jobbing hacks. What joy is there in writing a story about Stephen Fry being stuck in a lift when anyone who wants could have found out about it directly from the man himself two evenings before? [Beware slightly strong language.]

Of course, more than 2,000 regular Magazine readers know exactly what Twitter is best for - finding out what the Magazine is up to, of course. If you're a later adopter, you can follow our yet-to-be-award-winning Twitter feed here.

The nation's sketch-writers have their pound of flesh with our esteemed colleague Mr Peston, who appeared before the Treasury Select Committee yesterday to talk about coverage of the banking crisis.

The Mail's Mr Letts uses the rather curious phrase "[his] sentences were coming out like giant sausages, as long as the Humber Bridge" (interpretations via Comments button below please).

The Times's Ms Treneman describes him as being hunched forward "like a hotel toaster at breakfast". Good tries, but neither as palpable a hit as Clive James's "brown condom full of walnuts".

What else does one need to know? Well, according to an advert in today's papers for Vogue magazine, under a headline "All you need to know", it's some or all of these coverlines:

  • BIGGER BOLDER BETTER - The earring makes a comeback
  • SPRING'S BIG IDEAS - Fringing, acid brights, cool metallics and cosmic rocks
  • The secrets of red carpet dressing
  • MAD MEN - Style, sex and the small screen

Such enthusiasm for earrings strikes Paper Monitor as diverting but not the world's most pressing issue. Fringing had to be looked up to ascertain the exact meaning (note to self: must keep up more). Red carpet is obvious. But Mad Men sounds intriguing, and so long as it applies to the excellent TV series, that's something one can get on board with. If it applies to "mad men" in any other sense whatsoever, that, frankly, is like a sausage the size of the Humber Bridge.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:22 UK time, Thursday, 5 February 2009

"Dogs don't have the financial problems that humans do, they're not involved in wars as much, they're just kind of happy" - Friends actress Lisa Kudrow on man/woman's best friend

OK, she's probably speaking tongue-in-cheek, but we'd love to think this was a moment of Phoebe creeping into reality.

Your Letters

16:44 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How on earth was this not the Quote of the Day? "Customs officials say they also seized seeds in the man's money belt and an undeclared aubergine."
Jinja, Edinburgh

"In London, it rarely snows at all in any meaningful way." Have I missed something up here in the Midlands? Do I need to spend more time sitting in the snow meditating?
Catherine, Leicester

Re: The upside down flag saga - isn't it actually back to front? If you turn it through 180 degrees it's still wrong. You would have to flip it over for it to match the "correct" picture.
Sera, Nottingham

Old man has grey hair shock! Whatever next...
Bryn, London, UK

Paper Monitor

11:56 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What sort of colour is sherbet-green, for is not sherbet always white? This strange hue gets a mention in the Times in a piece on M&S's recruitment of 1970s model Marie Helvin to model its new range for women in their mid-40s and over.

marie_then_now_getty.jpgHelvin (pictured right) is now 56, "staggeringly ancient" in model years, notes fashion editor Lisa Armstrong. "This is equivalent to the age Methuselah reached - 969."

A victory for womankind? Armstrong is unsure, given "the amount of effort Helvin clearly expends on looking the way she does in the campaign shots" and, importantly, the fact that the clothes have a certain va-va-voom, so long as you are a woman in her mid-40s and over who likes to wear animal print tops and jackets in the aforementioned shade of green. Or a "boxy sub-Chanel" number in sherbet pink. Whatever that is.

Paper Monitor is equally mystified by "MotoGP". It's a sport, and its champion is Valentino Rossi, who has suffered an "unlikely injury [that] has the rest of us laughing", according to the Times. The paper's idiosyncratic sports writer Simon Barnes expounds at length on Rossi's injury - sustained while drawing the curtains and necessitating stitches - but nowhere does he explain what MotoGP is, other than to make reference to motorbikes and taking turns at high speed.

Meanwhile, another possible victory for womankind can be found in the Daily Mail, which very much likes the newly brunette Scarlett Johansson. But the Times prefers her blonde, and goes so far as to blame Posh Spice - in her long-gone Essex guise - with this extraordinary sentence: "Everyone knows that Mrs Beckham is steadily gaining influence among the stars of Tinseltown..."

And finally, a return once more to Fleet Street's love-hate relationship with the snow. The Mail is in clover. Said flowers may be entombed in ice in a Home Counties field made slick by the toboggan tracks of dozens of demob-happy children and skiving stranded workers, but in clover none the less.

For the transport chaos and school closures occasioned by the snow give the Mail the opportunity to air one of its favourite blusters. "Frozen out by 'elf and safety" runs its front page, with more spleen vented on pages 4,5, 8,9, 14, 15 and 17 - including a "waspish personal view from Quentin Letts" in which he invokes not just the spirit of the Blitz but Captain Scott as well - plus an additional double-page spread devoted to photos of amusing snowmen and women.

What's not to like?

dott_203.jpgUPDATE 1429 GMT: Paper Monitor has just popped down to its local newsagent (one of a large chain) via the sandwich stop, and spotted free copies of Day of the Triffids being given away with bagged copies of the Times (see pic, right). Either Saturday's come early or the Thunderer is raising the stakes in mid-week giveaways.

'I've never joined Facebook because...'

10:39 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Comments

fb203.gifIt's the fifth birthday of the world's most popular social networking website, Facebook.

From its humble origins as "The Facebook", a website devised by a Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, it has gone on to claim 150 million registered users - outstripping its closest rival MySpace.

Yet as the site's membership grows, some have resolutely ground their heels in, refused to hitch their social life up to the Facebook bandwagon.

Until this morning, the BBC's Shelagh Fogarty, who co-presents Radio 5 Live's Breakfastprogramme, was one of these refuseniks. Then she capitulated...

"I'd always thought any random online connections (eg dating agencies) were at best ill advised, at worst foolish," Fogarty tells the Magazine. "Rightly or wrongly I lumped Facebook in the same category. I'll find out today whether I was right or not. I've already had a fair bit of unsolicited 'be my friend' requests. We shall see."

Have you held out against the Facebook phenomenon? If so, tell the Monitor using the comments button/form below by completing this sentence: "I've never joined Facebook because..."

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:58 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

For those led here by today's mini-question, here is Jack Straw leaving an iced-up Downing St, all rugged up against the cold.

straw_in_russianhat424ap.jpg

At least he had good traction with those boots.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:10 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

"We can put up with a lot of drama, no fruit and veggies, but nobody wants a pub with no beer" - No, not a snow-stricken village in the UK, but a flood-hit town in northern Australia

Hotel manager Donna Smith tells Brisbane's Courier-Mail what's really worrying residents in Normanton, Queensland at a time when large crocodiles and snakes are being swept from overflowing rivers into the town.
More details

Your Letters

14:47 UK time, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My housemate is storing a box of snow in the freezer "for emergencies". Please advise.
James Cram, Birmingham, UK

My problem with pristine, untrodden snow is that I can't think of anything properly witty enough to write in it. Therefore I resent it and spend the rest of the day seething. Naturally, greetings cards cause similar levels of bitterness.
Chris Clarke, Grenoble, France

I agree completely with the Guardian. So what if Russia and Finland regularly experience heavy snow of a kind that's extremely rare for the UK. We could also have an army of thousands of snow machines. Hands up who wants to pay for it?
Rob Foreman, London, UK

"Having the flag upside down historically was a sign of distress." So... no mistake, then?
Susannah, Northampton

I did like the juxtaposition of headlines on the BBC News homepage this morning: "EU attacks 'Buy American' clause" and "Fresh talks in foreign worker row". You see, protectionism is fine when we do it, just not when foreigners have a go...
Dan, Bedford

Despite reports to the contrary is Great Barr Primary actually the only school in the country that has been closed? It seems that way since the BBC front page slide show, the Telegraph online and the Times online are all using the same photo.
Vicky, East London Sparkling in the Sun but Seriously Icy

Monitor: This photograph was taken by the Press Association. And where the Press Association goes, many follow.


Paper Monitor

13:16 UK time, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's one thing to be goaded by the Swedish, as Sun readers are today in the guise of... well, no prizes for guessing who is called on to represent the Scandinavian state to the Sun faithful, but it's quite another to have Russia dangled in front of us as a role model.

To be taunted by our Nordic neighbours is just part of what it has come to mean to be British these days - whether it's education standards, social mobility, flat-pack occasional stacking tables, or indeed the effortlessness with which they face down 6ft of snowfall in one night. But Russia?

For those who grew up in the years when the Soviet Union was most associated abroad with long queues snaking out of bread shops, the Great Bear's transformation into the home of lithe, golden-skinned tennis players and multi-billionaire owners of British football clubs was hard enough to get a head around, but now it seems the country once dubbed the Evil Empire by Ronald Reagan has become a paragon of good practice when it comes to efficient road and rail management.

The BBC's 10 O'Clock News was at it last night, with its Moscow correspondent standing aside a curious machine which made lapping motions as it inched along a snow-strewn highway.

And here's the Times chipping in with a similar sentiment: "If only the country were ready, runs the lament, the snow could come and go with no great cost. Russia manages to survive winters far more severe than ours. So does Canada and so does Finland."

The Guardian takes things a step further, with its man in Moscow telling readers: "While Britain was paralysed by 15cm of snow, Russia was working normally... The Russian capital has an army of snowploughs and snow-trucks - not to mention thousands of dvorniki, or street-cleaners, employed to clear snow from pavements and communal courtyards."

Maybe that's the right name for the curious lapping thing.

But as well as all the handwringing about Britain being a Third World country unable to with a light dusting of the white fluffy stuff, there's a strange ambivalence in the papers.

Obviously, it's very upsetting, but also, I mean, er, isn't snow a bit lovely?

The leader in the Times gushes: "The first thing to say about snow is that it is extraordinarily beautiful."

OK chaps, but what about the chaos in the streets? It continueth: "There is a joy to trampling through unspoilt snow that some children enjoyed yesterday morning for the first time in their lives."

Must... fight... to... hold... back... tears.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:34 UK time, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

"The make-up and hair thing's obviously not good" - Girls Aloud's Kimberley Walsh prepares to climb Kilimanjaro.

Ah, the dangers of climbing Africa's highest mountain - altitude sickness, the threat of a bad fall and, of course, mussed hair. Such brave girls to do all this for charidee.
More details (Channel 4)

Your Letters

14:44 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

Nearly lunchtime, and not even the Quote of the Day has been updated yet? I spot a snow day at Magazine headquarters... hmmph. I'm jealous because here we still only have a cm or so...
Susannah, Northampton

Monitor: We all got here on time actually, but we suddenly needed to write about the snow. Sorry.

Really? I'm not suprised if everybody is driving round without clearing their windscreens...
Jo, Hampshire, UK

Highlight of the snowy weather so far for me: someone had built a snowman on Brighton Road in Croydon, but instead of the traditional carrot for a nose, this snowman had a cigarette lighter. As I was passing this morning, a man calmly removed the lighter from the snowman's face, lit his cigarette with it, and put the lighter back.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Now that London has been brought to a standstill by the snow, I presume we'll be flooded with comments along the lines of "Snow! Call this snow? When I were a lad, every day between September and March, I had to walk ten miles to school through twenty foot snow drifts and raging blizzards, fighting off wolves with a blunt slate pencil, with half a cold potato for breakfast, and we were grateful!"
Michelle B, London

Blah-blah, yes, I know, it's pretty wintry back in old Blighty today. But could I possibly point out that a couple of weeks ago here in Minnesota that it was minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit (admittedly with wind chill). This meant it was 100 degrees warmer in my fridge.
Rachel, Minnetonka

Isn't it nice when news items dovetail into a nice pattern? Yesterday the BBC News web-site had headlines "Southern Britain braces for snow" and "Concern over white heroin return". Neat?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales


Monday's Quote of the Day

12:29 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

"I just figured it was another commercial... then he did his little dance with everything hanging out" - Superbowl viewer in Arizona, where TV broadcasts were interrupted by porn.

Cora King told the Arizona Daily Star of her reaction to the incident, which happened just after the last touchdown by the Arizona Cardinals, who lost the match to the Pittsburgh Steelers, (for anyone who stopped watching). Investigations as to how the customers of one cable company saw the images, which apparently included a woman unzipping a man's trousers followed by a "graphic act", are under way.
More details

Paper Monitor

10:26 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Snow! Not just everywhere in the UK, but in London. And for Fleet St, that means it's proper news.

But as the blanket only well and truly descended as the papers were being put to bed, each will have awoken this morning to blink in wonder at the transformation from grey to white.

Well that's Tuesday's front pages and photo spreads sorted then - or, in the case of the Daily Express, pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10, not to mention a pull-out souvenir special and a readers' offer of free tickets to see the snow.

But Monday's papers for the most part look properly out of date, prematurely relegated to chip wrappers as the printing presses whirled away in the snowy night.

Well done to the Express for getting on top of the big story early, picturing the Queen sheltering under a brolly as a few flakes fall. Others to be quick off the blocks are the Times (its headline very sensibly warning drivers "Pack food, blankets and spade"), Daily Mirror (snow-covered motorway squeezed into one column on the front page) and a poster front on Metro - equally unsurprising, as its commuting readership is primarily concerned with how to get to and from work. Its headline? "-5C and we're all going snowhere".

Later editions of the Guardian replace the centre page big picture of Chinese New Year to one of a snow-shrouded Millennium Bridge; a lone dark figure hunched with cold, and St Paul's Cathedral barely visible in the background.

The Express takes a more playful approach, balancing the obligatory traffic chaos photo with a Scotty dog leaping to catch a snowball in its mouth.

The Daily Telegraph's thoughts turn to all that is deep and crisp and even in its new regular "Snapshot" panel on page two, which lists the "top five things people want to see return" with little icons to represent each. Squeezed in between "Bobbies on the beat" at number one and "children playing in the street", comes "snow at Christmas". Eh? How does that work? "Dear Met Office, could you see to it that in future we have snow at Christmas".

Is Paper Monitor missing something? Has snow been banned at Christmas by officious local government workers for health and safety reasons? (For those with an eye for detail, the two others on the list are Top of the Pops and Opal Fruits.)

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