BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 16, 2011 - October 22, 2011

Your Letters

15:54 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

Teens always have their own way of speaking. We used words our parents didn't like or understand, but what I can't stand is text speak especially when its used in other situations in place of English.
Sarah Walmsley @BBC News Magazine

"Birmingham Prison inmates locked in cells after key loss". Isn't there the teeniest flaw in this plan?
Mark, Reading,UK

Who is the man behind the V for Vendetta masks? The Stig?
Owen Williams @BBC News Magazine

Congratulations to Rob Falconer (Thursday's letters), for getting 7/7 on the quiz about CVs, I think he will need more than that to find another job in Britain
Tremorman, Newcastle

Mark (Thursday's letters), I assume you're not going to get your coat?
Eleanor, Reading, UK

I'm having a bad day, but I think Tuesday might be better. Shall I let you know?
Claire, Nottingham

10 things we didn't know last week

15:37 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Footballs were called "fut ballis" in 1497.
More details

2. Flying racehorses long distances to competitions in other countries can actually make them faster.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. William and Kate use Boris bikes.
More details (Daily Mail)

4. There is a decrease in natural births on Halloween and an increase on Valentines Day.
More details (Mother and Baby)

5. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales's longest
place name, fits onto a single Monopoly square. More details

6. The average wait before getting in contact with someone after a first date is now 1.52 days.
More details (Daily Mail)

7. The most relaxing song ever - called Weightless - is 11% more soporific than any other song.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. The world's largest family has 181 members - one husband, 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren.
More details (Mirror)

9. Former scouts volunteer more than people who weren't in the scouts.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

10. Alice Cooper runs a Bible class.
More details (Daily Mail)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

How to say: New Zealand place names

13:27 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Jo Kim of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

Following the disastrous oil spill in the Astrolabe Reef (ASS-truh-lab, -a as in "tap", stressed syllables in upper case) last month, several New Zealand place names have featured heavily in the news of late. Some of these place names are Maori, such as Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, the city and the town in the Bay of Plenty respectively.

Our recommendation for Tauranga is an established anglicisation, TOW-rong-uh (-ow as in "now", -ng as in "sing" (not "finger"), -uh as "a" in "sofa"). We also recommend mong-uh-NOO-i (-o as in "top", -ng as in "sing", -oo as in "boot") for Maunganui. These are the pronunciations also used by Radio New Zealand's English language broadcasters.

The established anglicisations of these place names raise interesting questions about the relationship between the Maori and New Zealand English sound systems. There are a multitude of English accents in the English speaking world, and native and non-native speakers alike may have noted some features of New Zealand English pronunciation when they encounter this accent in real life or in the media. (The unit's concentrated exposure to New Zealand English is from watching Flight of the Conchords, which we watched for endless hours in our leisure time - in the pursuit of pure linguistic research, of course.)

Some of the most striking features are the relatively raised vowels (relative in comparison to Southern Standard British English, although perhaps not as much in comparison to General Australian English) and the "rotation" of certain vowels. Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles (Wells, 1982) gives a classic example of this - the quality of the "-i as in 'sit'" vowel in New Zealand English. In New Zealand, the "sit" vowel has become a central vowel and may sound much closer to the "-uh as 'a' in 'sofa'". Another example is the quality of the "-e as in 'bed'" vowel and the "-a as in 'bad'", which speakers of other English accents may hear as the word "bid" and "bed" respectively. Another noticeable characteristic of New Zealand English is the fronting of the back open vowel, the "-aa as in 'father'".

This last point may, in some part, explain the anglicisations of the Maori place names above. The Maori "a" is classically described as being a very low and back vowel, relatively closer to my own British English quality of "-aa as in 'father'" than a New Zealand English speaker's pronunciation of the same vowel. You can hear the Maori pronunciations (from Te Karere Maori News) of Tauranga here and Maunganui here.

To keep the backness and openess of the vowel, New Zealand English speakers may be mapping the Maori "a" onto their most back and open vowel, the "-o as in top" vowel, hence the "rong" and "mong" anglicisations.

To download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling, click here.

Caption Competition

13:07 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011


The competition is now closed.

Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

This week it's clowns attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Latin American Clown Convention in Mexico City.

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

6. Valerie Ganne:
Of course I look miserable, I just bought a new car and the doors won't fall off.

5. MorningGlories:
Wish I'd brought my V for Vendetta mask.

4. BaldoBingham:
With a final check on their makeup, they took their places in the perfume department of Debenhams.

3. Chopper32:
Dress down Friday at the European Central Bank.

2. SkarloeyLine:
The Duchess of Alba wasn't going to be outdone by the bridesmaids on her big day.

1. Rogueslr:
I used to be the face of McDonald's until the IMDB published my age.

Paper Monitor

11:16 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today is time for serious rumination on a very silly story.

Yesterday a number of the papers ran a story suggesting a man had received a 7ft-long size 1,450 monster slipper after attempting to order a size 14.5 and size 13 one from China.

The Metro carried it. The Daily Mail carried it. The Daily Record carried it. BBC local radio carried it.

Now, a number of journalists, including Paper Monitor, had suspicions over this story. The real world isn't like Spinal Tap's Stonehenge episode.

Slippers are made on factory lines, using templates. There aren't big levers in modern factories that allow you to supersize a single item on the production line.

The Guardian did a very thorough debunking, which made a nice piece in and of itself, namechecking those who were quickest with their suspicions.

The Daily Telegraph had carried the story but updated it to the "it was a hoax" line, leaving no clue that their original story had been done straight. The Magazine had it as its quote of the day, which is usually drawn from a newspaper story.

Paper Monitor can't look into the minds of the journalists who wrote the various stories on the slipper, but hacks are not usually a credulous bunch. It is hard not to believe that most if not all would have had suspicions.

But even if they had known definitely it was a stunt, is it wrong to publish a story? It's one for a media ethics course.

There are plenty of commenters on the Daily Mail story who don't seem to mind that the story isn't true. To them it's amusing anyway.

Your Letters

17:13 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

Nominative determinism watch: I note with interest that Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) is doing a series of tweets about #aptronyms. Have you told him you got there first?
Matt, Surrey, UK

You devote space to the "news" that George Clooney will not run for office. Any other breaking news in the same vein to report on Britain's premier news website? Perhaps that David Cameron is not going to open a donkey sanctuary in Budleigh Salterton? Possibly the "news" that actor Robert Lindsay won't be on board the next Russian space flight? This new approach to news has such possibilities: after all, for everyone in the world there are so many more things to report they are NOT going to do.
Mark, Reading, UK

"They just seem to have screwed it up". Well, quite!
Basil Long, Nottingham

The choice of the Sir Jack Hayward correction in the Guardian is the more amusing but the best/worst has to be the attribution to Patti Boulaye, the singer/actress and Conservative party member, the quote that she supported apartheid when she actually said "the party", ie the Tories. It cost the Guardian £15,000 in damages - quite a lot of tea.
Andrew Guest, London

For the first time ever, I got 7/7 on one of your quizzes. As it was about CVs, should I immediately start looking for another job?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

I must be getting dyslexic in my old age... I clicked on the "Steps and Stones" link fully expecting to see an article about two rag-and-bone men named Harold and Albert...
Rob, London, UK

Popular Elsewhere

14:36 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

While lots of news site readers are clicking on stories on the escape and shooting of lions, tiger and other exotic animals in Ohio, others are reflecting on the Occupy Wall Street protests.

New York Magazine readers are finding out if they are smarter than an Occupy Wall Street protesters. The magazine went out to the protesters to quiz them about the economy, then compiled the same quiz for readers. They found the results on the street for questions like whether we are experiencing inflation or deflation at the moment were mixed.

While New York magazine makes a little fun out of protesters, the most read New Scientist article reports on new evidence to support the Occupy protests. While the protestors suspect that a small number of companies own a lot of the world's wealth, a study by complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology confirms this. They compiled a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide. 40% of the wealth on that database was owned by 147 "super connected" companies. The next question is whether, with a number that large, the group can exert concerted political power.

Time readers want to know why the Occupy Wall Street protests haven't reached India. After all, the country has both the motive, massive inequality, and means, a strong history of protest. The theories swilling around include one which points out the majority of the population are not working in the formal economy so don't feel so affected by the financial markets.

And for something completely different, Telegraph readers are finding out an important point. A decimal point. That point was not found by the Chinese manufacturers of Tom Boddingham's slipper - he asked for size 14.5 but got size 1,450. All is not lost though - he can now sit in the shoe that got delivered, which he does do, rather satisfyingly, in the picture on the article. Right before he puts it up for sale on eBay. The story shortly disappeared from the site and reappeared in the pictures of the day with the message "We can't help suspecting this may be a publicity stunt, but the picture is hilarious".

Paper Monitor

13:02 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today, we again find ourselves looking at the problem pages in the red-tops.

It's the career Paper Monitor always secretly thinks it could have pursued with success. There's always something one wants to add to the answers.

Just Jane in the Daily Star has a letter entitled "I'm bedding mate's man".

It's about a woman whose best friend is getting married in December. But the woman is in love with the best friend's fiance and has been having it away with him.

Jane advises that the two guilty parties must tell the poor girl the truth.

Paper Monitor advises: Buy a decent helmet. Kevlar if poss.

Over in the Sun, Dear Deidre has to deal with an 18-year-old guy who has just gone to university. He's been sharing a bed with a girl in his flat almost every night. But she's been kissing other men on nights out and when quizzed said: "We're not in a relationship."

Deidre tells him to have a sensible chat with the girl about either getting their relationship settled or to stop sharing a bed and be friends.

Paper Monitor advises: Look sonny, you've been sucked into an episode of Hollyoaks. Get out now.

In the Daily Mirror, sensible Coleen Nolan plies her trade.

One letter has the headline "Girl's confused me by cooling it".

The chap's been dating a great girl for a few months but out of the blue she's asked if they can put things on hold so she can "sort her mind out".

At the same time, she's been seeing a lot of this chap's best friend.

Coleen suggests he should back off, let her see he's fine without her and let her realise what she's missing.

Paper Monitor advises: Think of your Christmas card list as already having shortened by two.

Your Letters

16:43 UK time, Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Was it intentional that in Lucy Townsend's piece about making out a will that you included a photo of a will, signed by none other than "Jane Doe" - the actress who is suing IMDb for revealing her age?! The BBC best be careful, or Ms Doe will be suing you for also insinuating that she's "getting on a bit"!
Joe, Derby

Ross, Tuesday's letters, you obviously didn't search hard enough. Of is a town in Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea. It can be found here. Quite why Harold and William chose to travel all the way there to fight is something that will no doubt be debated by historians for generations. I'll get my armour...
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

"The parrot is not affiliated to the band". How disappointing, although I may have found a niche...
Basil Long, Nottingham

In regard to this news story about the charity calling for help freeing up family homes , when will those in power/house builders realise that the main problem holding first time buyers back is the inability to get a mortgage because they don't have a deposit. Me and my wife will never be able to raise the £15,000-£20,000 it takes and yet we are forced to throw away one third of our monthly income because we can't. I have worked hard to achieve an excellent credit rating but it counts for nothing. Only the return of 100% mortgages will put this problem right.
StuKP, Warwickshire

Ah Clare Tuesday's letters! If only MM were updated at the weekend you could have 21 letters pages instead of 15. I for one vote that MM should start working the weekends. At least a letters page...
Little Red, rainforest, middle of nowhere

Popular Elsewhere

15:19 UK time, Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

Guardian headline


A picture paints a thousand words, as the saying goes. But, as a popular Guardian article says, people's interpretations can widely differ. The photo in question is of New Yorkers sitting chatting in a park in Brooklyn. Why it is so controversial is behind them a cloud of smoke and dust rises above lower Manhattan from the place where two towers were struck on 9/11. The picture has been analysed in the extreme to tell us what this tells us about the American psyche. Only that assumed leisurely pose the subjects take is questioned when one of the people in it spoke up and said they weren't sunbathing, as it appears, but in a profound state of shock.

Daily Mail headline


It's a hell of a phone bill to rack up - $201,000 (£126,989). So it's unsurprising Daily Mail readers are flocking to the story to find out how it was amassed. The story says Celina Aarons usually texted her brother a lot. But when he went over to Canada from Florida his charges went up to $10 a text (£6.32).

NPR headline


NPR readers are finding out how to bag $1m (£631,368) from Google's former CEO's wife. Although Wendy Schmidt is giving away the money, it is only to the people who could come up with an invention to help with oil spillages. The article makes the winner's invention sound simple. "Oil is attracted to plastic. And water is not. That, in essence, is the basis of Elastec's new skimmer," it says. The device is described as looking like a massive abacus but clears up oil from water at 1,400 gallons of oil per minute faster than current tools.

Huffington Post headline


A bit of a contradictory story is proving popular with Huffington Post readers. The article complains of too much coverage of the death of Joanna Yeates, while simultaneously going through the details of her death. After three paragraphs retelling the intricate details the question is asked: do we really need to know, and how do we justify knowing? Sam Parker says besides knowing the perpetrator has been punished, we don't need to know about the particulars. He means the minutiae like the unopened Christmas crackers in her flat, which the reader may not have known, ironically, until Parker pointed it out.

Paper Monitor

12:58 UK time, Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor needs to correct something. It has been remiss in not discussing the Daily Mail's new clarifications and corrections section, which is now three days old.

Newspapers pride themselves on accuracy, so such a mea culpa column is not to be taken lightly.

It is the place where typos, factual mistakes and misleading statements are laid bare. It is a soul-destroying moment for most journalists and sub-editors when a story they have worked on ends up in such a place.

No other tabloid runs a regular column of that kind, although many upmarket papers do so.

Corrections in many tabloids are usually reduced to a nib, or news-in-brief, as it is known in the business. Of course the Sun has a very different take on the news-in-briefs...

Nearly buried, the Daily Mail's new column can be found nestling at the bottom of page two. There are three confessions today - the first one is pretty serious and involves an apology in court and the paper having to pay damages.

The third is small fry by comparison and did not cost them anything other than the ire of readers.

Yesterday's article about the terminally ill cabbie who chose to be mummified said that the Channel 4 documentary about him had been screened on Monday. In fact, it will be shown next Monday.

Its sister titles, the Mail on Sunday and Metro, are set to follow suit.

And the i, the Independent lite, has today announced it will start an "i was wrong" column on its letters page.

Here's a few of PM's favourite corrections and clarifications from the archive:
Guardian, 2003: "In our interview with Sir Jack Hayward, the chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers, page 20, Sport, yesterday, we mistakenly attributed to him the following comment: "Our team was the worst in the First Division and I'm sure it'll be the worst in the Premier League." Sir Jack had just declined the offer of a hot drink. What he actually said was "Our tea was the worst in the First Division and I'm sure it'll be the worst in the Premier League." Profuse apologies."

Independent on Sunday, 2004: "Last week in these pages a serious error was committed when a sub-editor turned the great athlete Jesse Owens into a woman. Apologies to Ruth Elkins, our Berlin correspondent, whose original copy was correct."

The Sun, 2006: "Following our article on Princess Eugenie's birthday celebrations, we have been asked to point out the party was closely monitored by adults throughout, and while a small amount of mess was cleared away at the end of the evening, there was no damage to furniture, no revellers dived into bedrooms in search of drunken romps, and to describe the house as being trashed was incorrect. We are happy to make this clear."

Guardian, 2007: "We misspelled the word misspelled twice, as mispelled, in the Corrections and Clarifications column."

Popular Elsewhere

14:23 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

al-Jazeera headline
Sometimes the simplest sounding questions seem to get you unstuck. That seems to be driving readers to al-Jazeera's story What is Money? But, it reassures, actually, there is nothing complicated about money - banks create money by lending it. "Banks create money out of thin air and lend it to make profit from interest," Dan Hind says. Despite the simplicity Hind says protesters still fail to understand.

Daily Mail headline
The phenomenal popularity of Hitler stories doesn't wane with Daily Mail readers. Even a Hitler story that is dismissed in the second sentence of the article has appeared on their most read list. It reports on a new book which refutes the view that Hitler shot himself and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide by taking cyanide. Instead, the book claims, they escaped to fascist Argentina where they lived in a wooden chalet in a remote village and survived on the money from looted gold and jewellery. Other historians are laughing off the claims.

New York Times headline
A story of attacks that New York Times readers are sharing replaces guns and knifes for scissors and battery-operated clippers as weapons. That's because a spate of attacks on Amish people has involved clipping off beards and long hair. The article explains a beard is a symbol of masculine Amish identity, while women view their long hair, kept in a bun, as their "glory".

Independent headline
An elaborate honeytrap involving a private eye, former showgirls and corrupt police makes for a popular story on the Independent. According to the story a former US police officer turned private detective is suspected of conducting stings to get separated husbands arrested for drink driving. It starts with an online encounter with a woman who, when she meets him, gets the man drunk and then persuades him to drive to her house before he is arrested. The motivation is that a drink-drive arrest does not bode well when negotiating a child custody settlement.

Your Letters

13:10 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Re: What should parents tell their children about alcohol? I was allowed sips of wine on special occasions like Christmas when I was quite young. Contrary to popular belief, I have not turned into a drunken lout on the brink of liver failure. In fact, I rarely drink at all. My husband drinks a couple of nights a week and our girls know it is "Daddy's fizzy", which they are not allowed to help themselves to. Hiding it like some forbidden juice of the gods is only going to fuel their interest in it when they are older.
Sharon Barrett @BBC News Magazine

My parents allowed me to have wine every now and then. I think parents should be truthful, telling us about the effects, consequences and everythng concerning alcohol, shouldn't just say its harmful and sweep the issue under the carpet.
Masuzyo Musambo Phiri @BBC News Magazine

Gran used to rub my gums with whiskey for tooth pain. Still love the stuff.
Candace Sleeman @BBC News Magazine

So, when playin Scrabble a letter went missin ? Oh my od, how frustratin when they found out it had one. I'll et my coat.
Sarah, Woking

Sue (Monday letters, I've checked my AA road atlas and Google Maps, neither of which show the location of Of. Either you are joking, or it is so small a hamlet it doesn't warrant a mention on any map?
Ross, London

There is only one upside to coming back to work after a 3 week vacation; catching up on 21 glorious days of Letters. Oh, and a proper cup of tea of course.
Clare, CT, USA

Paper Monitor

09:32 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Economic turmoil, rising international tensions, protesters on the streets of London - the papers have no shortage of serious topics to cover.

Thank heavens, then, that the heavyweight titles are not letting this get in the way of launching in-depth discussions of a Saturday evening talent show.

Over two pages, the Guardian dissects the plummeting fortunes of the X Factor, which - for the benefit of any High Court judges out there - is a popular singing contest broadcast on ITV1.

The report notes that on Saturday, the programme attracted 9.6m viewers, as compared to 12m for an equivalent broadcast in 2010. It questions whether the departure of lynchpin Simon Cowell, the arrival of new judges, the choice of contestants or the songs and costumes they have been given are to blame for the slump.

However, Judith Woods of the Daily Telegraph, once a fan of the show, believes that ennui has simply set in among viewers:

Despite tabloid attempts to whip up controversy with whispers of romance, claims that Kelly Rowland is a diva or that Louis Walsh feels sidelined, there's a growing sense of apathy.

Compassion fatigue has set in when it comes to the cynically promoted sob stories and it's hard to hear the oft-repeated phrases, "This is the best thing that has ever happened to me", or, "This is all I've ever wanted to do in life", and not shout: "That's because you are only 17 and the biggest thing to happen to you so far has been puberty and GCSEs!"

Hopefully this most pressing of modern debates is hereby settled.

Your Letters

15:54 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

Re: Random Stat. "11 per cent of motorists believe they would fail if asked to resit their driving test". Great - can we do it then? Re-test every five years perhaps? That would either reduce traffic by 11%, or increase standards of driving a bit - sounds like a good thing to me either way.
John Bratby, Southampton

"British Gas and Npower will pledge not to raise prices again this year." Excellent. All two-and-a-half months (barely even a fifth) that is remaining of the year.
Basil Long, Nottingham

As you'd expect, this story focuses on the towns of Battle and Hastings, but overlooks the tiny, yet no less significant, hamlet called "Of" which lies between them and without which, history would have made far less sense. I'll get my chain mail.
Sue, London

Friday's Ten Things: No. 10 - if it was really good how would you know?
Dec, Belfast

I love all the newsworthy snippets from the week's news (10 Things). It's a short synopsis of things going on and makes for really great conversation starters with my friends and partner.
Carol Kennedy, Lake Arrowhead, California USA

Frederic (Friday's Letters), I assume you will be handing in your PA card then?
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Popular Elsewhere

14:36 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

Independent headline

A popular Independent story is billed as "Scrabble's most controversial incident since one player accused another of eating a tile". At this year's Scrabble World Championship Britain's Ed Martin was accused of hiding a letter G that mysteriously went missing during a game. The organisers didn't strip search him as requested and he didn't go on to win. Ed Martin wasn't even Britain's best player. So, the tile eating accusation is still the top of the Scrabble stories.

Guardian headline
A feud to make David Ike proud seems to be slowly cooking among newspaper columnists and it's proving popular with Guardian readers. Charlie Brooker's Guardian column last week where he called David Cameron a lizard was denounced by Telegraph writer Graeme Archer as irresponsible. So Brooker has responded, presumably to point out that Archer didn't get the joke. This time, Brooker adds shape-shifting to the lizard qualities he gives David Cameron. And just in case his words could be misconstrued, Brooker says it again and again and again:

"At least here you get the truth. Which is that he is a lizard. And by 'he', I mean Cameron. David Cameron. Who is a lizard. David Cameron is a lizard."


New Scientist headline
Counting the population is as easy as 1-2-3, right? Well, not according to the New Scientist's popular article. It says it's so tricky that the day dedicated to welcoming the 7 billionth person on to earth - 31 October - could be as much as eight years too early. As well as the problems of relying on inaccurate censuses, there is also the suspicion by demographers that Chinese mothers may well be hiding tens of millions of babies to evade the one-child policy.

New York Times headline
First it was the bookshops, now Amazon is competing with publishers and making agents redundant while doing so. That's according to the New York Times' most emailed article. It says Amazon are doing things a bit differently - for one the writer's advance isn't a given. And the bestseller lists are getting shaken up as well - an obscure German historical novel made it onto the list without a single professional review.

Paper Monitor

12:44 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Trains have a habit of humbling UK prime ministers.

One apocryphal anecdote has Stanley Baldwin travelling by train when a fellow-passenger asks the then-occupant of No 10 whether he was at Harrow in 1884.

"I was indeed," Baldwin replies. "Thought so," says the other passenger, "But tell me, what are you doing now?"

Paper Monitor is reminded of this tale after reading today's Daily Mail. It features a story about Sanyogita Mayer, a recent arrival to the UK from India, who failed to recognise David Cameron when he approached her on the London Underground to compliment her on her baby.

When Ms Mayer's husband told her the man in question was the prime minister, she initially failed to believe him:

"But my husband insisted so I went up to Mr Cameron and I said: 'Excuse me, are you the Prime Minister?'

"He said 'yes' and I started laughing. Then I apologised for having to ask him the question."

The article recalls an occasion in 1999 when Tony Blair was ignored by a tube passenger whom he attempted to engage in conversation.

It also notes that "singer Rihanna caused a stir when she was spotted travelling on the Underground last week".

No mention of Stanley Baldwin, however.

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