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Archives for April 29, 2012 - May 5, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:38 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2012


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

1. Cockroaches get lonely.
More details

2. Swedes go clubbing in their lunch breaks.
More details (Slate)

3. Occultist Aleister Crowley, widely denounced as "the wickedest man in the world", had his own chess column in the Eastbourne Gazette.
More details (Twitter)

4. Police patrols in the Scilly Isles can be conducted by mobility scooter.
More details (The Guardian)

5. Some 22% of Americans believe the world will end in their lifetime.
More details (Reuters)

6. Wombats used to be as big as sheep.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

7. Bees don't like babysitting their nephews and nieces.
More details

8. The world's fastest motorised toilet travels at a speed of 46mph (75km/h).
More details

9. Osama Bin Laden wanted to rebrand - and rename - al-Qaeda.
More details (Christian Science Monitor)

10. England manager Roy Hodgson plays the harmonica.
More details (Daily Star)

Seen a thing? Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

15:23 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2012

I keep misreading this headline as "Ska pioneer Lord Brevett dies". I think that would have made the House of Lords much more fun.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

I am afraid I wandered off the reservation and found myself on the sports pages. The first headline to catch my eye was, "GB rowers must keep pushing". Ah. That's not very encouraging. Are we to tell our sprinters to backtrack and our cyclists to take a hike?
GDW, Edinburgh

My old university (which shall remain nameless) in the UK was so against hazing that sports and society captains were at risk of being thrown out of the union and expelled from uni if they were caught doing it - nobody dared.
Laura, Maldives

Like PM (Paper Monitor, Thursday) I too have visited Cafe Oto. But I'm baffled by Italian Vogue's description of it as "Britain's coolest music venue": Yes, they have some cool bands playing, but you can see them anywhere else, the artistes "cool" does not transfer to the room they're playing in! For anyone prompted, on the strength of this description, to visit, I'd like to point out that it's so tiny that if there's more than 50 people inside (and there usually is) it's overcrowded, and there's not enough chairs, so you'll either have to stand or sit on the floor. There's only one barman, and a bizarre system of queuing at the tiny bar, so getting a drink takes forever, and by the time you've fought your way back to your viewing spot, there's no chance of getting another until the concert's finished. And on the night I went, thanks to the concert finishing later than advertised, it took me three hours to get home by public transport. Since when did "coolest" come to mean "most awkward, inappropriate, and over-rated", or did something get lost in translation?
Rob, London, UK

Caption Competition

13:20 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Members of the China National Acrobatic Troupe perform

This week, members of the China National Acrobatic Troupe performed during a fund-raising show.

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

6. Woundedpride wrote:
"During the Olympics, you may find it quicker to cycle."

5. midge-de-zarquon wrote:
"Pedal harder! We've almost caught the person who stuck us in these outfits!"

4. Franc Bolero wrote:
What! You want us to do it on ice as well?

3. BaldoBingham wrote:
I don't care what Max Clifford says about improving our image, we were better off when we were simply known as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

2. Valerie Ganne wrote:
Maybe this 3-for-2 bike hire wasn't such a good idea.

1. schlimmbesserung wrote:
TOP : I look down on her because I am travelling first class.
MIDDLE : I look up to her (TOP) because she is travelling first class but I look down on her (BOTTOM) because she is travelling economy class. I am travelling business class.
BOTTOM : I know my place. I look up to them both. But just wait till I hit the brakes!

Paper Monitor

11:32 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In journalism school, one of the things the little cubs learn about is the "drop intro".

Rather than simply come out in the first line and tell everybody what's going on, the drop intro generates suspense for a paragraph or two.

The acknowledged masters of the art have always worked at the Daily Mail. As far as drop intros go, they are a Power Rangers-style hybrid of Yoda, Mr Miyagi and Roger Federer in his pomp.

Take the beautiful example on page three of today's publication:

"With its cuddly toys and equally cuddly presenters, Play School appeared the epitome of innocent children's entertainment."

Lordy, what horror is about to unexpectedly unfold? Paper Monitor hasn't felt like this since the box bit in Seven.

Put us out of our misery, drop masters. Please.

"Yet a careful look behind the round, square and arched windows would have apparently revealed clouds of marijuana smoke."

Now Paper Monitor can unclench.

And then flicking through the next few pages, you see there's a lot of droppage about.

Elsewhere, in the Sun, there's a classic example of the Currant Bun's features style.

The release of Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator prompts writer Lee Price to dress up in military uniform with a false beard and take two models in khaki and berets on an impromptu tour of London.

The amusement is not to be derived from the text, but merely from the fact they did it at all.

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2012

In this article is this nominative determinism for the professor helping the motor racing fan?
Mark, Reading

Sorry but I couldn't resist - old MacDonald! And I bet I wasn't the only one!
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

Add two apostrophes and this article becomes a Texan expression about the aggressive nature of hope.
Edward Green, London, UK

I thought to myself "Aha!, in order to increase business productivity the least time spent on a toilet break has apparently been made into a competitive event. Very clever!" But then I actually read the story behind this link: Toilet breaks world speed record
roarshock, Oregon USA

Paper Monitor

14:04 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One of the things Paper Monitor likes about the Daily Telegraph is the sheer volume of stories.

Yes, the paper is a little bit tricky to manipulate on a crowded bus, but there's a lot of it.

The semi-straightness of the headlines also provides the occasional snippet of joy.

"TS Eliot, Brut and a sexual warmth: the student love life of Barry Obama".

It's kind of tongue-in-cheek and kind of straight Telegraph at the same time.

"Pair picked up a theme park penguin after vodka beach party".

There's an echo of the "p-p-pick up a Penguin" chocolate biscuit slogan, but it's only a light echo.

"Cameron; the pin-up years. His bedroom secrets revealed".

OK, it's a great chance for the paper to display a large image of Cheryl Tiegs in a pink bikini next to the famous bum-scratching tennis girl.

But a semi-colon chaps? Who puts a semi-colon in a headline?

Over in the Guardian, they've sent an intrepid reporter out to London's fashionable Dalston to visit Club Oto, an avant garde music venue. Italian Vogue has called it Britain's coolest.

Paper Monitor has to note that it visited, ahem, two years ago.

Catch up suckers.

Your Letters

17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2012

In light of last week's 10 things item number three, I hereby propose that the current measure for luminosity (the candela) be replaced by the sharkela.
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Unfortunate names, I once had a dentist called Mr Pain, a doctor called Dr Mort (Death) and a friend called Balls (no comment).Things are looking up now I think, as my current doctor is Dr Dios (God)... or is someone trying to tell me something? Think a lie-down is on the cards...
Tim McMahon, Martos, Spain

What a disappointment! I thought this was a very long range weather forecast.
Henri, Sidcup

I read this headline as "Sensitive Breasts" and clicked, imagining some new medical break-through. Should have gone to Specsavers...
Rose, London

Did Paper Monitor's sub-editor take the day off sick? "Elf-proclaimed"; "no holes barred"??! I'll get my oat. . .
Sophie, London

Paper Monitor

09:44 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Thought a Twitter hate campaign might have stunned self-proclaimed beauty Samantha Brick - who achieved notoriety for a series of Daily Mail articles about how other women hated her for being beautiful - into silence? Think again.

This time she uses the furore over TV presenter Mary Beard, sparked by TV critic AA Gill after he branded her too ugly for the cameras, as an opportunity to wax lyrical on her favourite subject.

Any suggestion the former TV executive may have some sympathy for the female struggle to be on-screen are quashed from the onset.

Anyone who seeks out an on-screen career is setting themselves up for a fall. They are laying themselves open to endless - and, in my opinion, entirely justified - appraisal of their looks.

Her verdict on Ms Beard's "wild hair, ungainly posture and make-up free face" is typically no holes barred.

While there is no denying that Ms Beard is a supremely intelligent and fiercely ambitious woman, there is absolutely no chance of her becoming a successful broadcaster in prime-time slots on flagship TV channels. The plain truth is that Ms Beard is too ugly for TV.

Brick's solution for women who find they have a "visual impediment to their career"? She says most of the presenters she has worked with have been "savvy enough" to "fix it".

These are university-educated individuals who have discreetly undergone nose jobs and eyelifts - recognising that to invest in their face is to invest in their future.

Never one to shy away from blowing her own trumpet, Brick goes on to say she was once urged by a TV boss to consider a career infront of the camera. What is perhaps slightly more surprisingly, is that she didn't think she was up to the job.

Even though I was as confident in my looks then as I am now, I declined, convinced that I would struggle to deal with the criticism of my figure and the constant assessment of my looks by beady-eyed TV executives

Given the criticism her articles have attracted, Paper Monitor can't help but wonder whether it was a wise move.

Yours Letters

16:52 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2012

So, Guardian of Weights and Measures, am I right in thinking that one Jamaica equals 1.35 Puerto Ricos, and a Jamaica is interchangeable with a Qatar?
Ed, Wakefield

The Nook e-Book? Surely this hasn't been properly thought through?
Jim, Crowborough

Due to friends in common, a popular social networking site has suggested I may be loosely connected to a Basil Long from Nottingham. Do you think it's THE Basil Long?
Kate, York

Henri (Monday letters) - this is a rare glimpse of one of the crack team of specially-trained attack otters commissioned by the MoD.
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Paper Monitor

11:05 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

This morning in the newsagent, Paper Monitor felt like applauding.

A teaser on the front page of the Daily Telegraph for a story inside was a marvellous example of the sub-editor's craft.

It ran thus:

Diarmuid Gavin, the celebrity gardener, has disclosed how he banished a stalker by arranging a "sting" operation with the help of Alan Titchmarsh.

Paper Monitor cannot be the only reader who grabbed the periodical from the stands and turned straight to page three for the full story.

It transpires that Mr Gavin, best known for Gardener's World, Home Front In The Garden and Strictly Come Dancing, had been harassed by an obsessed fan who followed him on-set and confronted his pregnant wife.

"We organised a sting operation at a flower show," he tells the paper. "Alan, me and some BBC producers tried to lure her in. She always positioned herself right in front of the camera.

"Once she was there, we had her."

After she was confronted in front of the cameras, the stalking ceased, according to Mr Gavin.

Paper Monitor is very happy that this troubling episode is over. But this column cannot help but picture the two gardening presenters, best known for their gentle bonhomie, angrily facing down the stalker in the manner of Mr Jeremy Kyle.

Your Letters

16:00 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2012

*What* is in the foreground in this picture? Could it be a mole?
Henri, Sidcup

"...plenty of new tenants renovate properties" says Allan Gibson from Acpo. In 12 years of private renting, I've barely been allowed to put up picture hooks. Has he been, um, spending too much time working?
Rosie, Cambridge

This guy building the "Titanic II" is clever - he'll recoup the costs by selling the film rights to the sequel to "Titanic"...
HB, London

If Ikea want to go "green", why produce a disposable camera when a reusable one would not need to be recycled at all? In fact, the technology already exists for a reusable camera - and has been for well over a century.
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

Now that the Beeb has joined the hysteria surrounding Maidenhead's Killer Kite, I know it must be true and will be ordering a Kevlar helmet at the earliest opportunity. Thanks so much for a fine piece of balanced journalism.
Catherine, Maidenhead

Paper Monitor

11:58 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There was momentary confusion in the Paper Monitor household about the identity of Fabio Capello's successor. For it was dodgy puns galore, which can be as clear as mud.

"Hod choice for England," screamed the Daily Mirror.

"What are the Hods on that?" asked an incredulous Sun front page.

The return of Glenn Hoddle - who'd have thunk it? Sacked in 1999 for poor results and bizarre beliefs, what a surprising appointment for the usually risk-averse FA. Surely Times hack Matt Dickinson would be sharpening his pencil for another piece about Hoddle's views on reincarnation and the best position for faith healer Eileen Drewery in a 3-5-2 formation.

But lo, other papers were taking a different line. It was "Roy in frame for England" said the Daily Star. "Roy's the Boy," trumpeted the Daily Express.

It was left to the Times to combine puns with accuracy: "Hodgson's Choice" it read. Ah, so it's that Hod, not the other Hod.

"Hodgson for England job," announced the Daily Telegraph cover above an improbably smiley picture of Roy Hodgson, eerily reminiscent of Steve McClaren at his gurning best.

"West Bromwich Albion boss Roy Hodgson has been approached by the Football Association to become the new England manager. Harry Redknapp had been widely viewed as the favourite to succeed Fabio Capello," its picture caption - mercifully free of puns - summed up.

The Sun though was not giving up either on "people's favourite" Redknapp or on its beloved puns. "Hod job man...but why didn't Harry get it?" a double page spread inside wondered.

You say tomayto, I say tomato. You say Roy, I say Hod. It doesn't have quite the same ring does it?

But the fact there are no Roy of the Rovers headlines could be telling for Hodgson. This is the Impossible Job, requiring capital letters, after all. If he's not a saviour riding to the rescue on his white charger now what will it be like when we go a goal down to Andorra or Belarus?

Imagine the tabloid headlines if the Spurs boss had got it - "Cry God for Harry, England and St George". Pity poor Roy the Hod Job Man.

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