BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for July 8, 2007 - July 14, 2007

Your Letters

18:11 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

I realise that poor lyrics are the least disturbing aspect of Jonathan King's song about Harold Shipman but honestly, who writes a line like: “There's one thing he ain't and that's saviour or saint.” That's two things then, isn't it?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Ha. "Current thinking" Was that an intentional pun? "He says he is also hoping to overturn current thinking that says the prevailing Atlantic winds would have allowed ancient mariners to sail west to the Americas, but would have prevented them from returning home."
Christy, Chicago, USA

I don't want to seem picky but Nigel Dempster could not have been the "greatest doyen" of gossip columnists because any group of people can only have one doyen, by definition.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

I was stunned to see the article on Badgers released in Basra , after reading this article last month on Has someone had a sense of humour failure?
Andy, Horsham

Scientists have reported "the fastest evolutionary change that has ever been observed" in a South Pacific butterfly. However, they are not sure whether the new gene was introduced by migratory Southeast Asian butterflies in which the mutation already existed. So that wouldn't be evolution then?
QJ, Stafford, UK

Was that weak "call me a doctor" gag really the best one that the neuro-psychologists could come up with? I don't think it shows that old people have less of a sense of humour, I think it proves that they're experienced enough to spot a rubbish joke when they hear one.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Is anyone else enjoying the irony of the two stories involving tube drivers? Whilst in one they are happy to speed through tunnels filming their route, in the other they want to strike due to safety fears.
Julee, Wallington

Re MJ Simpson's letter about teenagers playing football on the beach in Ilfracombe. What beach? I lived close by for several years and never found one
Rob, Hamilton Bermuda

Re Joan's query about a Facebook merger between Friends of the Magazine and BBC Magazine Monitor Appreciation: an e-mail was sent out by Friends of the Magazine to ask its members to join "BBC Magazine Monitor Appreciation" with the intent of merging the two groups.
James, Edinburgh, UK

So Dr Ruxton says tea is good for teeth because it contains flouride. On that basis then, does my G+T because of all the ice I put in it?
JennyT, NY Brit

10 things

16:53 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

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

1. Mammoth hair sells for $50 an inch on the black market.
More details

2. A sense of humour diminishes with age.
More details

3. Gordon Brown once locked himself into a toilet and had to be freed by Tony Blair.
More details

4. Osama Bin Laden has a son called Laden.

5. Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson nearly came to blows and had to be separated by Tony Blair.
More details

6. Joggers who listen to MP3 players could be at risk from lightning strikes.
More details

7. Free CDs make up more than 10% of the total produced in the UK.
More details

8. Celebrities sometimes pretend to have stalkers in order to get publicity.
More details

9. By 2022, cars will emit less CO2 per passenger kilometre than some diesel trains.

10. The total paid in voluntary income to UK charities last year was £8.9bn - the same amount as was paid out in City bonuses in that year.
More details

Sources: 4 - Times, 10 July; 9 - Times, 13 July

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Christian Cook for this week's picture of 10 beach walkers at Maspalomas in Gran Canaria.

Caption competition results

13:04 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

It's time for the winning entries in the caption comp.

We asked you to craft a suitably witty caption for the ball boys taking shelter from the rain during the sodden Wimbledon tennis tournament. But what's being said?

6. Daniel
"Oh for god's sake Maria, it's only a spot!"

5. Stig
"Got him! This year, no way was Cliff Richard going to sing if it rained..."

4. Sue Lee
Attempts to entertain bored spectators by recreating the Help album cover was disrupted by high winds.

3. Helene Parry
Cheshire's smart set turns out for the bin Laden wedding.

2. Meagan Crump
Nigel's romantic prospects are once again foiled by his fear of STIs.

1. John, Sevenoaks
Play gets underway in the Teheran Mixed Doubles.

Thanks to all who entered.

Paper Monitor

11:46 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Assorted columnists mourn the passing of the diary columnist to end all diary columnists, Nigel Dempster, who penned gossipy snippets for the Daily Mail for more than 30 years. And how do they pay tribute? With gossipy snippets about the man himself, of course.

People in the Times recounts how Dempster kept the ashes of his mother in his office. The urn was found by a discombobulated secretary who screamed, then called health and safety. "Mrs Dempster stayed put but the secretary departed."

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade recalls his last meeting with Dempster. "Though slight, he was bent forward as if addressing a child, eyes betraying a hint of mischief. Had I any gossip? He was, for a moment, just like the Nigel I had met in 1973 in a drinking club near the old Mail building in Tudor Street. A charming hack in a bespoke suit interested in filling a column about nothing of any consequence."

And in a fit of confluence (is that possible? It should be) with this Magazine article on giveaways, what are the freebies on offer with today's papers? Only a handful get in on the act on a Friday, leaving the covermounts to their weekend counterparts.

• The Daily Telegraph has "FIVE free garden plants - superb exclusive hellebores for every reader (P&P required)".
• The Mail gives away part six of The World at War (well, a token to take to WH Smith).
• The Sun also has a token, not for a CD or DVD but for "Hols from £9.50".
• The Independent (poster cover a timetable of the school day of the future, no pictures of dolphins) has a pull-out Proms guide.

Meanwhile, news this week that Sebastian Faulks is to pen a Bond novel has given the picture desks yet another excuse to dust off their well-thumbed prints of Daniel Craig emerging, wet and buffed, from the sea in Casino Royale.

After getting a full-page run in yesterday's Mail, it's in the Indie's gossip column today. How else could the right-on paper offset its guilt over using a pic of bikini-clad lovelies on the same page?

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:26 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2007

Yesterday we asked what's the average number a white-skinned person has, as those with lots of moles succumb more slowly to the ravages of time. It's 30, which 40% of you correctly answered. Another 23% said 10 moles and 37% said 20. Today's question, about which phone Tony Blair used to recently send his first text, is on the Magazine homepage now.

Your Letters

17:35 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2007

"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area" - surely a quote of the day? I bet Major Mike Shearer never expected to have to say that in his career, it sounds like something from a Harry Hill sketch.
Martin P, Bristol, UK

I see that the Commission for Racial Equality wants to ban Tintin in Congo for being racist. Really spot on timing, guys. This comic book was first published in 1931 and the author died 24 years ago. Must we now be looking forward to the CRE censoring Kipling and the likes?
Matth, Cambridge

A report by the 4Children charity has suggested that the majority of teenagers will probably spend their summer wandering the streets at a loose end. When have teenage kids ever done anything else? Even when I had things to do or places to go (20+ years ago) we still hung out on the street for hours - but if we admitted to being bored, someone would find something we really didn't want to do. Isn't this part of growing up - they'll have too much to do soon enough...
Janet Hayes, Pontypool, Wales

To the Ilfracombe teenagers whose lives would be improved by having somewhere to play football in the evenings, I'm thinking, maybe, I don't know... the beach?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Until our local newspaper told everyone that no-one had any power to enforce the smoking ban in Stoke (Paper Monitor), you could go into a club and there would be absolutely no-one smoking. No doubt when I'm in the town one night next week there will be at least a few lighting up. So who do we blame? The council (Labour-led) or the newspaper (profit-led)?
Matthew Jones, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Re Punorama. Oh dear. I need to get out more don't I?
Sue Lee, London

Stacey from London, who wants a readers' dating service (Wednesday letters), should perhaps join the Facebook group.
Dominic, Birmingham, UK

Any chance the rival Facebook groups can merge? Not sure which faction I should belong too.
Joan, Liverpool

Paper Monitor

11:33 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Commuting. Pah! But at least it offers a chance to peruse said riches... unless there are signalling problems on the line (again) causing a crush and so no room to open the Times. The daily press indeed.

But what of the people sitting down as Paper Monitor presses its nose against the glass doors - what do they do with this precious time? Watch video iPod - check. Doze - check and check again. Read sports news in the Sun - check. Read The da Vinci Code - not a one, this ain't 2005.

Once off the Tube and given the space to mine the papers for news nuggets, a few sparklers come to light. Lib Dem Sarah Teather is Britain's shortest MP, says the Times' People column. Although there can't be much in it between Sarah and Hazel Blears - anyone seen a picture of the two together?

The same column also reveals that MPs' supporters have been maliciously editing the Wikipedia entries of rival politicians… from their parliamentary IP addresses. Rumbled, guys.

dress203.jpgAnd in case there was any doubt, this (pictured right) was the dress that made Princess Diana an icon, according to the (can you guess) Daily Express. This could be a feature that runs and runs.

Meanwhile, still no mention of dolphins in the Independent after last week's ribbing in The Thick of It, but the headline "CRUELTY" could have been deployed on today's poster front. Instead there's a quote from an American soldier which the paper says shows "the pattern of brutality in Iraq".

Speaking of the Indie, if any of you know when it last had a traditional page one rather than a poster front, you're not saying. The deadline for getting a mention has now passed. Sorry.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:09 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2007

Yesterday we asked which of Ian Fleming's successors as James Bond author wrote Win, Lose or Die. It was John Gardner, who also wrote Goldeneye, which 32% of you correctly answered. Another 28% said it was Young Bond author Charlie Higson and 40% opted for Kingsley Amis (Colonel Sun, under pseudonym Robert Markham). Today's mini-question - on the average number of moles - is on the Magazine homepage now.

Your Letters

15:34 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Can you please start a dating service so I can meet some of the people who write to you?
Stacy, London

Paper Monitor says s/he is "Bored now". What did s/he think we were, getting to lunchtime without a morning update! And it's not even Thursday...

Paper Monitor's use of the phrase "bored now" caught my eye. Whatever debates may rage over gender, hairstyle and all the rest, I submit that we now know one important fact: Paper Monitor watched Buffy.
Susannah, Derby

"The powers that be"? (Paper Monitor) Surely that should be, "The powers that aren't"...
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

With regard to Sue Dove's letter (Tuesday letters) on the simplification of spelling; I don't know of anyone who pronounces beautiful as "butiful" because I read that as "butt-ee-full" instead. Maybe "bewtiful" or even "beeyootiful" as my mother sometimes pronounces it!
Lena, Swindon

I loved reading the diary entries. It would make a great regular feature!
Laura, Belfast

The first kiss diary entry is quite the most beautiful thing I have read lately.
Sheena, Halifax

I loved the attractive-young-girls-showing-legs picture used to illustrate the being-old-is-pretty-nasty article. Almost worthy of the Telegraph front page on A-level results day!
Jenny, Cambridge

Punorama results

15:33 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

It's time for the Punorama results.

This week we gave you a story about a Utah pensioner, Betty Perry, who was arrested by police for not watering her lawn.

She refused to give her name and says an officer hit her with handcuffs, cutting her nose, which needed treatment on the way to jail, but police insist she slipped and fell. She was later released.

This week's most popular pun by a distance was law-n order, or other variants which were proffered by Clem Edmond, Bryan, Adam Chamberlain, Simon Bromley, EMP, Nik Johnson, Mark Wilson, Craig Wall, Alex Pelopidas, Richard Peers, Mike (Newcastle upon Tyne), John Bainbridge, Sue Lee, David Williams, Bradley Merren, Mike Bilton, Colin Nelson, Robin, Edinburgh, James Glover, John Brown, Simon, Em, in Lancs, Scott Humm, Joseph, Marc Fox, Kieran Boyle, Robin Hughes, Gareth Jones, Stuart, djb, Andy Nichols, Rob Falconer, and Philip. Great minds, eh?

But possibly this week's best effort was My Beautiful Lawn Drought by Sue Lee, again.

There were a number of people who plumped for I fought the lawn but the law won, or variants, including Michael Sargent and (again) Sue Lee. There was also some support for Grassed up, with Rob, Richard, Ryan Alston and Sean Smith among the suggesters.

And there were some American-flavoured efforts, with Veranda Rights by Paul, and Will She Get A Presidential Garden? from Nigel Macarthur.

But the week's most tortured pun award goes to Mike, with his Sprinkle, sprinkle too little in Utah.

Thanks to all who entered.

Paper Monitor

12:19 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So it's like this. In Stoke-on-Trent, the powers that be have fluffed their implementation of the smoking ban, leaving punters puffing away in pubs as the officials are powerless.

What would you guess the Daily Mirror and Sun headline is? Seriously. Guess.

If you guessed "Smoke-on-Trent" then a job in newspaper subbing clearly awaits you.

In the Independent, there is yet another poster front. Paper Monitor wonders if anyone out there knows the last time the Indy actually had a story on the front. The first e-mail in will win the small prize of recognition in tomorrow's Paper Monitor.

The paper warns of "MORTGAGE MADNESS". But what's this inside, it's a 28-page property pull-out, crammed with adverts so that you too can join the "madness".

The Sun enjoys trumpeting its exclusive (although the Times also claims the story) on the Cheshire mum, 51, who is marrying Osama Bin Laden's son, 25. And as usual, sage advice comes from Page 3, where Ruth, 24, from Kent, counsels against the new bride taking her groom's name.

It's Wednesday, the Wimbledon mixed doubles final was on Sunday and yet the papers still can't get over the whole "is-there-anything-going-on-between-Jamie-Murray-and-Jelena-Jankovic" thing.

The Sun quotes Jelena as saying Jamie is in love with her. In Allison Pearson's Daily Mail column they are described as an "ace couple".

Bored now.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:18 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Yesterday we asked which was the most popular colour for new cars in 2006. It's silver - which 61% of you correctly answered - followed by black, blue, grey and red, according to a survey by the RAC. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine homepage now. Test yourself on Bond books.

Your Letters

17:59 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2007

I found your piece, "What women talk about" astoundingly sexist, poorly researched and deeply offensive. What next? A light-hearted piece on "Why women can't park" or "Why most women are vain and shallow" perhaps? I think not! It really was pathetic!
Jason Datt, Bracknell Barkshire

To those who emailed on the "Words that men don't use" article claiming that it was sexist, can I suggest they stick to serious news, rather than wandering into the fun Magazine section of the site and annoying me.
basil Long, Newark Notts

Ok, after the reaction to the "What women talk about" article, I'm slightly reluctant to proffer a comment on this.
Stig, London, UK

I was wondering what the baby mammoth had found in the story - "Baby mammoth discovery unveiled". Another disappointing headline.
Sue, Lufbra, UK

Simplification of spelling would indeed be simple if we all pronounced the words the same. Your example of butiful for instance, surely Bernard Matthews would spell it bootiful? Which is one of the reasons for having consistent spelling if at times it does not make sense.
Sue Dove, Solihull

Why do I feel like an atheist at a happy, clappy revivalist meeting when I look at the members of Facebook. Dammit, they've mostly got all their own hair and teeth! Where's their world weary cynicism and grumpiness? Perhaps it says more about Facebook than about the MM?
Simon Rooke, Nottingham UK

I'm getting tired of hearing that the 21/7 bombs were made of "chapatti flour", as if it's in some way different from any other high-protein flour, such as bread flour. When I make chapattis at home, guess what? I use bread flour from a supermarket.
Carol Moores, Hyde, UK

Re "Winning Simpsons town to be named". I suspect it will be called "Springfield".
Johnny, York, England

Re Owen Mcmanus' letter about whether cigarettes should carry a "for outdoor use only" warning – no, they shouldn't. I can still smoke cigarettes in my own home. Until the health fascists find a way to ban that at least for "my own good".
Graham, London

Paper Monitor

10:19 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's one of those days when there's almost too much news to cram into the papers. For one, the conviction of the four 21/7 bombers gives a free hit to the papers - massive amounts of detail having come out in court which can now be reported in all its gory detail. But there's also a rare opportunity to poke fun at people who wanted to kill you but who are now safely in custody.

So the Sun has "MORON TERROR - Bomb blitz failed thanks to buffoon", and "THE ERRORISTS - Buck-toothed imbecile bungled rucksack bombs". The Mirror has: "CHEMICAL WALLY".

The Daily Mail ploughs its own furrow: "TO THINK WE GAVE THEM SANCTUARY - 21/7 bombers were all refugees on benefits."

And the Daily Express? "DIANA'S FEAR OF MURDER." (No joke.)

Despite the strength of the 21/7 story, you can tell that it's the Alastair Campbell diaries that Fleet Street really wants to get its teeth into.

It's obvious that many of us in the world of work actually spend our time checking out the latest joiners of our favourite Facebook groups, but Paper Monitor would like to take this opportunity to point out the levels of industry in Her Majesty's Press - each paper has full and considered coverage of the 800-page book for which no preview copies were available. Has someone in each newspaper been given the job of sitting down and speed-reading the massive (and from what one can tell, largely indigestible) tome? Or, more likely, has someone in each newspaper simply been making liberal use of the index to see who is named and on what page?

For the rest of us, the issue is more likely how to find time to read the coverage, let alone the book itself. So, ever the public servant, Paper Monitor proudly offers the filleted fillet.

1. Clare Short makes Campbell feel ill. "God she does turn my stomach," he writes.

2. Blair's position during one media flurry: "Nil panicandum."

3. Blair worried about losing his hair, and told Campbell that "he wasn't sure the public would want a bald leader".

4. Gordon Brown locked himself in a toilet during a key meeting with Blair and had to phone for help. Blair thought he'd done a bunk.

5. Peter Mandelson "threw a punch" at Campbell.

6. Noel Gallagher, when visiting Number 10 for the infamous Cool Britannia party, said he was amazed to see an ironing board there.

7. An African leader
pinched Cherie's bottom, not knowing who she was.

8. Campbell once cleaned his teeth while Mo Mowlam had a bath behind him.

9. While peeing with
Clinton, Helmet Kohl and others, Blair made a joke involving Churchill, penises and nationalisation.

10. And finally, Blair sometimes worked in the nude or just wearing underpants. "I went into see TB who was standing stark naked reading The Mail."

That really is all you need to know. But behind the whole thing, Paper Monitor cannot help but see Malcolm Tucker, the the innovatively-sweary spinner from BBC Four's The Thick of It. (If you didn't see the new episode last week, then a) you really need to examine your priorities in life and b) you can see a repeat on BBC Two this coming Saturday at 10pm.)

Note to Armando Iannucci: If you're not already planning a volume of Malcolm Tucker's diaries, then please start now and have them available for reading this Christmas. Churchill/penis/nationalisation jokes optional.

Daily Mini-Quiz

08:50 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2007

in Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which nursery rhyme was the most popular. Only 20% of you correctly picked Jack and Jill. Try and do better in today's DMQ, which is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:27 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2007

So, fat from ones bottom or tummy can be used to build breasts. May I selflessly, and out of love for my fellows on this earth, offer my own chubby bits to help those in need?
Nicola Turton, Old Basing, England

To MJ Simpson (Friday's letter) - if the Chinese can make soup out of birds' nests, then why not stone?
Jennifer, Kettering

MJ Simpson, Leicester (Friday's letter) - Rock-a-leekie soup?
Chris, Kettering

Re 10 things. Am I the only one who was about to type a letter bemoaning the reappearance of the number 10, rather than 10 things, before taking a closer look at it?
Rikki, Essex, UK

"Petition seeks extra Potter books" which would - of course - be purely for the fans and have nothing whatsoever to do with a bookstore chain having a vested interest in selling a lot of books from a very popular series?
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Now that the smoking ban has fully come into force across the country, shouldn't cigarette packs carry a warning stating "For outdoor use only".
Owen McManus, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Paper Monitor

10:40 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The tide has well and truly turned against the Live Earth concerts, in the UK’s press at least.

There have been mutterings over the last few weeks suggesting that, just maybe, carbon-quaffing rock stars were not the best messengers for tackling climate change.

As usual, like a reincarnated Rocky Marciano, the Daily Mail punches hardest. In its news story it carries a description of the event as "hypocritical", while it also covers low viewing figures and the swearing.

But the criticism pales in comparison with the broadside that columnist Peter McKay gives it later in the paper.

News reports of Madonna’s gas-guzzling vehicles are given prominence in his column, while the BBC is accused of being “idiotically compliant” and “pimping” in its presentation of both the Diana concert and Live Earth. Intriguingly, he also uses the word “pimp” in a separate segment on the BBC’s presentation of Alastair Campbell’s diaries.

But surely McKay goes too far when he turns his attention to a certain rock star and occasional Independent guest editor, who he accuses of banking abroad to avoid taxes in the Republic of Ireland, while preaching about Third World debt. (Name of rock star withheld for legal reasons).

Poor viewing figures are highlighted in the Daily Express, there is a note of negativity in the Guardian, the Times says “pop won’t save the world” and the Daily Telegraph rues all the litter generated.

But perhaps the real explanation of the cross-press antipathy lies in the Daily Star.
Its “exclusive” reveals bands refused to give interviews, press conferences were cancelled, and the hacks were fed “sandwiches filled with processed chicken and ham”.

Be warned event organisers of the world; under-feed the press and suffer.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:40 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2007

In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what gift was rapidly becoming the most popular for girls in Italy who pass their exams. The answer, as a whopping 55% of you got right, is breast implants, according to a survey. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

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