BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 27, 2009 - January 2, 2010

Your Letters

13:29 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

Re: Thursday's quote of the day. Was the DJ sacked for cutting off the Queen's speech, or for not being able to count?
Mariam, Karachi, Pakistan

My husband and I drove through Corfe village in Dorset on the way to visit relatives on 28 December and on the side of one of the pubs in the village was a sign saying "Book Now for Christmas 2010".
Katherine Broadhurst, Cardiff

Emily of Portsmouth (Thursday's letters) gets the Tunnock's Tea Cakes.
Susan.Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

Sorry Susan and Emily (Thursday's letters), I saw Creme Eggs in a supermarket on 17 December.
Amy Turner, Norwich

Nominative determinism strikes again... look who's become a dame for her nuclear physics work.
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

Do I suspect a campaign to get the story "60 foot penis painted on roof" to be the most popular news story as we go into the new decade, even though it belongs to March? My comment on that is "Where's the married goat?"
Jo Edkins, Cambridge, UK

100 things we didn't know last year

11:40 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

10berries_100things.jpgThe most interesting and unexpected facts can emerge from the daily news stories and the Magazine documents some of them in its weekly feature, 10 things we didn't know last week. To kick off 2010, here's an almanac of the best from the past year.

1. Using both hands to read Braille achieves an average speed of 115 words a minute, compared with 250 words a minute for sighted reading.
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2. Gold medal winner Chris Hoy was inspired to cycle by ET.
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3. Moby is related to novelist Herman Melville and was named after his most famous creation.
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4. You can hiccup while asleep.
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5. Countdown is French.
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6. John the Good was bad and William the Bad was good.
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7. In camel racing the jockeys are electronic robots.
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8. The bubonic plague still exists.
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9. Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of edible frogs.
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10pedalo_100things.jpg10. The brain chemical serotonin causes locusts to swarm.
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11. Naked rambling is legal in Switzerland.
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12. Facebook was originally called "The facebook".
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13. Being born with additional digits (fingers/toes) is called being polydactyl.
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14. The famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster was never actually used during World War II.
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15. The Channel between Dover and Calais froze over in 1673.
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16. King Henry VIII was a soppy romantic.
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17. You can safely eat more than three eggs a week.
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18. Paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

19. Elephants kiss.
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10puds_100things.jpg20. Grizzly bears hate getting their ears wet.
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21. There are two types of intelligence.
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22. Nicolas Sarkozy collects stamps.
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23. The average number of friends is 150.
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24. Barbie dumped Ken.
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25. Monkeys floss.
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26. Holding your hands up on a rollercoaster stretches the torso, enhancing the physical sensations.
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27. 'YR' was an abbreviation for "your" in the 17th and 18th Century too.
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28. Mining output fell more in the periods before and after Mrs Thatcher than during her time as prime minister.
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29. Parts of cremated bodies are recycled.
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10ducks_100things.jpg30. A broken heart is known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and it can be cured.
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31. Britney Spears's family comes from Tottenham in north London.
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32. There are 19 countries in the G20.
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33. The song Agadoo by Black Lace is originally French.
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34. Breaking wind is a bookable offence in football.
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35. Britain pays an annual sum to Ireland to cover healthcare costs of Irish workers who have returned home.
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36. Squatters take over islands, as well as homes.
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37. Being sorry originally meant to be distressed and sad.
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38. Paper can be made from wombat excrement.
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39. Five trees make an orchard.
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10lamps_100things.jpg40. Wine varies in taste from day to day.
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41. Many mosques in Mecca point the wrong way for prayers.
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42. An outbreak of swine flu in 1976 killed one person but a vaccine to combat it killed 25.
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43. Britain once sent an envoy with a quadruple-barrelled name to Moscow - Admiral Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurley Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax.
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44. Youth hostelling was invented in Germany in 1912.
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45. A tribe in Bolivia has a festival of violence to settle disputes.
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46. Franco had one testicle.
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47. Britain had animal welfare laws before it had child welfare laws.
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48. The man who was the voice of Mickey Mouse was married to the woman who did Minnie's.
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49. Stabbing in the buttocks has its own verb in Roman dialect.
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10mailboxes_100things.jpg50. The Apprentice losers' café featured in Z-Cars.
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51. In the 1970 US Census, the number of people who said they were aged over 100 was about 22 times the true number.
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52. Canada used to border Zimbabwe.
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53. More than half of all Patels in the UK are married to people born Patel.
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54. Streetlights cause problems for bats.
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55. Scotland has the lowest age for criminal responsibility in Europe.
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56. Buddhist monks sleep upright.
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57. There is a long tradition of "medals of dishonour".
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58. Chilli can be used as a weapon in crowd control.
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59. Fred Perry was also table tennis world champion.
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10sailboats_100things.jpg60. The keffiyeh, a chequered scarf worn mostly by Arab men, and made famous by Yasser Arafat, is now mostly made in China.
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61. Trousers used to be called unmentionables.
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62. The best place to put a wind turbine is in Orkney.
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63. Brahms liked his audience to clap in between movements.
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64. The best Italian saffron is made from crocus flowers picked at dawn.
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65. It's always "esq" and never "esquire" as a written honorific.
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66. Football score announcer James Alexander Gordon suffered from slurred speech as a child.
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67. A third of England's coastline is inaccessible.
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68. Bees warn other bees about flowers where dangers can be expected.
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69. Men At Work's Down Under was inspired by Dame Edna's nephew.
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10seashells_100things.jpg70. Bristol is the fourth most visited city in England.
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71. You're as likely to be hit by lightning as killed by a mentally ill person.
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72. Only about one or two in 200 people with autism have a savant talent, or exceptional ability.
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73. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has a water slide in his garden.
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74. Emoticons in the East are the right way up (^_^).
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75. The UK population grew more in 2008 than at any time since 1962.
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76. The village of Cambourne, in Cambridgeshire, has a higher birth rate than India and China.
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77. The crease under your buttocks is called the gluteal fold.
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78. Nasa gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries following lunar missions in the 1970s.
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79. Married couples used to always sleep apart.
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10_roses_100things.jpg80. Everyone once used the left-hand side of the road.
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81. There are so few redheads in Mexico they often greet each other in the street.
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82. Sportswear firms Adidas and Puma have had a 60-year feud.
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83. All British industrial action ballots must be by post, except for workers at sea.
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84. Banana skins can take two years to biodegrade.
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85. The only woman ever in the French Foreign Legion was British.
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86. Ken Livingstone was twice rejected for a cameo in EastEnders.
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87. Homes are 4C warmer, on average, than 50 years ago.
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88. In the early days of barcodes, there was a plan for round ones.
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89. Male life expectancy in the UK goes up by about three months every year.
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10things_100things.jpg90. The flash on David Bowie's Aladdin Sane album cover was inspired by the logo from a rice cooker.
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91. Boyzone sold more singles than Take That in the 1990s.
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92. Morecambe and Wise nearly split up, before they had even got on television.
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93. William Pitt's dying words were about House of Commons catering.
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94. Bagged salad is photographed 4,000 times a second.
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95. The city of Bath, in Somerset, was referred to as "The Bath" until the 19th Century.
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96. Tattoos can be done with a person's ashes.
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97. The BBC rejected Sesame Street in 1971 because it was "too authoritarian".
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98. French babies cry with an accent.
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99. Travelling in a "road train" can cut fuel consumption by 20%.
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100. Teeth grinding is known as bruxism.
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Thanks to Margaret Emerson, Hayley Salvo, Vic Barton-Walderstadt, Anita Bekker, Andrew Ferguson, Liam Whelan, Richard Hopkins, Helen Evans and Cate Mackenzie for their photos. Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Paper Monitor

11:28 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor, finding itself in work on this day, really cannot be bothered to go and seek out the papers.

Instead, here is what is probably in the papers, on the basis that it has been for every one of the other years since the Romans first started whacking the news onto lumps of rock.

Many of today's newspapers will feature a picture of fireworks on their front page.

(That fireworks still remain a novelty more than a millennium after their invention is a discussion for another time.)

Then there are the "revellers". In many places they will have "braved the cold". In the photos, many will be wearing woolly hats. Some of the woolly hat wearers will be kissing each other.

Despite what the spread of photos might suggest, there is no peer-reviewed evidence to suggest that New Year's Eve celebrations are dominated by attractive young blonde ladies.

As far as actual news goes, there will be the odd survey about binge drinking or obesity, to make us feel bad about our excesses of the past few days.

And there will be desperate attempts to "move on" real stories that petered out days ago. Or to preview things that really won't happen for many days.

Happy New Year.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:11 UK time, Friday, 1 January 2010

"Now if ever there was a really horrible moment, part of a ghastly evening, an utterly dismal experience, a nightmare beyond belief, it's New Year's Eve" - Michael Winner speaks on behalf of many.

You wouldn't know it from the blanket coverage of fireworks and frolics but there is a silent minority that finds the idea of an annual evening of extortionately-priced enforced fun, well, rather tiresome. Winner reveals he has spent 28 of his New Years in Barbados, and he still hasn't always had fun.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

14:43 UK time, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ann Widdecombe's quip about Michael Howard was certainly unforgettable, and I also remember a Magazine Monitor caption competition: The photo was of Michael Howard in his suit, standing in a bar and holding a pint of beer. One caption entry was: "There's something of the Friday night about him". A classic.
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

Re Easter eggs on sale (Wednesday letters): Our local supermarket was selling Creme Eggs on 27 December. Surely this is a record? I therefore claim my Easterwatch prize of Tunnock's Tea cakes.
Susan Thomas, Brisbane, Australia
Monitor note: There are Easter eggs on sale at the sandwich station in Monitor Towers too...

I saw Creme Eggs in my local Co-op on 24 December. Had I known that it would become a topic here, I would have taken a photo as evidence. As it is, you will just have to believe me.
Emily Parry, Portsmouth

Three weeks before Christmas a friend went to a hotel in south England for their firm's Christmas bash. In the foyer was a large notice: "Bookings now being taken for Valentine's Day."
Tim McMahon, Pennar, Wales

Impy, World War II ended in nineteen HUNDRED and forty-five (Wednesday letters). Perhaps World War II ends in nineteen thousand and forty-five, we shall have to see.
Ellie, Herts

Now you've added a video - even better!
Paul Greggor, London

Re Quote of the Day: I understand that some people were offended but it is becoming increasingly difficult to use humour as a communication media when everything is being condemned as a polemic starter for 10. There are always items that offend my own beliefs, then I realise that these are also funny (as is most of modern life).
If those of us who accept offence, to an extent, with a spirit of grace; all leave the country and turn out the lights then good night humour.
Vince Jones, Birmingham, UK

I move that December have 28 days and February 31. That way we could close for the week and be done with it. All those in favour?
Diane, Sutton

I'd like to wish all my fellow Monitorites a happy, and most importantly a prosperous, new year. I forgot that second bit in my new year wish to you all last year. Sorry about that. I won't be making that mistake again.
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:04 UK time, Thursday, 31 December 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's New Year's Eve, and that means:

  • There are fewer bared bosoms in the Daily Star than usual, what with all the coverage of the honours list
  • Word play headlines, such as "Status QuO.B.E" in the Daily Mirror
  • This is not just cold weather. This is Daily Express Weather© (expl: climatic conditions so extreme they break some sort of standing record or other) and revellers will brave "one of the worst winters in recent memory"
  • Last-minute canapes in the Daily Mail, such as a Lidl prawn platter. Also served at the Mail's party are frozen mini-pizzas, mini chicken Kievs and mini frittatas
  • Future gazing in the Independent. No entry-level 2010 predictions, these are for 2020, like see-through suitcases for airport security and a David Hare verbatim play at the National Theatre on Britain's Got Talent
  • And bikini babes snapped sucking their tummies in while on winter sun breaks in the Sun

Happy New Year, one and all!

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:03 UK time, Thursday, 31 December 2009

"Two words: Bor-ing" - Local DJ Tom Binns as he cuts off the Queen's speech, and is promptly sacked.

Cutting off the Queen mid-flow on Christmas Day is something that might raise eyebrows, but when Tom Binns used his show on Birmingham local station BRMB to suggest that her message was boring he soon parted company with his job.
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Your Letters

16:03 UK time, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

It's nice to know "New Year's Eve is expected to be cold and dry for most revellers", but does anyone know what the weather forecast is for people like me, who plan to just stay at home and have a nice early night?
Adam, London, UK
Monitor note: Conditions are perfect, Adam.

Just seen (mini) Easter Eggs in our local supermarket. Happy Christmas.
Mark Statman Steele @BBC News Magazine

My local supermarket is selling Christmas decorations ALREADY! Is this a record?
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

I thought we might have had at least a photo with Loose pigs on motorway rounded up.
Paul Greggor, London

Re the correct pronunciation of 2010 (Tuesday letters). What year did World War II end? Nineteen thousand and forty-five? Thought not. It's only been commonplace to use the full number for the past decade. The real question is why did we go from nineteen ninety-nine to two thousand?
Impy, Sandhurst

I believe the way to say it is two-10 . It should still be written with the zero.
Greg Warner, Jakarta, Indonesia

Why don't we all do what I'm going to do and call next year two thousand and ten? That way there's no "twennie" to worry about.
Kimberley, Nevada, US

There's only one way to find out... FIGHT!
Lee, Wolverhampton

So, Adam (Tuesday letters), are you suggesting under-18s and over-60s should really be in full-time employment? I'm sure there are people who believe child labour might help bring us out of the recession, but I suspect they are in a distinct minority. In other words, I'm going to suggest that the writer of that article meant 7.9% of the working (or should-be-working) population.
Hugh, London

Taking into account all the aliases and pseudonyms used, the contributor with the most wins in the Caption Competition in 2009 goes to Rob Falconer with 24 captions, followed by Simon Rooke with 23, Sean Smith with 19, Richard Jenkinson (Stig) with 12 and Candace Sleeman with 8.
And for the WBQ, the most selected was Candace with 12, then Simon Rooke with 10, Rob Falconer with 6 and Catherine Osborn and Helene Parry on 3 apiece.
There are other regular contributors who may well feel they should be included in these lists, or whose multiple personalities should be totalled together. All errors and omissions are not the responsibility of the BBC and any complaints should be directed to me.
Simon Rooke @BBC News Magazine

Re T2's what to wear (Paper Monitor). What kind of fool spends £755 on an outfit for "staying in"? I thought we were in a recession.
Anna, UK

Paper Monitor asks what we'll wear on New Year's Eve. I'll no doubt be wearing a suit and tie as I'm working, hoping to give pleasure to about 60 guests on a murder weekend.
MWPayne @BBC_magazine

Turkey sandwich anyone?
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a dress you may - or may not - have noticed. You may - or, much more likely, may not - have worn it yourself.

preendress226getty.jpgAmy Winehouse has a canary yellow one, accessorised with peekaboo black bra and toppling beehive. Cheryl Cole has a shoulder-baring version in salmon pink (farmed variety). Rihanna a cobalt blue number, and Lily Allen a red one.

All of which has set the Guardian fashion desk to thinking.

"[H]ow does Preen, a small London fashion label without an advertising budget let alone a private-jet budget, manage to pull off Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheryl Cole and Rihanna all squeezing into an almost identical dress? By magic, that's how. Because that's what the Power dress is: old-fashioned magic. The dress a fairy godmother might conjure up for you if you had a hot date (and a fairy godmother)."

This dress - and others - are all over the papers today for the benefit of those among you who have yet to secure the perfect party outfit in which to flit hither and thither this New Year's Eve.

However, as a pre-Christmas feature in the Times noted, there are an awful lot of party frocks in the shops, but parties worth wearing 'em to are in rather short supply.

But a features editor reserves the right to change his/her mind at the drop of a hat, and so today's lead feature in T2 is all about what to wear on New Year's Eve. A Snuggie does not make the list, nor do those cosy slippers you got for Christmas.

There is, bless 'em, a suggested outfit for stopping in on the sofa alongside the obligatory short va-va-voom dress in which to sip cocktails, and a long-boots-'n'-woolly-jacket number in which to brave the chill of Trafalgar Square/Hogmanay/etc.

But get this - it's a short sleeved jacket. What, pray tell, is that about?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:36 UK time, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

"If other leaders, for example are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this but she does not wish to be singled out" - Margaret Thatcher rejects Japanese offer of 20 karate ladies as bodyguards.

The newly released Downing Street memos from 1979 show how officials worked behind the scenes to prevent her being embarrassed by her security detail at an economic meeting in Tokyo. "She would not want these ladies; press reaction in particular would be unacceptable," said cabinet secretary Sir John Hunt, according to minutes of a phone call.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

14:35 UK time, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Re Sara Nathan's article in the Daily Mail on the correct pronunciation of 2010, on a tangential issue I have complained to the BBC already on the pronunciation of twenty as twennie. It now becomes even more relevant with the widespread use of the "twenty-xxxx" format. I should like to emphasise that I have no issue about preserving local dialects and mannerisms in speech during appropriate entertainment programmes. The important thing is that there should be a core of programmes having regular pronunciation: programmes such as the news, weather forecast, reports from the stock market and the presenter in programmes that includes regional accents. Programmes depicting historical characters may announce that the characters may use the accents and mannerisms of their day. "Twennee" should not be allowed to creep unnoticed into the English language.
Peter Spurgeon, Andover

It is important, of course, to know that UK unemployment is currently 2.49 million, or 7.9% of the population. But surely it is far more important, and should really have been today's main news story, to note that the population of the UK now seems to be only 31.5 million.
Adam, London, UK

Re isitchristmas.com, (Your Letters, Monday) it appears to be a localised website, which detects where you are and guesses which language to give you the answer in. Right now (29th) it tells me "EI", which is Finnish for "no". It appears that they haven't got the memo about the Falklands being under British rule...
Jonathan, Helsinki, Finland

Following up on Jennifer's letter (earlier today i.e. Monday), isitchristmas thought I was in Germany and said "NEIN"...
Sarah, Bois le Roi, France

Re: "AI aims to solve in-game chatter", I am the only person who thinks the last sentence of this article is worthy of "quote of the year"? Is it too late to submit a quote for "quote of the year"?
Craig, Taunton, Somerset

Paper Monitor

13:14 UK time, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A celebration of the riches of the daily press.

Heaven forbid that Paper Monitor should be sniffy about the Guardian's G2 lead for yesterday [sorry, no online link] - a rehash of "favourite" articles from 2009. After all, selecting your best content of the year and repackaging it for reader delectation is quite the fashion... isn't it.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:07 UK time, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

"We're the life and soul of any party - Barack Obama said he'd love to go for a pint of Guinness with us some time" - Nicky Byrne of Westlife rejects suggestions that the band is boring.

They may have had the seal of approval from the US president, having performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, but Westlife still crave credibility from the UK media. One critic said the Irish serial chart-toppers "were so anodyne as to make Boyzone look like Led Zeppelin at their most orgiastic". Ouch!

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

12:22 UK time, Monday, 28 December 2009


"Caption Competition is having a Christmas rest and will return to the Magazine Monitor on Thursday, 7 January 2010." Some ruddy Christmas present! Now I've got to go and play with the kids.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

My curiosity about isitchristmas.com was piqued by the Magazine (Web Monitor, Thursday) and I am now even more curious about why the site's response this morning is "SÃ" rather than "Yes".
Ronnie MB, Stanley, Falkland Islands (writing on 25 December)

Reading Thursday's Web Monitor, I followed the link to isitchristmas.com. My surprise came when instead of saying "no", it could tell I was in Thailand and said instead "MAI CHAI"!
Jennifer, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Gunman attacks hospital visitor....
Judging by the stock photo used, the attack occurred in 1992, long before the front entrance to the hospital was rebuilt, and when now obsolete models of ambulance reigned supreme......
Dr W B Chellam, Bradford

Paper Monitor

11:05 UK time, Monday, 28 December 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today is a day for names.

Top of the bill is Deathstroke Regina Chester Jefff Dave Dum Dee Dum Tumblepot.

Formerly known as Regina Gardner from Folkestone, Deathstroke etc is one of 50,000 British people who changed their name by deed poll in 2009, according to the Sun.

Another imaginative example is the choice of the man formerly known as Adam Osen, from Chingford. His new name is None Of The Above. "My wife hates it," he says.

Then there's Joanna Lumley. She hasn't changed her name to Person of the Year, but that's her new title in the Times, earned for her campaigning on behalf of the Gurkhas.

Others who missed out were Alistair Darling, James Purnell, Beth Tweddle and Ryan Giggs.

You can find out on Tuesday (men) and Wednesday (women) if any of them make it on to the Magazine's list of Faces of the Year.

Elsewhere in the papers, there are star names doing things and in typical Noughties fashion, this is big news.

So there are well-known names holidaying (Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Simon Cowell), others dressing in a way the paper deems to be inappropriate (Elton John twice, J-Lo, Rihanna, Charlize Theron) or just having dinner (Beckhams, Joe McElderry).

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:43 UK time, Monday, 28 December 2009

"That makes me think of Stonehenge. I'm a stony-faced well-carved monument" - Jools Holland on being told he's a national treasure

The term "national treasure" is not one that the musician and broadcaster is very enthusiastic about. And he's not the only one. Last week, Dame Judi Dench also bridled at the description, because it made her think "too dusty, too in a cupboard, too behind glass, too staid."

More details (Daily Telegraph)

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