BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for July 8, 2012 - July 14, 2012

Your Letters

16:57 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

Is Chariots of Fire the ultimate running music? Don't be daft - everyone knows that the ultimate running music is Yakety Sax from the Benny Hill Show.
Sue, London

Your Olympics sponsorship bandwagon makes me smile. My name is Olympia as was my grandmother's and her grandmother's. So when I use my name I am not effectively jumping on the bandwagon as most of the Greek businesses i.e. "Olympic", ''Olympiada", "Olympia", use an ancient Greek name. Nothing to do with the London Olympics at all - this you should make clear.
Olympia, Hertfordshire

To Rob Falconer (Thurs letters): I think we share the same luck as far as the lottery goes. I think there should be a separate prize for those of us who enter multiple lines each week and fail to get a single number!
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Philosophically extracting Mark's postulations (Thursday's letters), perhaps all words are descended and mutated from just a single, original word.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Paper Monitor is a man/woman after my own heart enjoying a gin and tonic, though I have to say 11:32 BST is a little early for me.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Rob (Thursday's letters), It may have been sunny in London 2 Thursdays ago but it was jolly wet in Loughborough visiting the university and also in Bath doing a similar thing the Thursday before, although we did avoid a drenching in Cambridge last week. However the usual pattern was resumed around 3pm yesterday when the cricket was abandoned for the day in Guildford.
Dave, Emsworth, UK

10 things we didn't know last week

15:24 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

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

1. French naturalists fed Australian animals on bread soaked in wine, when shipping them home for Napoleon's wife Josephine.
More details (Australian Geographic)

2. It's nearly impossible to poison an opossum.
More details (Yahoo News)

3. The Queen speaks fluent French.
More details (the Times)

4. The original Anglo-Indian dish of kedgeree had no fish in it.
More details

5. Female crickets eat male virgins.
More details

6. Neurons in the stomach mean it acts like a little brain.
More details

7. The Tour de France leader's jersey is yellow because of an early sponsor.
More details

8. Judges can be arbiters of cool.
More details

9. Jumping off a tall building wearing Batman's cape would result in a crash landing at 50mph.
More details (the Economist)

10. A mutation on chromosome 16 gave Elizabeth Taylor her double eyelashes.
More details (Slate)

Paper Monitor

14:35 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor can't help but notice that the papers have got that Friday feeling, as their perennial favourite - odd animals - is making another appearance.

It is the Daily Express which embraces the theme with the greatest enthusiasm, splashing a picture of a kitten being pushed around in a toy shopping trolley - by another cat.

"Off to the shops... hope we've got enough in the kitty," is its headline.

The Express also has news of "the great ape escape" which caused panic at a German zoo. Apparently five chimps made a ladder out of fallen branches and scaled a wall in a bid for freedom.

The paper says 27 police cars plus ambulances raced to the scene, while zookeepers armed with pepper spray started Operation Round Up, before the chimps were coaxed back into their enclosure.

Its final bit of fodder is the tale of "bird-brained Percy the Pigeon", who flew all the way to Canada when he should have been heading for Cannock.

The prize-winning bird, which was taking part in a 300-mile blue riband race from Fougeres in France, reportedly clocked up 3,000 miles by getting lost.

But it is the Daily Mail that arguably has the oddest story, under the headline "It's Saturday Night Beaver".

It says snaps of a rodent show him doing a convincing impression of John Travolta strutting his stuff in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever.

All Paper Monitor can conclude is, thank goodness it's nearly the weekend.

Caption Competition

14:08 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week, two youngsters stand next to a Budweiser Clydesdale horse for a photo in Kansas City.

A small quantity of kudos to the following:

6. rogueslr
Even the most gullible couldn't believe the before and after shots in the new Veet advert

5. Mr Snoozy
New LadyShave poster released!

4. Woundedpride
"The BBC understands that G4S has now widened the scope of recruitment to include those not thought eligible for a security role at the Games previously"

3. Valerie Ganne
Mr Stringfellow, are you standing on your head again?

2. The Coachman
Trust me to be behind HIM in the queue for the toilets

1. alex
As they waited in the queue for the club, it was clear which party goers had been taking Ketamine.

Your Letters

15:19 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

Here in London it's sunny and dry today (so far). While that is rather unusual in itself, the strangest thing about it is that it's Thursday. Last Thursday was dry and sunny too. And the Thursday before that, with every day in between being dismal and wet. Is there a pattern here? Can I confidently lay out my shorts and invite friends over for a barbie next Thursday?
Rob, London, UK

Rob Falconer (Wednesday's letters), I also got four out of seven on the rain quiz. I think the type of rain question we (and the rest of the inhabitants of the UK) would excel at at the moment is more along the lines of "Describe in 500 words or less the feeling of misery you get on the 3rd consecutive day of constant heavy rain".
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

Before we all get nostalgic for the Raj (The words English gets from India), let's remember that most words are borrowed in modern English from somewhere (we got freckle from Vikings, fungus from Latin and coracle from Welsh/Brythonic, for example), but so equally were many of the Indian words you mention borrowings from their regional neighbours. John Thorne in Pot on the Fire suggests kedgeree, for instance, is really just a smartened-up version of khichri, a meal of rice cooked in dal, which came to India from Persia - using a loan word on the way in all probability from Old Persian. We all borrow - and long may it continue, effendi.
Mark, Reading, UK

Bat Grilles? Could this be some long-lost relative of Bear?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

"EuroMillions lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir will continue sharing luck." I share my luck with the lottery too, but I doubt it does anybody any good.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paper Monitor

11:32 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"To understand just how trendy gin is right now," declares Anna Shepard of The Times, "you only have to go to Dabbous in London".

Paper Monitor has been known to partake of "mother's ruin" when the sun is shining (not so much this summer, of course).

But this columnist was hitherto unaware a) that the drink was in any way "trendy" at the moment b) of the existence of "Dabbous in London" and c) of the function and purpose of "Dabbous in London".

Said venue is, apparently, "one of the hardest restaurants at which to get a table in Britain", renowned for stocking 15 varieties of gin in its cocktail bar.

Generally, Paper Monitor selects whichever variety happens to be on special offer at the local off-licence.

But, it turns out, the drink is not so fashionable when mixed with tonic water. Instead, the hepcats are sipping gins that have been distilled with flavourings "such as coriander, bitter orange or liquorice".

Discombobulated, Paper Monitor turns to the food section of the rival Guardian hoping for reassurance, in the same way a comfort eater reaches for a family-sized Dairy Milk.

But unsettlingly, it carries a feature by philosopher Julian Baggini on the relationship between superstition and dining:

I am sitting at a table that doesn't exist. I wanted to eat out at a table 13, defying superstition ahead of tomorrow, the third Friday the 13th in this unusually inauspicious year. But it's hard to find one. Only two of the UK's 14 best restaurants have a table 13, most simply skipping from 12 to 14. Here at Le Gavroche, the closest I can come is to dine at table 12a, a kind of phantom table 13, the cursed spot that dare not speak its name.

A shiver runs up Paper Monitor's spine. Time to reach for the first gin of the day (supermarket own brand, splash of tonic).

Your Letters

16:05 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Re: the demolition of "largely empty" flats - I hope they were in fact very empty indeed.
Tom Colvin, Basingstoke, UK

"Seven Questions on Rain"? I thought I, having become an expert on rain in the last three months, would have scored far higher than an uninspiring four out of seven.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Re Cold Callers (letters passim). A friend who lives in a charming old cottage received a telephone call one evening from the call centre of a national kitchen supplier. The caller, obviously reading from a script, asked: "Can you tell me when your kitchen was installed?" "Approximately 1765," he replied, truthfully. There was just the slightest of pause before the caller continued with the script "Well, do you think it's about time it was refreshed with some new doors and drawer fronts?"
Richard Martin, Doncaster, UK

Not quite nominative determinism, but this is a great line: "Some of the Met police recently collapsed at a passing out ceremony from standing up for too long." Textbook.
Jinja, Edinburgh

Paper Monitor

11:48 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The wet weather that has damped the British summer has a new pair of victims: Kylie and Jason.

Ms Minogue and Mr Donovan - soap opera actors turned popular singers of 1980s vintage, for the uninitiated - had been due to reunite at a concert in London's Hyde Park to celebrate the acts produced/manufactured (delete according to taste) by the Stock, Aitken and Waterman "Hit Factory" (quotemarks Paper Monitor's own).

For aficionados of cheesy pop music, the highlight of the event was due to be the pair performing the saccharine ballad Especially For You together for the first time in decades - but now adverse weather has led to the event's cancellation.

Newspapers make money by understanding their readers' cultural tastes as well as their favourite topics of conversation. In the UK, where both nostalgia and talking about the weather are among the most highly-favoured pastimes, the story represents something of (excuse the pun) a perfect storm.

So far, so predictable. But the story is not always presented in the manner one might expect.

The Sun's account is unflashy, clipped, to-the-point, tinged with sorrow.

Likewise, the Daily Mirror is laced with pathos: "Fans' dreams of a Kylie Minogue and Jason Dovovan's duet is over after Hit Factory Live was cancelled."

It is the so-called upmarket papers who resort to puns and wordplay.

"I should be so muddy," is the Guardian's headline. The Independent's report begins: "It is, as headliners Steps would undoubtedly have sung, a 'tragedy'."

It's a role reversal of sorts. Perhaps this coming-together of the different sections of the newspaper market deserves a Hyde Park concert of its own.

Your Letters

16:56 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2012

"Could we soon have unstealable objects?" We already have these. They're called cheap objects.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Make that 16,899,998 viewers of Murray's misery (Monday's letters); I was only checking the scores in the ad-breaks in the Tour de France. I don't think that should count. Also, Aqua Suliser - either a pseudonym or the best nominative determinism ever.
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

So why the sudden use of creepy, Python-esque illustrations? Did the stock library draw a blank when someone typed in "person sitting down"?
Sue, London

"(Corn syrup has) no essential fats, no proteins, no vitamins, no minerals. It is unique in that respect." Er, what about alcohol, or in particular distilled spirits?
Henri, Sicdup

So, Paper Monitor has moved to a "shiny, new office". Hmmm... George? George? Is that you?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

11:11 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has been observing a rather amusing series of letters over the past couple of days in the Daily Telegraph on the subject of cold callers.

Earlier this month, the paper reported on an investigation that a government-regulated service which should enable people to block cold callers is being ignored by some tele­marketing companies.

Thus, readers put pen to paper, or tapped at their keyboards to share experiences and divulge secrets of keeping cold callers at bay.

Now, Paper Monitor notes that all of the letters featured on Monday and Tuesday were from men. Do women have a higher threshold when it comes to cold callers?

Monday's series of letters was headlined: "Wise and wacky ways to deter cold callers".

The first two fall into the "wise" category - relying on a caller identity service, or simply remaining silent after picking up the phone.

The next really needs to be put into an "unwise" category. Peter suggests blowing a whistle down the phone, but Paper Monitor would like to point out that only a few months ago a lady in Germany was fined 600 euro (£475) employing a whistle and damaging the hearing of a call centre employee.

So here are the wacky: Geoff responds to a cold caller by saying: "Before you go on to tell me things, can I ask what you're wearing?"

Hilariously, Steven from Lancashire recalls a made-up language from his school days which he saves especially for cold-callers.

I manage to rid myself of cold callers by replying to them in Agish, a language I learnt at school. You simply insert "ag" before each vowel sound in every word. Confuses them totally.

In today's letters pages, Peter from Essex simply sings cold callers away. However, Paper Monitor wonders if he doesn't rather like the sound of his own voice, because he bemoans the speed with which the caller puts down the phone. "I am quite a good singer," he states.

The relative's tip that Howard from Gloucestershire shares is pure genius: "Ask them to be quick as he's expecting the undertaker to call".

But there is one single word of sympathy for members of that profession. John from Hampshire writes:

In these days of high unemployment, they have probably struggled hard to find a job - I am sure that most of them don't particularly enjoy doing it. While I make it clear that I am not interested in what they are trying to sell me, I at least treat them with courtesy and thank them for calling.

Paper Monitor thinks this is a brave move. John resides in a small village and unless he's ex-directory, it wouldn't be hard to get him on the blower if ever a cold caller needs a shoulder to cry on.

Your Letters

17:35 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

Re: 10 Things, number 5. No, no, no! Agggghhhhhh!
Martin, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Wimbledon final watched by 16.9m. Please can you take 1 off that stat? I may have been in the same room as TV and 2 viewers (husband and son) but I was reading my book waiting for the tedium to end. Except when I nipped out to descale the kettle and get all those ukky bits out from the bottom of the dishwasher.
Aqua Suliser, Bath

"A TV audience of almost 17 million watched Andy Murray as he lost the Wimbledon men's final against Roger Federer." My Goodness! How many would have been watching if he'd won?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Nominative determinism strikes again. What a great name for a lottery winner. (in Roger Federer Wimbledon triumph wins Oxfam £100,000).
Mark Gray, Reading, UK

Paul, Friday's Letters, simply reply asking them to politely re-send the documents to your late mother's new 'address', dont forget to include the plot number (a brief description of the headstone may assist the postman as well).
David, Liverpool

Paper Monitor

12:28 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor didn't get its papers today. Probably as a result of moving to a shiny, new office.

So instead we're going to have to guess what's in them.

Broadly speaking there'll be a lot of photos of Andy Murray with the kind of dewy eyes some people get during Bambi/On Golden Pond/The Lion King/Terms of Endearment/Rabbit-proof Fence/The Notebook. Delete as applicable according to taste/intellect.

Some of the more grown-up papers will probably have some sort of representation of Roger Federer on the front. After all, he'll probably be remembered as the winner of seven Wimbledons and arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. Not merely the tennis grinch who crushed a nation's hopes.

There'll be plenty of stuff about the weather. Rain puns may occur on the front of the red-tops.

In the Daily Telegraph, there may be a picture of a group of attractive female 20-year-olds in wellington boots at a festival. Some or all may be blonde.

The Daily Mail may well have a dire prognosis that the rain will continue for the rest of the summer. It may also ruminate on the madness of hosepipe bans.

In a number of papers there'll be stuff about bankers, but probably not on the front as it was around a lot last week.

In the Daily Star, there'll be a fair smattering of scantily clad women, but possibly not on the front as they do less of that now.

On the front of the Guardian might be a serious story that no other paper seems to think is important.

The Daily Express will probably have gone its own way. Perhaps something combining bad weather, bankers and falling house prices?

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