BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 5, 2007 - August 11, 2007

Your Letters

17:24 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2007

Re Alex's query, I can indeed help - the song is called Energy in Northampton and was originally a jingle written by the Northampton Development Corporation. Performed by Linda Jardim (better known for her performance of 'video killed the radio star'), it was released by EMI in 1980 as the B-side on her single (also courtesy the NDC) '60 miles by road or rail'. It now has a bit
of a cheesy cult following on the net. . .seek and ye shall find.
Alison , London, UK

It is still played daily in the town's museum. Or so says Wikipedia - can anyone confirm this?
Suzi, Portsmouth

Re pronunciation, why do so many BBC reporters and newsreaders mis-pronounce proper names ending in a vowel? The most obvious is the final "e" in Zimbabwe and Mugabe, which are usually pronounced Zimbabwee and Mugabee. Even in the 'how to say' section on the website, you seem to advocate slurring unstressed vowels to the Southern English 'uh' rather than giving them their correct native values. I still don't know whether the famous film director is called Martin Scorsese or Scorsesi.
Robert Pearson (b 1944), Crewe, Cheshire

Is it me, but the news story "Glasgow Airport plane quarantined". But, the thought of being cramped in a quarantined aircraft for 90 minutes, with hundreds of others, suffering from sickness and diarrhoea is probably the worst nightmare you could imagine! And then the BBC wants pictures - just what of exactly - the queue for the bogs, the mind boggles?
Peter Wright, Taynuilt, UK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the foot of the statue of Hadrian that's been uncovered (Giant statue of Hadrian unearthed) is just under a metre long, how can half his leg be a mere 70cm? Was Hadrian some giant-footed weirdo?
elluche, London, UK

Is anyone else wondering why the couple who couldn’t call their baby "4real" because names can’t begin with numbers didn’t just call the tot "For-real" instead?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

If the picture of "Big Ben under repair" (Time stands still) is a reflection, should it not be upside-down ? (unless the photographer was standing on his head !)
Paul Greggor, London UK

Re Quote of the day. Presumably that’s why the bed was such a mess then.
Stig, London, UK

The answer to today's mini-quiz is both right and wrong. "Lego" does not mean "play well" in Danish - but the name is a contraction of "leg godt" which does indeed mean "play well". I seem to recall old Lego ads claiming that the name also had a handy Latin connotation. Can any Latin buffs confirm this (and if so what it means)?
Karina, Glasgow, UK (formerly Copenhagen, Denmark)

Jacqui Evans, did you actually read the article on clocks? Or have I blundered into a Monitor tradition of repeating the
first paragraph to widespread applause?
Julia, London

"From Manchester with Love" was such a beautiful story - one of the best Magazine stories I've seen. Well done on the "letters home" series BBC, it has been a joy to read so far.
Ross, Halifax

10 things we didn't know last week

15:09 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2007


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

1. Russian and American pilots exchange smiles when encroaching on each others' territories.
More details

2. Mahjong can trigger epileptic seizures.
More details

3. Dr Debby Reynolds, chief vet, is a vegetarian.

4. President George W Bush has fitness levels in the top 3% of the US population.

5. There are dogs with two noses.
More details

6. There have been at least two children given the name "Superman" in the UK since 1984.
More details

7. The world's tallest man is 8ft 5in Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk.
More details

8. The clock faces on Big Ben/the Palace of Westminster clock tower are cleaned every five years by abseilers.
More details

9. Bill Murray's sister Nancy is a nun who acts.

10. When bits of glaciers break off, it is know as "calving".

Sources: 1. The Guardian (Tuesday); 4. Times (Friday); 9. Independent (Friday); 10. Times (Friday)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Margaret Emerson for this week's picture of 10 beach huts.

Paper Monitor

11:05 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a rare day in newsworld when all the newspapers plus the BBC and Sky think something wacky is a story.

So it is with some surprise that Paper Monitor observes that the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Guardian, Independent, and Times have picked up yesterday's Daily Telegraph story that Lord Lucan is living rough in New Zealand with a pet possum.
Even the Telegraph feels moved to run with it again today.

Except half of them are pointing out that it's obviously not Lord Lucan. The "suspect" is too short, too young and has piercing pale blue eyes. Only a peawit could genuinely think this is Lord Lucan. The possum is a more convincing match.

There are plenty of silly summer stories without resorting to this hoary old favourite.

In the Express, there is news of a "floating brothel" onboard a speedboat that sets up shop off Studland nudist beach in Dorset.

In the Metro, and others, there is the bizarre account of the Frenchman and two Germans who crossed the Channel on a raft made of oil-drums, dodging freighters before being arrested on arrival in Folkestone.

Isn't that enough to be getting on with?

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:47 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2007

In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what had replaced the green leaves in the Conservative logo. As 45% of you correctly identified, it now has the traditional Tory blue in the form of a sky. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

17:48 UK time, Thursday, 9 August 2007

Re UK's best monarch. It can not be either Henry VIII or Elizabeth I because they were only Kings of England and Ireland (after 1542). Scotland was a seperate realm until 1707, and the UK only came into being in 1801. As Victoria was the only candidate to wear the Crown of the UK (not England), she must be the winner. Perhaps a better line up would differentiate between these two realms?
Rhys Dafydd Jones, Aberystwyth

Re "Animal movement ban to be relaxed". Was I the only one that thought "Oh no! It was better when they had to use pooper scoopers" when they read this headline.
Joe, Cambridge, UK

Just seen on the news ticker (8 August, 2007 1708 BST), "EU ban on British livestock and diary products to remain until 25 August. More soon." I blame Alastair Campbell.
Ian Rutt, Swansea, UK

Re Sam, Waddesdon's comments: reading the article you mentioned didn't make my head spin but it did make me cringe. As someone that is doing research with a material that could be used for "spintronics" purposes, some of the descriptions of physical phenomena (such as "spin") did make me curl my toes. I know quantum mechanics isn't exactly intuitive but if I can explain the intricacies of QM to a group of laymen then anyone can!
James, Aylesbury, Nr. Waddesdon, UK

The news item on Pavarotti today describes him as being widely-recognised. What a wonderfully apt description for the great man.
Rory, Sutton Coldfield UK

Having just done the Daily Mini-Quiz, I can only assume that the almost equal scores for each answer come from a number of other people having no idea what the question was either.
K, Edinburgh

Can anyone help me. I remember a song from many years ago about extra-terrestrials that land in Northampton, and Northampton is an amazing place that provides everything anyone could need. The climactic line was "they found new energy in Northampton". Now, as a native son of Northampton I'm quite interested in at least finding the words to this bizarre song, especially because, when I was a kid, Northampton was an important place for me so I didn't notice the blatant irony. Can anyone help?
Alex, Leicester, UK

Can I interject some important withdom (that is Withnail and I wisdom) into the "Time stands still" article: "Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day".
Jacqui Evans, Roehampton

Paper Monitor

11:06 UK time, Thursday, 9 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

guardian_shark203.jpgBlasted broadsheets (or Berliners, to be precise). The Silly Season is what gives Paper Monitor meaning; it is Paper Monitor's id, ego and super-ego all rolled into one. Quite simply – the Silly Season is what makes Paper Monitor be. And so far this summer, there's only really been one Silly Season story in town – that of the Great White shark stalking the coast of Cornwall.

Each twist and turn of the fearsome fin has elevated the Sun's story into a gripping yarn, and when amateur angler Kevin Keeble stepped into the arena with pictures of what was indisputably a Great White, the fear factor went up another notch.

OK, those sticklers who like to have the "facts" in their stories corroborated spied a chink in the Sun's armour when Mr Keeble refused to name the friend whose fishing boat he was on when he took the pictures. But such oversights are minor transgressions in the code set down in Silly Season handbook.

Today, though, the Guardian, among others, delights in exposing the story as a hoax, or Mr Keeble's sighting at least. It turns out his pictures had been snapped not off the coast of St Ives, but South Africa. Such heavy-handedness. The headline doesn't exactly say "A LIAR AND A CHEAT" but the triumphalism is redolent of its Jonathan Aitken moment.

What next? Will the Daily Telegraph's story about Lord Lucan being tracked down to New Zealand be exposed as a fraud, merely because the man is 10 years younger, and several inches shorter, than the fugitive aristocrat?

Don't these holier-than-thou editors realise that before long the schools will have gone back, the nights will be drawing in and it'll be back to the trudge of Westminster politics.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:59 UK time, Thursday, 9 August 2007

Yesterday we asked which practice does NOT result in ejection from Brighton's Tea Cosy tearooms, described as 'scary' for its rules. It's leaving a teaspoon in your cup, which 30% of you got right. Another 25% said using a mobile phone and 45% thought dunking a biscuit would be OK - but both are banned in the tearooms. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine index now.

Your Letters

15:48 UK time, Wednesday, 8 August 2007

RE: Putting electronics in a spin, That's the last time I idly wander into an article whilst I really should be working... my head hurts now.
Sam, Waddesdon, Nr Aylesbury, UK

I wish to take this opportunity to assure the man and woman that passed me at 6.20 this morning in Edinburgh that I was not infact cheering the extinction of the Yangtze River Dolphin. My giggling, and cheer were merely a result of seeing PM's wishes come true. I felt very guilty when I realised the headline I had infact cheered.
James, Edinburgh, UK

If, as stated: "Beyonce and Justin Timberlake have each received seven nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, including best female and male artist of the year", and they are nominated in the same categories as each other (except 'Female Artist of the Year' and 'Male Artist of the Year' respectively), how can the headline to this article be: Timberlake leads MTV awards race?

The headline Napoli towed away for recycling caused me great shock as I'm going there next week. Is it going into plastics, hardcore or composting?
MJ, Ingatestone

Confession time: I read the headline "Veggie plot 'led to F&M disaster'" (Paper Monitor, Tue) and thought something grave had happened to Fortnum & Mason's
HB, London

Apologies for coming to this a bit late - how about 'a surplice of clergy'...
Ian Rutt, Swansea, UK

Paper Monitor

11:23 UK time, Wednesday, 8 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Well it's like this.

Either the staff of the Independent aren't fans of The Thick Of It, or they're happy to gloriously mock themselves.

Nothing else can explain today's front page. It's a dolphin under the headline "EXTINCT", which bears an alarming similarity to the cruel parody of the Indy in The Thick Of It (Paper Monitor, 4 July).

There's also a note of deja vu in the Daily Express where the headline "WE DIDN'T KILL OUR MADELEINE" carries much the same sentiment as the headline "WE ARE NOT SUSPECTS" from... 7 June.

Headline of the day award goes to the Daily Mirror whose effort of "HERE IS THE SPEWS" for a local news presenter who had to leave a broadcast in order to vomit.

There is also a gold star of a different kind for the Sun for the most delightful confusion of the day. Anybody seeing the headline "Veggie plot 'led to F&M disaster'" might be inclined to think sneaky vegetarians were leading a devious conspiracy to infect the nation's livestock with foot-and-mouth disease to undermine the nation's love of meat once and for all.

Except, the story is merely the allegation that a lab technician digging the vegetables on his allotment may have spread the disease.


Daily Mini-Quiz

09:30 UK time, Wednesday, 8 August 2007

In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what was it that 18-24-year-olds on average spent £100 on, and 35-44-year-olds spent £490 on? The answer, as only 14% of you got right, was stag and hen parties. Try to do better in today's DMQ which is found on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:30 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2007

'History A-Level to become 'a thing of the past'". Isn't that the point?
Elaine O'Neill, Nottingham, England

Erm, surely my mate who was an extra in Pearl Harbor (sic) is the best value ever according to this method of measurement. That film took over £150m worldwide and yet he can only have been paid about £150 - not sure how many sandwiches and cokes he managed to put away. I make that £1m return on every £1 invested.
John Coulthard, Bath, UK

Dinosaurs given protected status? Bit late now, isn't it?
Adrian Jones, Edgware, United Kingdom

Doherty 'faces Jail' over drugs. Hmm surely something we knew last week/year.
Edenzor, Reading

Regarding the Lilly Allen story. We're told: "She was detained for five hours but not strip searched. Understandably she was upset by it." - was she upset about not being strip searched?

Colin Main (Monday's letters): The UK is indeed Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 'Britain' (without the 'Great') is synonymous with the United Kingdom, so does include Northern Ireland. An uncommon grasp of subtlety from the EU?
Nick, Cromer

Never mind the "largest exoplanet yet" in the picture here, what do scientists have to say about the giant pair of golden scissors just appearing behind the sun?
David Pegg, Nottingham

A landmark day! On the same day that the 21st World Scout Jamboree closes at Chelmsford, I get 10 out of 10 on the map symbol quiz! Scouting Rules!
Howard, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's only one question that's really troubling Paper Monitor today. It's not one of those petty niggling queries that the Independent is wont to come up with once in a while, such as "Is global warming being further stoked by civil liberty infringements?" Neither is it one of the posers known to emanate from the Sun's Dear Deirdre column, a la "My girlfriend has suggested a threesome with the bored housewife next door… should I agree?"

Nope, this is an enquiry of far greater import; a question that no doubt would have furrowed the brows of philosophers from Plato to Derrida had they been readers of the Daily Mail… "Why ARE intelligent women such fools in love?"

Who can say? Well, Anna Pasternak for one, but Paper Monitor has no time to get involved in the small print. Especially not when there is an even more challenging question: hands up who can remember the Daily Mail ever being self-effacing?

There's a first for everything, though. Today's Mail picks up on a story from yesterday's paper, of a decoded 17th Century diary, and uses it as a springboard to ask what if the Mail had been around in the 1600s, how would it have reported the big stories of the day.

The Sun, for one, jumped on this bandwagon a few months ago in the shape of a whole book that dared to imagine how history's great scientific discoveries would have been reported by the red top.

So how would "Ye Olde Daily Mail" have headlined the story of the Gunpowder Plot? "Ye 5/11 plot foiled"; the fate of Guy Fawkes? "FREE tickets for ye bigge execution"; the sailing of the Mayflower? "Asylum crisis deepens as pilgrims sail".

And here's a line, from the introduction to the whole piece, that's worth squirrelling away for when the Mail next tells you the world ain't as good as it used to be. "[I]t only goes to prove things haven't changed that much."

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:52 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Monitor was a bit dumbfounded to find the results for Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz had mysteriously vanished from Monday's list of entries. From memory, Friday's quiz asked what foreign phrase learnt as children, adults tend to forget. About 60% opted for the correct answer which was something like :"Where's the loo?".

Yesterday's DMQ asked what was judged the second most satisfactory job in a recent survey by the Industrial Relations Journal. Despite an early rally for welders, 44% were correct in guessing hairdresser.

Today's DMQ is on the Magazine page.

Your Letters

16:53 UK time, Monday, 6 August 2007

Re the story "Mahjong game 'can cause epilepsy'", which tells us "What is certain though, is that the only sure way to avoid Mahjong Epilepsy, is to avoid mahjong" - Wow, I could have never worked that out for myself!
Mike Harper, Devon, UK

I'm always disappointed when Daniel Corbett does the BBC weather and Sooty is never there.
J. Paul Murdock, West Midlands

Re "Sugar-rushes keep bats airborne", I thought this was going to clear up the jelly bean mystery.
Keith Dransfield, Lismore, Ireland

In last week's 10 things items 2 through 4 all contain the word "could". Is it slowly becoming 10 Things We Still Don't Know This Week?
Paul Taylor, Leeds, UK

So it's a fagot if drummers and just like us Monitors, BBC Sport is looking for a collective noun. The collective noun for footballers who keep the ball in the air for a long time that is.
David, Jerusalem

For proof that time travel is possible ("The dream of time travel") look no further than the Daily Mail who shamelessly pinched today’s story about Ronald Mallett’s time machine and published it last month.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Paper Monitor, you are being more than a little insensitive when you claim that foot and mouth doesn't affect humans. To have all your animals slaughtered (including your pets) affects humans very much. Shame on you.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

There was no need for the European Commission to exclude Northern Ireland from the export ban of meat, milk, etc. from Britain "Disease experts probe farm flood". Northern Ireland is not, nor has ever been a part of Britain. It is, however, part of the United Kingdon ("of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", according to my passport).
Colin Main, Berkhamsted

Is the story of the "Indian suspect in banana ordeal" a case of roughage justice?
Gazardo, Stockport

Re: Thai cops punished by Hello Kitty. I don't suppose we can force Sir Ian Blair to wear one of these armbands for the minor transgression of not knowing what his officers were doing?
Alex D, Southampton, UK

Paper Monitor

11:09 UK time, Monday, 6 August 2007

Today's Independent carries perhaps the most downbeat poster-front in its history. Its foot-and-mouth coverage kicks off with a photo of a sign bearing the terrifying legend "Institute for Animal Health Pirbright Laboratory".

Paper Monitor is quivering with ill-suppressed fear. A much better job of scaring the general public can be found over in the Daily Mail.

You can't beat a headline that reads "Smallpox. Plague. The timebombs in our labs" for setting you up for a week of not panicking over a farm disease that does not affect humans. Chew on that Indy sandal-wearers.

And there's an outing for a great old cliche of journalese in the Mail with its headline "Farmers' fury as the world slaps a ban on food from Britain". Slaps a ban? Sounds painful. And it's a term with a great pedigree, with the OED listing its debut in newspapers as an appearance in a 1976 edition of the Milton Keynes Express.

Over in the Guardian, there's a headline to give nightmares to Lord Coe. "After 180 million years, first 2012 Olympic venue is ready for action." It's a full page dedicated to Weymouth, a venue for sailing in the games. The entire geological development of the south coast has been working towards 2012. Or so the Guardian says.

There is more Great White Silly Season Stuff (henceforth GWSSS) in the Daily Express with a report of a sighting of one of the whopper sharks off Tarragona near Barcelona. There is a picture of a shark from said species showing its displeasure at being the subject of a paparazzo "snatch pic".

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