BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for June 22, 2008 - June 28, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:17 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

10papers_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. The Royal Family costs the equivalent of 66p per person in the UK.
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2. Benito Mussolini was knighted in 1923 but it was withdrawn in 1940.
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3. About 35% of the 13.1 billion plastic bottles used by UK households annually are recycled, up from 3% in 2001.
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4. A Volvo can accommodate 13 people.
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5. Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves had a fling.
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6. Dogs can lawfully mess on roads with a speed limit of 40mph or above.
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7. There are 13 podiatrists at the Glastonbury Festival.
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8. On average, 1.5m 24-hour ration packs are eaten every year by British forces serving around the globe.
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9. Kanye West ices his knees after every performance.
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10. The number of people killed on the roads is at its lowest since records began in 1926.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Shruti Thaker from London for this week's picture of 10 paper dispensers in Manhattan, New York.

Your Letters

17:14 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

Did it come as a complete surprise to anyone else that Robert Mugabe had a knighthood (Honour and dishonour)? If that had been more commonly known - especially in his own country - it might have been a bit harder for him to big up his credentials as "anti-British", something he has campaigned successfully on in several elections.
Aine, London

In response to K Walker's question (Thursday letters), my TV licence states on the back of it that even if you do not own a TV and watch programmes exclusively online, you still require a TV licence. Sorry.
Danie Jones, Cambridge, England

K Walker - yes. See various Acts of Parliament.
Henri, Sidcup

Technically you need a TV licence if you own any equipment that can receive TV signals. As I only use mine for DVDs and for the kids' consoles, I asked the TV Licence authorities if I needed a licence and they said no.
Martin, Stevenage, UK

I was surprised that Noddy appears in the list of gay kisses (It started with a kiss). Toytown is clearly more liberated than in my childhood (I never watched Byker Grove, see).
Richard, Newport

Nuno from Portugal (Thursday letters), who thinks that 44 is not young anymore, most people would consider 88 to be a pretty good innings, therefore 44 should actually be "middle-aged". But let's face it, nobody wants to be middle-aged. I'm certainly not there yet.
Caroline (age 43 & 11 months), Rochester, UK

Re the caption competition. The reason he's an "enthusiastic Glastonbury attendee" is probably that he's going to walk away richer than he arrived - 200 odd cans at, shall we say, £2 a pop? Even taking into account the ticket price he'll be in profit.
Kevin, Derby

Surely the greatest case of nominative determinism ever witnessed. I wonder what feelings he had for Miss Piggy?
Megan Lucas, Northampton, UK

Re Chris Dowe and recycled Coke bottles (Thursday letters): Yes please, reusable glass bottles for cola. Better for the environment, and everyone knows Coke always tastes better out a glass bottle. Oh wait, this is the UK so there is too great a risk of people smashing them on the floor and/or glassing each other. Maybe plastic recycling is safer...
Martin, Bristol, UK

Yes, it probably would be better to clean bottles and re-use them, but then people would turn up their nose at a slightly scratched bottle. As much as people moan about excess packaging, they're actually quite fussy about appearance unfortunately.
Andy Donovan, Sheffield, UK

Re Matt Copp and the non-grounded cat (Thursday letters): Incorrect. All the moggy would have to do is touch any two of the wires. Voltage difference = fried moggy.
Joe, Ipswich

Do I really need to point out that electrically "grounded" does not mean "on the ground"? Not to mention the fact that grounding isn't even necessary, merely a big enough difference in potential between kitty whiskers and kitty tail.
Susannah, Northampton

Caption Competition

13:11 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008


Winning entries in the now-returned Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

This week's picture is of an enthusiastic Glastonbury attendee sporting 11 cases of beer and one roll of loo paper.


Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Cheese_fest
The caterers for Bill Gates' leaving party are accused of misjudging the tone.

5. Gattieres
"The Dynamic Tower design is made up of 11 pre-fabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another... and the cool bit: the lower the tower becomes, the more it spins."

4. Ottobottle
John had made damned sure he was going to miss James Blunt's set.

3. j_swizzle
Jenga, Glastonbury Style.

2. SeanieSmith
"That's the flood defences sorted..."

1. DarthMac
Some of the more liberal bishops start arriving for this year's Lambeth Conference.

Some Friday Fun?

12:39 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008


66p_203.jpgOn any other day it might be seen as crass to to draw any sort of equivalence between a loaf of bread and the head of state, but on the day Buckingham Palace publishes its accounts it wouldn't seem unreasonable.

The Queen and the Royal Family, we're told, have cost each taxpayer 66p during the past 12 months... (roughly the price of an economy sliced white loaf).

That's up 4p on last year, but what with the credit markets crunching and inflation strapping on its crampons nice and tight, 66p ain't what it used to be.

So, royalty aside, what else might you expect to bag for exactly 66p these days? Answers on a comments form, if you please, below.

Paper Monitor

11:23 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If it's page three, then surely there is space for a tale of the unexpected from the animal kingdom. And as ever, the choice of story speaks volumes about the paper in question.

In the Guardian, it's "Award-winning book illustrator reveals her secret: rat pee". It's an interview with children's book illustrator Emily Gravett about how she creates the nibbled and yellowing pages in Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears.
(Subtext: Inventively illustrated kids' books and muesli-munchers go together like, er, rolled oats and dried cranberries.)

The answer is that she leaves cartridge paper in the cage of her daughter's pet rats, then scans the sheets after a few days. "Usually, the pee would have dried. Once or twice, it hadn't, leaving Gravett with the 'disgusting' task of wiping her scanner clean of rat urine."

Just try explaining that one to tech support...

A very different treatment of the page three animal story in the Daily Mail: "Nice one, squirrel! How a daredevil garden raider managed to take the biscuit".

Can you tell what it's about yet? Yes, it's a photomontage of a grey (natch) squirrel named Cyril (ditto) who carried out an audacious raid on the crackers in a birdfeeder.
(Subtext: Garden wildlife and Middle Englanders go together like squirrel spotters and an air rifle.)

Meanwhile, it is with some trepidation that Paper Monitor turns to page 67 in the Independent - will the promised report on Maria Sharapova's shock exit actually make the paper after Wednesday's debacle?


Friday's Quote of the Day

10:41 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

"Some people just have no feeling for language" - Typo Eradication Advancement League founder

The US founder of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, Jeff Deck, is on a year-long road trip across the States to spread his grammatical values through the Land of the Free. During his outreach mission, he encountered a Californian sign which read "Grocerry Store". Mr Deck endearingly mentioned the typo to the shopkeeper. "He replied with just two words, one of which was 'mother'." Some people...
From The Sun's The Whip column, Friday 27 June.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:04 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

eszett.jpgThe answer to today's Daily Mini-Quiz is the German letter, the Ezsett.

It has just been officially recognised by the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO), as a lower and upper case figure of the alphabet.

This ruling comes as a setback to moves in Germany to scrap the Ezsett from the alphabet because it takes up the space of a capital letter.

Its use has been in decline in recent years and is often replaced by a a double S. It has already been scrapped in Swiss German.

Your Letters

18:27 UK time, Thursday, 26 June 2008

How come this story has been re-edited to remove reference to the gender of the driver involved (yes, they did conform to a popular but doubtless misguided stereotype)? That detail was reported in earlier versions of the article, but now seems to have been removed. Is the BBC pandering to some PC pressure?
Alex D, Southampton, UK

Another one for the "All-noun headlines" Maze escaper kidnap case collapse
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

I have a question, if you watch the BBC iPlayer on a computer, but don't have a TV, do you have to pay the licence fee?
K Walker, Runcorn, UK

Dr John Orchard is yet another nomenclatively determined man, evidently.
Fred, Rotherham

Is the BBC breakfast reporter who interviewed an allotment holder called George Onions about vegetable theft in the pay of this column?
Paul, Rochdale

Clearly in the nominative determinism stakes, never-married Valerie Singleton is taking things to a new level - not simply pursuing a career determined by her name, but an entire lifestyle.
Maurice Day, Middlesbrough

Might I be permitted to introduce Paper Monitor's readers to a very special letter: Ü, pronounced /y/. As in Übermensch, Überhosen and über-coach.
AL, Berlin, Germany
Monitor note: Extract from the BBC News website style guide - "ACCENTS (REVISED 01/04) We do NOT include any accents - whether in accented words that have passed into the English language (so: write eg cafe), or in foreign names. (so: write eg German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder)."

With reference to Simon Rooke's letter (Wednesday letters), without wanting to be pendantic, but über is written with an Umlaut, if you do not have this character on your keyboard you can substiture it with "ue", ueber.
Philly, Wolfsburg, Germany

To Chick, Wednesday letters, as someone who works with stats, allow me to propose two answers to your question. Option 1: The chances of answering all questions in a set correctly decreases exponentially as the number of questions increases. So the odds of answering the DMQ correctly is about one in 3, but for seven days it is a mere one in 5,000. You say you frequently get the DMQ correct, so we can factor your skill into the equation. Even if we do this, there is still only about a one in 15 chance of getting the lot correct, so it's not surprising that you, like me, never get full marks.
Option 2:DMQ is easier.
George, London

Edward (Green, Wednesday's letters), if you had bothered to look at the details at all you'd have noticed that the tower is symmetrical about its core. All of the floors could rotate at the rpm of a Formula One car engine and nothing would happen... other than maybe the "slight" sensation of nauseousness. Sorry to be pedantic, but one does as one is.
Kevin, Derby

Edward in London, surely the people already on the west side would then be on a different side. I expect the floors would continuously rotate as people wanted to see the show. Buy shares in travel sickness pills now.
Mike Thomas, wirral

Re Close shave for Freddy the feline. Someone had clearly forgotten their secondary school physics lessons. The cat would only have been in trouble if he was grounded. I.e. Touching the live wire and something on the ground at the same time. Being 25ft up in the air, I find this unlikely.
Matt Copp, London, UK

Re Plastic recycling comes full circle. According to Chris Dow, a recycled coke bottle has the potential to be turned back into another coke bottle. Wouldn't be easier and cheaper just to sterilise the bottle and by-pass the deconstruction and reconstruction phases? Such a system has worked perfectly well for milk bottles for decades.
PS, Newcastle, England

Today's mini-quiz, considers 44 years old "young"? Maybe the statistics are so because while most women aged 40 like to be called young, men aged 30 rather be full-grown adults.
Nuno Aragao, Aveiro, Portugal

For all those with a nervous disposition, Your computer isn't actually turned on, I'm inside your head.
Calum, Glasgow

Re: Police halt 'brothel-on-wheels', in my old age I thought it was only meals that I would get delivered.
Mike Thomas, Wirral

...and there I was hoping it would be a Volvo.
Basil Long, Leicester

Paper Monitor

13:40 UK time, Thursday, 26 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In a game of scissors-paper-stone, there is little doubt which Gordon Brown would opt for. That's right, the "big clunking fist" - say what you will about Tony Blair, he could spot a soundbite with stickability - will always be the rock.

Thank you, the mighty sketch writer Ann Treneman in the Times for that observation, and for likening Dave Cameron to a pair of scissors. That's got stickability too.

At Mr Brown's anniversary PMQs, the leader of the opposition "stabbed away" but was "not quite able to cut it". And Nick Clegg: "as Liberal Democrat leader, probably has to be paper in this game". Lightweight, recyclable... is that a good thing to be likened to when your party sheds leaders at the same rate as a Glastonbury goer spots the symptoms of trench foot?

Meanwhile, in other news, Charlize Theron has worn a sundress while out and about. This gives the Daily Mirror's 3AM common scolds a chance to indulge in one of their favourite wheezes - attributing inspiration for an A-lister's outfit to some unlikely British source.

Once it was Cameron Diaz + teal and purple = Aston Villa. Today it's Charlize + multiple strapped sun frock = Spaghetti Junction. "Brum'll love the backing," they crow. Or hang its collective head and snap "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!"

Also weak to the point of ejection is the sub who inelegantly shoehorned this headline onto page three: "Kylie just can't ex you out of her head, Olivier.."

No new news in the Mirror of Madge 'n' Guy after their scoop earlier this week that Fiona Shackleton is on hand to assist with a possible divorce (she who was drenched by an enraged Heather Mills... wonder what Guy will do?).

But the Sun picks up the gauntlet, reporting that Edgware Road's first couple went to Rome to patch up their relationship... and stayed in separate rooms. Incidentally, if Paper Monitor was ever to hook up with either the pop queen or the king of gangster flicks entitled Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it too would demand its own room. Two words. High. Maintenance.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

12:44 UK time, Thursday, 26 June 2008

"Knocker or bell?" - Nick Clegg, flummoxed by the door to 10 Downing St.

knockerorbell.gifThe prime minister's residence and place of work sports both, but etiquette holds that one must not use either in order to gain admittance. This must have slipped the Lib Dem leader's mind when he pitched up to deliver a petition for citizenship rights for retired Gurkhas, and asked a policeman how best to attract the occupants' attention.
More details (The Times)

Your Letters

15:56 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Interesting as a skyscraper with rotating parts sounds, what if something interesting were to happen on, say, the west side of the building? If everyone rotated their flat in the same direction simultaneously, I can see it going the way of Pisa pretty quickly.
Edward Green, London, UK

Is it the definition of irony that my employer, a major UK defence contractor, offers an ethical pension scheme that "will not invest in defence related security"?
Anon, England

If the Large Hadron Collider actually does result in the planet being sucked into a black hole, how long do we have to sue before we are compressed into the singularity, and are there any lawyers who specialise in damage to entire planets caused by this sort of situation?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Re Dodgy landlord fears for students. That'll be the day.
Martin Ruck, Oxford, UK

I can see Parrot Problem 1 (Parrot found in office storeroom) added to Parrot Problem 2 (Lost singing parrot 'walks alone') and you get a solution. Who's a pretty boy!
John, Wigan, England

Thirteen in a Volvo? Huh! When I was in the cub scouts, our scout assistant used to take most of the cub football team in his open top three wheel Bond. I'm sure we managed eight or nine plus the driver (with only two seats, as I recall) in the 1950s.
Richard Swailes, Woodford Green

Might I suggest that there is no way on God's good green - or sludgy watery brown - Earth that a tent is going to float, regardless of how well it is fashioned into a boat, makeshift or otherwise (Glastonbury opens festival gates). A slight mis-remembering of the event do you think?
Kevin, Derby

To Christy from Chicago (Tuesday letters), with regard to your second point, bees and wasps weigh considerably less than red-wing blackbirds and both are more than capable of inflicting pain. When it comes to creatures inflicting hurt, nature proves that size really doesn't matter.
PS, Newcastle, England

Christy, a rifle bullet weighs one eighth of a red-wing blackbird. It isn't necessarily the weight, it's the speed too.
Mark Esdale, Bridge

With Paper Monitor's stylistic preference for using uber, as in uber-coach, uber-writer and uber-fans, shouldn't it have been uber-pants (Quote of the Day)?
Simon Rooke, Nottingham, UK

I wonder if that joker, Adolf Hitler (Quote of the Day), was making a punning reference to the abermensch (I am assuming his joke in German used unterhosen and aberhosen). The abermensch is a philosophical concept used in part by the Nazis to justify eugenics and the Final Solution. How droll. Those long evenings in the bunker must have flown by.
Adam, Belfast, UK

Re crash at the Co-Op - "Lexus chain store massacre". Where's Punorama when you need it?
TG, Belfast

So, Kieran Poynter was put in charge of investigating the HMRC data disc loss. Rather disappointingly, "The Poynter report does not blame individual officials, but highlights serious structural failings at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices." I personally think that Kieran's brother, Fynger, should have been given the job.
Christian Cook, Espom, UK

Why is it that I almost always get the daily mini-quiz right, yet I have never once managed to answer seven questions correctly in 7 days 7 questions - perhaps I buckle under the pressure?
Chick, Gatwick

Paper Monitor prefers Tom Jones to Thom Yorke? Well, it's not unusual.
Adam, Belfast, UK

Paper Monitor

12:59 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Wimbledon and that means one thing to the papers - one thing that combines, in a handy package, three of the most important elements required to secure a spot on the front page, any front page. Even the Independent's front page.

And those three things are not a life aquatic, a blowhole and intelligence radiating from a pair of sad eyes (Cruelty, Paper Monitors passem). Those three things are long legs, long hair and short garments. Applause, please, for Maria Sharapova, beloved by picture editors the world over. Even the Indy's picture editor.

Who admittedly has to work harder than those on more flighty organs, such as, say, the Daily Telegraph and the Times. They simply need to scroll through the dozens of pics of the Russian lovely looking, er, lovely on court and choose one. Or maybe more.

The Independent, which needs a pressing editorial reason to place her on page one - today it's uber-coach Nick Bollettieri unpicking her tactics - cannot bring itself to show more of her willowy frame than strictly necessary. This is a young woman who means business on the court, and this is how the Indy portrays her, cropping all bar head, shoulders and racquet from the chosen pic.

Hold up. In later editions the pressing editorial need disappears but Ms Sharapova remains on the front page. There is nary a mention of Ms Sharapova's groundstrokes and two-handed backhand in Bollettieri's column - instead it's all about Andy Murray. Who looks fetching enough in shorts, but is no Goran Ivanisevic, to pluck a name out of the hat.

But the paper is on surer ground with its review of Radiohead, poster boys for everything it holds dear. But what's this? "They have pushed boundaries over the six albums they have released since their 2003 debut Pablo Honey." 2003? Paper Monitor's tastes run more to Tom Jones than Thom Yorke, but even the most M of MOR fan knows that Radiohead has been around longer than five years. Unless the review was penned - and subbed - by the kind of indie kid who was still wetting the bed in 1993. When Pablo Honey came out.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:04 UK time, Wednesday, 25 June 2008

"I am promoting my underpants to OVERpants" - The joke Hitler was most proud of.

A new book recounts that the butt of Adolf's humour was often the Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering, who was known for giving himself medals. The lead-up to the above punchline goes that Mrs Goering found her husband waving a baton over his underwear in the bedroom and asked him what he was doing.
More details (Telegraph)

Your Letters

18:16 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Man guilty of having 13 in a Volvo. Is it me, or does that sound kinky, somehow?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

A man being found guilty of dangerous driving after police found 13 in his Volvo prompted the BBC's Colette Hume to attempt a reconstruction. But the video page is entitled "Can 13 people fit in a Volvo?" Surely the fact that someone has just been found guilty in a court of law for having 13 people in a Volvo answers this question from the outset and so the video should simply consist of Colette saying "yes".
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

I can't decide whether to be relieved that the Earth is not at risk from CERN's Large Hadron Collider (Earth 'not at risk' from collider) or to start seriously worrying about this latest peril that I had never thought of before, just in case the report from the European Organization for Nuclear Research that there is "no conceivable danger" is a bit off the mark. It might be best if I take my laptop under my desk and start working from there. Ah yes. That's better.
Nigel Brachi, Edmonton, Canada

Is the use of the phrase " would be wrong not at least to put it on the table and see what's on offer" indicative of a change of priorities from the WWF?
Alex Cross, Shifnal, England

As a naturalist living in Chicago, I have a bit of advice for anyone scared of the dive-bombing blackbirds:
1. You should be wearing a helmet if you're biking anyway, yo.
2. Red-wing blackbirds weigh roughly 64g. They cannot hurt you.
3. It's much more prudent to beware the Segway tour groups. Anyone with taste that poor should be avoided.
Christy, Chicago, USA

Reading your piece on council lingo reminded me of a sign I saw in Salzburg a couple of years ago advertising "Sustainable Mozart". The poster went on to say that the organisers were looking to find a new "discourse culture". I hope they located it, because to this day, I certainly haven't a clue what they were really on about.
Alastair Appleton, Cambridge, UK

Re Sowing the seeds of urban farming,, "they want to see 6,000 acres of land in the capital used to grow enough food for the 14 million meals that will be needed during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. This, they say, would require 2,012 new food-growing spaces." Well, now that's a coincidence. 2,012 food-growing spaces needed for 2012. Who'd have thought it?
Sara, Camden

Please don't use teaser headlines like "Terrified - I binned my vacuum cleaner" again, especially if you then 'forget' to add the link. Some of us are unduly sensitive, with nervous dispositions you know.
Vicky, East London

In response to Teegee in Belfast, I think it's a bad idea to introduce the term "binge thinking" into the workplace due to the fact it's obviously not very politically correct. Although I have not spoken to any sources about this and have absoluteley no official proof, it's pretty insulting to actual binge drinkers.
Mark Ivey, Hartlepool, UK

Sarah of Uxbridge you are not alone. I spent the whole of Monday feeling slightly nauseous at the Singleton revelations. "Would sticky-back plastic be involved?" I pondered. It makes me shudder with shame.
Roy Bennett, Abergavenny

Paper Monitor

11:03 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In the Chinese philosophical concept of yin and yang, "darkness" and "light" are cast as diametrically opposed and yet correlating parts of the same phenomenon.

So in the British concept of the news there must also be this light and dark - in the form of the Daily Star and the Independent.

On the front of the Indy there is a full-page on the threat to accountable planning procedures and a blurb for "Making of a monster - the young Mugabe".

To keep the world in balance this serious front must have its antithesis on the front of the Star in the form of the headline "BB STEPH serves up a pair of aces!" and in the blurb "WIMBLE-BUM Hot Bot Special".

In the yin there is a page 8 lead headline "Prisoners charged 'extortionate' rates to call their families". In the yang there is the page 9 headline "GIVE BRIT JOBS TO BRITISH WORKERS".

The theme continues in the letters pages. Sample from the Indie: "Roberta Blackman-Woods should be applauded for bringing the problem of licensing strip clubs to the attention of Parliament." Sample from the Star's Text Maniacs: "2 all idiotic women u idiots always moan about men dnt treat you right wel DNT GO 4 LOOKS."

But what is this? There are texts with all the vowels and consonants included upsetting the balance. Scutch from Cleator Moor writes: "Mugabe is butchering his people whilst Western leaders try to sort out more important problems, like the price of oil. What a sad greedy world we live in."

Thank God for "ne1 tell me why I can do the difficult sudokus in 5-10 mins yet often struggle wiv gentle 1s?!".

So harmony in the universe is maintained.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:01 UK time, Tuesday, 24 June 2008

"As long as she is wearing clothes, and they are white, we will be happy" - All England Club's response to a US tennis player's appearance in Playboy 080624_tennis.gif

Serena Williams is a woman who knows how to work the media catwalk that is the tennis court. She glided onto Wimbledon's centre court in a white, belted mini-mac to warm up in - later describing its design as "delectable" and musing on how inexplicable her love of coats is, given that she lives in Florida. But can her poise and nous be completely upstaged by US player, Ashley Harkleroad? The 23-year-old is going for an even more powerful look - starkers, in Playboy, in August. The All England Club volleys back with a droll response that embodies the dry humour of the nation.

More details (Times)

Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Monday, 23 June 2008

I'd just like to clarify a few things, spurred on by this presumption. The longest day doesn't end in the shortest night, that falls the night before. The longest day is also not the day when the sun rises earliest or when the sun sets latest, but the day of the longest range between the two. At least, that's what I think I've just worked out... anyone willing to correct me?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Are these people really venerating "...a beautiful experience. It's about celebrating nature, life and what makes the world go round" by making an utter pigsty of Stonehenge, scattering non-biodegradable plastic litter around a World Heritage Site?
Angus Gafraidh, London, UK

I see over in BBC Sport that SW19 starts today. Personally I'm looking forward to NW8, but I guess anything is better than more from SW1P.
John Bratby, Southampton

Wimbledon again. A feast of wonderful tennis spread incomprehensibly across the Beeb's main channels. Each day I will leave the video on in the hope of getting some sort of continuous coverage, but I know I will just get into a match, when it switches channels, and the video will never see it again. I do not understand why, in this modern era, the Beeb still has to behave like it did in the 1960s, when BBC Two was new. Why can't we just put continuous coverage on BBC Two and leave the children's TV alone? What aspect of the charter is being fulfilled by switching over to BBC One and then back to Two? It's long been crazy and pointless.
Noel Turner, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Today's mini-quiz must be sponsored by the Wimbledon strawberry suppliers. The majority of guesses (like mine) was that the punnet and cream is £3.00. The correct answer is only £2.25. So the great Wimbledon-going public is therefore influenced to think that strawberries are a lot cheaper than they imagined, and are therefore more likely to be ripped off. Again.
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

With reference to Valerie Singleton's recent decision to "kiss and tell" (Quote of the day), am I the only person traumatised by these revelations? It's like your Mum and Dad "doing it" - you know they do but you really don't want to read about it.
Sarah, Uxbridge

Re Wada to consider banning Viagra: Presumably if it does get banned, it should be too hard to spot those who have taken it? Especially with all that Lycra.
Stuart, Croydon

OK Monitorites, let's try to replace "brain storming" and "idea showers" with "binge thinking" (Friday letters).
Teegee, Belfast

Paper Monitor

11:06 UK time, Monday, 23 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Happy first anniversary, Mr Prime Minister. Well, one says "happy" but Gordon Brown may have started the day with hand to furrowed brow, relieved to have made it this far after the kerfuffle of the past 12 months.

A leader in the Times has some sage advice for the PM: "Here is some bedside reading to instruct his thinking and stiffen his resolve from someone who surely has his best interests at heart."

Who might this concerned wellwisher be - the editor? Rupert Murdoch? But so far as Paper Monitor knows, the Australian tycoon has not gone out of his way to woo the present incumbent of 10 Downing St.

No, the five books on the list are all by Gordon Brown. "For the answer to his problems as Prime Minister, namely the character of his leadership, lies within."

Let's face it, the only person likely to pack a tome such as Moving Britain Forward: Selected Speeches 1997-2006 for their summer reading is Gordon Brown himself.

Meanwhile, in Saturday's Guardian, a classic example of when spellcheck goes wrong. Or a Freudian slip. Reviewing the BBC's Bill Gates: How a Geek Changed the World, Sam Wollaston notes that it took "two years of negotiation with Microscope to secure the interview". Now, this ain't a substitution that Word spellcheck makes. Paper Monitor would make a joke at the Grauniad's expense, but people in galss houses...

And Max Hastings pens a heart-felt on how the country's descent to hell in a handcart is because of over-use of four-letter words: "Every time TV chef Gordon Ramsay screams obscenities on screen, he kicks civilised values between the legs." This, from a publication which last week ran a piece which used the sweary chef's favourite expletive 30 times. In a single article.

The Daily Mirror, too, is up to its usual tricks, claiming "EXCLUSIVE!" on an article which rehashes tonight's Panorama on the Primark factories caught using child labour, illustrated with a still familiar to anyone who has seen trailers for the show.

And in the Sun, a hubby's dilemma of what to get his wife for her birthday solved... a new body. Ah, yes, liposuction and new boobs for the missus - a gift that just keeps on giving.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:18 UK time, Monday, 23 June 2008

"Even today I am stopped in the street by people who treat me with an exaggerated deference better suited to a living saint" - Ex-Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton

singleton.gifShe is a landmark in the early televisual memories of tens of thousands of grown-ups, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the same people react rather strangely on encountering Singleton.
More details (Mail on Sunday)

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