BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 26, 2009 - May 2, 2009

Web Monitor

23:23 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009


A celebration of the riches of the web.

We trawl the web to give you the most interesting bits. If you do feel like having a little wander, then make sure you share your best links with us by either sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page or recommending it to us on Delicious - we're called 'bbcwebmonitor'.

• The actor who plays plays Stringer Bell on The Wire, Idris Elba was on BBC Breakfast promoting his new film Obsessed, co-starring Beyonce Knowles. The interview's worth watching just to hear his English accent. If you're shocked he's not American, don't worry, you're not the only one, he reveals it's a common occurrence;
"I did an interview the other day and the guy said: 'Wow you do a really good English accent. You can lose it now...' He had no idea." Asked why he moved to America, he revealed hitting the big time as an actor in the UK was a little deflating: "I worked here, I did it all - Ruth Rendell mysteries. My ambition was bigger and taller."

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

• Here's a mystery waiting to be solved. On the BBC News at Ten on Thursday night, our man Nick Robinson interviewed Gordon Brown in a room in Downing Street where an intriguing picture of a lopsided face hung on the wall behind Nick Robinson (below). Without wanting to sound all Crimewatch, can you name the picture? To help you along is the interactive tour of Number 10 Downing Street, where the interview took place, and the Government art catalogue database. Comment via the link at the top of this entry. Gordon Brown, Nick Robinson, mystery painting

• A news report of a real-life superhero 'Shadow Hare' is doing the internet rounds. It's in Cincinnati, where grown men don't just dress up in superhero outfits when they're fighting child custody battles. The superhero, who started of on the website World Superhero Registry says he intends to "intervene in crimes, if they happen in-front of me." On his own superhero profile, Mr Hare says: "I've stopped many evil doers...such as drug dealers, muggers, rapists, and crazy hobos with pipes."

• If you're a control freak, the idea of people googling you could make you wake up in a cold sweat. The Mashable guide to controlling your own personal brand sets you up to sell yourself on the internet much like selling a chocolate bar but also gives good advice like how to reserve your own name on social networks.

• There's an art to writing complaint letters to get back what you want. This art is not perfected by Chad Bradley who writes outlandish complaint letters to big corporations to see how politely they respond. So far he has managed to get Norwich Union to reassure him that his insurance cover will cover him from being eaten by ants and MB Games, the makers of Connect 4, state very firmly but politely that they will not be interested in his new game idea, Connect 1.

10 things we didn't know last week

17:44 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

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

1. Diamonds can be blue.
More details

2. Birds can dance.
More details

3. You can get a driving licence and credit card in the name of Pudsey Bear, but not a passport.
More details

4. The annual salary for the Poet Laureate is £5,750.
More details

5. Many mosques in Mecca point the wrong way for prayers.
More details

6. Flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs.
More details

7. An outbreak of swine flu in 1976 killed one person but a vaccine to combat it killed 25.
More details

8. Adults who are sexually attracted to teenagers are called hebophiles.
More details

9. David Attenborough doesn't own any pets.
(Radio 5 Live, Sunday, 16 May)

10. Prince was born with epilepsy.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Nick Sharples for this week's picture of 10 jetties in Perth's Yanchep Park.

Your Letters

17:10 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

I am typing this from the naughty step, very much corrected and humbled. But I wonder, is there a term for the mixed-up feeling of extreme embarrassment at being so wrong, while absolutely thrilled at seeing my name as the strapline for the link to letters?
Lisa (yes *THAT* Lisa!), Cambridge

Invisibility cloak edges closer. How do you know?
Ben Merritt, Sheffield, England

Rahere (Thursday letters), it's the other way round: "écouteurs" means to listen and "entendre" to hear, and the word used for someone who listens (for instance to a radio programme) is an "auditeur".
Helen, Paris

Billboards. Is it the law that they are always described as pithy or is a personal adjectival choice?
Vicky, East London

Re Bankers made 'astonishing mess': Is it time to start a column entitled 10 Things We Did Know Last Week - And The Week Before That...?
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

I will not be around on Monday, but I would like to wish everyone a happy Star Wars day with the traditional greeting "May the fourth be with you".
Ralph, Cumbria

I saw a pig sneeze this morning. Should I run to the hills? Are the pigs in the hills? I can't run to the forest because of the boars! I can't even go into town because we have a city farm! WHAT SHOULD I DO?!
Basil Long, Nottingham

Can a small amount of kudos be taken away from the 13 (13!!!) Monitorites who went for "He's feeling a little horse" in the caption comp?
Rory, Grimsby

I may have blinked and missed it, but was the Magazine's 2008 Annual ever published? Did we ever get to see Paula Lewis' winning design?
Clare Hughes, Luton
Monitor note: You can find it here.

This week I've got a comment posted on a Magazine story (the 110% one), got a photo in the local paper billboards, now I'm hoping to get this letter printed for the triple.
Tom, Maidstone, UK
Monitor note: Granted. Not least because the mailbag is so full of missent WBQs and captions it's hard to find many letters.

Caption Competition

13:09 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009


Winning entries in the caption competition.

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


This week, Lance Corporal Stephen Heeley runs through a special move with his horse, Yeoman, while rehearsing for the Windsor Castle Royal Tattoo. But what's being said?

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

6. jtotheglo
The Animal Rights recreation of The Godfather just didn't have the same dramatic effect.

5. SimonRooke
Lesson one, when sedating your horse, stand well clear...

4. alexwilson82
"Well doctor, it just started out as a genital wart..."

3. NorfolkOnce
Heeley suspected that there might have been more than hay in the nosebag.

2. JudgePix
It had been a great night out, but Stephen was glad he, at least, had given the ketamine a miss.

1. nick_fowler
With the Queen in attendance, Lance Corporal Heeley had to do something when his zip broke.

Paper Monitor

11:38 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009


A service celebrating the riches of the daily press.

The Sun has gone all public service today. Well, OK, not all public service. But in an inspired move (which takes the Magazine's gallery of anti-flu messages a stage further) it has reprinted a Ministry of Health pre-War poster advising you to use a handkerchief.

Paper Monitor has vague memories of seeing previous such Sun posters being displayed in people's front windows, but these have more normally been along the "Backing Our Boys" or "Come on Tim!" variety. If anyone sees today's poster actually being put up, please report it using the COMMENTS field below.

There's some moving coverage of the end of British operations in Iraq. The Daily Telegraph, preaching to the choir, has the headline "In the crushing heat, the British legacy and sacrifice in Iraq is remembered" with timeline, names of the fallen, reports from the day and a discussion about "was it all worth it?"

Several papers give it top billing. But the Guardian seems to be muted in its coverage - a single story on page 25. And strangely the Times too puts the story a long way into the paper - page 37 - even though the headline does indicate a degree of weight: "The names of the dead were read, then the flag was lowered. The war was over."

Odd decisions, no, when the British presence has been such a controversial feature of the nation's life for the past six years?

Moving on... it's an uncomfortable subject, but Paper Monitor wouldn't be doing its job if it didn't mention the completely graphic explicit photographs of the attack on the Dutch royal parade. If the photographs don't capture the exact moment of death of some of the victims, in one case still in the air after being hit by the car, then they capture moments very close indeed to the moment of death. Anyone uncomfortable with this?

But now back on more relaxed terrain, regular readers might remember the unrequited friendship between Paper Monitor and the Times's Hugo Rifkind. Since he didn't turn up to the Magazine's fifth anniversary party last year it's really cooled, but it's still hard not to admire his work. Today he writes about the kinds of people who complain about adverts.

"Who are the 840 people who found a Barnardo's child abuse campaign advert so upsetting that they had to complain about it? How would they prefer their child abuse? Soft focus? Set to a Simon and Garfunkel track? Who are the 204 people who complained about the Department of Health one, because they'd made it look as if children were smoking cigarettes?

"God, what must it be like to work [at the Advertising Standards Authority]? 'No sir, the nodding Churchill dog cannot see your soul.' 'Yes, ma'am, we all want to do that to Michael Winner.'"

Cracking stuff. But "ma'am"? Does he know something about HM we don't??

PS. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new kid on the block, Web Monitor. If you like to fritter away your afternoon not helping the economy get back on its feet, but rather looking at stuff on the internet which "apropos of nothing" just happens to be interesting, then Web Monitor's arrival is good news for you. Just not for the economy.

Weekly Bonus Question

10:26 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009


Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Question.

Each week the news quiz 7 days 7 questions will offer an answer. You are invited to suggest what the question might have been.

Suggestions should be sent using the COMMENTS link below. And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is DOUBLE-EDGED CHALICE. The real question will be added below on Friday afternoon.

UPDATE: The answer is that it's one commentator's description of the job Poet Laureate.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:14 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

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

"So I Googled how to deliver a baby and watched a couple of clips on YouTube" - A father on delivering his wife's baby without a midwife.

Ah, the 21st Century. Once upon a time people had to rely on inherited folk wisdom when there wasn't a midwife to hand. Now they just fire up the computer.
More details

Your Letters

18:20 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

Thanks for today's Daily Mini Quiz. My dad spent most of the war at Stalag Luft III, and he always said The Trojan Horse (where three men escaped by hiding in a vaulting horse, thereby digging a shorter tunnel) made a better story. Remember the 50.
Heather Simmons, Macomb, Michigan USA

It works by using a fast laser pulse dispersed in space and then stretched in time and detected electronically." Ah, that explains it perfectly - I shall read no further.
PB, London

Ahhh Lisa, Lisa, Lisa (Your Letters, Wednesday). That really does take talent, getting TWO facts wrong in a single line missive - is this a new Monitor record? Along with 1,057 other correspondents, can I point out that
a) The poem "Halfway DOWN" was written by AA Milne appearing in the collection "When we were very young" (and so is definitely related to W-t-P) ...and
b) The song was sung by Robin (Kermit's nephew). Now Lisa, sit on the naughty step - you know the one - Halfway down the stairs - and reflect on your haste.
Jimlad (Totally Kermitted to Pedantry), Paris

Re local paper billboards. When my husband and I moved to this small town 10 years ago, we were tickled by the reaction to the plan to build a three storey block of flats in the town centre. The local paper's headline that week: MANHATTAN MADNESS!
Sarah Glanville, Horsham, West Sussex

This is just too good ... "the BBC's Anne Waithera in Nairobi says the campaign is likely to meet stiff resistance from some men" ...
Boots, Sao Paulo

Dear Jeremy of Aylesbury (Your Letters, Wednesday) An ecoteur is a Flexicological term for an ecological saboteur, and that's about the last thing one would expect. If you want to put it in French, it would be entendeurs, meaning listeners, rather than écouteurs, hearers.
Rahere, Brussels

More on the redesign:
While visiting the newlook Monitor - I noticed that your strangely reassuring motto of "all life is here" has gone. Can we have it back please.
Owain Williams, Regensburg

I feared the worst when I read of the makeover, since BBC radio sites revamped recently (BBC7, World Service) have become less user-friendly. However, this seems OK and new layout clearer; like the prominent Quote of the Day - but I hate the orange, which clashes with the logo and is unnecessarily intrusive
Christine, Suva, Fiji

I preferred the old look - it's just like the rest of the site now. Also liked the 'last seven days' feature. Plus I still get "this page not available" when I try to answer the Daily Mini-quiz - am using Chrome, btw.
Andrew, Newbury

MM you look fabulous. Don't listen to those stick-in-the-muds!
Lauren, Taunton

Monitor: Blush (clearly)

Web Monitor

16:40 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

We're looking around the web for the most interesting sites for your to enjoy at your convenience. If you find something you think should be shared, comment in the box to the right of this or recommend it to us on Delicious - we're called 'bbcwebmonitor'.

Sinead O'Connor• Right then... where to start? Where better than a singer on their comeback? Sinead O'Connor told Stuart Maconie on Radio 2 that she didn't notice that she didn't really fit in when she first became famous:

"I was so obsessed with myself. I didn't really think about whether I was different or not...The Grammies came up with a special category after me called 'post-modern ' . I don't know what post-modern actually means."

Slate Magazine imagines President Obama's Facebook page, reasoning that it would be the best insight into his first 100 days. Gordon Brown even gets a mention (in this bizarre world) as having invited Obama to a 'Long-Ass Press Conference' which the fictional president then declines in favour of watching Lost.

Christian BaleTotal Film magazine get an explanation from Christian Bale about his outburst to a film crew on set which spread quickly across the internet. Now he's pointing the finger at the people who recorded it and sent it around:

"I'm not making any excuses, but there is an essential trust and it's not a tacit one, which is every sound guy says, 'We are not only not recording, we are not even listening.' So, well, there goes that."

Swine flu vaccination ads are doing well in the viral video chart. Tarot1984 posted them and says they are from a 1976 scare in the US. Meanwhile, Centre of the Cell attempts to teach children how a flu virus spreads in their interactive game based in East London.

Rick Astley speaks in Time magazine about Moot, the internet entrepreneur who beat Barack Obama and the Pope in Time magazine's most influential person poll. Moot, aka Christopher Poole, claims responsibility for Rickrolling - a trick to make people click on to Rick Astley's hit Never Gonna Give You Up, which then became an internet phenomenon:
"Before I heard about moot - the mysterious 21-year-old creator of the influential Web message board, who just happened to win's online poll to determine the world's most influential people - I used to think some young kid had stumbled across my video and thought it would be funny to send it to his mates, and it just kind of caught on."

•TV presenter and ex-model Alexa Chung wonders in the Independent blog whether she should start lying about her age to keep her job, but is glad to turn 25 for one reason:
"I was pleased to reach 25, if only because, when I was at school, I longed to own a pair of knee-high boots. Upon voicing this desire, somebody kindly informed me that knee-high boots, could ONLY be carried off from the age of 25."

It's good to know that not everyone has lost perspective on the important things in life.

Paper Monitor

12:19 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

Following on from its debut appearance yesterday Mask Count is back.

Thirteen. Along with the familiar white and blue masks there's even a yellow one.

The Times
Of the 11 featured, eight are in one shot. A bid to win the Mask Count crown perhaps?

Daily Mirror and Guardian
Six each.

Daily Mail and Daily Express
Two. And they've even got the same two. The Mail trumps with the colour version.

Daily Star
One. Not sure the picture of Katy Perry clutching a scarf to her face really counts...

Daily Telegraph
Zero. The paper's picture editor no doubt had more pressing priorities with the crème de la crème of posh totty for the front page (see below).

Today's real contest amongst the beasts of Fleet Street is over the Gurkhas. Paper Monitor notes that the Telegraph, Express and Mirror are all claiming credit for the decision to allow the soldiers to stay in the UK. So whose campaign can declare victory?

The Express says it began its "crusade" back in 2004.

In its lead story, the Telegraph boasts that the decisive vote "comes just 24 hours after The Daily Telegraph began a campaign calling for them to be admitted". Just in the nick of time to jump on the victory bandwagon then...

The Mirror fails to mention when it first got fired up about the Gurkhas but does have something the others don't - a personal name check from Joanna Lumley. "The Mirror started the campaign. The Gurkhas know the debt of honour Mirror readers by their support have repaid them."

With the image of her brandishing a gleaming Gurkha blade, does anyone dare argue?

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:13 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

"They even ignored the Please Keep Off The Grass signs" - An eyewitness who saw a couple having sex in daylight on the Queen's front lawn.

Sight-seers got a bit more than they bargained for at Windsor Castle on Tuesday. A couple were caught having sex on a grass bank in front of the Queen's residence, in full view of tourists. They spent the night in (seperate) cells, and were cautioned for outraging public decency. The Queen was in residence at the time.
More details (Daily Mail)

Web Monitor

16:41 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor is scouring the web to find and share interesting stuff which may otherwise go unnoticed. Feel free to share your bits of internet gold dust (either comment on the box to the right of this or recommend to 'bbcwebmonitor' on Delicious.)

Prince • Now then, where to start today... How about the singer once again known as Prince. In a very rare interview, the singer tells Tavis Smiley on PBS that he's loving angels instead. "I've never spoken about this before, but I was born epileptic and I used to have seizures when I was young... One day I walked in to her and said, 'Mom, I'm not going to be sick anymore,' and she said, 'Why?', and I said, 'Because an angel told me so.'" Prince also said, "We live in a place now that feels like a plantation." Smiley questioned this, pointing out there is now a black president, to which Prince answered: "I don't vote and I have nothing to do with it... I'm one of Jehovah's witnesses - we never voted."

• The cast of American TV news can seem strange from this side of the Atlantic. Two of the dramatis personae are currently battling about waterboarding. Fox News' Sean Hannity vowed on air to re-enact Christopher Hitchens' waterboarding experiment for Vanity Fair to prove it's a fair and necessary interrogation technique. Rival channel MSNBC's Keith Olbermann asked: "What kind of person would turn such a dark page in US history into a stunt?" and then offered a $1,000 per second Hannity withheld it. Having received no response from Hannity and his Sunday invitation for a waterboard unattended, Olbermann found a former army interrogator to conduct the experiment. Mike Ritz said on Olbermann's show "I'm willing to bet I can get Sean Hannity to say that Countdown with Keith Olbermann is his favourite show."

• Bookmarking site, Digg, invited users to post questions they would ask to Richard Branson. The Huffington Post will be asking these questions but there's no need to wait as commenters have kindly answered the questions on Branson's behalf - maybe a trend that could take off for celebrity interviewing? The most recommended question is "When does money become immaterial? Having $1 million is different from being broke and I imagine having $10 million is different from $1 million. Is $1 billion significantly different in terms of lifestyle impact and implications than $250 million?" This answer came from user Bowraven: "$1 million is certainly not enough especially right now as this will only produce a mere $30k a year, not an amount you can retire on."

• If you rush home from your holiday to upload your photos to show everyone, Australia's Age newspaper wants to let you know you are not unique. It lists the most photographed landmarks in the world gleaned from photo-sharing site Flickr. Surprisingly, the Apple building in Manhattan comes in at number 28. More predictably, the top seven most photographed landmarks are the Eiffel Tower, Trafalgar Square, the Tate Modern Gallery, Big Ben, Notre Dame, the London Eye, and the Empire State Building.

• Talking of Flickr, the world's media is judging how Obama has fared in his first 100 days in the White House. The most new-media-savvy president so far can be followed on the Whitehouse's Flickr feed. The un-posed reportage style photos give a sense that it could just be some intern taking mobile pics on the sly.

Lionel Ritchie• Lionel Ritchie has revealed his surprise musical influence was Led Zeppelin to Radio 2's Ken Bruce, "Rock came into my life in about '68. ..Led Zeppelin was at the top of the list. Stairway to Heaven inspired me to write so many songs. How they recorded it was just phenomenal. Because remember we have all the gimmicks today we can do in 15 seconds digitally but back then you had to be clever to get those sounds."

• Science fiction site, io9 hasn't got its sensitive hat on about the outbreak of swine flu. In their words: "Just to make you feel more panicked, we've put together a list of 11 movies that show what happens when humanity is attacked by unstoppable viruses." These include 28 Days Later where a contagious virus is accidentally leaked across the UK and I am Legend, where Will Smith plays the sole survivor of a pandemic.

• It's odd how old posts become popular again. At the time of writing, a floating water bridge from 2007 was Google's hottest trend. It's the discovery by Elmar Fuchs, a scientist from Austria, that water can create its own bridge, with the help of electricity. His YouTube video accompanied by acoustic guitar is strangely moving.

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I discovered on the BBC TV news this morning that people in North Wales will need to boil their drinking water. It was accompanied by a short film showing us how to turn a tap on and fill the kettle. I note that your online item covering the same story lacks these vital instructions. Don't you care about the people of North Wales?
Kipson, Norwich, UK

Message to my daughter re the mini quiz. This is NOT, repeat NOT, the definitive reason to replace "proper breakfast" with donuts.
Jaye, Rutland, England

Re local paper billboards: My first week at Exeter University I was walking to the student bar when I heard the news that there had been a shooting near to Croydon, my home town. I took two steps forward, only to be confronted by a billboard for the Exeter Express & Echo. The headline? "Dog Eats Shed - And Lives".
Molly, Dorking

I think (the nearly all-noun) "Shop worker's assault by coleslaw shock" has to be one of the best local news billboard headlines - courtesy of the Shoreham Herald last year. It paints a great mental picture.
Hannah, Shoreham-by-Sea

My favourite was regarding the Royal Berkshire Hospital: "Anger Over Royal Berks".
Jon Barnes, Bridgend

Your billboard feature reminds me that during the Falklands war I visited Barrow-in-Furness. There was an A-Board outside a newsagents with two headlines. "Another British Ship Sunk" and "Good News for Local Shipyard".
Geoff Coglan, Accrington, UK

Regarding the story about the Tourette pianist, should it not be "ecoteurs" - if such a word exists - rather than "voyeurs".
Jeremy, Aylesbury, UK

So a parliamentary answer reveals what we Magazine readers knew almost three years ago - that there are almost 40,000 bottles in the government's wine cellar.
Peter Douglas, Edinburgh

Have you ever tried sending a telegram? Traditional marriage messages must be a thing of the past as every enquiry I made to use this service resulted in failure. Maybe in light of this month's Slow Down London event, it may return with some other romantic novelties like birdsong, bicycle bells and snail mail that are being featured.
Vanessa, London

Paper Monitor is a muppet. Halfway Up The Stairs was sung by Kermit the Frog. Nothing to do with Winnie the Pooh.
Lisa, Cambridge
Monitor note: You've asked for it now, Lisa...

Your Letters (about our new look)

15:37 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Hang on a moment, has something changed round here?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Are the majority of readers men or my mum? Neither ever notice a new outfit.
Robyn, Cheshire

What have you done to your layout? Young man/woman, you're not going out looking like that!
Alex, Bristol, UK

Ooh you've had a makeover. But I liked being able to read the last 7 days Monitor all on one screen...
Lee, Bormingham

"Oh no! They have changed the Magazine page. Monitor isn't here"
"Oh yes it is, it is just in a new position."
"But I don't know if I'll like it that way..."
"Hmm, actually seems quite fresh and easy to read."
"But it isn't how I am used to it."
"You will adapt, you will grow to appreciate its orange flavour and its completely new layout."
"But they didn't warn me they were going to do it."
"Ah well, they were probably too busy to write and ask your permission. Just grow up and get on with it."
So, lunchtime over, I emerge from my lie-down in a darkened room and feel slightly less anxious.
The Therapist, Portsmouth

With the revamp, is there an equivalent of the old Monitor where all the components (Letters, PM, QOTD etc) for the past seven days or so can be seen on the one page? I found that invaluable if I'd missed some days to be able to catch up with everything in one go. Now it seems I will have to separately click for each component and for each day - is this correct?
Paul Greggor, London
Monitor note: We're working on it...

Orange? I thought I'd been redirected to the Cbeebies website for a minute. Hideous! Even worse is the clash with the news icon in the top left. It hurts my eyes. Please make it stop.
Emma, Sunbury

You've been tangoed!
Kate, Haslemere

I know orange and coral are this season's black, but it does clash with a the burgundy a little. Was there no focus group to point this out?
Kat, London

Not the first symptom of swine flu, I hope?
Chandra, London

Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh! MY EYES! Remind not to click on the Magazine early in the morning.
Izzy, Reading, UK

I don't likes change!!!!
Mark, London

You've turned orange. Taking fashion tips from Robert Kilroy Silk/Gavin Henson/David Dickinson? Scary.
Imogen, London

No, No No, No No No, NOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo. What have you done?!?!
Flabbergasted, Tokyo, Japan

I'll get my sunglasses.
Mark Esdale, Bridge

"So Andy, what colour shall we make the banner on the new website?"
"Are you sure? Just last week you said orange was a brash colour, more suited for fast food adverts than wry observations and reflections?"
"Yeah I know."
"So what colour then?"
"Orange!" [sigh... click of mouse...] "I don't like it!"
Jeff, Phoenix, US

Oh my, you look lovely. I guess I'll have to eat healthy and exercise to read this page now. Bugger.
Nadja, north of Boston, US

I'm afraid your new look is rather unflattering. Don't be offended, hardly anyone can pull off orange. Try black, you'll find it's quite slimming.
Cate, Santiago, Chile

Paper Monitor

12:23 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is proud to announce the arrival of a new sub-brand, Mask Count - a sibling for Paperweight.

Just as Paperweight is named for its job - weighing the daily papers - Mask Count also does what it says on the tin. (Paper Monitor, while an attentive parent, is not overly imaginative when it comes to naming its offspring.)

And here are the results.

Daily Telegraph
Fifteen! A tally upped considerably by its photo of Mexican riot police. All in masks.

Daily Star
A whopping 13 - count 'em - blue surgical masks on its pages, including six in the cartoon. Although one is on Michael Jackson, so can't really count, as this has long been his facial accessory of choice.

The Independent
Five. All the blue surgical masks that are suddenly so popular.

Daily Mail
Four different models, assessed for cost and effectiveness. "So does wearing one really protect you?" its headline asks. Short answer, not really. And you'd need to change surgical or dust masks - the most commonly used - every two hours.

Daily Mirror and Sun
Three each - the Mirror's tally also includes Michael Jackson, and the Sun shows its man in Mexico wearing one.

The Times and Daily Express
Two each.

The Guardian
One, as G2 asks if it's worth wearing one. Again, no, especially as the medical profession appear to think these "about as much use in avoiding swine flu as wearing a pair of statement earrings".

PS: The Mail has yet more matchy-matchy photos of the fragrant Carla Bruni Sarkozy and Princess Letizia. Even the Sun gets in on the act, for obvious reasons - in their chosen snap, of the pair in gowns and sashes, it looks as if Carla is touching Letizia's bosom.


Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:20 UK time, Wednesday, 29 April 2009

"I love my new name. It is who I am. My girls both call me 'Mummy Bear'" - Woman who changed her name to Pudsey Bear - and refused a passport.

A mother formerly known as Eileen De Bont legally adopted the Children in Need mascot's name to raise money for charity. She now has a credit card and driving licence in that name, and pays taxes as Mrs P Bear. But the Identity & Passport Service won't issue her a passport as it deems the name change "frivolous".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Web Monitor

16:50 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Paper Monitor has had its grubby fingers round Magazine readers' free time for too long. His/her reign of inky terror is ending, with the dawning of Web Monitor.

Web Monitor's brief is simple. Look for and share interesting stuff which might otherwise go unnoticed. You are more than welcome to help with this task (you can recommend anything via Delicious to the "bbcwebmonitor" account, or use the box on the right of this page).

beyonceknowles127.jpg • Where to start, then... how about engagement rings? Fashion website has got a bit worked up about the price of celebrity engagement rings. It points the finger at Beyonce Knowles for being the celebrity with the most expensive ring - at $5m and equated this with 100,000 starving children in Africa who could have been fed for a year instead.

• Perhaps the most off-the-wall reaction to the outbreak of swine flu is trendhunter's photo gallery of surgical masks - what they call, "fun face masks to fend off swine flu ", although the Daily Express's health correspondent is sceptical that masks would have any health effect at all.

Andy Kershaw• Ex-BBC DJ Andy Kershaw spoke in the Times about his alcoholism and time in prison for breaking his restraining order against his ex-partner. The paper reports that the judge at the time referred to his life as "turning into a Greek tragedy." Kershaw said in the article that he now wants his job back, but agreed with the judge on his past. "What happened to me was a personal tragedy, the destruction of my family life, the denial of any contact with my kids for more than a year and the end of a 17-year relationship." (A Radio 4 interview with Kershaw which was due to have been broadcast this morning was pulled at the last minute, as Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer explains.)

• Barack Obama, the Pope and Oprah Winfrey have all been beaten to title of Time Magazine's most influential person on the planet by an unheard-of online entrepreneur, Christopher Poole, also known as moot. Accusations across the web of Poole or his fans manipulating the online poll have been rife. Techcrunch says: "Not only did they help moot win the poll", but they also arranged the next 20 names to spell out the name of a chat room. Despite this, Time Magazine denies being hacked. Social media guide, Mashable sticks up for moot, saying he's influential in his own way . "In the world of odd memes, obscure anime images and bizarre photoshops - and these make a very large and important portion of the entity we refer to as "the Internet" - moot is king."

Jon Snow• News reader Jon Snow reveals in the Guardian how he can't get over how much the world has changed since he was a boy. "The only television programme I'd seen before I was about 15 was the Coronation," he says."It was on a vast walnut cabinet with a very small screen on which it appeared to be snowing, in a corner of a neighbour's living room. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be watching it one day on a BlackBerry."

• The unofficial anniversary for the campaign to legalise cannabis in America has just passed. Time magazine documents what it calls 'The Great American Pot Smoke-Out' with a photo gallery showing police walking through crowds of smokers without arresting anyone.

• Friend of Mike Tyson, rapper Ice T, reviews the new documentary about Tyson for the Daily Beast. Ice T takes the opportunity to defend Tyson's life choices. "You take a brutal sport, and you train someone to fight like a barbarian and then ask them to be a gentleman....Mike really did the best he could..."

Your Letters

15:12 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Queen is now sending messages by e-mail. I doubt a lot of 100-year-olds will be receiving their royal congratulations in future then.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Re Marianne's letter about 10 Things (Monday): You are not the only one as I always do as well. It is a human curiousity thing as we'd believe if someone said "there are 100 million stars" yet if we saw a "wet paint" sign the urge to touch to find out would overcome us.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Can I nominate the first all plural nouns headline? And before some pedant corrects me - bah, huf - yes I did know that "rejects" is meant as a verb.
Catherine, Leicester

My favourite local news billboard was "SCHEME TO DRAW WALKERS TO BEER". Not inviting hikers (clothed or otherwise) to slake their thirst, but to visit the village of Beer in Devon.
Chris Hunt, Leicester, UK

Is it just me, or is Woman held for noisy sex 'breach' encouraging a certain type of person to go to Hall Road, Concord, Washington, and listen attentively?
Jacob, London

A noisy sex breach sounds extremely painful.
Rick P, Oxford, UK

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit.
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
It's not at the bottom, it's not at the top...

If this charming little ditty takes you, like Paper Monitor, straight back to childhood (ah, rice pudding, a paisley eiderdown, and climbing the twisty willow outside the window... sorry, where was I?) then perhaps today's Matt cartoon in the Daily Telegraph will make you first snort, then stop short.

A boy and a teddy bear stand, hands on hips, scrutinising a piglet in a stripy jumper. The little pig, oblivious, lets out an almighty sneeze. And it is captioned: "Christopher Robin and Pooh decide to have Piglet put down."


The Sun goes for the headline "First Mexico, now... PIGS 'ERE". Do you see what they did there? If not, the Daily Mirror spells it out with their own rather more prosaic take - "SWINE FLU IS HERE" - and the Daily Express's "KILLER FLU: IT IS HERE".

And in the Times, a couple - both in blue surgical masks - share a kiss (by the by, ER is in the midst of its final scrub up).

The Daily Star, meanwhile, reports that Danielle Bux has been bitten by the cooking bug and wants to open a gastropub with fiancé Gary Lineker. Yes, she who tried to pass off a professional chef's ravioli as her own on Hell's Kitchen. Which should stand her in good stead should the pub dream come to pass...

And finally, the Telegraph is in clover, drooling over the finely turned ankles of a pair of nicely brought-up fillies - Carla Bruni Sarkozy and Princess Letizia of Spain. "Has Carla met her match?" asks the paper, above a photo of the pair walking up stairs in near-identical figure-hugging dresses and heels. Oh, and another snap of them kissing.


Nor can the Daily Mail resist such temptation, opting for near-identical photos and a very similar headline.

Follow the Magazine elsewhere

11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009


If there's one issue that unites Magazine readers it's the strongly held conviction that it's nice to have things to read on the internet. Those of us who produce the Magazine couldn't agree more - and so anxious are we to spread the word that you can now be nudged into reading interesting things from us via Twitter and now Facebook.

More than 3,000 people follow our Twitter feed, which is small compared to Ashton Kutcher (nearly 1.5m at the time of writing). But large compared, for instance, to David Lammy MP (just over 1,500 at time of writing). You can follow us on Twitter by clicking here.

But however popular Twitter is, it's not as widely used as Facebook. Which is why we have created the BBC News Magazine Facebook page. You can get most of the same stuff that goes on Twitter, and maybe some other stuff too. What better way of marking an end to the years of teal and the dawning of a new look for the Magazine (one which round here has been compared to a tequila sunrise) than by moving firmly into early 2008? You can "fan" us (the equivalent of "friending") by clicking here.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:46 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

"They are not going to hear swearing. The voyeurs will not be satisfied" - Nick Van Bloss, pianist with Tourette Syndrome, on his first concert since 1994.

There will be no tics, judders or yelps from the celebrated soloist when he takes to the stage in London's Cadogan Hall tonight, as playing the piano - Bach in particular - soothes his condition. For 15 years he has performed solely for his own benefit in his Lisbon mansion, after succumbing to the shakes on stage in Valencia.
More details (The Times)

Your Letters

17:40 UK time, Monday, 27 April 2009

Surely where this report states 'despite engineering closures' it should actually state 'because of engineering closures'? After all the closures do actually renew worn tracks and equipment and are not just to annoy passengers. If the tracks weren't renewed I'm sure the award wouldn't have been won.
Stuart, Croydon

The best local newspaper billboard I've seen was a year or so back, which said PICTURES OF KYLIE IN BATH! The story was about Ms Minogue, er, visiting the city of Bath...
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

The Sun is the dimmest it has been for a century (10 things)? Perhaps, but it's still better than the Daily Mail.
Matthew D, Lincoln, UK

At those temperatures i'd be amazed if the naked hikers had an 'upsurge'! (unlike them, I'll get me coat)
Naomi, Sunny Sussex, UK

In the interests of preventing sexism, could we go back to calling it 'Man flu'?
Andrew, Malvern, UK

"Bra boss withdraws Labour support" She's living up to her name.
MJ, Brentwood

Welshdoug, Caerphilly (Letters, Friday), Thank you. Having a horrid day, but your letter made me laugh until I cried. xx
Polly S, Bodmin

It's good to see the folks at Sun Hill capitalising on their BAFTA win to really make a difference.
cornish bob, Truro

I'm wondering how many people, besides me, count the "10 things" in the picture? Of course it's always 10, and yet week after week...
Marianne, Villa Park, IL USA

Dear all, I've been off on hols for a week. What did I miss?
Laura HD, Mancunia, UK

Paper Monitor

11:48 UK time, Monday, 27 April 2009


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As regular Magazine readers will know, we're much interested this week in the art of the good newspaper billboard. In fact we're so interested that Paper Monitor hereby declares a discretionary allowance of kudos AND A NAME CHECK to any readers who will go out with a camera and take a picture of their local newspaper billboard and send it to us at (subject BILLBOARD). Leave a note in the comments here if you want your kudos. (More details on the project are here)

There's plenty of scope for billboards with the story du jour, swine flu. Paper Monitor thinks it all sounds a bit Terry-Thomas (but surely won't be so arch when the BBC insists on everyone wearing face masks*). It's a hard job for journalists to make a story which is potentially very dangerous sound dangerous but without irresponsibly scaring people.

So full marks to the Daily Mirror for this effort: "PIG SICK... FLU'S NEXT... Fears virus will sweep world"


and the Daily Mail: "IS SWINE FLU ALREADY HERE?"

and to the Independent for "Swine flu sweeps globe" (nice to have lower case headlines even on something so scary)

The Daily Star never forgets its market with: "Brits 'get killer flu'."

For measured tones, Paper Monitor's top award goes to the headline on a commentary piece by Dr John McCauley in the Daily Telegraph: "This unusual virus may have been spread from pigs some time ago." Way to go Doc - "unusual virus"... "some time ago"...

*something which, as this article explains, is very, very unlikely to happen.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:29 UK time, Monday, 27 April 2009

"When I get on the Tube, someone will always say 'Ding dong' - taxi drivers do it, too. It drives me mad" - Leslie Phillips is a bit catchphrase-phobic.

Ah the pain of having once been in a Carry On film and never being allowed to live your persona down. Just one of the perils of being an actor.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.