BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 28, 2007 - November 3, 2007

Your Letters

16:46 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

I watched two episodes of Life on Mars last night, and woke up to read the following headline: Blair resignation calls intensify. This is doing my head in. Can somebody please tell me what the date is?
Rich, London

The report on Channel 4's history notes that it broadcast the first "live" autopsy. Really?
Phil, Forest of Dean

Only a group of sports journalists could headline a story Hole-in-one boost for sick Rose and not quote William Blake. An open goal missed.
Zed, Cumbria

In defence of plastic bags says they only make up a small percentage of landfill and implies this is a good thing. Surely, if you want to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, more plastic bags in landfill would be a good thing. The alternatives, such as biodegradable bags or incinerating them, will add to atmospheric CO2.
Doug, Berkhamsted

I have an 11th reason why plastic bags are good. I used to work for a company that made them, so their continued use will ensure that my pension fund continues to accumulate.
Paul, Rochdale

So the BBC is to be less London-centric is it? Sounds good until you discover that the new focus will be on the north of England. You can't throw a lump of coal at the schedules without hitting some drama, comedy or factual programme from the North. Yes, there is life outside London, but the geography of the British Isles does not leap straight from the M25 to Newcastle.
Steven, Cambridge

Re Byrne fined over car mobile use, how did Liam Byrne know it was an "important telephone call about deportation" until he had answered it? Unless he initiated the call, which is even worse.
Mark Esdale, Bridge, UK

Who else clicked on Byrne fined over car mobile use hoping that it would be the popular comedian and mobile phone voiceover provider Ed Byrne?
Andy Elms, Brizzle

Dame Julie Andrews says in her tribute to 25 years of Countdown that the programme "has helped my spelling and math enormously". Not that much - it's mathS over here.
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Re worries about the ban on the A380 mile-high club. Surely it's irrelevant. The A380 runs from just south of Exeter to Paignton, staying within five miles of the coast. I'd be surprised if it got to 200m above sea level, let alone a mile. Bit of a traffic hazard, though, those double beds...
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

10 things we didn't know last week

16:25 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007


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

1. Dogs can have blood of any type if it's just one transfusion, but cats need to be blood type matched.
More details

2. Trick or treating was first noted as arriving in England by the Times in 1986.
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3. The sculptor of the giant spider at the Tate is 95 and still working.
More details

4. Sniffer dogs can smell out a termite.
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5. Clams can get very, very old.
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6. Of the waste in UK landfills, 0.1% is plastic carrier bags.
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7. Dogs occasionally shoot their owners in the US.
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8. IP addresses will run out in 2010.
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9. People carrying the OR11H7P gene are hypersensitive to the smell of sweat.
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10. One fungal disease has made 40 frog species extinct since 1980.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Jenny Barber, from Hampshire, for this week's picture of 10 mushrooms.

Paper Monitor

11:31 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's no secret that Paper Monitor has eclectic tastes, liking a bit of rough as much as a bit of posh. Today's posh comes from the Economist (which insists that it is a newspaper rather than a magazine, despite being A4 size, printed on glossy paper and stapled).

An article about the growth in small ads in newspapers for escorts or massages are, it reveals, often covers for prostitutes and brothels. "Last month the South Wales Echo ran a story about trafficked women working in Cardiff, only to discover that all of the brothels named in the article had advertisements in the same issue," it says.

The newspaper continues: "Whether such advertising is worth it for newspapers is another question. Editors must weight the money earned from these ads - perhaps a couple of pounds per word in a local newspaper - against the potential loss from offended readers and other advertisers who decide to go elsewhere. This dilemma applies not just to local newspapers: upmarket escort agencies target almost all publications - including, believe it or not, this one."

Which leads Paper Monitor to peruse the small ads at the back of the Economist rather more closely than usual. How about the one for a "tram franchising" opportunity - something Billie Piper might be required to simulate for ITV2? Or the one with the tagline "How far would you go to see more?" or "Beyond grey pinstripes"? Ooo AND er.

And now, to the rough. Those celebrity minxes sure know how to dress in the manner of an upmarket escort faking rumpy-pumpy for a digital channel. And who better to observe them in their natural habitat than G2's Lost in Showbiz. With costumes comprising stockings, catsuits and stripper heels, the night of frights has morphed from Halloween into "Sluttyween".

But instead of the usual pin-sharp observations from the ninth circle of hell, Lost... is rather too much like a first-year women's studies essay AND a name-dropping exercise. In small print at the end are the words: "Marina Hyde is away". In her hands, the ubiquitous celeb-watching column has evolved far beyond its usual confines, and her absence serves to indicate how hard it is to mimic a distinct voice.

Random stat

10:37 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

One in four Britons will avoid using their credit cards over the festive season, a survey for debt consultancy Thomas Charles has found.

Your letters

15:36 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

Anyone else notice the blatant use of product placement advertising in the article about mystery sage? Just look at what is next to the said plant in the photo under the words ".....there was something very comforting about the whole thing."
Christina, Bath

Re your story "Police ordered to delete records", is this a case of 'If you love somebody set them free'?

Singapore Airlines offered double beds in First Class on their new A380 service, and then we read "Airline bans A380 mile-high club". They really didn't think this through, did they?
HB, London

In the finest tradition of pedantry I'd like to point out to MJ Simpson (Letters, Wednesday) that "talking with the dead" implies two-way conversation (with the dead talking back). Had it said "talking TO the dead" then MJ might have had a point.
Rich, Titchfield Common, UK

Edward Green's argument (Letters, Wednesday) may be correct but his example isn't. Even if there really was a "one in three chance", in his example there is still an 8/27 chance(about 30%) that none of the three applicants get in - hardly "practically certain". Can I have that stats apprenticeship please?
Ian, Winchester, UK

Are your picture researchers are having a lazy day? The picture of 'Man's stomach' in the "Too much to ask?" article, is the same as 'an obese child' pictured in the "Child obesity alert plan pondered" article from 22 October!
Bob, Bromley

Paper Monitor

11:58 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"I wanted to save an orphan from war and hunger. No one said I was doing wrong" runs the headline on the front of the Guardian, atop a picture of an attractive, well-groomed but distraught-looking woman portraying herself as an unsuspecting victim.

But no, it's not Heather Mills (McCartney). It's a woman caught up in a scandal about child abduction in Chad.
You won't be surprised to hear it's not a story that's troubling the front pages of the tabloids. This is territory that has been firmly staked out for the aforementioned Mills.

As any seasoned celeb knows, there's one target above any other that is irreproachable in the eyes of the popular press, and that is the popular press itself.

It is not a beast known for retreating for ponderous reflection and thoughtful wound-licking before emerging to say "fair cop guv. We won’t do it again".

Just ask the owner of the Hey Jo club in Jermyn Street London, which receives a muted apology tucked away in the bottom corner of page four of today's Times. "The owner… has asked us to make it clear that his establishment is not a lapdancing club, contrary to our report… August 17".

And that's the esteemed and reputable Times!

Of course, Ms Mills must have known before embarking on her rolling broadside against the press that she wasn't going to get the kid gloves treatment on Thursday morning. So how bad is the backlash?

In referring her attacks, there's an easy way to play this that all the tabloids (and Paper Monitor uses the term in its more traditional sense) have seized on: Mucca is mad.

So it's the picture (see Mirror cover, above) of Mills with wild staring eyes, strained neck, hair flying and lips parted mid-tirade that makes it on the front of the Sun, Mail, Mirror, Star and Express.

The Sun has got agony aunt Deidre Sanders on the case – "Heather needs help" she explains, and includes some helpful numbers for Relate and Parentline. The main story does away with first name familiarity – relegating her simply to "Mucca".

It omits, however, to show a picture of Mills in her "Boycott the Sun" T-shirt – a photo-op not passed up by the Mirror. Having built strong links with Mills in recent months, its tone is unsurprisingly more sympathetic, though no less sensational

That's not the case with the Mail, which is outraged by Mills comparing her "plight" to that of the McCanns. Amanda Platell issues a straightforward challenge: if the press have been telling lies, sue us for libel.

The Star meanwhile sees this as an opportunity for an editorial. Its conclusion: "Being married to Heather must have been a 24/7 nightmare."

Random stat

10:37 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

Nine per cent of workers still have more than 20 days of annual leave to use up before the end of the year, according to a survey commissioned by Teletext Holidays.

A third reported they have 10 days or more left of their entitlement, while more than two-fifths said they did not think they would be able to take all of their remaining leave.

Your letters

14:35 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

If someone sends a photograph showing what they usually do at 10.30am on any given day, on that day someone will stop what they usually do to take a photograph of their colleague, so won't you end up with a percentage of the working population being less productive at 10.30am as they are taking photographs for your article?
Nicola, Lancaster

Given the difficulties they have hanging onto this guy, it doesn't help that the Belgian Ministry of Justice's logo resembles a bird in flight.

"Nasa studies ripped solar panel". I'm not sure how a study could do this sort of damage, but how careless.
Stella Alvarez

I think most people are capable of "talking with the dead". It's when the dead talk back that we need to start worrying.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Apprenticeships harder to get into than Oxbridge? Interesting, but bear in mind that Oxbridge courses have a high acceptance rate because people who don't have top grades simply don't bother to apply. That's not really a "one in three chance", is it? By that logic, if you choose three random students and get them to apply for engineering science at Oxford, it should be practically certain that one will get in.
Edward Green, London, UK

Apologies to all the health fanatics, but really, I've had enough of stories like this one that offer 'recommendations' on how to limit your cancer risk. In an ideal world, fine, but it's also worthy of note that the earlier a woman has her first child, the lower her risk of breast cancer in later life, to the extent that having a baby at 15 roughly halves your risk. Without wanting to sound too facetious, should we therefore be advocating teenage pregnancy as an anti-cancer strategy?
Huw, Cambridge, UK

Paper Monitor

11:34 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When the Times first had course to refer to “graffiti” it was in a classified advert in 1859 for a talk about the “scribblings” of Pompeii.

Its first proper discussion of contemporary domestic graffiti seems to be from 1923, when an erudite chap armed with chalk was spotted writing slogans on a railway bridge. Among them was the Latin (with a little French) “Iei tibi verum optima libertas rerum numquam servivitti sub nexu fils”, translated as “I speak a truth: liberty is the best of all things; never serve under any slavish bond, my son”.

But this classically trained graffiti artist was undermined, the Times noted, by another who scrawled “Jeannie Grey, dunce”.

So it seems only appropriate that the Times, 84 years on, should still feel able to tell the difference between good graffiti artists and bad graffiti artists.

The Times seems to have decided Banksy is one of the good ones, deserving of a place on the front page with his latest work and an online gallery. So is acceptance into the establishment marked.

Elsewhere in the paper there is the extraordinary information that dogs don’t need blood group matches for a one-off transfusion, but cats do. Paper Monitor is still ascertaining the full import of this bombshell.

Over in the Daily Telegraph, with its much-vaunted multimedia newsroom, there is the newsprint equivalent of a rueful sigh in a comment piece on page two about the Royal blackmail affair.

Obviously it steers clear of naming the US websites where people who want to find out the identity of the Royal - anonymous because of a court order - might go. That would be very naughty indeed.

But it says: “It is a classical illustration of the way the press is inhibited in this digital age in a way that does not obtain on the unregulated web...

“In an era of media globalization, the British communications industry frequently finds itself operating with one hand tied behind its back.”

Would the Telegraph like its hand untied?

Random stat

10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Twenty-five per cent of people claim to have an ability to talk with the dead, according to a poll of 1,005 adults by Schott and Ipsos MORI.

Your Letters

15:16 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Regarding the article "Defence Cash Funds Deer Tracking" and the tens of thousands of pounds that have been spent trying to work out why the deer population has been increasing in numbers, may I suggest an answer, for free and in one word - breeding.
Lucy P, Maidstone, England

Congratulations on winning first prize for understatement of the decade, with "IPv6 will create 340 trillion trillion trillion separate addresses, enough to satisfy demand for decades to come". Based on current estimates for the planet's population, that's enough for 3 thousand trillion trillion IP addresses each. Yup, should be good for a few decades.
Chris Kenny, Southampton

So Lewis Hamilton is quitting Britain for Switzerland because of the intrusion into his life of the press, the same press he's sold his story to, call me cynical, but it has nothing to do with tax then?
Rob, Reading

That is NOT a "blackened" orange. It is most definitely "moldy." Or perhaps the author is colorblind?
Ainy, Baltimore, US

As impressed as I was by the 116 year old orange, I'd have been more impressed if it had been accompanied by a 410 year old clam-paste sandwich.
Sue, London

Regarding today's random stat, can I add colleagues making slurping/sucking noises whilst chewing gum to the list, please?
Dawn, Leicester

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.....! I'd managed to deliberately and studiously avoid looking at That Story for the weeks it appeared to top all sorts of most read/emailed lists. Then I clicked on Tom Webb's letter's link. Thanks a bunch. (Still didn't read it though.)
Christina, Bath

Paper Monitor

12:22 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor can’t help liking a columnist who’s prepared to offer a bit of candour.

And the Sun’s very own Gaunty takes the biscuit, if you pardon the punette, when he writes: “I know I’ve eaten all the pies but can someone tell the Fat Police to lay off us fatties and stop making out we’re a bigger threat than the combined forces of al-Qaeda, Harold Shipman and MRSA.”

Perhaps he is worried by headlines from his own august journal along the lines of “Fat kids' folks get 'warning'” (23 Oct) and the sensitive “The elephant men” (17 Oct) on a story about the obesity epidemic.

On the latter date his colleague Jane Moore wrote “Fat seems to be the hardest word”, suggesting political correctness had stopped doctors tackling the problem head on. Gaunty might be going it alone.

Elsewhere in the papers there is similar conflict. On page 15 of the Times, “Thunderer” Mick Hume laments that “property prices are ear-bleedingly boring” in his wry appeal for people to stop obsessing over the value of their house. On page 2, “Property repossessions to rise by 50 per cent next year, say lenders”.

There is great joy at the Daily Telegraph at the gaffe made by “attractive” Sky News presenter Julie Etchingham. The “attractive” newsreader, who did not realise her microphone was switched on when she joked that “extermination” was the Tory policy on immigration, is featured prominently on the front page.

Obviously the fact that she is “attractive” had no bearing on the humungous picture.

What are you doing at 10.30am?

10:08 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

At 10.30 in the morning, the working day has barely started for many. Yet it's our most productive time of the day, according to a survey.

By mid-afternoon, we are starting to "wind down" and think about our social lives, according to the study of 2,700 workers by employment law firm Peninsula.

How true is this? The Monitor has always prided itself on being a prickle in the side of productivity; a gentle distraction for those a little weary with the 9-5 grind of what might be termed "mortgage offsetting".

So it can't help wondering what its readers are doing at 10.30 on an average weekday morning. There's only one way to satisfy this curiosity - send us a picture of yourself and a brief description of what you tend to be doing at 10.30am. We'll publish one a day.

How to send pictures and text:

• If you want to e-mail it to us, send it to – include the subject line "10.30am".
• If you want to send a picture message from your mobile phone then ideally use the email function and send it to the above address.
• If you need to send it via MMS and you are within the UK you can send it to our short code number 61124. (Start the accompanying text with "10.30am".)
• If you are outside the UK then send it to +44 (0)7725 100 100 and include your contact number as text within the message.

Random stat

09:36 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Forty-four per cent of workers said colleagues coughing and sneezing put them off their work, while 58% said pointless meetings and silly questions were also a distraction, according to a poll of 1,200 employees by Office Angels.

Your letters

17:02 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

Looking at the graph in "Our first 10 years" , I can't help but think that this story is the main reason for the upward trend in page views recently.
Tom Webb, Epsom, UK

Ming the clam is 'oldest animal' - no, you spell it 'Menzies'.
Chris, Kettering

Can we just clarify, is Ming the Clam now dead?
Susie, Oslo, Norway

I had to smile when I saw where the black pudding festival is to be held - exactly the same place my food would go if I ate black pudding ice cream...
Chris Kenny, Southampton, England

Re Home town immortalises Hamilton. As it hasn't been decided yet, can I suggest 'Hamilton Close'?
Alex, Bristol

Paper Monitor

12:33 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Congratulations to the Express on the Royal family blackmail as story, for voicing the question that's on the tips of several million tongues today – who on earth is it? Or, to use the Express vernacular: "Guessing Game: See page 7"

All the papers are agreed the evidence points to a "junior" member of the family, so that rules out Charles, Harry, William and Andrew, although, if you can't envisage the faces of these non-suspects, the Express has pictured them all on its front page… presumably so we can visually rule them out.

However, Paper Monitor is more interested in finding out about Lewis Hamilton. With that in mind there's only one place to go: the Sun.

"Exclusive: 'The day I though my career was over' – Lewis: My Story". Inside is a two-page interview with the F1 driver, based on his autobiography.

Being a Formula One racing driver, Lewis, more than most of us, will be familiar with the term spoiler – only the front page of the Daily Mirror probably isn't what he had in mind when he hears the phrase: "Lewis: My Life – the women, the bullies, the battles, the TRUTH".

Editors at the Morning Star will probably feel a similar sense of hurt when they clap eyes on today's Guardian, which claims an authored piece by none other than Fidel Castro. On closer inspection, it's an extract from the Cuban leader's biography. How does that work? Has this stalwart of communism struck a newspaper serialisation deal? Ok, you can bet the publisher wasn't exactly beating off the Mail and Telegraph with this one, but did everyone get an equal shout? Are Castro's words the people's words, and if so, can anyone reprint them? The ominous © symbol at the end implies not.

Random stat

09:21 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

Eighteen per cent of people exaggerate when talking about their environmental behaviour because it's fashionable, according to a survey for the Ideal Home Show. Nearly a quarter - 23% - say they are bored of news about green issues, the survey, by ICM, of 2,000 UK adults found.

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