BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 17, 2008 - August 23, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

16:51 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

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

1. Misheard song lyrics are known as mondegreens.
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2. The Banana Splits
theme tune is very similar to reggae classic Buffalo Soldier.
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3. Clouds can be breast-shaped.
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4. And thunderclouds are so menacingly dark because they are four to five miles (6.4 to 8km) thick.
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5. A 72oz steak is about the size of a large telephone directory. And since 1960, 8,000 people have managed to eat one - plus all the trimmings - in under an hour.
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6. DNA from 3,000-year-old skeletons can be matched to living descendents.
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7. Jerry Springer, the American talkshow host, was born in a London Tube station during World War II.
More details (The Scotsman)

8. Some chemotherapy drugs are made from yew tree clippings.
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9. The Queen no longer sends telegrams to those turning 100.
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10. The rock hyrax - a modestly proportioned rodent - is the closest living relative to the elephant.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Phil Plumridge for this week's picture of 10 belts.

Your Letters

16:35 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

Reade crashes out of BMX medals - at last, the term is being used correctly!
Chris, Kettering

Is it just me or does today's quote of the day sound like a threat? Surely he should have offered to get his staff to "get back" to the questioner, not "get" them. Perhaps it's time they got their coat?
PS, Newcastle, England

I have to disagree with Matt (Thursday's letters). I think it would be perfect if all dumped plastic was marked with the name of the person who dumped it - so that it could be returned to them when found polluting some pristine waterway. That would mess up a few front-doorsteps...
Matt Hardcastle, Jessica, Bolivia

In the Magazine Monitor Olympics, is there a medal in the offing for the BBC news story that inspires the most letters about nominative determinism? Because my money's on this one.
Kat Murphy, Coventry

Re Police top misheard lyrics chart. Does anyone else hear the line in Englishman in New York, "I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien" as "I'm an alien, I'm an evil alien." The song had a completely different meaning to me when I was growing up.
Andrew Lawrence, Sheffield, UK

Well, PM throws another gauntlet down on the gender question, but we're definitely back to the straight female/gay male hypothesis after today's admissions. I particularly admired the Queer as Folk quote shortly after the wife meltdown.
Bas, London

Sorry about the pettifogging, but surely economic growth is either at zero, or the economy is at a standstill?
Mike, London

Sorry everyone - I know there is a campaign towards a moratorium on nominative determinism but I couldn't let this story go by unnoticed!
Nick, Belfast

I can't believe that Wake up little Snoozy isn't among the top ten mondegreens. Just me then?
Nik Edwards, Aylesbury

Lord Lucan?
Robin, Herts, UK

Re Tim, London (Thursday's letters). It would seem that the random stat is doing no more than it suggests, by randomly appearing and displaying a stat, albeit it's not in the control of MM. Perhaps it's the phantom random stat.
Bryan Poor, Oxford

Between us, my husband and I have three nationalities - Chinese, American and British - and therefore a tally of 94 golds, 62 silver, and 67 bronzes. But since we're both dual nationals and between us constitute half a Chinese, half an American and half a British person, do we have to divide the medals as well? Or can we still claim all the glory?
Helen, Cambridge, UK

Help me, I've got irony overload! Data about criminals may have fallen into the hands of... criminals.
MCK, Coventry

Our small office of one Brit, one American, two Chinese, one South Korean, five Japanese, two Indonesians and one Malaysian, make up our Olympic winning combination which totally owns Sophie of London (Wednesday's letters). Hand over those golds (113), silvers (80) and bronzes (85)... so there!
Matthew, Tokyo, Japan

Caption Competition

12:54 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

Winning entries in the caption competition.

synchronised424afp.jpg

Russia's Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova perform during the synchronised swimming final in Beijing. But what's being said?

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

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

6. becci27
"Yes, I can see it. Your curly wig and red nose have floated over there, just next to mine."

5. bennym22
Curious George didn't know why the two sparkly ladies with funny noses were waving at him, but the toaster he was holding over the swimming pool was getting very heavy...

4. SimonRooke
"Keep smiling and edge towards the exit, I think that's Lembit Opik in the audience."

3. michaeldundee58
"Whose idea was it to go clubbing in Scotland?"

2. bizarreAllegra
"Oh come on, darling, that's completely laughable! THIS is how you do a crocodile and a swan."

1. nadine7346
Cherie began to question Carole's advice.

Paper Monitor

10:57 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Like buses, you see no mention of the Silly Season all summer and then suddenly two come along at once. Here's the first, from Wednesday. And here's the second: today's story about "Britain's oldest light bulb".

Yes, it's "official", Mo Richardson's Swan Edison light bulb, which was first switched on in 1938, is "Britain's oldest light bulb". How do we know? Not because there's any documentary evidence (there isn't) or some authenticator from the Guinness Book of Records says so (s/he doesn't) but because the Daily Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail tell us so.

If Paper Monitor's memory serves it well, a story like this, about Britain's "oldest fridge", spawned a rash of claims from other people claiming their fridge was older. So brace yourselves from a slew of oldest light bulbs tales from here on into that start of the party conference season*.

After yesterday's mention of the Daily Telegraph's Bodies of Beijing quiz which featured a bikini-clad bottom, there's more on the latent sexual tensions wrought by scantily-clad Olympians in today's Times - with a piece basically speculating about how many athletes are going to cop off with one another at the closing celebrations. Although not at the closing ceremony itself.

"In the Olympic village tomorrow night, thousands of young men and women with the most fit, ripped, toned and muscled bodies in the world, who are at the peak of their physical prowess and haven't had sex for at least two weeks, will mingle for the last time before they fly home," runs the oh-so restrained set-up for the piece.

Paper Monitor hasn't time to read the full feature, but this "pull quote" - highlighted from the body text - piques its interest: "It is common to see eliminated athletes gorging on Magnums." Eh?

Staying with the Times, it is always a blow when one's dreams are shattered. Still smarting after Hugo Rifkind, late of the People column, never showed to squire Paper Monitor to the Magazine's fifth birthday party a month or so back, it comes as something of a shock to find out why. In his opinion column in today's paper, Rifkind casually mentions that he - And. His. Wife - dodge invites to North London dinner parties.

Hey-ho. To paraphrase Vince, the puppyish one in the seminal (in every way) 1990s drama Queer as Folk, the good thing about unrequited love is that it never grows old. Or suggests, for instance, through gritted teeth, that the natural habitat of dirty socks is *in* the laundry basket, not *in the general vicinity* of the laundry basket.

All of which makes for a disconcertingly breezy run up to today's mention of the Gary Glitter saga - and Independent columnist Matthew Norman's revelation that Glitter sang a nine-year-old Norman and his mate a lullaby while sitting at the end of his bed, in 1973. Norman's best friend's dad was Glitter's manager at the time. And, Norman assures us, it was all very innocent.

The column also contains this refreshingly frank admission from Norman reflecting on readers' likely level-headed response to the recent Glitter story: "Unhappily... the vast majority of Independent readers constitutes an infinitesimal minority of the population."

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Indy Christmas party when Norman comes face to face with the ad sales team.

*The official end of the Silly Season.

How to Say: Olympic terms

10:38 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Christine Haunz of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

With the Olympics in full swing, and the British team winning medals in little-known disciplines and in unfamiliar locations, here's how to pronounce some of these places and events. Syllables given in capital letters should be stressed.

The sailing events take place in Qingdao, pronounced CHING DOW (-ch as in church; -ow as in now). Tsingtao (also the name of a popular brand of beer), is a more old-fashioned romanised spelling, but pronounced in the same way.

A number of British successes took place in Qingdao - a gold medal was won for Yngling racing; an Yngling being a keelboat designed by a Norwegian designer, and named after the Norwegian word for "young man". The English pronunciation is ING-ling (-ng as in sing).

A sport with Japanese roots is Keirin, a cycle sprinting event won by Britain's Chris Hoy at the Laoshan (LOW SHAN, -ow as in now) velodrome. The Japanese pronunciation of this discipline is close to kay-RIN (-ay as in day); however, the established anglicisation used by cyclists is KEER-in (-eer as in deer).

Another gold medal for Britain was won at the Bird's Nest, or Niaochao (NYOW CHOW, -ny as in manual; -ow as in now; -ch as in church), by Christine Ohuruogu - the first British female athlete to win Olympic gold over 400m. As her former linguistics lecturer confirms, her name is pronounced oh-hoo-ROO-goo (-oh as in no).

The Bird's Nest was also the scene of drama involving the Chinese 110m hurdler Liu Xiang, who four years ago had won China's first men's track and field gold, but had to pull out of this year's event due to injury. His name is pronounced LYOH shi-AANG (-ly as in million; -oh as in no; -sh as in ship).

For further pronunciation advice on Chinese names, including Beijing, click here.

To download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling, click here.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:10 UK time, Friday, 22 August 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.
mccain_getty_203.jpg
"I think - I'll have my staff get to you"
- a hesitant John McCain when asked how many homes he owns.

The polls may be turning against him, but in the stakes to prove who is poorest, US presidential candidate Braack Obama seems to be a clear winner. The unwritten rules of the presidential run-off state wealth = privilege = an inability to understand what the common man is thinking. McCain and his wife Cindy, it turns out, own seven properties. Obama owns one.
More details (the Guardian)

Your Letters

18:24 UK time, Thursday, 21 August 2008

Are you sure you can describe a building as having "panoramic views" when it clearly doesn't have any windows?
Dan, Cambridge

Alan of Ramsey (Wednesday's letters) may like to be reminded of the story of a lady who phoned up the BBC in John Reith's day to complain about the phrase "tits like coconuts", which she had heard on the radio. Reith said that if the lady had been more patient, she would also have learned that robins like worms.
Hamish McGlobbie, Leeds

I would like to nominate the headline Back pain eased by good posture for the Captain Obvious Award.
Mike Harper, Devon, UK

Re misheard song lyrics (MM: you mean mondegreens). In the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song Two Tribes does Holly Johnson really sing "We've got your chives?" I've always wondered.
Mark Faulkner, London

Is it just me or does anyone else think that that the Silly Season story of the once 11-year-old boy being reunited with his message in a bottle a little distressing? The fact that his mother actively encouraged him to litter the seas with plastic bottles, as he does now with his children, is rather irresponsible and surely constitutes a crime. Will someone please provide the man with a link to Chris Jeavens' blog?!
Matt Hardcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

I agree with David from Cheshire that we've had enough of reverse nominative determinism, so I won't point out that Melanie Walker is much better at running and jumping.
Matt Folwell, Cambridge

Is it too much to expect BBC announcers not to use the words "bank holiday" in every second breath. Here in Scotland bank holidays are not general public holidays, only for banks. This Monday is not a Scottish public holiday. It gets really wearing. The BBC is after all a UK organisation and not just English.
Peter Liddell,

Can we rename random stat "phantom stat" please? It keeps mysteriously reappearing at the top of the page, telling us how naive a third of us were nine months ago. Actually, can we rename it "smug git stat"?
Tim, London, UK
MM: Indeed, the Monitor is unnerved by this recurring ghostly apparition.

Anna, (Wednesday's letters) I do remember what the Banana Splits shouted: "Oh Oh Chongo, it's Danger Island!"
Paul Gibson, Cleveland

"Uh-Oh, Bingo! It's Danger Island time." But I also seem to remember Hazzan Kubar, size of an elephant...
Rachel, Geneva

Anna, Northumberland: "O-Oh! Chango! It's Danger Island next!" At least that's what my juvenile ears heard.
Polly S, Lichfield

Anna of Northumberland, it was "Ah-oh, Tongo!"
Alan, Manchester, England

Dear Aine (Wednesday's letters), I'm not surprised you are neither British or Australian. It's called good natured banter and we would be sadly lacking to just ignore it as i'm sure you should of.
Martin Comer, London UK

As an Australian who used to live in the UK, I just wanted to say, congratulations to Britain on a fantastic medal haul. It would be nice if both countries could reflect on the 2008 Olympics and admire how well all the Olympians have done without using the words "sour", "grapes", "gloat" or "crow".
Shrimpy, Elsewhere

I was hoping for so much more.
Steve, Southampton

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Thursday, 21 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's day three of the Gary Glitter Magical Mystery Tour, and there's still no sign of the disgraced pop star slipping the press pack's net as he tries to find a country that is not Britain that will take him in. A conspiracy theorist might almost wonder whether the one-time glam rocker is in the pay of struggling airlines, given the amount of business he must be drumming up for them as journalists shuttle around Asia in a bid to keep tabs on the convicted paedophile.

The Daily Mail's Andrew Drummond claims to have been the only reporter on Glitter's flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong, although Paper Monitor is left scratching its head over why Drummond ends quoting himself in a piece that carries his joint byline.

Naturally, Paper Monitor doesn't seek to be judgmental about the practice of referring to oneself in the third person. But actually quoting oneself sounds "even more pompous", according to a certain column which seeks to highlight the riches of the daily press, yet wishes to remain nameless in this instance.

All the tabloids can't resist the unlikely coupling (in a strictly platonic sense) of former deputy PM John Prescott and glamour girl Jodie Marsh. But it's the Mail that really goes to town with the whole thing, featuring an 11-piece picture set of the pair with "witty" speech bubbles.

And there's more eyebrow arching material on the following page with an opinion piece headlined: "World peace? Give me Putin anyday!" How do we know it's surprising - because we're told so in the strapline above the piece. "A surprising view from a leading war historian..."

If only all comment articles in the papers were given this sort of signposting. "An entirely predictable standpoint from a woolly liberal sociologist"; "A fairly obvious take on proceedings in Parliament from our sketch writer" etc.

Finally, just time to mention the Daily Telegraph's not in the least bit gratuitous "Bodies of Beijing" quiz on its website today, promoted as an "Editor's choice" with a close-up of a female beach volleyball player's bikini-clad bottom.

"I wouldn't be so brash as to provide a hyperlink," said this column, earlier today.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:04 UK time, Thursday, 21 August 2008

"I'm quite famous and hard of hearing" - Gary Glitter barking instructions to airline cabin crew.

After a 20-hour stand off with immigration officials in Thailand, the former pop star who was released from a Vietnamese prison on Tuesday, took a flight to Hong Kong. He asked from an escort to meet him at the other end, but was met by an immigration official and eventually refused admission to the country.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

16:51 UK time, Wednesday, 20 August 2008

I'm neither British nor Australian, but I found this morning's BBC Breakfast piece about relative Olympic medal tallies embarrassing to witness. So what if the UK is doing better than Oz for once? Just be proud of the athletes representing you, have some class and don't crow about it.
Aine, London

This was a full article about the Banana Splits' theme tune without including who wrote it. It was Nelson B Winkless Jr.
John Gammon, UK

Banana Splits return - yay! I could never remember all their names, so thank you for reminding me. Can anyone remember what they used to shout when it was time for Danger Island?
Anna, Northumberland

What's that just below PM's question about where all the silly season stories have gone? Ah, it's Wednesday's Quote of the Day, something about a painfully-obvious bigfoot hoax...
HB, London

Stop writing about nominative determinism (Letters, Tues)? Oh David, how could you suggest such a thing! You might as well suggest we stop writing about conversions of measurement units to double decker buses, imperceptible witticisms, Cabbaging, flexicography, porridge, or more importantly, what is the optimal combination of all those things to get your letter published. I'll get my coat.
Adam (Monitor Gold Medal Winner!), London, UK

Do you think it was due to bitterness on his part that he was unable to make use of them himself?
Jennie F, Edinburgh

Re: Dave Matthews Band founder dies , "The musician was best known for donning dark sunglasses at live concerts". A musician wearing dark sunglasses? Quel surprise! If this was really the thing he was best known for, shouldn't the article be titled "Dark Glasses musician Dies" instead?
Vincent, Worthing

Was I the only one who was disappointed with the report that followed the headline "Great tits cope well with warming"
Alan, Ramsey

Oooh oooh oooh. . .I work in an office with 22 nationalities (no Chinese, one American)... our tally is 108 golds, 122 silver,and 121 bronzes. Which puts us clear out in front with a princely rate of slightly less than five medals per head. Take that, Slovenia!
Sophie, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:43 UK time, Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Surely Paper Monitor deserves a medal, or at the very least a pat on the back (maybe even a small quantity of kudos, Caption Comp)? It's taken until now for two fateful words to be mentioned - Silly Season.

Normally the Silly Season gets more than its fair share of column inches during the summer months as the papers struggle to fill their pages as the great, the good and the powerful head off for their hols. With everyone (Paper Monitor not included) off at the seaside, there's usually a dearth of "proper" news stories and a plethora of Silly Season yarns instead.

So, why the delay this year? It's those pesky triumphant athletes in Beijing. Yes, there's always Wimbledon and the inevitable Henman/Murray will they, won't they (delete as applicable), plus the occasional football tournament to fill the pages, but by late July they're usually finished and the Silly Season of wild and wacky stories, usually animal-related, takes over.

Not this year. From front to back, the papers are filled with Team GB's medals galore at the Olympics. It is truly impossible for any newspaper reader, from tabloid to broadsheet to Berliner, to avoid.

That's not to suggest that there aren't any Silly Season stories around, it's just that they don't receive the same prominence that they would have done without the Games. Take today's example: Yoda the cat who was born with four ears. This is textbook Silly Season territory, but yet he's buried deep the middle pages, with one reliable exception. It's that old faithful Daily Mail, proud purveyor of animal stories, who has the full picture of Yoda and his multiple ears displayed on page three.

For all those complaining about the lack of a British summer this year, where are those lamenting the almost-absent Silly Season?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:56 UK time, Wednesday, 20 August 2008

"I reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot" - Independent observer watching the thawing of a frozen carcass purported to be Bigfoot.

When two hikers returned from the woods with what they claimed was a dead man-monkey encased in ice, sceptics were, well, sceptical. But Bigfoot researcher Tom Biscardi's interest was sufficiently piqued to hand over an undisclosed sum for the body. Among those to watch the thawing was Steve Kulls, executive director of squatchdetective.com, who said that as the ice melted, the claims were exposed as false.
More details

Your Letters

18:46 UK time, Tuesday, 19 August 2008

I work in an office that has nine different nationalities amongst it staff. We have no Chinese or Americans, but nevertheless our combined national medal tally to date is 31 golds 26 silvers and 28 bronzes. That would put us second on the table. Isn't diversity in the workplace great.
al, Wellington NZ

Wouldn't the lady's job title in this article be a social behaviour co-ordinator?
Alan, Southampton UK

The commentator said during last night's sailing competition that the race was "an uphill challenge for Great Britain". I thought it was just plain sailing.
Dave Ranson, Durham

Oh Monitorites, oh Monitorites. When will the obsession with nominative determinism stop? There can, alas, be too much of a good thing. And the same goes for reverse nominative determinism. Can we put all such quests into abeyance for at least a short while?
David, Cheshire, UK

MM: Not just yet...

Nominative determinism at the Olympics (Juliet G, Monday Letters): Dylan Armstrong just had to be a shot putter. . .
Jessica, Enfield, UK

To Juliet G, London. I spotted Justin Spring in the USA Mens gymnastic team and Marina Alabau, the Spanish Windsurfer.
Jo, London

Re Juliet, London. I was wondering whether nominative determinism dictated not just choice of career, but also level of acheivement. Poor Emily Silver, the USA swimmer just missed out on gold.
Lottie, Ex-Merseyside

I was dismayed by the headline of your article on the man convicted of distributing child pornography via the Internet. Calling him a 'librarian', albeit in quotes, gives a totally wrong impression, and does a grave disservice to a profession which all too often suffers from a negative media image.
Elizabeth Bentley, London, UK

Ian of Winchester (Monday Letters) is quite right. I thought Ben Ainsley was magnificent in 'Ghandi', Bradley Wiggins was great in Coronation Street and of course, where would our early mornings be without Chris Hoy on the Radio 1 breakfast show? Household names all!
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

Headline: "Dragons' Den star slams Sir Alan". Quotes from said Den star about Sir Alan: "I like Alan Sugar. I think he's fabulous," Theo told the Radio Times. Oooooo Slammin'
Keith, Loughborough

Edward Green (Monday Letters). You think?
Sarah, Oxon

Paper Monitor

11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It would appear that it's war. There may be no signs of tanks or flak jackets, but the battle lines have been drawn. The old sporting rivalry between Great Britain and Australia has reached new heights as the two jostle for third place in the Olympic medals table.

The Sun's leading the charge with its less than catchy "We lead Aussies with 12th Olympic gold. Now that's what we call a... G'DAY SPORT" and a leader article on the subject to boot.

As Australian journalists stick to the old faithful taunt that the Brits are only any good at "sitting down sports, the Telegraph takes on the latest "Antipodean whinge" that "you lot are only good at posh sports, mate". With a puffed up chest, this suggestion of class warfare is put firmly in its place.

And it looks like Fleet Street's Aussie counterparts are being far from good sports about the whole thing. Yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald ("Poms smell blood as medal haul grows") had the audacity to suggest that there's an element of "premature crowing" in team GB's declaration of victory.

And the claws aren't just out amongst the writers who, let's face it, are often paid to foam at the mouth. Politicians and officials from the UK and down under have also added to the fracas, with the gold medal for most withering put-down coming from the Aussies' Olympic boss John Coates who said that GB weren't doing too badly for a country with "few swimming pools and not very much soap". A fatal blow if ever there was one.

All this kicking and scratching should put at ease the minds of those, like the Daily Mail's Leo McKinstry, who are bemoaning the British lack of competitiveness.

And if gold medal patriotism isn't enough to jerk a tear, then surely the story of Gan the gorilla and her dying baby Claudio, which (not wholly unsurprisingly) dominated the Independent's front page, should definitely do the job.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:42 UK time, Tuesday, 19 August 2008

dylan_moss_203.jpg"I put my hand out, and Bob didn't put his out... I took my hand away and he put his out. We finally did shake" - Kate Moss recalls awkward first meeting with Bob Dylan.

There are parties, and there are parties... The frequently seen but not heard model has piped up, speaking to the US magazine Interview about Frank Sinatra's 80th birthday bash, which she attended in 1995 with her then beau Johnny Depp. As well as recounting how Ole Blue Eyes cornered the unsuspecting Croydonian for a smacker on the lips, Moss also relates this faltering introduction to the one time Spokesman for a Generation.
More details (Mail Online)

Your Letters

17:52 UK time, Monday, 18 August 2008

Come one Paper Monitor, you do the public a disservice. There can't have been many households who hadn't heard of Ben Ainsley after two previous Olympic Golds, not to mention Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy.
Ian, Winchester, UK

Is there really a need for the irritating invented word "deskwich" in your lunch photo gallery? I think this ranks up there with "mumpreneurs".
Melanie, Cambs

Having just watched the video of Michael Johnson's reaction to Usain Bolt's 100m run, am I the only person who was a little disappointed by the fact that despite having a privileged position in the Birds Nest Stadium with a completely unhindered view of events he chose to watch the race on a monitor! Watching his reaction you can clearly see the runners just behind him. What I wouldn't have given to be in his position.
Iain Harkis, Manchester

Hey I have just remembered the funniest joke in the world, it's by Seinfeld and its about the medals. "I would rather win bronze than silver, I mean, with bronze its like 'hey! I wasn't expecting anything and at least I got something!' with silver, you are the first...loser" Ok I'm sure it's funnier if you get the quote perfect but I'm just trying to make you smile rather than get this one printed.
Nich Hill, Portsmouth, UK

I'm stunned no one has yet started this chain, but the Olympics is providing numerous cases of nominative determinism. I'll kick things off with the sprinter Usain Bolt and the rowers Debbie Flood and Stephen Rowbotham. Any more, Monitorites?
Juliet G, London

Jo from Cambridge (Letters, Friday) makes an interesting point, but isn't it possible that people taking Further Maths, aware of its reputation for difficulty, approach it seriously and are checked beforehand for mathematical ability, hence getting higher marks? Those taking Media Studies, on the other hand, assuming it to be a walkover because of its bad press - and having no prior experience of the subject - may not bother to do much work and consequently tend to get a lower grade.
Edward Green, London, UK

Paper Monitor

11:51 UK time, Monday, 18 August 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Here's the dilemma - eight gold medals in two days and not a household name among them. How do you get over that little hurdle without doing a mischief to you Achilles tendon?

The Sun makes a good stab at elevating double gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington into Redgrave territory, with a nifty rebranding as simply "Becky". A photo op of some sort with England's former football captain can't be far off, if only for the prize of a "Becks and Becky" headline.

The Telegraph and Express grace their fronts with the refined looking "three blondes" who won gold in the Yngling, while the Mirror gives its biggest picture spot to the one British Olympian everyone's heard of... although she didn't win gold - Paula Radcliffe. The marathon runner's disappointing 23rd place inevitably renders her "Sad Paula" in redtop-speak.

While splashing Radcliffe's "agony" across two pages, the Mail goes one up on the Mirror by mentioning Mara Yamauchi - Radcliffe's teammate and long-time rival, who finished 17 places above Radcliffe.

The FT goes it alone with its Monday morning posterboy - dinghy sailor Ben Ainslie, who actually looks like he could be a City trader if he swapped his waterproofs from a shirt and tie.

In fact, so palpable is the thirst for stories of British sporting derring-do that the Times even features the tale of 66-year-old Brit Frank Evans who came out of retirement after a quadruple heart bypass to reclaim his title.

Unfortunately, Evans' achievements are unlikely to register on the medals table. It can't help that instead of double gold he won two ears. His sport? Bull fighting.

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:41 UK time, Monday, 18 August 2008

adlington_ap_226.jpg"I can't do fish and I'm petrified of what might be underneath me" - double gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington (right) on why she doesn't like the sea.

What with verucas, stingy eyes and that age-old bar on heavy petting, swimming pools have their own drawbacks. But for Britain's most successful Olympic swimmer for a century, there's much to recommend the local baths over dipping her toes in open water. And she doesn't even mention the obligatory post pool Caramac bar.
More details (Sunday Times)

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