BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 6, 2013 - January 12, 2013

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Friday, 11 January 2013

Has anyone else heard the new David Bowie single and instantly been reminded of Clive Dunn? I'll get me pipe and slippers...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

"Astronomers spot huge spiral galaxy" - did anybody else think of a chocolate-covered Curly-wurly?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Was the superpod caused by fluke or did they congregate on porpoise?
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Some places available for 'walk up visitors'? I'm sorry, but for those prices surely they could let you use the lift.
Vicky S, East London

Caption Competition

13:29 UK time, Friday, 11 January 2013


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here Full rules can be seen here [PDF].
This week, 500 people gather at Selfridges to meditate. Thanks to all who entered. There are six winners this week. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Pendragon
With strike action looming, I said we needed someone to mediate.

5. AdvocateOfTheDevil
Any similarity between our mantras and those you may have seen or heard before are completely transcendental.

4.Nick Fowler
OK, perhaps the new perfume is a bit overpowering.

3.rogueslr And remember with every Divine State sold, don't forget to add in the extended warranty of the Bluebird of Happiness.

2. Magnum Carter
"Your eyelids are heavy, you cannot help but keep them closed. Your body is weighed down by the head as you sink, your neck folding inwards as you do. You're falling, deeper, deeper into the floor. Girls, you need to wear less make-up."

1. Laurence Lane
On a more positive note, the good news is, I've reached nirvana, so... every cloud. You're still thinking about the bad news aren't you?

Selfridges workers meditate

Paper Monitor

13:11 UK time, Friday, 11 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A good snowfall is a gift to newspaper picture desks - photos of humdrum city scenes transformed into magical landscapes, children building snowmen, hardy gritters clearing the way...

Well that hasn't happened, so some of today's papers are relying on that other great slow-news-day fallback: the weather preview.

Throughout the papers, there's a heavy sprinkling of conditional-sounding words such as "braced for", "poised", "faces" and "set for". Add a picture of a busy-looking gritting depot and a couple of grim-looking maps, and the job's a good 'un.

The Independent and the Daily Telegraph juxtapose their weather warnings with pictures from somewhere abroad where it actually has been snowing - Jerusalem, which looks like it has moved to Lapland when nobody was looking.

Meanwhile, the Mail uses the weather to make a point about rising energy bills:


(See what they did there?)

Pensioners will suffer a double blow today with the arrival of freezing weather and news that their energy bills have doubled in seven years.

And the Daily Express - a paper that likes little better than the onset of weather (any kind will do) - proclaims:


"Steps such as closing the bedroom window at night... and wrapping up well... can literally save lives," one charity chief tells the paper.

Advice so startling, it makes Paper Monitor think that Pippa Middleton might have a future in this sort of thing.

10 things we didn't know last week

12:51 UK time, Friday, 11 January 2013

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

1. It's easier to pick wet things up with wrinkled fingers - suggesting an evolutionary reason for getting "prune fingers" in the bath.
More details

2. An average passenger travelling on Western-built jetliners would have to take no fewer than 5.3m flights before being involved in an accident.
More details (the Economist)

3. Every child under 10 in North Korea gets sweets for Kim Jong-un's birthday
More details (the Journal)

4. One in 10 people have dropped their phone down a toilet at some point.
More details

5. The inhabitants of the Greek island of Ikaria live on average 10 years longer than people in the rest of western Europe.
More details

6. Air passengers' behaviour is subject to the laws of the country the plane is registered in, not the country the airline is based in.
More details

7. It's illegal to enter a mannequin as a candidate in a British election. Probably.
More details

8. There are languages that are entirely whistled.
More details

9. The first journey on London's Tube in 1862 took two-and-a-half hours to cover the 18-minute route.
More details

10. The US government could theoretically produce a $1tn coin to pay off its debts.
More details

Your Letters

16:48 UK time, Thursday, 10 January 2013

I hope I'm not too late for today. I was well on the way to a letter a day this week, but work kinda got in the way for most of today so it slipped my mind until now (17:30 CET).
Martin, Luxembourg

I read that seven prisons are to be closed, while there are plans for a new super prison. So, in between the closure of the seven prisons and the building of the new super prison... No, someone must have thought of that already. Surely...
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

I'm just writing in to alert the Magazine's Etymology Correspondent to the use of the word "smidsy" here . I'm reminded of "chsml" but "smidsy" is even better.
HB, London

Why do I keep misreading the director of the new "Les Miserables" musical as Tobe "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" Hooper (not Tom)? Now that would be a film I'd go to see.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

I don't think BBC Environmental Correspondent, Matt McGrath, was taking climate change seriously when he tweeted, 'Wind trumps gas' today.
Mimo, Brizzle

Is it me or do these weapons look very similar to K9 from Doctor Who?
Chris Clarke, California, USA

Paper Monitor

13:44 UK time, Thursday, 10 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Bathed in golden light, an Australian family is in the sea near their home.

But this is no idyllic summertime snapshot. The golden light is not sunshine but an inferno that engulfed their small Tasmanian fishing village last Friday. As flames approached, Tim and Tammy Holmes fled into the sea with their five grandchildren.

As they clung to the wooden jetty amid swirling embers for several hours, Tim Holmes took a series of photos, reproduced on the front page of the Guardian, the Independent and within other newspapers.

"Everything was on fire and it was just exploding all over the place," Holmes said. The children - three of them non-swimmers - clung on in the chilly sea. Eventually, Holmes managed to return to the shore and grab a small dinghy. He loaded in the children and his wife and then took the boat 200m out from the coast, where the air was more breathable.

One of the photos shows a dog - possibly a spaniel - on the jetty as the family huddle underneath.

Rest easy, pet-lovers, the Times has the answer to your question: "The family dog, Polly, also made it."

Your Letters

16:59 UK time, Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Standing up at work for three hours: 140 calories saved. Cutting a packet of crisps out of your lunch: 210 calories, 50p and three hours of standing saved.
David Richerby, Liverpool

Dear PM. I saw the same story. Fashion week thinks outside the box, but I could only think of the old favourite: what do you call a man with a plank on his head? Edward. What do you call a man with several planks on his head: Edward Woodward. Boom Boom. Either that, or: what a plank!
Adrian, London

Could the US get a $1tn platinum coin? If they do mint one, they'd better make it very large. It would be very tempting to wander out with it in your pocket and buy Hawaii.
Andrew, Malvern

David, another thing the Les Mis stat doesn't take into account is the number of people who bought a ticket to see the musical, went along, and after about 20 minutes fell asleep through sheer boredom.
Martin, Luxembourg

Sue, the cliche used to be 'build to a [insert adjective] climax'. Then they stopped using that particular 'c' word in that context, and we're left with a phrase that never quite gets there.
Peter, Hemel Hempstead

Don't know about his name but simple maths would put his age at 66!
Walkden, Whitehaven

In this article (Dead stars 'to guide spacecraft) it claims that pulsars appear like ticks to observers. Now I feel all itchy when I look up at the stars.
Adam, Vancouver, Canada

"Ill-advised"? I think this misses the point. People have their own varying reasons for not using some multi-nationals (I quietly boycott a number for well thought out reasons). We want to have transparency and choice, without the need to have Companies House on speed-dial before we have a cup of coffee.
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

The government audit may well be full and frank but if it's unvarnished then their Ronseal hasn't been doing what it says on the tin.
Edward Green, London

Paper Monitor

14:05 UK time, Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So David Bowie is back in the charts with Where Are We Now? - his first release in 10 years. How do the salivating rock critics of Fleet Street describe his new song?

It gets four out of five stars from the Independent:

It's a lush ballad of watery, reverbed guitar, like misty eyes, carried by the enervated, dolorous beat of one who doesn't get around as nimbly as he used to.
The vulnerable vocal reminds us that this is a man of pensionable age, and the subtle touches of auto-tuning applied to the chorus add almost imperceptibly to the general feeling of fragility, one of the more innovative uses of this ubiquitous sonic meme.

The Daily Mail's Christopher Stevens is not quite so taken with it:

He has dwindled to little more than a pale echo of his Seventies glory days... There will, of course, be a round of forced smiles and hearty reviews from middle-aged critics who grew up with the classic vinyl LPs: in other words, lifelong fans like me.

The Sun recruits Boy George for expert comment:

It's sentimental and personal and honest.

And the Guardian has a front-page story by mega-fan Jonathan Ross:

It's too soon for me to tell whether I'll love the song as much as the others... But I like the sound of it. His voice sounds slightly less majestic, slightly older, perhaps inevitably. But that gives it a quality that suits the song magnificently.

Meanwhile, the Daily Star has a guide to dressing like the Duchess of Cambridge to mark her 31st birthday - rechristened "Princess Kate" by the tabloid - based on analysis of her outfits since her engagement.

The advice is to wear blue, shop at LK Bennett and carry a clutch bag with both hands.

Oh, and flash 8.2 teeth when smiling. Just like Paper Monitor.

Your Letters

17:16 UK time, Tuesday, 8 January 2013

I don't wish to take anything away from the creators of the Ronseal advertising, but surely it, or very similar, was a phrase already in general parlance before they linked it to Ronseal? Over 40 years ago, my father used to answer almost every childhood query of mine with "It does exactly what it says on the box".
Rob, London, UK

Kay (Monday letters), you grew up with Jim Davidson?
Martin, Luxembourg

Perhaps he heard that someone needed a jump start?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

Looking at the piece on the Les Mis film, it states that 60 million people have seen it. The next paragraph goes on to say: "With statistics like that, it is hard to believe there is anybody left who has yet to attend a performance of this sweeping story of romance, revolution and spiritual redemption."

By my maths (and latest population estimates) there would be good 6,940,000,000 people on earth who have not yet seen it.
David, Cannock, UK

Ohhh, BBC, you just sent my pedantry muscle into spasm: "...Bowie singing mournfully over a piano motif that slowly builds to an understated crescendo." Builds to a crescendo? So it builds up to a build up?? Nnnng... twitch... twitch...
Sue, London

I'm astonished to read that 21% of people book their holidays at work. It's the last place I'd want to be.
Diane, Sutton

Paper Monitor

13:12 UK time, Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Front page pictures are a giveaway about a paper's instincts.

And today Diana is back. Well on one front page. It's the Daily Express of course.

"Lonely Diana. Actress reveals Princess's Agony" is the headline beneath the image. "See Day & Night - pages 20 & 21". Erm, so it's such a big story that it needs to go on the front. And yet not so big that it needs to go in the first 19 pages. Confused?

It turns out this is a story about the actress Naomi Watts and what she told Australian Vogue about a new film in which she plays the former Princess of Wales. So not really about Diana at all but Watt's interpretation of the role.

The only new information - for Paper Monitor at least - is about the movie. "It focuses on the last years of the Princess's life and her two-year affair with surgeon Hasnat Khan, whom she hoped to marry."

No Diana on the other front pages.

The Times opts for Ronnie Wood at a Topman fashion event with his new wife Sally Humphreys. "Who would wear a suit like that? Ron Wood". Okay, we get it now.

The Independent goes with the same story. "He's got the shoes like Jagger." Come again?

The Guardian follows suit (sorry) but opts to show fashion at its most, ahem, conceptual. It's a man with bits of plywood apparently nailed to his head and chest in a seemingly random way, totally obscuring his face. "Fashion week thinks outside the box." Boom boom.

The Daily Telegraph, too, goes for the same event on its front page. Really is there nothing else worthy of a pic? The paper gives it a classic Torygraf twist though. "Country gent of the catwalk" shows a bearded man of a certain age in loud tweed suit complemented with a gilet and yellow beret.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Don't hold the front page.

Your Letters

16:25 UK time, Monday, 7 January 2013

Dear PM: Thanks for explaining the Nick nick headline that I got on my Metro app. Born in the 70's and growing up with Jim Davidson, I STILL had no idea what they were referring to.
Kay, London

Emma, no, but Anonymous is sometimes Eponymous.
Martin, Luxembourg

To Michael Hall: You mean you were actually interested enough to look? The names will no doubt pop up on various "news" bulletins over the next few days and I will sit back (wearing my high court judge outfit) and remain blissfully unaware and, more to the point, totally transfixed by a large patch of recently-emulsioned masonry. The long winter evenings will simply fly by...
Fi, Gloucestershire

Have just looked at your new item which said "goats have accents" only to find that amongst the 10 things we didn't know last week goats are not mentioned. Please keep up!
Frances Law, Alton

Unfortunately I've been poorly since 22nd October, but am back now - have I missed anything?
PollySaxon, Lichfield

I wonder if Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP realised what he was saying when he described himself as being "shocked".
David, Cardiff

Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Monday, 7 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

On a day without any huge stories, the first outing of new reality show Splash! is like manna from heaven for news editors.

The show sees Tom Daley teaching a rag-bag of celebs how to dive before making them compete against each other to see who goes through to the next round.

You can see what the commissioners were thinking. Tom Daley has appeal to both sexes. You get celebs, including Sugarbabe Jade Ewen, in bikinis and Speedos. Jo Brand is one of the judges. Plus diving is scary stuff. A surefire winner, then?

"Tom's Belly Flop" screams the Daily Mirror. Can it really be that bad?

"So awful it makes Mark Wright's Hollywood Nights look like The Wire," the Mirror's Polly Hudson fires back.

The Sun: "Water bomb! Not even Jade Ewen's sexy gold bikini can save Tom Daley's new diving show Splash!"

The Daily Mail follows suit.

"Is celebrity diving TV's biggest belly-flop?"

As the Mail elaborates:

"Every now and then a programme comes on TV that is so gobsmackingly awful, so cringe-making, that you can only watch it through your fingers and, when it's all over, you find yourself questioning whether it really happened or if you just dreamt it."

A failure for ITV then? Up to a point Lord Copper.

Despite the tide of abuse in the papers and on Twitter, six million viewers tuned in, putting it top of the ratings. So bad it's good, perhaps?

Tim Lovejoy's tweet goes to the heart of the paradox that is crap telly. "What's going on? Is the joke on me? Am I being filmed on my sofa?"

We'll leave that one with you, Tim.

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