BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 13, 2008 - April 19, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:25 UK time, Friday, 18 April 2008

10chims_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. About 86% of fathers attend the birth of their children.
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2. There is more crime in Glasgow than New York.
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3. Vitamins can be bad for you.
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4. To help break the bubbly when a new ship is launched, P&O sometimes scores the bottle with a glass-cutter.
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5. The brain makes some decisions 10 seconds before they become conscious thought.

6. About 42% of hay fever sufferers think they have a cold.

7. Smells can drift across the Channel.
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8. Belly fat creates more fat.
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9. Scientists can control the brains of flies.More details

10. Bowleggedness is called genuvarum.
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Sources: 5 - BBC 5Live, 6 - BBC News

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Jennifer Jones for this week's picture of 10 chimney pipes at St Andrews.

Your Letters

17:09 UK time, Friday, 18 April 2008

Oh look, letters neatly fall into three categories. This calls for some pithy category headings...


Re the quest for a questamation mark: oh PM, tardiness is right - you're over 45 years late! The "Interrobang" (interrogatio: Latin for "a rhetorical question" + bang: printing slang for an exclamation mark) was thought up in 1962 by New York ad exec Martin Speckter. The glyph exists in a few digital typefaces. Here it is: ‽
Gareth Stranks, London

Why invent a "questamation mark" when we already have the perfectly good interrobang (as well as the irony mark)? See a popular wiki-based encyclopedia for more information.
Rob Foreman, London, UK

Dear MM, I cannot believe I will be the first to point out that there is already just such a punctuation mark as requested by PM -- the conflation of ! and ? is called an interrobang. Type ] in Wingdings 2 font and all will be revealed.
Daniel Hayes, St Albans, UK

Sorry to be a pedant, but your new punctuation mark should more properly be called a "questclamation" mark, literally a "shouted question" mark. I've got my coat on already.
Leonard Klar, Chelmsford

How about > ? Or the alternative, when it's only a minor exclamation Stig, London, UK

Re: the "questamation mark". There is always the "Beau Germe" mark (Colon Dash Zero) although the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation usually stops it getting used.
Periwinkle Throbgusset, Cwm Deri, Wales


If only the Caption Competition was back... I might say: Dame Helen was delighted - she knows what they say about men with big feet.
Hannah, London

No captions of course, but I might be tempted to say "Way hay for Noddy"
Candace, New Jersey, US

It's a good thing that the Caption Competition isn't back as I'd probably submit something in the Big Ears/Prince Charles genre, and that would be treason.
The Bob, Glasgow

If only the Caption Competition was back, I might suggest "Primary Suspect", along with hundreds of other people, probably...
Keith, Whitstable, UK

If only the caption competition was back you'd be swamped with variations on "Noddy Hold-her".
Ed, Clacton, UK


Am I the only person to carefully avoid any talk of this week's Apprentice, (planning to watch it on demand) only to have the result given to me by the DMQ? Please, warn me now; do you have plans to give away other programme spoilers in future DMQs?
Patrick, Walsall, UK

Ditto Chick, Gatwick; Jennifer, Germany; Simon (not that one), London; Steve Bowman, Leeds, UK; James, Exeter, England.

Your Letters

13:47 UK time, Friday, 18 April 2008

Monitor note: Some late Thursday/early Friday letters. More follows...

"Mr Houghton, who by chance is a patents lawyer..." Bunkum! There's no 'chance' element of it. If Mr Houghton had not been a patent lawyer then the patent application would not have been made and there would have been no story.
Basil Long, Leicester

Def "initial-sake" (n): the first alcoholic beverage of a night out in Tokyo?
David, UK

My initial-sakes make up more or less the entire western male population as it is the illustrious MR.
Martin Rose, Suffolk, UK

Clearly the BBC doesn't believe Max Mosley's denials that the video shows he has Nazi tendencies, when it leads with the sports headline "Mosley skips Spanish GP for rally".
Harvey Mayne, Frankfurt, Germany

The furore about the French entry in this year's Eurovision is a funny thing, as last year's French entry was in English as well - and no one in France complained. (The fact that the song was rather useless may have helped).
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

Re " ... tinkering under the hood ... " (Your Letters, Wednesday): probably female but most definitely American.
Jill B., Detroit

Monitor note: There will be some tinkering under the hood of our blogs overnight
The hood!! Is this ABC?
Ken, Hornchurch

Did anyone else notice the absence of the word 'on' from this sentence: "Normal service will resume Thursday". I reckon it's a give away about nationality-I'm convinced the Magazine Monitor is from the USA, it's the only place I've seen this beore.
Clara, Birmingham, UK

Re Trina's comment about Shakespeare (Your Letters, Tuesday). I went through state education and the first Shakespeare we read was Sonnet 116:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds, [etc]. I've not read any Byron. Should I remove my copy of Shakespeare's sonnets from the the bedside table lest I appear privately educated?
Lyndsey, Cambridge

While I hate to introduce a rare note of pedantry to MM letters, Jeremy is incorrect to say that a Champagne sabre slices through the neck of a bottle (Your Letters, Wednesday). It actually hits the bulge around the neck and simply knocks the top off. My own Champagne sabre is completely blunt but still works just fine.
Adam, London, UK

No, Jeremy, Brussels, "the champagne sabre" does not "slice through" the bottle; the back of the sabre is swiped quickly up the length of the bottle to knock off the top above the collar including the cork. Health and safety warning: only to be attempted outdoors.
Keith, Lismore, Ireland

There's such a thing as a champagne sabre?
Jill B., Detroit

Paper Monitor

12:14 UK time, Friday, 18 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ah, judges. The gentlemen and women of the bench can so often derided as a bit fuddy-duddy and decidedly aloof. But they give voice to those inner questions we all have.

Who, honestly, could respond with confidence if invited to "sizzle my nizzle" before Mr Justice Lewison presided over a rap lyrics copyright case in 2003? And perhaps even Paul Gascoigne himself has wondered "Who is Gazza?" during the long nights of the soul to which he is prone.

So all hail Judge Robert Patterson who has told JK Rowling - to her face - that the names and words in Harry Potter are "gibberish" and even harder to follow than Dickens. "I couldn't remember the characters and lots of the terms," the Daily Mail reports him as saying.

Meanwhile, the Mail again seeks to inject oomph and outrage into its front page, not with italics or exclamation marks, but the deployment of upper case letters and judicious underlining:
"... food prices rising at SIX times official figure - THE REAL RATE OF INFLATION"

The Sun, too, is fond of underscoring its page one headlines to make its point:
"Electrician called Trev is guilty of preaching hate (Trev would rather we all call him Abu Izzadeen)"
And again, although this time to denote excitement:
"Jolie's first photo shoot - Angelina as the model teenager"

Finally, on turning to page 12 of the Times, Paper Monitor is suddenly yanked back to its time as a cub reporter on an evening paper. In particular, those dread days when the editor pinged over a "SEE. ME. NOW." message.

No doubt the sub who tapped in the headline: "Gywneth Dunwoody, outspoken Labour Stalwart, dies aged 77" will receive some such summons. For getting a name wrong is both unforgivable and a worryingly easy slip-up to make.

Paper Monitor would hereby like to apologise to all those who share Ms Dunwoody's first name, for it too has to mentally juggle the "w", the "y" and the "e" each and every time the need arises to write "Gwyneth". Sorry, Mum.

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:06 UK time, Friday, 18 April 2008

"My mother wants to move to a place where she can afford to switch on the heating" - Evelyn Waugh's granddaughter on selling the £2.25m family home.


Evelyn Waugh is buried at the edge of the grounds of the Grade II listed building where he spent the last 10 years of his life. There's barely an author worth his salt who hasn't been round to the 14-bedroom home in Somerset, says granddaughter Daisy. Graham Greene, John Betjeman, Muriel Spark and Salman Rushdie feature among the guest list but, unable to pay the central heating costs, the Waughs' toes are too chilled and the family is gracefully bowing out.

To register or not for the Monitor

16:42 UK time, Thursday, 17 April 2008


It's not often that the Monitor adopts a serious, "and what time do you call this, young man?" face, but this is just a note to highlight one important change in Monitor housekeeping; and one equally important retention of the status quo.

Thanks to an upgrade of the software behind the Monitor, readers submitting comments using the COMMENTS button underneath entries (scroll down to the bottom of this one, and you'll see an example) must now register with the BBC before doing so.

But, and this is an important but... anyone writing a letter using the form at the top, right of this page, does NOT have to register. In other words, contributors to the Your Letters page just carry on as you were.

Why the need for registration for comments? Here's the spiel. You can register by clicking on the COMMENTS button at the bottom of this entry. Go on, give it a go. It doesn't bite. Why not leave a message just to let the Monitor feel loved.

There, that wasn't so bad.

If only the Caption Competition was back (pt 6)

14:36 UK time, Thursday, 17 April 2008


Dame Helen Mirren meets a well-known face when launching a cruise ship on Wednesday. Remember, no captions.

Paper Monitor

13:06 UK time, Thursday, 17 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Apologies for tardiness readers, Paper Monitor has been in a wrestling match with the new bit of kit employed to publish the Monitor... and it feels its gone 10 rounds with Big Daddy. Paper Monitor has also been re-adjusting its moral/ethical compass after the frankly distressing news of Simon Smith's ousting from the Apprentice. The Guardian's Nancy Banks-Smith seems to concur judging by the puff on the front of today's paper - "How could Sir Alan sack Simon!" How indeed? Since G2 has done its traditional overnight disappearing trick from Paper Monitor's stack, the question must hang there unanswered. Unless of course it's not a question at all. There's no question mark, just a slammer (!) for added oomph and outrage. But it highlights an interesting omission in English punctuation. How do you add emphasis to a question? You could go for "?!" or "!?" but that just looks messy. There's always the option of italics - "How could Sir Alan sack Simon?" or the plaintext equivalent "How *could* Sir..." You get the idea.

(Paper Monitor has always been envious of the Spanish who prefix a written question with an upside down question mark to give readers advance warning of the necessary change in vocal pitch.)

What's needed folks is a new, flexicographical punctuation mark that combines question and exclamation. A "questamation" mark, if you like. Surely Daily Mail headline writers must experience this frustration several times a day.

There's no sense of inquiry, however, about the Mail's story today on the woman charged, then let off, for throwing an apple core out of her car window. Helpfully, though, there is a picture of an apple core yesterday for those who might be struggling to remember what one looks like.

Now, President Bush may have sought to strengthen ties with the Pope by denouncing a "dictatorship of relativism" (no, he wasn't talking about that annual festive visit from your tyrranical auntie Jean) but permit Paper Monitor to wonder aloud if an apple core really counts as litter. Plenty of people who would never contemplate lobbing a crisp packet into a hedgerow wouldn't think twice about disposing of half-eaten fruit in the same manner.

It would make an interesting Who, What, Why... for the Magazine (manpower permitting). "Is an apple core litter?" or should that be "Is an apple core litter!?" or maybe "Is an apple core litter"...

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:45 UK time, Thursday, 17 April 2008

"Sneezing on your hand and wiping snot down the back of his jacket" - A boy is cautioned for spreading his body fluids on David Cameron's jacket.

cautionforsnotting.gifAs David Cameron bowled through the Priory Meadow shopping centre in Hastings, a youth of today sneezed into his hand and deliberately wiped it on Mr Cameron's back. A vigilant police community support officer swooped with a caution for anti-social behaviour. The boy admitted he was showing off, and mentioned that he would be "really annoyed if someone snotted on me." Cameron showed great fortitude with a disdainful "I'm sure I will be fine."
More details (Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:33 UK time, Wednesday, 16 April 2008

I remain deeply unconvinced that the candidates for London Mayor are using "sophisticated strategies" for how their websites contribute to their campaigns. I looked on Ken's website hoping to find his manifesto (a pretty basic thing, wouldn't you think?) but couldn't find it, so I used the "contact us" link to ask where it was. I never received an answer, but did get added to their campaign e-mail list (which I didn't ask to be). A long way to go before you could really call it "sophisticated".
Adam, London, UK

Paul from Leamington Spa (Tuesday Letters) wonders about an online museum of websites. There's one called the Wayback Machine. Type in a web address and it will show you how it looked at various points in its history.
Ed, Gothenburg, Sweden

What was the first web page? Tim Berners-Lee answers on his website: "Apart from local "file:" URLs on my machine (which was the first browser as well as the first server), the first http one (end of 1990) was basically" A 1992 copy of the original pages exists here.
Chrisboote, Henley

Re How to break a bottle on a ship: I'm not convinced that a bubble in the glass will help the bottle smash. It sounds very like perforations and we all know things never tear along the perforations.
Mark, Boreham, UK

How to break a champagne bottle? Easy, go for the neck, it's got a built-in weak point just below the ring of the neck so a champagne sabre can slice through.
Jeremy, Brussels

Re Smith pledges more terror police: They should make a film/comic book about this - 300 police officers fighting the hordes that threaten to overthrow the country. Got a certain ring to it.
James Hayward, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Stuie (Tuesday Letters) - you missed the Adobe trademark page which has an entire section about "Proper use of the Photoshop trademark". It's more amusing than the usual legal fare, but talk about fighting a losing battle, eh?
Sophie, Amsterdam, NL

I'd just like to congratulate Magazine Monitor on the coining of a great new term, initial-sake. My own initial-sakes include Tony Blair, Trevor Brooking and tuberculosis. Illustrious company, I think you'll agree.
Tim Barrow, London

Sue, Olso (Tuesday Letters) - I remember the recorder mainly for the punishment for forgetting my own and having to use the school's spare recorders which were kept in a vase of disinfectant - never known to be refreshed.
Alan, Glasgow

Why all the fuss about two guys holding a little model Vulcan in the air?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

Re Vitamins 'may shorten your life'. I love the following quote: "A review of 67 studies found "no convincing evidence" that antioxidant supplements cut the risk of dying." Maybe I've missed something, but surely death is inevitable...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Is there anything that gives a 0.01% decrease of dying because truth be told I like those odds for eternal life.
Lunty, Brizzle

Really Paper Monitor, do you consider vitamin tablets a foodstuff? If so your lunchbox must be very small, as well as a bit dull (though quick, I guess).
Babs, Brussels

Does anyone else try to guess which stories on the BBC front page are the Magazine ones? I just knew that airport luggage story was one. I also try and read the five stories I find most interesting, and then see how well I've done by looking at the most read box. Simple things...
Joe A, Bath

Monitor note: There will be some tinkering under the hood of our blogs overnight as explained here. Normal transmission should resume Thursday.

Paper Monitor

13:20 UK time, Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is, perhaps, a snippet which caught the eye because it is the time of day when thoughts turn to food.

"The art of the Smartie," reads the tiny headline on page 13 of the Daily Telegraph on a brief article about famous artworks recreated using the colourful sugar-coated treats that now haunt Paper Monitor's waking dreams.

Seurat's Bathers are included, predictably and appropriately. So too is Banksy, although his inclusion is perhaps more predictable rather than appropriate. The works are to go on show at the Museum of Childhood in east London from the end of the week. Sweeties and kids - perhaps what might happen next is both predictable and appropriate.

Mmmm. Any other food-related articles to help Paper Monitor decide what to have for lunch today?

"Lured to their death by a hazelnut" (Telegraph, on grey squirrels)
"Can vitamins do you harm?" (Daily Mail)
"What the price of bread tells us about the economy" (G2)
"Lord of the fries" (The Sun)
"Confucius, he say go fudge Tibet" (Times, People)

And that lot provides a balanced news diet too. Quirky picture story? Check. Animal-in-peril tale? Check. Health scare from something millions use daily? Check. How two staffs of life are bearing up? Check and check. And to finish, a sweet nugget of gossipy goodness.

Paper Monitor is replete...

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:28 UK time, Wednesday, 16 April 2008

"Paul Butler" - name used by the undercover police officer posing as a royal aide in the blackmail case.

paulbutler.gifGeddit? When planning a "sting" against the two men accused of trying to blackmail one of the Queen's relatives, it was decided that an officer pretending to be a member of the royal's staff would meet the pair under the name "Paul Butler". It is a very short train of thought indeed to come up with that particular handle for that particular job.
More details

Your Letters

17:14 UK time, Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Re Housing gloom 'worst in 30 years'. Why? Because some people might be able to get on the property ladder for the first time in decades?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Ridiculous question, but: does anyone know what the oldest extant webpage is? I've just found some from 1995 and my, they're wrinkly - but there must be many more elderly specimens. How long before there's an online museum of websites?
Peter, Leamington Spa

You can tell that Carla Sarkozy isn't British (DMQ, Tuesday). Anyone who has gone through state education associates Shakespeare with plays not poetry. Byron conversely is known as a poet but did write a play or two. Of the two surely Byron is the better bedside read!
Trina, UK

Tim, Essex (Letters, Monday) re violin v guitar popularity - perhaps that says more about the pupils of Essex...
Aqua Suliser, Bath

Re violin most popular school instrument. What happened to the ubiquitous recorder? I have fond memories of our class recitals in the local shopping centre, followed by a performance ban because all the shop keeps complained we drove business away.
Susie, Oslo (formally Berkshire)

Re Marathon bar over man's age claim:
Admit it now, you only wrote that headline so people would send in letters about Snickers. Well it worked!
Rob Foreman, London, UK

Just because Tony Blair says he believes in God, why do Gordon Brown's ministers have to go one better?
Edward Green, London, UK

Tuesday's Quote of the Day refers to "the author of the unauthorised book". How is this possible?
Andrew Taylor, Manchester, UK

These look awfully like a character I saw in the first Ice Age film. Coincidence?
Catherine Rushton, London

Paper Monitor, Tuesday - "what a scary blobbing it is". Surely the correct word for a baby blob would be a blobling?
Susannah, Northampton

Re this hullabaloo over teacakes (Letters, every day). My flatmates and I decided long ago that this item - being neither biscuity or cakey - should adopt the more suitable name of 'jam fancy'. Tis the only way to end the vagaries I tells ya.
Vicki, London

If oat cakes are made of oats, why are tea cakes not made of tea?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Re: Ms Messenger. Except for the urn atop her head where she's almost brunette, are we to believe blondes have more fun?
Candace, New Jersey, US

Re Letters, Tuesday. According to Wikipedia: "The apparent mismatch between the town's written and pronounced names stems from how the name Milngavie was originally translated from Gaelic into English. The Gaelic name for the town is Muillean Dhaibhidh, pronounced "Moolin Ghuh-ee", meaning David's Mill. The Gaelic letter combination "bh" is usually ransliterated as a "v" in English, hence Milngavie, despite sometimes being pronounced more like a "w", as in this case."
FatBelly Jones, Aberdeen, Scotland

Re Elephant's ancestor. "An ancient ancestor of the elephant from 37 million years ago lived in water and had a similar lifestyle to a hippo, a fossil study has suggested. The animal was said to be similar to a tapir, a hoofed mammal which looks like a cross between a horse and a rhino." So basically in looks and lifestyle it was nothing like a modern elephant.
Dave Godfrey, Swindon

Re Ian C, Kent (Your Letters, Monday) that should be "Editing with Adobe(R) Photoshop(R)" however the verb used, i.e. "Photoshopping" is neither a registered trademark nor capable of attracting copyright. Tut tut indeed. Mine's the one with the statute book in the pocket.
Stuie, Wolves

Melinda Messenger's PR launches

12:59 UK time, Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Further to Paper Monitor's note, the Magazine Monitor presents some of its initial-sake's great PR launches. Here, Ms Messenger is pictured launching, clockwise from top left: Chilli Tuesdays at the Barnardo's Centre; National Lottery's Pick Up a Little Extra vouchers; the Caravan and Outdoor Leisure show;; (appearing in) a Labour Party broadcast; World Vision's School Aid; the limited edition Magnum 7 Deadly Sins ice cream, and (cheering on) Damon Hill.

Paper Monitor

12:38 UK time, Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Let's start with an observation from the bizarre and arbitrary world of image pixellation, or "blobbing" as it's known in the trade.

The Sun pictures troubled chanteuse Amy Winehouse downing a drink while carrying, in her other hand, a baby. Over at the Mirror we get almost the same picture but this time the baby's been blobbed – and what a scary blobbing it is, with the child's eyes resolved to large black rectangles.

Returning to the Sun, Paper Monitor fears the paper may be losing its edge, after news that former Page 3 stunna Melinda Messenger is splitting up from husband and "struggling musician" (nicely phrased) Wayne. It was, after all, the Sun (with the help of an unidentified plastic surgeon) which catapulted Messenger to the level of mediocre stardom that allows her to launch various charitable initiatives and front numerous PR launches (see some of the best here). So did Messenger's manager get on the blower to the Sun's newsdesk to give them the exclusive?

Nope. Turns out the story only surfaced after someone spotted Messenger wasn't wearing her wedding ring during an interview on the BBC Breakfast sofa. Paper Monitor is only left wondering (and let this not be a determinant for those who speculate on Paper Monitor's gender) what sort of person notices such a thing.

Limited time tends to restrict rummaging into the further reaches of the Daily Telegraph, but stray beyond the opinion columns, the letters page, the latest instalment of the Thatcher hagiography and you'll settle on a gem of an idea – Su Barking's A-Z of Eth!cal PR (written with the guiding hand of satirist Craig Brown). A snippet…

"Terminal 5: Via-a-vis our clients Heathrow Terminal 5, we can honestly say that, despite one or two minor blips, the launch went off as smoothly as we hoped, with a minimum of mid-air crashes […] a huge majority of customers declared themselves 'not immediately suicidal' or 'deferring legal action'."

Last of all, the distressing story of teenager Natasha Farnham who, at 14, became the youngest person in Britain to suffer liver failure because of binge drinking. The story's everywhere today – the Mirror, Mail, front page of Metro… But where did it come from? Like many hacks, Paper Monitor cut its teeth in the local press and so when it sees a story that originated in the locals it feels duty bound to name check the little guys. So well done Bath Chronicle for this piece on Miss Farnham, from Monday last week.

And for those who've had enough of the story already, rejoice (briefly) at this memo which has shuttled around the BBC: "Natasha Farnham, the youngest patient ever treated for liver failure because of alcohol abuse, has been signed up by a magazine and won't be speaking to other media outlets until next week."

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:50 UK time, Tuesday, 15 April 2008

"I really don't want to cry because I'm British" - JK Rowling in copyright court case

'I really don't want to cry because I'm British' - JK Rowling in copyright court caseCopyright lawsuits could do with this kind of drama more often. JK Rowling is fighting the publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, saying it undermines the integrity of her work. Called as the first witness in the Manhattan court case, Rowling said the quality of the Lexicon, printed by small Michigan publisher RDR Books, is "sloppy" and steals 17 years of her own hard work. Rowling said her characters didn't just make her billions but also saved her sanity - the depth of feeling she has for them can only be compared to how you feel about your own children, she said. RDR defend the credibility of the website on which the $24.95 (£12.50) Lexicon is based by pointing out Ms Rowling used it for reference herself - and that the author of the unauthorised book was flown by Warner Bros to the film set.
More details (Guardian)

Your Letters

18:26 UK time, Monday, 14 April 2008

I sent an email to South Eastern Trains today after my train left the station four minutes early. The automated response I recived told me they would reply to me "within 36 working hours". This is the first time I've ever heard this phrase, and is a rather cunning way of saying "we'll get back to you within a week"!
Ian C,

Dear BBC, re Daily Mini-Quiz results, much as I don't want to admit it, Ronan Keating is a fellow Irishman. A bit sloppy there eh?
Kind Regards,
Gavin Carroll, Paris

MONITOR NOTE: The GBR classification is that of the Flora London Marathon organisers (see details of Keating's entry here). Either Keating entered his nationality as GBR or someone else did for him.

Regarding Helen Horsley's comment (Your Letters, Friday) there are in fact two words in English - "homage" (the one she likes), meaning approximately "admiration" or "tribute", most commonly found in the phrase "pay homage to", and "homage" (pronounced as in French, and usually written in italics), meaning "derivative work" or (better) "rip-off". Compare author/auteur; reporting/reportage, etc.
Jim Allen, Dunfermline, Scotland

Re "Why girls don't play guitar", violin most popular instrument in schools... not a chance! I teach 100 guitar students a week and in all the schools I visit the violin has the least number of students studying it, if any. The guitar is either the most popular or second behind keyboard/piano.
Tim, Essex, uk

Re Your Letters, Friday: Mr Monitor, you should try asking for a teacake in Yorkshire. You won't get any chocolate here. A teacake is a large flattish bread cake - with currants if you want.
Terry, Harrogate

Surely a teacake is neither a cake or a biscuit, but an non-denominational, politically correct hot cross bun?
Kay, Nottingham

The Monitor says teacakes are "by definition" covered in chocolate. The Collins English Dictionary has this to say in its definition: "Teacake (noun, Brit) - a flat cake made from a yeast dough with raisins in it, usually eaten toasted and buttered." I've never tried buttering and toasting anything that's covered in chocolate. Does anyone have any tips to offer before I try?
T Cake, Queensland, Australia

The video article on producing electricity from tomatoes appears, itself, to be made from re-cycled rubbish. This story was run by the Guardian back in January where readers quickly observed that the facts were back to front. As I understand it, this item refers to a scheme in which ordinary, environmentally-unfriendly, fossil fuel is used to power a gas turbine producing electricity for local businesses. Instead of venting the exhaust to the atmosphere, it is pumped into greenhouses where tomato plants benefit from the waste heat and carbon dioxide, which helps them to grow. Laudable re-use of an otherwise wasted resource, but nothing to do with tomato power.
Kelly Mouser, Upminster, Essex

I love listening to the BBC on WBUR90.9FM! I would love to visit London and see all the sights I never got to see in the Navy! I still love to listen to all the songs from the British Invasion of the 60's!!!!!
Larry Bloch, Boston, Massachusetts

Re Paper Monitor, Tut tut, don't you mean "Editing with Adobe Photoshop (c)"?
Ian C, Kent

Re "Made in China", If you are refusing to buy toys made in China, is that a Toycott?
Catherine Wakely, Hitchin, UK

Re 10 Things we didn't know last week:
I believe that there are actually two types of white whale, the other being the Narwhal.
Rob Clement, Southampton

I was reading your pronunciation page on how to pronounce Tsvangirai (How to Say). As a shona speaker i suggest this instead. TS-Vangi-ra-yi.
Gwayi, Sheffield, UK

Re "Milngavie bids to host Olympics". Can any MM readers or the BBC Pronunciation Unit shed any light on why Milngavie is pronounced "Mulguy"?
Tabitha, Kent, UK

Paper Monitor

11:26 UK time, Monday, 14 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The death of five British women in Ecuador once again highlights newspapers' attitudes to using social networking sites for background information and pictures.

At the heart of this is a concern about privacy. It's an issue the Guardian has publicly wrestled with after it used a picture of Bilawal Bhutto - new joint leader of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's party - in Halloween fancy dress.

Clearly the Guardian is thinking about such matters, and today's paper carries a group shot of the British women with fellow travellers taken from Facebook. But the feeling is one of slight restraint - it omits a picture of the tour guide who was also a victim.

The Telegraph (which refers to the victims, all 18 or over, as "girls") is similarly upfront about where it retrieved its images from. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, sees no reason for restraint. And there's even what looks like a little Photoshopping on one of its front page pictures.

Pictures of a lighter character, from the London Marathon, dominate page three of the Daily Express, which, perplexingly, opts to illustrate the story with a big shot of celebrity runner Kate Lawler in a skimpy bikini. Poor Martin Lel - who, after all won the race - doesn't even get a mention (except in the sports pages).

And full marks to the Times for scrutinising the remarkable achievement of Britain's most publicity ambitious "centenarian" Buster Martin. The pensioner has garnered a good deal of coverage for various exploits - being in a pop band, working for a firm of plumbers into such old age, and, of course, running the marathon.

But the Times reports that the Guinness Book of Records isn't ratifying Mr Martin's claim because it's not convinced of his age. Mr Martin is sticking to his guns but the curious thing is, if he is 94, as the Times alleges, his achievements are only marginally less remarkable.

Daily Mini-Quiz

11:04 UK time, Monday, 14 April 2008

For those led here by the answer to Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, this is your Celebrity Marathon Challenge breakdown of stars and their finishing line times:

1. RAMSAY, GORDON (GBR) 3:45:41

2. KEATING, RONAN (GBR) 3:59:44

3. HOLDEN, AMANDA (GBR) 4:13:22

4. DANIELS, PHIL (GBR) 4:49:11


Monday's Quote of the Day

09:41 UK time, Monday, 14 April 2008

"What's going down in the hood?" - Tomsk, resurrected for a Wombles viral video.

The Wombles have meandered off the golden common of 1970s children's telly and on to the web with a viral video to challenge how children's TV imports from the US are dominating the box. Only 1% of kids' TV is produced in Britain, says a 90-second clip released by the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT). The script for the Bad Ass Wombles of Central Park is full of "awesomes", "whatevers" "and super sizing". It's no wonder our kids speak a different language, concludes the vintage Wombles narrator Bernard Cribbens, who voices the appeal for government investment.
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