BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 23, 2008 - March 29, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:30 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

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

1. Up to one quarter of the sand on shorelines can be composed of plastic particles.
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2. Snakes can give you salmonella poisoning.
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3. Barack Obama was known as "Barry O'Bomber" at school because of his basketball prowess.

4. Lions were kept in the Tower of London in the 14th century.
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5. In Brighton and Hove, there are 46 takeaway outlets and sweet shops for every secondary school.
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6. Sharks can be used to predict storms.
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7. Italy produces 33,000 tonnes of mozzarella each year.
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8. Somalia, ranked the third most unstable country in the world in a recent stability index, has eradicated polio.
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9. Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Angelina Jolie and the Duchess of Cornwall are all distantly related.
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10. Human beings can detect danger through smell.
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Sources: 3 - the Times, 23 March. Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Peter Harrison for this week's picture of 10 tables.

Your Letters

17:29 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

Re A very British brand: What sort of branding expert thinks of James Bond and fails to think of Aston Martin?
Matt Folwell, Cambridge

Re Why are magpies so often hated? "Large blackbirds, like crows and ravens" makes no sense. The blackbird is a type of thrush. Crows and ravens are 'black birds' which means something very different.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

I don't mind if the 1p coin disappears, but if it does, then I do hope a new 99p coin will be introduced, otherwise some things are going to be very difficult to pay for accurately.
Adam, London, UK

Re The search for the 'political' gene: MP Matthew Taylor says, "But the fact that I chose the same sort of politics is more than just coincidence. The odds in favour of that happening by accident must be miniscule." Or in this country, probably one in three. Not so miniscule at all.
Jimmy, Berkhamsted

Surely the only correct answer to today's daily mini-question is "None of the above", as Leona is the only person to have ever topped the US singles chart with Bleeding Love. And that's my pedantic fix for the week. Gosh, that feels better.
Rob, Birmingham, UK

If only the caption competition was back, I'd suggest: "Thunderbirds reunite 10 years after dramatic split." Disclaimer: I give the BBC permission to use this caption in association with my first name on its website.
William, Shenfield, England

Caption Comp (I wish 3): "So you got him with a right cross like this, eh?"
Andy Hart, Sarnia/Canada

Please don't bring back the caption comp. Just as Chris on BBC2's Eggheads has been able to say for many years that he is the "current International Mastermind champion", it gives me constant pleasure to carry a similar (un-obsolete) honour.
John, Sevenoaks

If we cannot have the caption competition, can we at least have an audio equivalent based on Radio 4 news hit by giggling fit? I quite like the description of "bee buzzing in a bottle", but I think it sounds more like a pigeon singing in the shower.
Graeme, Dundee

"Rising all the time, I think is the answer," said Ms Alexander, adding: "Ten out of 10, 10 out of 10." (Alexander says she's a perfect 10) I'm curious as to how it was written out two different ways - did she spell out "t-e-n" the first time?
Chris, London

Re 'Evil' Morgan wins US Apprentice - why the quote marks? That implies that Piers evilness might be in question; he even admits it himself. As Stephen Fry said, the meaning of the word "countryside" is "to kill Piers Morgan"...
The Bob, Glasgow

Is there anything more crushing than getting the 7th question wrong on quiz of the week (especially for those of us that have never quite managed a 'full house')?
Chick, Crawley

Note to readers re Wednesday's letters - Michelle B from London is not me in drag.
Michael B, London

Paper Monitor

11:30 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Fancy the idea of Daily Mail cartoonist Mac being stranded all alone on a desert island with no way of contacting the outside world? Indulge, then, in this week's Desert Island Discs in which Kirsty Young sends Stanley McMurty - aka Mac - to a far-off isle with just eight records to keep him company. And one luxury - a tenor saxophone.

"So no drawing?" asks the fragrant Kirsty (Paper Monitor is perhaps projecting a note of hope into her question). "Most islands have got litter being washed ashore and I think there will be some bits of paper," Mac replies. "I shall light a fire and make charcoal.... Hopefully I'll find some bottles, put the drawings in those bottles and address them to the Daily Mail."

He appears to be on Daily Mail Island already, as the paper's cartoon today is supplied by Mahood.

But what does somewhat endear the man to Paper Monitor - whose portfolio includes a dated gag about Blitish Airways and the Japanese buying up UK firms - is this introduction from Ms Young.

"For 38 years he has worked at the Daily Mail, in his own words, 'making the dreary copy of the daily paper brighter by putting in a laugh'."

Reading said paper today certainly is a gloomy affair, with BA in "TERMINAL DISGRACE", and ditto everything from yobs who kill, to a failed university recruitment drive, to the BBC's staffing levels for the Olympics, to the British PM's woeful effort at planting a smacker on Mme Sarkozy's fair cheek.

"Some sort of contact was required. In the panic of the moment, Mr Brown reverted to type and attempted a manly handshake. Then, clunk! The jowls of Kirkcaldy came up against those Grade One listed Continental cheekbones," writes columnist Robert Hardman, decrying how this reaffirms any and every stereotype of British manhood.

Poor Gordon Brown's manliness comes in for a kicking in the Times too, over his obvious discomfort when faced with a football. It offers sage advice to politicians in such situations:
• Do not try to juggle the ball
• Or play head tennis (Tony Blair pulled this one off, perhaps why Mr Brown seemed so reluctant to make ball contact)
• "Stand 5ft apart and slowly pass the ball using the instep"
• "Get rid of it as quickly as possible so that everyone thinks you are a team player"

Wise words indeed.

And one further tip, Mr Brown. Should you wish to avoid such embarrassment in future, perhaps best to duck out of photo calls held in football stadiums.

Friday's Quote of the Day

08:35 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.

"I know there are teething problems, but gee" - an exasperated Michael Barnfield, from Miami, at Heathrow's Terminal 5

heathrow.gifMany others passengers stranded overnight would have chosen slightly stronger language to explain their predicament, amid cancelled flights and luggage-less holidays.

But there was a wider fear unexpressed. With the Milllennium Dome and Wembley fresh in the memory, the much-vaunted Terminal 5's opening day had all the hallmarks of a Great British Mess-Up.

Never mind. The Olympic Games opening ceremony is only four years away.

Your Letters

18:08 UK time, Thursday, 27 March 2008

An interesting new form of one-upmanship: we had an entente cordiale. Then Mr Sarkozy says he wants an "entente amicale". So Mr Brown goes one better with an "entente formidable". Where can Sarko go next - an entente incomparable? An entente amoureuse...?
Tim Barrow, London, UK

So the Prime Minister "got lost" at the state banquet and was "just doing what he was told". If only the rest of us were as direct as Her Majesty.
SD, London, UK

The bird-feeding thong-man coverage always makes certain to point out it was a "skimpy" thong. Perhaps I'm naive, but I thought thongs were skimpy by definition. Is there such a thing as an especially skimpy one? Has underwear gone mad?
Adam, Belfast, UK

If only the Caption Competition were back... the French President might explain the subjunctive to the Monitor.
Richard, Newport, Wales

It's a good thing that the Caption Competition isn't back, or I would have sent the following: "So you're the new Diana then?"
The Bob, Glasgow

If only the Caption Competition was back (pt3): "Mmm, soft, luscious, full-bodied aroma, definitely from an organically farmed animal."
Keith, Lismore, Ireland

If only...(pt3): "Good jab, cherie. Now a left 'ook wiz ze 'andbag."
John, Sevenoaks

"If only" indeed. A variation on the old song, perhaps? "Hands, elbows, HEELS and toes, HEELS and toes."
Stig, London, UK

Enough of this "If only the Caption Competition was back" followed by amusing captions thinly veiled within the letters page. Why not simply rename it "Snapshot Slogan" (or some other title suggesting an equally negligible level of non-competitiveness) and simply select the best slogans in the same way you currently select the best letters. Or dare I suggest that there is a competitive element in getting one's letters published... oh no, what have I done?
Chris, London

Avon & Somerset Police are currently using covert cars to trap vehicle thieves. The name of the police officer certainly fits the operation - Supt Ian Wylie.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Is the fact that the Queen "managed to look slightly shorter than Mr Sarkozy" (Paper Monitor) anything to do with the fact that, at 5ft 4in, she is, er, slightly shorter than Mr Sarkozy?
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

Polly S, Lichfield (Tuesday Letters): Never forget that Paper Monitor is a London media type. They use Americanisms like apartment for flat all the time - completely unironically. So I don't think you can say Paper Monitor is American just yet.
Ken, Hornchurch, Essex

If only the Caption Competition was back (pt3)

13:09 UK time, Thursday, 27 March 2008


In a little-noted event this week, former supermodel and current wife of the French president, Carla Bruni, arrives in the UK with her husband, to be greeted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Paper Monitor

10:55 UK time, Thursday, 27 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Rarely has the world of diplomacy made such a splash on Her Majesty's Press, even less so a state visit which does not include a US president. But that's Mr Sarkozy's genius in marrying Carla Bruni, a former supermodel no less. Glowing coverage guaranteed.

So glowing is the Daily Telegraph that one wonders how Private Eye will manage to satirise it - it already reads like it's a joke, including the front page teaser: "Is Carla the new Diana? p25".

The paper might have a point, actually, since the litmus test for Dianahood - a Daily Express splash - proves positive, with a full elegant front page picture. Pages 28 and 29 of the Express go on to answer the question, should one be asking, of what the French First Lady would look like in a bikini.

Mr Sarkozy also gets a look in, but not always in the way he might have wanted. Everyone, even the Indie and the Guardian, point out that while Mrs wore flat shoes, her shorter husband wore generous heels. Or as the Sun had it, "Heel-o and welcome to the UK, Carla...who's the little fella?"

The Sun says that while M Sarkozy is 5ft 5in, Mme is 5ft 9in. The Daily Mirror thinks she's 5ft 11in (and other reports put Mr Sarkozy at 5ft 6in), but what's a few inches between such good pals as les grenouilles and les rosbifs?

The Telegraph does its appointed job for the nation in warming the hearts of royalists everywhere. Her Majesty rose above the whole heel issue. Just relish these three paragraphs from pensman Andrew Gimson.

"Despite his best attempts including the stacked heels he was wearing, it was impossible for the President to avoid looking somewhat diminutive.

"The guardsmen naturally towered over him in the bearskins but so did almost everyone else, including Miss Bruni, despite her tactful decision to wear pumps rather than high heels.

"Only the Queen, with her gift for putting her guests at their ease, managed to look slightly shorter than Mr Sarkozy. Not that it matters one jot to us that he is only 5ft 5ins tall. Many great men have been short and for all we know he could be taller than Napoleon."

Ahhh, feel that, middle England. All is well with the world.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:15 UK time, Thursday, 27 March 2008

"I was just feeding the birds" - Man in back-to-front thong to police.

thong.gifIt's probably not the best defence you will ever hear, but it's the reason David Batchelor gave for being in the street wearing only a skimpy thong, worn back to front.

He admitted committing a breach of the peace and was fined £150 when he appeared before Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday, fully clothed this time. More details

Your Letters

16:29 UK time, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It was interesting to see that a 60 car pile-up in Austria recently was reported in great detail, with pictures, on the BBC. It's also interesting to note that a 116 car pile-up on the D1 motorway between Brno and Prague in the Czech republic last Thursday, March 20th wasn't mentioned at all. It was the biggest road traffic accident in Czech history but I suppose because, luckily, no-one was killed it was not newsworthy enough?
Richard Savage, Plzen, Czech Republic

Re 'Month of cannabis terrified me' Might I suggest that anyone who voluntarily starts binge drinking, and then has plastic surgery just to appear on a TV program probably isn't entirely right in the head to start with, and may not be the best guinea pig for a study involving the possible psychological effects of a drug.
Owain Williams, Munich

RE - Persistent 999 caller given Asbo
I was somewhat interested by the sentence 'Under the three-year Asbo, Ryan can only call 999 in a genuine emergency.' So when are the rest of us allowed to call?
Sophie, Belfast, Ireland

Sam (Wednesday's letters), the Caption Competition did not disappear. Unlike Canoe Man, but similar to Schrodinger's cat, it is still there - neither vanished nor not vanished and, as yet, not un-vanished.
John, Sevenoaks

So if the proposals in the 'Approval for mobiles on aircraft' story ends up happening, we'll be treated to 'yeah, I'm on a plane, yeah, yeah, there's no leg room' in various languages...
Roz, Sheffield, UK

"The cost of making a mobile phone call from a plane will be higher than making one from the ground." Absolutely brilliant.
Chris Robinson, Isle of Man

Re: 10 things. Men eat more Brussell sprouts and broccoli than women. Is that because cannibalism is frowned upon?
Michael B, London

I am a bit gutted I was missed out on Sam of L/Spa's list (Wednesday's letters), . I once nearly won an LBQ keyring you know.
Kaylie, Runcorn, UK

"A name certainly plays more of a part than we think, says Dr Wiseman." - And was that your birth name, Doctor?
Kat Murphy, Coventry

Mark (Wednesday's letters), - I do actually know a boy who had his arm broken by one of the swans by the river in Knaresborough - he'd got too close to the nest, and she attacked him. I believe this is called ostension - when an urban legend actually comes true.
Michelle B, London

From the news ticker: "Marriage rates in England and Wales at lowest level since records began. More soon." Do they know something we don't?
Bryan, Reading

Paper Monitor

12:35 UK time, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Can you ken Ken? No, wait, bear with us, it's not a quiz about the London mayoral contest (although that was Paper Monitor's first thought on seeing this very question posed on the front page of the Times on Monday).

But what kenken is the paper's new number puzzle, and the latest contender seeking to repeat the runaway success of sudoku, which swept the nation (and bolstered newspaper sales) in 2005. No surprise that it is the Times to launch it, as it was the first of the British newspapers to latch onto sudoku grids way back in 2004.

But there's its name. Kenken just does not have the air of mystery, of puzzling otherness that helped make sudoku such a phenomenon. Not that kenken is a word that lacks in Oriental associations. The number puzzle was invented by a Japanese mathematics teacher, who named it to mean "square wisdom".

But to the British, the word "ken" has so many other associations. Ken Livingstone, for one. And it means "know" or "know what I mean?" in the Scottish vernacular. Which is apt.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph has the bit between its teeth about how web users are facing extra charges for TV downloads. Yes, the same paper that for some weeks now has been flaunting the wares of Telegraph TV (available now on its website).

But these web users do get what they pay for, having signed up to broadband packages that allow them to download a gigabyte of data a month. Go over that limit and there are extra charges.

The lesson? Read the small print.

Hmmm, what is it about the First Lady of France that means her picture makes it into every single newspaper, including the Daily Star? And can you guess which snap of her makes it into that particular organ of Her Majesty's Press?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:32 UK time, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

"Not only did I win a fortune, my wife understands the importance of football and I've got my old job back" - Lottery winner Luke Pittard, on why he's the "luckiest man alive".

winner_quote2.gifAfter winning £1.3m 18 months ago, the 25-year-old has gone back to work at one of the Cardff branches of McDonalds because he misses his old workmates.

"I loved working at McDonald's before I became a millionaire and I'm really enjoying being back there again," he told the Daily Telegraph. He has returned as a staff trainer, and earns less than the interest on their Lottery win.
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Your Letters

17:05 UK time, Tuesday, 25 March 2008

I'm trying to figure out the best way to be marooned on a desert island for the next several months. Google and Wikipedia have both failed me. What advice do Monitor readers have? I'd like to be funded, if possible.
Christy, Chicago, USA

Re "Passengers stranded on London Eye", can I just say I really liked the phrase "emergency supplies of water, blankets and commodes".
HB, London

Oh Derek (Your Letters, Monday) get off your high horse. Yes, railway repairs are always annoying but they affect different groups of people at different times. Repairs during the week primarily affect commuters: season ticket holders who get compensated for delays. Repairs during holidays affect large numbers of people who travel more infrequently - e.g. car-less young people heading home for Easter. As long as the repairs are scheduled in advance, none of these people, who buy one-off tickets, get compensated for the delays.
Jenny, Cambridge

Derek, engineering work used to be done at night, back when allowing passengers to actually travel somewhere on the railways, and not over-crowded replacement buses, was seen as somehow important.
Michelle, London

Along with about a 1,000 or so other people, I was stranded at Ingatstone this morning by the overrunning engineering works carried out by Network Fail. A bus finally arrived and upon reaching London a couple of hours late, how nice to find a story in Metro that all the weekend railway works had finished on time.
MJ, Essex

Re Teresa, Norwich (Your Letters, Monday), heart/cardiac failure is a slow terminal disease, not to be confused with cardiac arrest, where the heart suddenly stops. In cardiac failure, the heart does not pump properly, which causes the body to detect low blood pressure and tries to compensate by retaining water. However this water has nowhere to go and so ends up in the lungs (causing breathlessness) and pooling in the legs, causing ankle swelling. Ankle swelling (also called pedal oedema) is a significant finding and a clinical sign looked for on all full patient examinations.
Lottie, Merseyside

An Australian colleague has claimed that a Kanagaroo can disembowel a man with one kick. Wikipedia seems to agree with him. I have attempted to show that the Mute Swan is just as deadly, but have found a dispiriting lack of proof, particularly on the old "wings are limb breakers" myth. Can anyone help me out?
Mark, London

Re Sue (Your Letters, Monday), that's not Robert Redford, it's Donald Trump!
Mark, Reading

An unfortunate spelling error seen on scaffolding in a London street next to Bakerloo:
"Apologise for any inconvenience"
(Or is this the church taking a more direct approach to encouraging the flock to confession?).
Pete, Banbury

So the Honda's handbrake won't stick ("Honda Civic owners warned of flaw") when you press the release button? And this is a bad thing - am I missing something?
Phil B-C, London

Anyone else enjoy the article about bendy buses, where such a vehicle was compared in size to... a double-decker bus! Magazine, you should have chucked a telephone box in as well for good measure.
Simon, London

After reading the Magazine archive, the letters sections have almost become like a novel to me, with many characters such as Basil taking headlines literally, Adam from London and his arch nemesis MJ Simpson - the battle of who can get the most letters posted! Family rivalry with Sue and Stig on the (much missed) Caption Competition and Punorama, I imagine them now lamenting said loss round the kitchen table. Romance with Stu and Molly and some international flavour courtesy of Candace. Of course I am left wondering what happened to Pix6. Did she disappear along with the Caption Competition?
Sam, L/Spa

Re the identity of PM - I think s/he is from over the Pond - "Green thumbs"? In England we say "green fingers".
Have a nice day now, PM.
Polly S, Lichfield

So nobody knows exactly who the fifth Beatle was (Paper Monitor, Tuesday). Are we all agreed on who the fourth Beatle was, then, or the third?
Graham, Purmerend, Netherlands

Paper Monitor

12:39 UK time, Tuesday, 25 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

While enduring an episode of the most talked about children's programme de jour, In the Night Garden, the appearance of the alien-like character Makka Pakka set Paper Monitor's mind drifting. Here's one rich seam of punnage that seems to have been woefully overlooked in the whole Mills-McCartney fallout.

"MUCCA TELLS MACCA PACK-HER IN" (Heather tells Paul to… oh you get the idea…) Anyway that was last week's story. But anyone looking for further evidence of the press's enduring fascination with the Beatles need look no further than today's front pages, which carry news of the death of Neil Aspinall.

You'd be forgiven for never having heard the name before, so the Daily Mirror is one of those to put it in context thus: "Macca weeps for 5th Beatle".

Others include the Times with "Accountant who was 'fifth Beatle' dies"; the Daily Mail with "Sir Paul in mourning as the 'fifth Beatle' dies aged 66 " and the Independent, which shows a disturbing pack mentality with "Neil Aspinall, the 'fifth Beatle', dies aged 66".

Paper Monitor doesn't want to sound churlish, but how many others closely associated with the Fab Four have been labelled the "fifth Beatle"?

There's Beatles' producer Sir George Martin, ex-drummer Pete Best, ex-bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Perhaps one of the few people qualified to pronounce on such matters is journalist and the Beatles' only authorised biographer, Hunter Davies. Luckily he's signed up to the Guardian and has written front page piece today. So, is Hunter prepared to pronounce on whether Aspinall was worthy of this great title? Unfortunately, no.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:26 UK time, Tuesday, 25 March 2008


'We just hope people understand that this is not a place for a horse" - Spokeswoman for Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Hawaii, after a visitor brought in a patient's horse to cheer him up.

horsehospital.gifThe visitor and his equine companion were only stopped as they disembarked from the elevator on the third floor, having made it through the main entrance as reception staff had gone home for the night.

While the animal wasn't allowed onto the ward to visit his owner, the patient was brought out to see his favourite pet... only for it to turn out that the well-meaning (and intoxicated) relative had brought in the wrong horse.
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Your Letters

15:23 UK time, Monday, 24 March 2008

Re rail disruption and its timing (Friday letters): There has been plenty of criticism of the scheduling of the repairs but I have haven't heard anybody suggest when there is a good time to do these major improvements. A Bank Holiday which affords a four-day period in which they can be done is preferable to Monday to Thursday is it not? Plenty of notice was given so please stop standing there wringing your hands and make other arrangements.
Derek Simpson, Little Sutton, England

Denis MacShane says, on the prospect of a free vote on the new Human Embryology bill, that "if every difficult issue with ethical implications is a matter for free votes, then democracy, Parliament, and the purpose of government becomes meaningless." So, according to him, is only voting to the party line in matters of ethics democratic?
Sharon, Portsmouth, UK

Fuel prices are high, says your feature on the decline of the petrol station. Given the levels of taxation, instead of "So why are petrol stations closing?" shouldn't that be "That's why the Government isn't closing?"
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Blimey, I hadn't realised that Robert Redford was running a newsagents these days, although I suppose he has to make ends meet when he isn't filming or organising Sundance (Cigarette display ban considered).
Sue, London

Re the man who monitors his heart condition through his TV, I was surprised to come across the statement that heart failure is "a condition that causes breathlessness and ankle swelling..." Surely ankle swelling is not a particularly worrying or noticeable symptom if your heart is in the process of failing?
Teresa, Norwich

Paper Monitor

12:35 UK time, Monday, 24 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Just in case any of you slept through Easter Sunday (ah, how Paper Monitor wishes...), it snowed. In many parts of the country, including London which, as previously noted, makes it NEWS and so manna for picture editors seeking some visual spice for their front pages on a quiet holiday weekend.

Perhaps Paper Monitor is a tad too literal minded to ever cut it on a Fleet St picture desk, but there is nary a sign of a snow-shrouded Easter egg hunt.

Instead the Financial Times has the Archbishop of Canterbury arriving in a snow flurry to deliver his Easter sermon attacking the "creed of greed", as the headline writer neatly puts it.

The Daily Mail has Sir Paul McCartney's divorce lawyer rugged up against the cold in furry hat and muff, saving its "Easter Wonderland" pics for a double page spread inside, complete with a step-by-step guide to building your own igloo.

The Times opts for a member of the Household Cavalry wincing as he shivers in the snow during the Changing of the Guard, while the Daily Telegraph's front page could double as a Christmas card with its pic of a stag with snow-covered antlers.

But it gets very seasonal with its reader giveaway of a rose bush and secateurs (gardening being as traditional as chocolate eggs at this time of year). Although perhaps only the hardiest of green thumbs will venture out to do a spot of pruning in this weather.

And the Independent? It troubles itself not with fripperies such as Easter or snow. But gardening does get a look in in the shape of a feature on the craze for allotments.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:08 UK time, Monday, 24 March 2008

"Night must fall" - A less than cheery Easter message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, warning of the approaching collapse of our way of life.

easter.gifDr Rowan Williams, not a man to shy from awkward topics, was never going to soft-pedal in the pulpit on Easter Sunday. With large swathes of his flock - and others - replete with festive chocolate, the leader of the Anglican Church took the opportunity to warn that the "comforts and luxuries" taken for granted cannot be sustained forever.
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