BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 27, 2008 - May 3, 2008

Your Letters

17:21 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

A bumper crop. You know why...

If only I knew how to pronounce "Fleadh" I'd have a right good stab at the Caption Competition.
Neil Franklin, Chandlers Ford, UK

I guess some idiot will have ignored your plea not to submit captions and sent something along the lines of: "The advertised Pole Dancers failed to live up to expectation".
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

If you HAD wanted us to send our captions for the non-competition I'd have sent: Sweepstakes were being fiddled at the MM.
Sarah, Trieste, Italy

Is that a picture of the stars of the new musical Fiddler on The Hoof, playing "If I Were a Witch, Man"?
John, Sevenoaks

If only the Caption Competition had returned, then I would suggest "Not blinkin' Riverdance AGAIN!"
Basil Long, Leicester

Heather Mills tries to entice another musician but this time with her Jake the Peg routine.
Lee, Cardiff

If there WERE a caption competition (and just let's all be pleased that the BBC won't have truck with THAT sort of nonsense) I'd have suggested something like: "New London Mayor insists on the merger of Parks and Arts funding to cut budgets."
Mark, Reading

I take it her appeal for him to turn it down was Flatley denied?
Candace, New Jersey, US

If only Not Cap Comp 8 was a Cap Comp, I'd send in "Urban Curling forfeits were getting out of hand."
Phil, Cardiff

Thank you for introducing me to the delight that is Brush Dancing. I have just spent a bewildering half hour on a well known video sharing website. As a consequence, the only caption I can possible think of would be: "What the..."
Stig, London, UK

Perhaps there should be a Competition Commission enquiry into why there's no competition on the Monitor.
Simon Rooke

Given that Random Stat appeared on average 0.72 times per day for the first six weeks of the year and has not been seen since a post-Valentine fling on 15 Feb, can we assume that it has been reclassified as a competition?
Alan Crombie, Dingwall, Scotland

As a Brit who has been living in the US for the past few months, I can't thank you enough for explaining what Twist, Lick, Dunk means. I never worked up the courage to ask, in case it wasn't a suitable subject for polite conversation.
Nicolas, Warrenville, US

First we lose our letters on a Thursday, and now no Paper Monitor on a Friday? I accept that Paper Monitor is probably being employed by its superiors to make cups of tea for all those other website writers furiously updating the election results, but I don't feel adequately compensated for the lack of Monitorness. Sniff. We love you, Monitor. Stay away from politics, come back to us!
Susannah, Northampton
Monitor note: Apologies. Paper Monitor did file in a timely manner, only for Technical Gremlins to work their evil magic. And with Paper Monitor then otherwise engaged on tea duties, the gremlins had a freer reign than usual.

YES!!! 0/7 on the weekly quiz. Finally an accomplishment on a Friday.
Ian, Redditch

Re Do you need to stock up the bunker? "I am talking Swiss Family Robinson," he says, referring to the famous 1812 novel about a Swiss family that survives after being shipwrecked in the East Indies. "You should have food, water, medicine, clothes. And possibly AK47s to fire over the heads of any guys, depending on how bad things become." I don't remember them having AK47s?
Dan, London

In Do you need to stock up the bunker? there's the line: "Perhaps you think of a gun-toting loner in Mid-West America, who lives in a shack surrounded by tinned food and emergency water supplies".
Considering the events of this week, I think we may think of another not entirely suitable person. Risqué publication I say...
Tom, Doncaster

Re the Slashdot Effect (Wednesday letters), when I worked at a "popular ISP" a few years back, we would frequently, albeit accidentally, bring down smaller sites by pointing to their content from the homepage. I always wondered if we could have been a force for good by pointing at some of the nastier sites out there, using the hyperlink "Win £10,000!"
Aine, London

Alex Knibb (Wednesday letters), I thought I suffered alone in the spending hours compiling a "hilarious" letter only to re-read it and hit the clear button instead of send. Perhaps there could be a new word invented to describe this? Although I'm in two minds about sending this now.
MCK, Coventry

Apart from the fact that it involves spiders, can someone at the BBC assure me that the video clip in Study sheds light on spider sex is actually related to the article, and not just some amateur spider porn that someone in the office shot on a potted plant on their desk, with a mobile phone? I think you can even hear badly dubbed moaning from the lady spider in the last few seconds.
Robert, Glasgow

The Japanese porn addict - is this part of the dirty keyboard story?
Dustin Thyme, Aylesbury, UK

Do we have a "Ten Things We Already Knew" category yet? The dirty keyboard storycannot accurately be called news because it isn't new information. Richard Hammond found his office keyboard had more bacteria on it than a toilet seat at the Glastonbury festival on his "Should I Worry About" series, which was screened on the BBC at least three years ago. I don't think anybody was all that surprised by this discovery then, either.
Liz Woods, Ipswich

The BBC is just sex mad at the minute. As well as the various stories pointed out in Wednesday's letters, today we have been presented with the Japanese worker with an immense amount of porn, and a seal trying to have sex with a penguin. Well, you know what they say about those who talk too much about it...
Basil Long, Leicester

Oh yes, and I nearly forgot Ronaldo in transvestite scandal.
Basil Long, Leicester

10 things we didn't know this time last week

17:12 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

10playmobil203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. An LSD trip led to the invention of the vegeburger.
More details

2. "Unlawfully laying hands on a cow with intent" was a crime in 19th Century Britain.
More details

3. Colossal squid have the biggest eyes of any creature on the planet at a whopping 11 inches.
More details

4. The most popular name for a pub is the Red Lion, with 756 such establishments across the UK.
More details

5. The most common "combination craving" for a pregnant woman is pickles and peanut butter.
More details

6. Inhabitants of the Greek island of Lesbos are known as Lesbians.
More details

7. Humans can hold their breath for 17 minutes.
More details

8. A severed finger tip can grow back naturally.
More details

9. Residents of Sheffield have the worst tooth decay of people anywhere in Britain.
More details (the Guardian)

10. Children who attend daycare or playgroups are less like to develop the most common type of childhood leukaemia.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Tony Brooke for this week's picture of 10 Playmobil figures.

Paper Monitor

12:58 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It could be the image that sums up the state of the nation.woman_getty_203152.jpg

A woman in a strappy black dress and high heels sits slumped on an anonymous city pavement, one arm clutched around her knees, the other limp by her side. Her hair hangs lankly, conveniently obscuring her face.

A forlorn bottle of alcopops, perhaps Smirnoff Ice, has tipped over, its contents dribbling down the pavement away from her.

It's a Hogarthian vision of the typical British night out and it's the first port of call for newspaper picture editors wanting to illustrate themes of booze, moral decline and girls gone mad. It features in both today's Daily Mail and Daily Mirror to illustrate a massive rise in arrests of women for being drunk and disorderly.

But who is this poor, wretched waif. Well, Paper Monitor's trawl through a picture library quickly locates the image. It's filed under the keywords "slumped drunk drunken drunkeness binge drinking alcohol booze women girl girls".

The image was taken in February 2005 in Bristol by the Getty Images photographer Matt Cardy.

But who is the girl? Is she still an acolyte of the temple of the alcopops? Three years on, does she still finish her nights out with a quick power nap on the pavement? And how does she feel about her routine appearances in the media? Get in touch using the post form, above right.

Elsewhere in the Mail there is a beautifully worded apology to Lisa Marie Presley over a recent photo of her dining with friends.

"We suggested she might have an unhealthy appetite similar to her late father. We now accept that the suggestion is untrue."

Very gracious.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:40 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

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

"I asked her whether she didn't like Riverdance, and the reaction I got made me think not" - Man fined by policewoman for playing loud music in car.


Markus Aitken of Rochdale has finally succeeded in a four-year battle to clear his name of a most heinous crime of playing Riverdance excessively loudly from his car stereo. He had stopped to ask a policewoman for directions only to be handed a £30 fine. A litany of legal action followed.

If only the Caption Competition were back (pt8)

12:42 UK time, Thursday, 1 May 2008


Fiddle player Frankie Gavin, and Brush dancers Aisline Cunningham and Edwina Guckian launch the World Fleadh, the traditional and Celtic music festival, in St. Stephens Green, Dublin.

Paper Monitor

10:13 UK time, Thursday, 1 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Maybe it's the ponytail; maybe the pensive picture by-line, but chief sportswriter at the Times, Simon Barnes, always has the air of a man whose mind is on higher matters than the merits of how one man kicks a ball to another. Those who never make it to the back pages may recognise him from his occasional forays into writing about bird watching, but in today's paper we're given a glimpse of his more literary ambitions.

To accompany the story about the sale of legendary doggerel peddler William McGonagall's archive, Barnes has a pop writing some bad poetry of his own.

Paper Monitor is reminded of an interview it once saw on Saturday morning television with a former incarnation of Dr Who, who explained how difficult it was for an accomplished TV costumier to create such a bad-taste outfit.

So how accomplished is Barnes' adverse verse? It's pretty dire... but maybe not bad enough. A rare example perhaps of something being so good it's bad.

No such highbrow pretensions at the Sun, which follows up the Ronaldo "ladyboy" prostitutes story with aplomb: "CAN YOU TELL SUN MEN FROM WOMEN? Look at these four lovelies... now take our Ronald'oh test." In case you haven't guessed - readers are presented with pictures of four "women" and challenged to pick out which are really men.

Clue: Ali is the real McCoy. Or as the Sun puts it: "She's got a genuine pair of strikers up front."

Finally, to the Independent which had the neat idea of marking the death of the inventor of LSD, Albert Hofmann, with a feature. Unfortunately, it has spelt his name incorrectly throughout. [Sorry, what did you say about pride and fall?]

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:17 UK time, Thursday, 1 May 2008

"Is that God up there?" - Felix Fritzl, 5, sees the moon for the first time since leaving the cellar.
'Is that God up there?' - Felix Fritzl, 5, sees the moon for the first time since leaving the cellar

A poignant quote today, amid the horrors of the story of the Austrian children who have spent their whole lives locked by in a windowless vault by the man who is their father and grandfather. Josef Fritzl, 73, admits trapping his then 18-year-old daughter Elisabeth in the cellar and raping her over 24 years. Among the seven children he fathered with Elisabeth is Felix. Now freed from the basement, Felix is constantly excited by what he is experiencing, say doctors. The Telegraph describes how he keeps trying to hit the air with his hand, gurgled excitedly on seeing a cow and was stunned when he saw an officer start talking into a mobile phone.

Your Letters

16:12 UK time, Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Simon in Colchester (letters, Mon), your comment about the Old Bailey's website crashing soon after being linked to from the BBC website is a fairly common occurrence. It is generally called the Slashdot Effect, or being Slashdotted. Slashdot is a popular geek website and many website owners have found their websites crashing due to being linked from Slashdot, with lots of Slashdot readers clicking the link and instead finding an error page reading 'sorry, this user has exceeded their bandwidth quota, try again later'.
Kerry, Brixton, UK

If a prisoners' pay rise was abandoned, will they be demonstrating outside Parliament today?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Re controversial ads "It also decided the fact that it was only cleared for broadcast after 1930 ensured that it would not be seen by children unsupervised." I'm sorry. I tried to make a pun on how "1930" could be interpreted as a year, not a time. I spent a good half an hour rejigging my "amusing" comment, including reading up on the history of British TV advertising, before figuring it wasn't ever going to be that funny. Anyone else have this problem? On the plus side, however, if I ever get asked in a pub quiz when the first advert was shown on British TV, I can even tell you the time it aired. It was 2012, since you ask. So, a good few years to go, then.
Alex Knibb, Bristol, UK

Maybe sex addiction doesn't exist, but it seems like today's Magazine has a pretty severe case of sex obsession. Not only do we have the story on sex addiction on the front page, but also links to one on kinky sex, another on sexual innuendo, and a quote of the day about transvestite prostitutes. Is something up?
Nicky Stu, Highgate, London

I enjoyed your article about Innuendo and was pleased to see it (ahem) spill over into the piece about sex addiction in the phrase "What some may describe as sex addiction does not stand up when applied ..."
Pix6, Vienna, Austria

MM, do we have a glimpse in to your somewhat limited sexual knowledge if your idea of kinky sex is best demonstrated by a lady with a pierced tongue - I bet you always turn the lights off too!
Chick, Gatwick

Monitor note: The following letters contain innuendo:

Some people don't have a problem with innuendo: personally, I've got a big one.
Chilly, Slough, UK

Reading all these innuendoes makes me so cross, I just want to whip them out!
Kat, London

I caused much tittering in the office when asked what I'd be doing with my wife on our Alaskan cruise in June. Why, we'd be going through the Inside Passage.
Hugh Jars

The best I have ever seen is entirely accidental, it was a hospital sign that read "Family Planning, Use Rear Entrance". Brilliant, do you think the sign writer knew what he was up to with that one?
Tim Hayes, Wirral

Paper Monitor

10:35 UK time, Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Oh no. It's started and it's just as awful as Paper Monitor feared. With the release of the long-awaited Sex and the City movie later this year, the inevitable features about women who are still "naughty-at-40" have started to pop up in the newspapers.

The Daily Telegraph gets the ball rolling with a piece on how "hanging out with people half her age bought a new lease of life to one middle-aged rebel". Unfortunately for the author of the piece, Clair Woodward, reading about her "naughtysomething, not fortysomething" existence is the newspaper equivalent of bumping into your nan at a nightclub - completely cringeworthy.

In the last week she says she's "been to a birthday party in a saucy scarlet wig" and "learnt rude words in sign language over drinks down the pub". Her advice for becoming a "naughtysomething" is "getting a daft wig, some red suede shoes and friends who only laugh at you when you're in the pub after work, telling them jokes".

As she says, fortysomething women can't all be at home "grooming the cat and drinking Ovaltine" - because that's what usually happens when they reach the big 40 - right? But her look-how-crazy-I-am article just ends up veering between desperation and complete comedy - and unlike those friends she mentions above Paper Monitor is laughing at her, definitely not with her.

Good for you Ms Woodward if you want to wear a stupid wig, just don't try and sell it as a sign of eternal youth to the rest of us. The good news for her is that she doesn't give two hoots about what other people think. She says she'd just "blow a raspberry" in your face if you called her childish. Can you wear the wig while you're doing it? Pretty please.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:50 UK time, Wednesday, 30 April 2008

"He told me he was Ronaldo and I was just a street piranha" - Andre Ribeiro Albertino, the transvestive Ronaldo accidentally picked up.

'He told me he was Ronaldo and I was just a street piranha' - Ribeiro Albertino, the transvestive Ronaldo accidentally picked up

Perhaps any charm was simply lost in translation? Ronaldo, the football superstar from Brazil seemingly acted out the age old male joke/ nightmare when he picked up a lady of the night after leaving a Rio nightclub. After getting a room in what has been described in some reports as a sex motel, the AC Milan player's new companion called two friends to join the fun... and only then did he discover that they were in fact men of the night. Ronaldo paid the trio to keep schtum but Andre Ribeiro Albertino (transvestite name: Andreia Albertini) called the police, saying Ronaldo hadn't paid the agreed fee for services. Ronaldo called it extortion, but headline writers rejoiced - the Times, for instance, ran with "Ronaldo girls all had men's tackle ".

More details (Times)

Your Letters

16:34 UK time, Tuesday, 29 April 2008

So puffins are to be subjected to a census, I wonder how many of them will put down Jedi Knight as their chosen religion?
Sarah, Uxbridge

"Australian scientists believe they may have discovered how to help people lose weight without cutting back on food." Isn't that called exercise?
Katie, Birmingham, England

Catching up on a few back issues of the Monitor I noticed that Monday's Paper Monitor used inverted commas around the word "hit" in reference to a certain Cheeky song. Surely those inverted commas would be equally, if not more appropriately, used around the word "music"?
Craig Donald, London, UK

With regards to the Monitor note yesterday (Your Letters) - of course you could have a letter of the day award, but wouldn't that be a competition?

John, Kent

I bet whoever wrote the miracle berry story probably has never eaten one. "Effects last 30 minutes"; "best lemon you've tasted in your life" I don't believe it. After you've eaten this all you can taste is sweet; not sweet lemons, just sweet. It ruins your taste buds for over 24 hours. Even as a child I preferred to stay from it so I wouldn't be drinking flavoured water the rest of the day. Aah, but they sell those in shops now. I take it all back. Someone out there will love it.
Aine, Chislehurst

Can you possibly give us some sort of warning in the future if you're ever again going to put an image in a similar ilk to the one adorning today's Magazine. It put me right off my lunch.
Martin, High Wycombe, UK

Paper Monitor

12:53 UK time, Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So it's agreed... after the government's climbdown over the 10p tax rate, U-turns are a bad thing, suggesting weakness, indecisiveness and so on. Cut to today's Daily Mail front page: "CANNABIS: AT LAST A U-TURN".

Meanwhile, at the Daily Telegraph, the paper is busy preening itself over news that its front page is, according to a study from Manchester University, a "thing of beauty".dt_203.jpg

Were the researchers mistakenly sidetracked into considering one of those refined-looking women who habitually populate the paper's cover? It seems not. The front page in question dates from 30 January, 2006, and while today's paper inexplicably refrains from reprinting that page, thanks to the archivists at the Beeb, you can see it here.

According to the paper's report: "...filling the page with large, medium and small images made the newspaper easy and interesting to read from a range of distances."

A few observations if you will permit...
1. The main picture is not of a Keira Knightley clone but Saddam Hussein
2. The proportions of the main picture are atypical for the Telegraph, being landscape-ish
3. This squeezes the lead story, on the left, into two columns - giving it the proportions of stick-thin supermodel
4. The are two abutting pictures - that of Berlusconi and the advert for Great Rail Journeys
5. Today's Telegraph looks markedly different, having undergone a facelift.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:06 UK time, Tuesday, 29 April 2008

"[It] was supposed to be artistic" - Disney star Miley Cyrus on her "embarassing" photo-shoot.

You have to sympathise with Miley Cyrus, star of the US Disney kids TV series Hannah Montana (no relation to Dora the Explorer, who is a cartoon character). The omens for her glossy magazine photo-shoot looked pretty good. Behind the lens was the world's most sought-after celebrity photographer, Annie Leibovitz. The client in question was none other than Vanity Fair. This looked like the ultimate career step up; a chance for the 15-year-old star to reach beyond her fizzy-drink swilling admirers to a more discerning, and financially independent, audience. The results however, which show Miss Cyrus naked from the waist-up but for a cream silk sheet, were labelled suggestive by observers and an "embarrassment" by the subject herself.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Monday, 28 April 2008

Crimes in times gone by reminds me of a story once told to me by a university lecturer about one of his graduate students. The student, an Australian, had been led to believe that his great-[repeat n times]-grandfather was one of the original convicts deported to Australia (something I gather is very prestigious), allegedly for sheep stealing. The student asked for three months off his studies to trawl through all the old court records to find details of his ancestor. It emerged that he really had been deported to Australia for an offence involving sheep, but not stealing them. I'm not sure if this still counts as prestigious.
Adam, London, UK
Monitor note: If we handed out a Letter of the Day award, this might just be it.

I'm shocked - apparently 18th Century judges used to be "exclusively male and drawn from the public school system". Presumably that didn't last.
Edward Green, London, UK

Having read about the Old Bailey's old trials going online, I decided to click on the site to have a look, only to find it was slow to the point of crashing. It made me wonder if millions of other BBC site users all tried to log on to the site at the same time and how many other sites crash within minutes of a story on BBC News appearing with a link?
Simon, Colchester, UK

I've just noticed that the volume on the new embedded video clips goes up to 11. Have Spinal Tap been involved in the production of your web pages?
Stuart, Croydon

The maths which the Daily Express seems to use to assert its superiority over the Daily Mail (50 - 40 = 10, so 10 times better) is interesting (Paper Monitor). If parties are in trouble before the next election, they can also say they're trailing 10 points... AND TEN TIMES BETTER.
Chris, Bristol

I would be happy to conduct a test to see if the Express was 10 times more flammable than the Mail.
Richard Place, Barnstaple

Re Skate not hate in Paper Monitor: I am considering contacting Torvill and Dean to see if they would like to join forces with my existing campaign group, Cod not God, aimed at making the world a less confrontational place through the medium of seafood. We are currently planning a summer musical spectacular "Rock (salmon) Against Racism", which we hope will build on the success of last year's "Never mind the Pollock".
Tim Ames, Eastleigh, Hants, UK
Monitor note: And this is also a contender.

Any surprise that chocolate is the top "craving" for pregnant woman? Or could it be that pregnancy is a top dollar excuse to eat all the chocolate that you want - the latter I would guess.
Chick, Gatwick

Re unusual cravings in pregnancy - is anyone else curious what the other 22% of craving were for?
DS, Croydon, England

"Skate not hate", what about Plaice not race?
Ian, Cosenza, Italy

Re Esther's letter about Urban Tibamanya, Uganda's minister for urban planning. The Minister for Health in Uganda is called Dr Stephen Malinga.
Rob Mullan, Wallingford, UK

There are a lot of chaffinches around this year.
Rob Mullan, Wallingford, UK

Paper Monitor

10:44 UK time, Monday, 28 April 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When do you begin to suspect that a paparazzo photograph of two minor celebs is not the aggressive intrusion that you might normally expect?

Perhaps when one of the minor celebs in question is grinning and wearing a Roman legionary's helmet. Paper Monitor shall not offer the oxygen of publicity to these two celebs by naming them.

Suffice it to say, one of them is an unusually-named Lib Dem MP for a Welsh constituency, the other is co-performer of the popular music "hit" titled The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum).

The Daily Mail is not happy about their attention seeking, making the very serious allegation that they supplied their very posed-looking Roman holiday snaps to a picture agency who then distributed them.

The Mail shows its disapproval by running the photos all over page three of the paper. There, that'll tell those publicity hounds.

Over in the Daily Express, there's a response to the Mail winning daily newspaper of the year last week. A loud blurb with a giant picture of a 10 pence piece proclaims that the Express is 40p compared with the Mail's 50p. It follows it up with "...AND TEN TIMES BETTER". But how is this measured? Any suggestions can be added using the comments button below or send us a letter using the form on the right.

Elsewhere, more from the strange "to-blob-or-not-to-blob" debate. On page seven of the Sun, the faces of Kate and Gerry McCann's twins Sean and Amelie are blurred out.

But go to the 12-page pullout special on Madeleine and you see both twins, faces completely unobscured. Very mysterious.

Over in the Daily Mirror there must be a small prize for a headline about Torvill and Dean backing an anti-racism drive that starts "Skate not hate".

Paper Monitor bets no-one's thought of that before.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:17 UK time, Monday, 28 April 2008

"I don't want to be in the press for having coke up my nose... my nan will see it" - Singer Adele Adkins on being a star.


Soul singer Adele Adkins pontificates on both her antipathy to drugs and the tabloid newspapers' tendency of zooming into starlet's nostrils to inspect them for traces of strange powders.

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