BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 30, 2009 - September 5, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

17:10 UK time, Friday, 4 September 2009

onions.203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. The village of Cambourne, in Cambridgeshire, has a higher birth rate than India and China.
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2. Block capitals are used to signify formality.
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3. Only half of seven-year-olds with an August birthday reach expected educational level.
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4. WalMart is the biggest employer in the world.
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5. It is not against the law to be naked in public in the UK.
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6. Michael Aspel was a wartime evacuee.
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7. Each of us has at least 100 new mutations in our DNA.
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8. Britain's oldest original computer, the Harwell, first ran in 1951.
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9. The crease under your buttocks is called the gluteal fold.
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10. Nasa gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries following lunar missions in the 1970s.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Lisa Taylor from Cambridgeshire for this week's picture of 10 onions.

Your Letters

17:10 UK time, Friday, 4 September 2009

I'm glad you debunked this myth in December, only to bring it back again in September. Can I also point out the "debunking" studies on eating late at night were done on humans, yet the new "evidence" was gathered from mice. ARGH!
Jinja, Edinburgh

In When does public nakedness become a crime? you say that in England "It becomes an offence if it can be proved the person stripped off with the intention to cause distress, alarm or outrage" and "the onus would be on the prosecution to prove this intention to upset". And in Scotland "the test is essentially the same as in English law - that a member of the public has been put in a state of fear or alarm." It seems to me that this highlights the essential DIFFERENCE between the two systems. In Scotland it must be shown simply that someone was put in a state of fear or alarm, in England it must be shown that that was the defendant's intention - not the same thing.
Marten Hynard, Tunbridge Wells

Hmm, 3 out of 7 is ranked as "Less Than Zero". Would it be rude to ask if the writer of 7 days 7 questions was an August baby?
Andrew, Germany

This week's scoring system for quiz of the week's news is unnecessarily harsh. I know 1/7 was not a very good score, but it's definitely more than zero. To call it "less than zero" is just cruel.
Adam, London, UK

I share the Magazine's amazement at the triumph of the chocolate digestive in the dunking competition (Thursday's daily mini-quiz). I think the ginger biscuits were nobbled, maybe someone left the tin open a crack and they went a bit flabby? Crisp fresh ginger biscuits should beat a wimpy chocolate digestive into a cup of tea any day. Well, not actually beat them into the cup.
Vicky, East London

*Which* university is he from? Institutional nominative determinism?
Aimee, St Andrews, Scotland

Paper Monitor watches Wallander? I genuinely thought that BBC4 were running it solely for my Swedish fiancée to feel at home.
Tom H, North London

Wow, I feel like Stig or a winner of the caption competition with a response from Paper Monitor him/her/itself (Thursday letters and Friday's Paper Monitor). I shall certainly look into the two shows recommended and give some critical feedback in a few months.
Jacob, London

Paper Monitor, poor old Liz Jones has had a bit of comeuppance.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Caption Competition

14:06 UK time, Friday, 4 September 2009


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week, the undead wait for the number 19 bus. But what's being said?

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

6. SeanieSmith
"Hey clear off kid... get a life!"

5. homey1969
The Saver-Return of The Living Dead ticket proved popular.

4. BeckySnow
Redundant joke shop staff make their way home.

3. TallTone
You wait ages for one, then... you wait ages... you wait...

2. placey1
The Harlequins subs bench knew they needed to be more convincing than ever this season.

1. SkarloeyLine
Director: "No, I said CUE zombies."

Paper Monitor

13:02 UK time, Friday, 4 September 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Day Three of Dominic Mohan's editorship of the Sun, and today's paper is a study in the light and shade that is the red-top's stock in trade.

Wrapping around its masthead is a bright and cheerful promotion for the start of its bargain holiday tokens. Decorated with autumn leaves, a mountain biker pulling wheelies, jack 'o' lanterns and bumper cars, it stands in stark contrast to what comes next.

Laid over a photo of a rubbish-strewn stream is a headline that is not so much a headline as a litany of horrors: "Brothers aged 10 and 11 burned young victims' eyelids with cigarettes..." Anyone who has read the coverage of this case in the papers will be familiar with what comes next.

Unlike its stablemate the Times, the Sun has no qualms about describing the perpetrators as "evil". And the "devil brothers", "hell brothers", "savage brothers" and "feral brothers". It also runs several pictures of the pair at large in Edlington, their faces obscured.

The Times leader, meanwhile, appears to hate the sin but not the sinners. "[It's] a terrible reminder of the evil that can result from parental neglect, domestic violence, inadequate social services and sloppy police work."

Normally, journalists writing about the media pack do so because there is not much else to write about. Not in Times reporter Andrew Norfolk's piece, describing the reaction in Sheffield Crown Court as the prosecutor outlined what the brothers had actually done.

"As the narrative proceeded, journalists who had covered vile criminal cases for decades stopped taking notes because their hands were shaking too much. A court usher started to cry. Others turned pale. No one had heard the like of it."

Paper Monitor, reading this on the train, turns pale itself.

Seeking some light relief, one flips to page 51 of the Business section. No wait, come back! It's to a story about that Russian meerkat. You know, "Seemples!" An ad campaign so successful that a rival company is reconsidering its own adverts fronted by the tall one off Dragon's Den.

"Industry experts said that the advert, which was launched in January and revolves around the play on words 'comparethemeerkat/comparethemarket', was a great example of advertising that has nothing to do with the product that it is promoting."

The Daily Telegraph reports that meerkat Alexsandr Orlov has become quite a star since becoming the cravat-wearing frontman - frontkat? - for the insurance website. He has 555,000 Facebook fans and 25,000 Twitter followers, which totally eclipse the Magazine's own stable of followers.

But why is he Russian, if meerkats come from Africa?

And finally, reader Jacob, of London, asks for Paper Monitor's TV recommendations as he shares one's enthusiasm for Strictly Come Dancing, The Wire and The West Wing.

Well Jacob, at the moment Paper Monitor has been enjoying Being Human - in which a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share a Bristol flat - and Wallander in the original Swedish (it lacks the house porn of the BBC version, but the eponymous detective does swear at an Ikea bookcase).

Weekly Bonus Question

10:14 UK time, Friday, 4 September 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 BOX IN THIS ENTRY. And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is A FORM OF MEDITATION. But what's the question?

UPDATE 1629 BST: The correct answer is, why does V&A curator Sue Prichard recommend quilting for stressed-out people. (More details, Guardian)

Of your deliberately wrong suggestions, we liked:

  • TheRealCatherineO's Neighbours are so unfriendly these days, what does it usually take to borrow a cup of sugar?
  • SkarloeyLine's What is Satan unlikely to be queueing for, in the Post Office?
  • And ForeverGreenAndWhite's What is the last thing Jeremy Clarkson will resort to when trying to calm himself down?

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:49 UK time, Friday, 4 September 2009

"It was an extremely beautiful place and was very green" - Japan's first lady-in-waiting on her trip to Venus

Miyuki Hatoyama is not a typical spouse of a world leader. As well as claiming her spirit has travelled on a triangular-shaped UFO, she also says she knew Tom Cruise in a past life.
More details (the Times)

Web Monitor

16:33 UK time, Thursday, 3 September 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Among the questions straining Web Monitor's cerebral cortex today: can you send twits in the post? Was there ever a moment on bloggers' lips about a certain model's hips? And how clean is Sarah Palin's house? Share your favourite bits of the internet by sending a link through the letter box to the right of this page.

• Web Monitor has wondered before what Vanity Fair has got against Sarah Palin. Is it that she is a hockey mom? If so, it's time to drop that particular prejudice because it now seems she doesn't even deserve that tag, according to the father of Palin's daughter's baby Levi Johnston in his Vanity Fair interview:

"The Palin house was much different from what many people expect of a normal family, even before she was nominated for vice president. There wasn't much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn't cook, Todd doesn't cook--the kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school. Most of the time Bristol would help her youngest sister with her homework, and I'd barbecue chicken or steak on the grill."

Johnston also claims that Sarah Palin wanted to keep the pregnancy secret:
"Sarah told me she had a great idea: we would keep it a secret--nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant. She told me that once Bristol had the baby she and Todd would adopt him. That way, she said, Bristol and I didn't have to worry about anything."

• If we needed any more evidence that Twitter was strictly for those over 30, we have it - BBC Radio 4's Today programme presenter John Humphreys has sent his first tweet:

"stop counting letters and get a life instead".

On the show this morning, Humphreys asked listeners to send a "twit". So Radio 4 has written a guide for its listeners on how to tweet, maybe in a hope they won't make the same faux-pas.

The tweeter who started the Twitter campaign in support of the NHS, as documented in his own blog Why That's Delightful, Graham Linehan, said:

Could the person who helped @IvyBean104 get to grips with her computer please contact John Humphreys? Start slow, for God's sake!

As you may have guessed, Ivy Bean is 104 years old and has her own Twitter account.

lizziemillertummy_afp.jpgGeorge Pitcher's Column in the Daily Telegraph today united Web Monitor and our older sibling Paper Monitor on a search through bloggerland. We were manically looking for the critics of a little bit of tummy fat, donned by model Lizzie Miller in Glamour magazinementioned in Paper Monitor:

"Lizzie Miller is in the eye of a blogosphere storm for daring to show a little unairbrushed tummy fat..."

But after Paper Monitor's failure to find any online villification of said model Web Monitor must confess that it too has failed to unearth any fat-hating bloggers. If you can find anyone on the blogosphere who is disgusted by Lizzie Miller's ability to pinch an inch send the link via the letters box.

Your Letters

16:14 UK time, Thursday, 3 September 2009

Re: Quote of the Day - I'm afraid you're bang wrong, Justin Holwell. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has the privilege of having a big, bright red question mark hovering in front of their private parts.
Ben Merritt, Sheffield, England

I don't own a television set - could someone who does please tell me if this story made it onto a televised news show, and if so what the expression adorning the face of the lucky individual who delivered it was?
Kat Gregg, Coventry

How on earth could "that is important because there are impostor Stornoway black puddings on the market" not be today's quote of the day?
Adam, London, UK

Disappointment again> I was rather hoping this was a report on chocolate getting its own back.
Sarah, London

No Helen (Wednesday's letters), because "clone" and "mutant" do not form a closed set. The third option is "hybrid".
Mark, Esdale Bridge

What else does Paper Monitor watch? It clearly likes Strictly Come Dancing, The Wire and The West Wing - three shows that I really enjoy. Is there anything else that Paper Monitor recommend?
Jacob, London

Paper Monitor

11:59 UK time, Thursday, 3 September 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

lizziemillertummy_afp.jpgIt's unusual for a small photograph hidden away on page 194 of a US glossy magazine to excite much comment.

But this provocative photo in Glamour is different - can you see why? Model Lizzie Miller has a small tummy roll - and its unairbrushed use has sparked a thousand words. And that's just in the Daily Mail on "the wobbly bits that shook the world" (mercifully, none of them penned by confession queen Liz Jones).

Former SHE editor Linda Kelsey writes:

"It might be a tiny imperfection, but when it was published in the American edition of Glamour magazine, it appeared amid hundreds of pages of adverts and fashion shots in which the models have no blemishes, no frown lines, no wrinkles and certainly no body fat."

The Guardian also chips in with its tuppanceworth on the beautiful young woman with a small roll of belly fat and Glamour readers' enthusiastic response.

"One wouldn't have thought this would be news. As Miller says, 'pretty much every picture in a magazine or ad is airbrushed' ... So does the reaction to this picture mean that the tide is turning? Hardly. Even after the deluge of e-mails, [Glamour editor Cindi] Leive hasn't made a commitment to using average-sized women in fashion shoots."

So why has this caused such a fuss? Because so many women are uptight about their stomachs, and perhaps seeing a less-than-washboard midriff in a glossy magazine might make them a little less harsh on themselves. For the picture in question illustrates a story about body confidence, and the model - Lizzie Miller, at 12 stone considered too big to model even plus-size clothes - certainly exudes bags of the stuff.

Back to the Mail:

"When we are naked in front of the mirror, there is no disguising a sagging tummy. That's why it's so groundbreaking to see a beautiful woman who is a model, even if a curvy one, willing to reveal that she, too, has the same imperfections as the rest of us."

The Daily Telegraph also indulges in a spot of head-scratching on photo fakery. But its piece segues from fake autumnal leaves in a Visit Scotland advert into Miss Miller's tummy roll (and then Corpus Christi on University Challenge) with all the grace of a John Sergeant jive.

"I can't see what all the fuss is about over Scotland's tourism agency using a photo of a little girl tossing autumnal leaves in the air that turn out to be plastic. Photographic manipulation flourishes in every aspect of our lives. I have a friend, whom the sanctity of the confessional forbids me from naming, who has airbrushed his stomach out of his holiday beach photos this year."

Once its columnist gets to the Glamour mag tummy, he appears to miss the beat entirely:

"Lizzie Miller is in the eye of a blogosphere storm for daring to show a little unairbrushed tummy fat..."

Web Monitor may be able to prove otherwise, but to Paper Monitor's eyes, the columnists and the commenting readers alike think she looks gorgeous, and are delighted to see a real woman's body in a fashion mag.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:18 UK time, Thursday, 3 September 2009

"It's not like I'm showing off something that no one else has got" - Justin Holwell, after complaints about him stipping off on the Trafalgar Square plinth in London.

Despite a complaint, the confessed "exhibitionist" was not prevented from baring all in one of London's most public spaces.
More details

Web Monitor

15:57 UK time, Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor discovers why carparks are the new nannies, Iceland is the new Woolworths and lobbying is the new business plan. Send your favourite bits of the internet via the letters box to the right of this page.

Writing for the US's Regional Plan Association, Alex Marshall says what's missing for middle-class children is unsupervised play with their peers. He calls himself a middle-class dad in Brooklyn, and argues that for play purposes there's little difference between a playground and a street corner, so he's taken to plopping his son in the car park:

" ...playgrounds, with their single gate, always-latched entries and jungle gyms with rubber floors, have become cage-like and womb-like in their protectivity of children from both potential intruders and scraped knees. You have to look elsewhere for truly unstructured play.
As luck would have it, my wife and I live in a converted warehouse that has some low-income housing built across from it, fronting on a barren asphalt parking lot. There are children playing in this parking lot often, virtually all of them coming from the low-income housing. These kids, ages two to 15 or so, play in a self-governing universe, without parents. By design or default, unstructured play has become the domain of the less affluent.
Lately we've been throwing our four-and-a-half year old son Max into this universe, with delightful results. We are not yet willing to allow him to play unsupervised, so one of us tends to sit on a nearby bench, watching but not intruding. No other parents sit and watch, so we are usually the sole grown-up witness to the activity. What you see is the ability of kids still to play, without fancy equipment, without direction."

Retail Week is keeping an eye on what happened to the shop spaces where your local Woolworths used to be. Woolies Watch notes 60% of former Woolworths sites have been let. The firm most hungry for the site is Iceland, followed by discount shops like B&M Bargains and 99p Stores. Retail Week is keeping local newpaper cuttings to tell the story, including Lancashire Telegraph's report that Britain's biggest charity shop will fill their old Woolies store and the 1,800 applicants for 25 new jobs in QD Stores on Northampton's former Woolworths shop, reported in the Evening Telegraph.

• A big dollop of hindsight is being served up with the Economist's blog Free Exchange. They've been tracking across the web what is being said about what the newspapers in the US should have done to avoid decline. Their blog advocates government intervention:

"Often, when an industry faces decline, management and ownership will opt to take door number three; rather than reinvesting profits in new businesses or redistributing them to shareholders, they'll direct them to legislators and lobbyists in an effort to buy themselves protection from competition. This has been the strategy used by agricultural and manufacturing interests, often, though not always, with success."

Your Letters

15:28 UK time, Wednesday, 2 September 2009

It's reported that young teenagers in the UK are more likely to get drunk than anywhere else in the industrial world, that one in three girls in their teens has been a victim of sexual abuse and a quarter of teenagers have suffered violence in a relationship. Could there be a link do you think?
Jay Furneaux, UK

Regarding the somewhat sensationalist headline "We are all mutants say scientists". Was "We're not clones say scientists" not good enough?
Helen, Cambridge

I take it Andrew Beard (Number 11 in 30 things that mean it's Sunday) was being ironic, given all 7 of the Tesco's around him are definitely open on Sundays! And yes, I did look. How bored am I.
Barry Smithers, London, UK

Tom, Worthing, West Sussex

Regarding today's quote of the day, never mind the capitals, what about the extraordinarily clumsy phrasing? That alone should be sufficient to give her the sack in my book.
Adam, London, UK

Re food spelling mistakes (Monday's letters), a city cafe regularly touts 'donor kebabs' on its sign - wonder what's in them?
JJ, Belfast

Paper Monitor

12:14 UK time, Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is Dominic Mohan's first day as editor of the Sun.

So it's only appropriate that on Dominic's first day, the page 3 girl should be Dominique. The 22-year-old from Wapping has some apposite words for her namesake: "I wish the new gaffer all the best in his new job, particularly at this time of uncertainty for the commercial future of newspapers in a world of increasingly fragmented media and falling ad revenues."

OK, so we made that quote up.

Former deputy editor Mohan steps up to the top job as the Sun ploughs ahead with a campaign no doubt conceived a while back. Unfortunately, the snappily-named Don't You Know There's A Bloody War On has a bit of a production error on page five. The main picture is of rusting stoves at an Afghan base, but the first of the pictures below it is a near-identical image of the same rusting stoves.

As Paper Monitor recalls, it was the role of the "stone" sub to be the last line of defence against this sort of thing.

It's interesting to compare the front pages of the Sun and its traditional rival the Daily Mirror.

The Sun's front is dominated by its campaign for soldiers. And on the left hand side you get the latest development in the Lockerbie release row, as well as Jordan talking about rape and Gary Lineker's secret wedding.

On the front of the Mirror, the splash is the Garrido kidnap case. But there's a big box with the Jordan story. The left hand side is World War II anniversary stuff.

On the Sun, the top right hand blurb is for an Ant and Dec serialisation, while the Mirror has a football pull-out.

Whatever you think about the relative merits of the stories, the Mirror has a front page that is visually the more arresting.

So what will Mohan be able to achieve in the next 24 hours?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:19 UK time, Wednesday, 2 September 2009

"TO ENSURE YOUR STAFF CLAIM IS PROCESSED AND PAID, PLEASE DO FOLLOW THE BELOW CHECK LIST" - E-mail instruction which earned its author the sack for being written in capitals

Accountant Vicki Walker has won her case against unfair dismissal in New Zealand after she was accused of causing disharmony in the workplace by writing e-mails in capitals.
More details (the New Zealand Herald)

Web Monitor

16:00 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor is back at work and clicking away to divert you from the internet motorway on to the web scenic route. If you've found a good picnic spot along the way - or a more tortured metaphor than this - then send your link via the letters box to the right of this page.

• Working your finger to the bone and what do you get when you take one piddly day off?
You get Candace in New Jersey telling on you to Magazine Monitor:

"So Paper Monitor is hard at work, but where is the update from Web Monitor after all the moaning about long hours? Off playing badminton and sipping a mint julep perhaps?"

Sadly not, but when it comes to bank holiday fun Vintage Magpie's post seems to have got to root of what makes a quintessential bank holiday.

• So, down to business. Web Monitor asked for all your findings of weirdly wonderful occurrences of the world pimp on the web. If you haven't been following, no this is not a glib take sex trafficking - rather a mission to document how the word's definition changed from a prostitutes' agent to it's current meaning - dressing something up.

Web Monitor was delighted to see the prevalence of pimping in hospital situations - until Jenny in Chicago pointed out, doctors have not been trying to be down with the kids. No, it's a legitimate medical term:

"The verb to 'pimp' has long been used in medical education. It is not considered offensive but does have negative connotations for those being 'pimped' (ie the possibility of public embarrassment) by their superiors."

It turns out pimping is controversial in medicine as well but not the word itself, the method it describes. Pimping is a "Socratic" form of teaching in medicine and not liked by all as explained in the medical blog Life in the Fast Lane:

"What is the purpose of pimping? Well, the Socratic method is meant to involve carefully chosen questions that challenge the preconceived ideas of the student, and through a process of rational discussion and refutation allow the student's knowledge to grow."

So, pimping is seen by some students as an opportunity for their tutor to persecute or embarrass them.

Incidentally, Web Monitor suspected the Life in the Fast Lane blog was going to offer glorious insight into another world when the description for the blog was "Emergency Medicine Blog, vernacular insights and health 2.0 reasoning." Send in your favourite blog straplines and let's see if the content is as good as the sales pitch.

• We'll start you off with one surprising strapline: Felix Salmon: "Not Anonymous, Not Neutral". So just your common-or-garden blog, until you discover that Felix is blogging on behalf of world renowned news agency Reuters.

Salmon's most recent post looks at why shops remain empty and tries to uncover why landlords don't just accept any rent - after all low rent is surely better than no rent. Salmon says it is all to do with lease lengths:

"I think the answer lies in the fact that commercial leases tend to be very long-term things - so long term, in fact, that the discounted cashflow from any given lease is likely, in a normal (non-bubbly) property market, to be more or less the same as the value of the commercial property itself."

Salmon found Australian artist Marcus Westbury who came up with his own solution - short term rents. Westbury has long been campaigning to stop the neglect that he says follows the empty shop fronts in his home town Newcastle and the solution is perfect for artists who cannot predict demand for their business far into the future.

Megan McArdle in the Atlantic retorts there is a problem with short-term rents for the tenant:

"... once they've made the capital improvements, the landlord has them over a barrel."

Anything for art's sake.

Your Letters

15:20 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

"Formally known as the Ram Inn" - someone made that up, surely?
Dan, Cambridge

Something doesn't feel quite right to me in the inset table in this article. Highest rate of bullying: Turkey. Enjoy school most: Turkey. Maybe the bullies stopped the bullied taking part in the survey?
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

Re: Is this the worst day of the year to be born? I purposely had my daughter timed (like a cake) to pop out in September, both my husband and I having been born in August and felt it caused both of us to be socially inept. Then we moved to Geneva where the cut-off was the end of September and she ended up starting school while she was still three.
Rachel, Minnetonka

Oh no. Paul, Isle of Man (Monday's letters), has opened the floodagtes to all amusing menu observations including those in English. I will see your "Chicken Leak Pie" and raise you an entry I saw on a dessert menu in a pub recently: "Traditional Apple Pie - tastes just like grannies." Mmmm, Elizabeth Arden-soaked cardigan.
James, Leeds

Natalie (Monday's letters): I've checked with my Brazilian relatives and discovered that "golf sauce" is an old-fashioned seasoning, usually found in shrimp cocktails and made with mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and other stuff they thought best not to divulge. Alas, nobody could inform me on the origins of the funny name! Hope that helped.
Anna, Norwich

Re: Tuesday's Quote of the Day, Brian Sewell is correct, because the end result would be "graffarti".
Ian York, Harlepool

Missed opportunity!
Lee, Birmingham

Where was she?
Fleur, London

Paper Monitor

12:46 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After last week's opening salvo from the Daily Mail in the War of Anne Robinson's Face, Ms Robinson is leading a counterattack on two fronts - the Daily Mirror and the Independent.

Predictably, the former seems to be in glorious ignorance of the latter's access to the TV quiz show dominatrix, adopting the old red top tactic of splashing "exclusive" all over its article safe in the knowledge that the Press Complaints Commission will always have bigger fish to fry.

But it's the Indy which comes up with the best line, as Robinson confesses to interviewer John Walsh that before Boris Johnson was picked, she had been invited to stand for Mayor of London on a Conservative Party ticket.

While the Indy mentions Robinson's cosmetic surgery almost in passing, it's the meat and drink of the Mirror's interview.

For those who missed this gripping yarn, last week the Mail ran a newly released publicity shot of Robinson suggesting she had embarked on a further round of surgical enhancement. Of course, the impact was heavily diluted by the fact that Robinson has, in the past, tended to celebrate her cosmetic "enhancements" rather than shy away from them.

Anyway, the Mirror bills its article today with the claim that "TV's Anne Robinson breaks silence on that picture".

So does Robinson 'fess up to a cosmetic surgery addiction? Er, no.

The Mail, meanwhile, has moved on already, finding solace in the company of another female septuagenarian TV personality - "Dame" Joanna Lumley. And what's this? The surgery question is not even mooted - perhaps because the interview is just a re-run of yesterday's Guardian G2 lead. Curiously, though, it's not a straight lift - the Mail has added some of its own touches to Laura Barton's interrogation of La Lumley.

Compare and contrast, if you will, these opening sentences:

"Joanna Lumley glides into the screening room." - the Guardian.

"Joanna Lumley glides into the room and, in dark trousers, blue top and elegantly swathed scarf, sits smiling beatifically before me."
- the Daily Mail.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph has us all in fits of panic with its lead story - "Power cuts to hit 16m homes" it says, claiming that demand for electricity in the UK will exceed supply within eight years.

Concerning, for sure, but at least the banning of those old energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs might help matters. The Telegraph, however, seems confused.

"Light bulbs - How you can beat the ban," it says on the front.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:23 UK time, Tuesday, 1 September 2009

"The two words 'graffiti' and 'art' should never be put together" - art critic Brian Sewell

The city council of Bristol, home to Banksy, is planning to let residents vote on whether public murals should be retained or scrubbed clean. This idea appals purists like Mr Sewell, who says it doesn't matter if "people who don't know anything about art" like something or not.

More details (The Guardian)

Your Letters

15:01 UK time, Monday, 31 August 2009

Who, following Laurie Taylor's article on early dinner, suddenly felt that egg and chips would be just the thing for tea that evening?
Simon Rooke, Nottingham

The average life-span of a pint glass is three months (10 things)? They only last about 15 minutes in our local pub before being refilled.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

In 10 things, I suspect you are forgetting about Leif Ericson, the first European to land in Newfoundland. So unless an Englishman landed in Newfoundland in 1004, then I doubt number nine is correct.
Andrew Watson, Kelso

Thanks for the caption kudos - you'll be pleased to hear an offer of work has already come flooding in from Mills and Baboon.
Rockahula, London

Bad Magazine Monitor, bad! How could Rockahula's caption be a runner-up? That should have been the winning one.
Flavia, Dublin

AK (Thursday's letters), a friend of a friend got his PhD a couple of years back and became Dr Blood - could he be the arch villain and nemesis of Dr Power?
Andrew Harris, Jubail, Saudi Arabia

A belated contribution to the mistranslated menu discussion. My favourite was in Madeira, where the sangria was translated as "bleeding red wine". It was delicious.
Pam Baker, Oban, Scotland

There's a menu I saw in Brazil that, 10 years later, still confuses me. We managed to work out "untethered chickens" fairly easily (free-range), but what on earth is "Golf Pod Sauce"? Answers on a postcard, please.
Natalie, York

It's not just in non-English speaking countries you find interesting menus. A simple spelling mistake at a pub in London once turned the appetising "Chicken and Leek Pie" to the rather stomach churning "Chicken Leak Pie".
Paul, Isle of Man

I have noticed that the BBC News 24 label idents (and others) cause a burn on my television. This can ruin a TV, and as such I will not be watching rolling news channels for any lengths of time in future. Is BBC News going to address this?
Monica Hay, London

So Paper Monitor is hard at work, but where is the update from Web Monitor after all the moaning about long hours? Off playing badminton and sipping a mint julep perhaps?
Candace, New Jersey, US

Alan! Alan! Al! Alan!
Steve, Inverness

Paper Monitor

12:15 UK time, Monday, 31 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

This one goes out to the ones working on the Bank Holiday Monday.

Perhaps your workplace is a-buzz, but the top floor of Monitor Towers is all but silent, bar the sound of two fingers typing on the Entertainment desk, and a distance cough from the techie in a far corner. Oh, and the hum of the air conditioning. Always forget how loud it actually is. Still, don't have to make much conversation...

So what's in the papers that takes one's fancy?

It's certainly a day to catch up on reading, with several papers running novel extracts or short stories by their favourite authors - Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked in the Times (girlfriends past, check; musical pilgrimages, check), and Margaret Atwood's Pretend Blood in the Independent (not too futuristic future gender politics).

And the Daily Mail pens a novella of its own with the headline:
"The groovy rise and dreadful fall of the real Austin Powers. He was TV's first king of chat, whose wild ego, drug abuse and womanising scandalised the Sixties. So how did Simon Dee, who died yesterday, end up as a lonely, embittered recluse?"

Perhaps the answer is right there?

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that karaoke is falling from favour as publicans ditch the empty orchestra boxes in favour of more profitable - "and less intrusive" - forms of entertainment. Dang. Paper Monitor likes nothing more than warbling along to "Lets get physical, physical... I wanna get physical" while channelling one's inner Newton John. As the neighbours well know.

Strangely, though, that tune doesn't make the paper's top 10 most sung. Top slot goes to... can you guess? Angels, by Mr Robbie Williams. Oh! Sweet Caroline is at four, and Delilah at number seven. Paper Monitor has two new party pieces. Neighbours, get those earplugs ready...

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:06 UK time, Monday, 31 August 2009

"It was probably more irresponsible of me to fight in my 30s, when I had young children" - Matador Frank 'El Ingles' Evans, back in the ring at 67 with a titanium knee.

After knee replacement surgery and who a quadruple heart bypass, Frank Evans - the only English bullfighter - has made his comeback in Benalmadena, southern Spain. He said beforehand that if one of the two bulls bumped him off, "people will cry for a few days, but that's it". But he did the killing, dispatching both animals.
More details (Guardian)

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