BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 29, 2009 - April 4, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

17:13 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

10pods_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. The song Agadoo by Black Lace is originally French.
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2. There are 19 countries in the G20.
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3. The American signal to stop is a cross of the forearms.
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4. It requires 60 tonnes of paint to paint the Eiffel Tower.
More details (Times)

5. Eating custard cakes daily does not prevent a very long life.
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6. Chicks count.
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7. Michelle Obama does high fives.
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8. When photographing a group of heads of state, the host should stand in the centre at the front and next to him should be the longest-serving leaders.
More details (Guardian)

9. Too many grapefruit are bad for you.
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10. The police tactic of confining demonstrators in a confined space is called kettling.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Charlotte Easton for this week's picture of 10 London Eye pods.

Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

Archbishop Louis Walsh does have a certain ring to it.
Dan, Oxford, England

I cannot express quite how stunned I was to see Louis Walsh had been made Archbishop of Westminster.
Craig, London

Glad to see that Louis Walsh has finally been appointed head of the Catholic church...
Simon Guerrero, Melksham, UK
Monitor note: And numerous others who noticed this same separated-at-birth moment.

"Nuclear fuel flasks hit the road"? Er, hopefully not.
Paul Greggor, London

I know you're not meant to cover the London freesheets - regional bias, blah blah - but I had to share yesterday's London Lite headline: "Obama arm on Ma'am drama". A fine example of the artform.
Simon P, London, UK

Superb nominative determinism this morning on Radio 4's This Morning programme. Chris Stone playing an instrument made of rocks in a piece about "rock" music. Brought a smile to my face on my long slog to work.
Jules, Dudley

Caption Competition

15:33 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009


Winning entries in the caption competition.

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


This week, the Browns welcomed the Obamas to Downing Street. But what's being said?

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

6. Dhanoalot
"So basically, when Crouch scores, he does the robot, like this. Watch me now!"

5. LaurenceLane
"And if you're really interested, I can get you a great mortgage through Northern Rock."

4. Kudosless
"An arm round her is nothing, Michelle. This is the hand I goosed her with..."

3. WeeChrissieB
"Now, Mr President, please assist us by calling down the dove from above. Hhrrrooow! Hhrrrooow!"

2. NotMeHonest
With his casual remark "looks like rain", Obama was getting the hang of British small-talk.

1. Vicky S
"Please high five me Barack. I've got a hole in my 18 -28 demographic that you wouldn't believe."

Paper Monitor

12:55 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Michelle Obama: articulate, questioning, educated individual or just a piece of Fleet Street fashion fodder? Paper Monitor presumed it to be the former, but struggled to find much evidence of such in the pages of today's press.

"Michelle's masterclass in hugs" runs the Daily Mail headline about Mrs O, before running to a sidebar entitled "But where did she get that cardy?" And on the following page, there's the dreaded "g" word - "What the girls really got up to!"

The Daily Express is little different. "Fashion dress sense deserts the first ladies".

To be fair, both papers acknowledge Mrs Obama's speech to a London secondary school on Thursday and even carry a few lines of what she said. But Paper Monitor is hungry to know more. There's only one thing for it - to head to that organ of self-respecting feminist thought, the Guardian. So how does it handle Mrs Obama's speech?

It doesn't.

While the paper has two articles on Mrs O - neither carries even a line of her public pronouncements. On the front, Mariella Frostrup, who presumably didn't have to sign a non-disclosure form for her role as an official "compere" for the leaders' spouses, has plenty of observations from inside the tent, but there's nothing about her emotional speech about the value of education. Inside, the paper it's: "Michelle, our belle. How Britain was wooed by the president's wife" - a piece by the Guardian fashion editor.

"Barack Obama and Gordon Brown have international interpreters and banks of microphones, policy pronouncements and footnoted treatises to help them deliver their messages. Their wives, by contrast, have only clothes, body language and the knowledge their schedule... will be minutely observed for clues written in diplomatic code."

Er, don't forget that speech.

The Daily Telegraph goes further than most in relating what Mrs Obama had to say in her speech - but then its piece is written by a man.

The Obamas weren't the only American import to land on these shores this week. A special mention for the brave souls who have launched the UK edition of Wired magazine, one of the few publications that Paper Monitor wallows in that isn't published on a daily basis.

The cover says "launch" issue, but you don't have to be very long in the tooth to know it's a relaunch, as there was a noble Wired UK way back in the day (a dozen years ago or more). It didn't last very long. And what Paper Monitor thought at the time still stands - is there enough going on in technology in the UK to justify its own Wired? Or does the US original Wired have it covered? (Odd, incidentally, that Wired and The Wire both have UK launches in the same week?)

It is, as mentioned above, a feat of bravery to launch a new magazine in these miserable times. They don't look worried though. In fact the editor, David Rowan, has had a magnificent styling for his editor's picture. No longer the kind of bloke you might see on the desk next to you, now a buff supermodel. Paper Monitor could do with a bit of that polish, please. How about a Wired investigation into hi-tech makeover techniques?

There is an interesting story about the iPlayer - though it controversially claims the device "saved the BBC". Modesty forbids Paper Monitor from revealing who is widely recognised inside the corporation as most deserving of that accolade.

It's tradition in these parts to wish new ventures well on their way - and Paper Monitor is very happy to do so. Though with a castlist of experts who one has to believe are not made-up names (Ben Best, Violet Blue, Dr Dickson Despommier, Faith Popcorn, Prof Buddy Ratner, Dr Richard Silberglitt, Colonel Carl E Walz and Dr Richard Yada) it looks like they're leaving nothing to chance.

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:07 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

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

"Shake your booty on the dancefloor and listen to High School the Musical" - Seven-year-old radio agony aunt gives relationship advice.

Britain's youngest agony aunt, Elaina Smith, is alarmingly in tune with modern social mores when she is doling out advice to adults. Even if her choice of film might be tailored to slightly younger listeners.
More details (Daily Mirror)

Your Letters

16:09 UK time, Thursday, 2 April 2009

Michael Blastland asks "why not replace figures with emoticons" one day after the Magazine has replaced a headline with emoticons :-) or :-( Do we REALLY always want a happy ending?. What else can we replace with emoticons? Perhaps links to the various sections on the news website like ;-) for the Magazine and :-( for Business.
Chris Clarke, Grenoble, France

"Guiding Light actress Kim Zimmer, also known as Reva Shayne Lewis Cooper Spaulding Lewis Lewis." Is that how she signs her cheques?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Kat Murphy (Weds Letters), I would suggest the expression for responding to a post, when even as you're writing, you suspect they just put it there to provoke the kind of fusty response you're now drafting, but you're just too pedantic to stop yourself commenting, should be known as post-imprissionism.
PS Rob from Reading: How about nominative perversity?
Ray, Turku, Finland

In the photo of the G20 leaders, I count 29 people. Surely with all that security, someone was given the job of checking people's names against the guest list? Weren't they?
Adam, London, UK

Re Thin speaker offers "crisp sound". Just for a minute I believed that Michael Martin had delighted the House of Commons with his favourite Walker's impression after the success of his new diet and time in the gym. The reality is far more mundane...
Philip, Nottingham, UK

Re "Sisters 'make people happy'". Yes, but they don't mean to. They're doing it for themselves.
Alex Knibb, Bristol, UK

Paper Monitor

12:40 UK time, Thursday, 2 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Let's play spot the model. It's not hard.

In the slightly chaotic group photo of Sarah Brown's guests at Downing St, seemingly only one of the two dozen or so women crowding into frame knows EXACTLY which camera to play to.

Some smile to the left, some to the right, some up, some down. Some, including Michelle Obama, get the right camera, but none nail it quite like Naomi Campbell. Eyes a-glow, smile wide, she beams right at you - yes, you - from the pages of the Times.

She is, after all, a trained pro, able to instantly adopt just the right facial expression at just the right time for just the right camera. Everyone has at least one talent, and she is a master of this particular skill.

Kate Moss, on the other hand, doesn't do smiling. Her skill lies in glowering enigmatically - looking at or through you? - down the barrel of the lens, as demonstrated in the Daily Star, in New York for the TopShop opening. While the party itself was waaaay past Fleet St's deadline, place your bets now for which of Friday's papers will run snaps of her holding hands with Jennifer Lopez.

Meanwhile, the papers had their own bash that went on waaaay past deadline on Tuesday - the British Press Awards. Hence the blowing of trumpets only starts in earnest today.

Many congratulations to Charlie Brooker, columnist of the year for his always entertaining Guardian rants, and to the Times, named newspaper of the year. It celebrates by reprinting the judges' comment that it is "Britain's most authoritative paper, but without being as po-faced".

This no doubt means the Times has taken off its horn-rimmed glasses and shaken out its bun of late. But Paper Monitor, smarting that it was not invited to be a "plus one" at the event, chooses to read this as "without being as po-faced as Newspaper X". Fill in the name according to your own preference.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:32 UK time, Thursday, 2 April 2009

"I know that when you've got a bunch of heads of state talking, it's not visually that interesting" - President Barack Obama understands the media.

He's had enough bouquets recently, but you have to hand it to the new president for his perceptive analysis of what makes interesting news. A more perceptive analysis, even, than many of those who work in the news media.
More details (Washington Post)

Your Letters

16:08 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Re 'Funk' blamed for exports slump. Personally I have been blaming the boogie.
Mat, Sheffield

Does anybody know a phrase for that slightly embarrassed, slightly annoyed feeling you get when you read a letter sent in by someone who has either pedantically or obtusely ignored the irony in the epistle of a recent correspondent (Tuesday letters)?
Kat Murphy, Coventry

Do you take a mischievous pleasure in publishing the letters which demonstrate (a) flawed logic, (b) misplaced pedantry, and (c) irony bypasses?
Legs, Huntingdon

What is the opposite to nominative determinism? I mean, what would the expression be for someone whose name doesn't match the job they do? Like the less-than-cute Nazi Klaus Barbie.
Rob, Reading

One thing I still cannot get my head around regarding the G20, is why it is needed - I appreciate that the leaders need to decide a global approach, but when we are all in a recession, why spend money flying to a country, make that country (us!) spend money on security etc., when in today's modern world surely such a conference could be done by video conferencing?
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

Strangely, in Czech, Worcestershire Sauce (Tuesday letters) is pronounced WAR-CHEST-R, where the R is rolled. I have eternal arguments with my English students over that one. As I do with Edinburgh, where they pronounce it exactly as it's written. Czech is a phonemic language (say what you see).
Dick Savage, Plzen, Czech Republic

Maggie (Tuesday letters), don't worry about learning the Latin phrase, there's no need in the present age. So, don't put any stress on the "bum", put it firmly on the "tits".
Ben Merritt, Sheffield, England

Rob (Wednesday letters) and Timothy (Tuesday letters) - sorry, those don't count as all-noun headlines. "Apes" and "eye" are being used as verbs.
Chris H, Enfield

OK I'd like to add this story as the most likely to be mistaken for an April fool list. History has shown that Simpsons stories released on this day do tend to be true...
Sarah, Colchester

The yoga, martial arts and cheerleading aren't combined into the one activity, are they?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Re Paper Monitor, is the joke not ultimately on the Guardian whose anagram for "April Fool" is a letter short?
Morwenna Hancock, North Sydney

Fail poor, fair polo, folio rap, fool pair, liar poof? I give up.
Rick P, Oxford, UK

Paper Monitor

13:23 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In this special G20-free edition, the most pressing question of the day is just what IS going on with Nigella Lawson's face?

"Nigella is flawless" the Daily Mirror tells us, alongside what looks like a snatched picture of the domestic poster girl.

"All eyes, surprisingly, were on Nigella Lawson's youthful complexion yesterday..." yadda, yadda.

The Daily Mail, however, is less on-message. Taking a very similar picture to illustrate its story, it wonders aloud: "Could Nigella be a little short on beauty sleep?"

"Her sparkling eyes showed a hint of puffiness... yadda, yadda".

Had no one informed the first lady of cherry-crowned chocolate cupcakes that slightly puffy eyes can no longer be tolerated in public anymore?

Over at the Sun, Jade Goody is back on the front after a break of, oooh, at least a couple of days. The exclusive in question is "Jade's last words" - a letter written by the late reality TV star to her sons shortly before her death.

The Star, however, acts as if it knew this was in the pipeline - and triumphs with this front page with "Jade's very [Paper Monitor's italics] last words". The lines in question not being those of a considered letter to her offspring but an off-hand putdown to husband Jack, complete with four-letter word.

Elsewhere, there's the usual 1 April stack of untrue stories - see here for the Daily Telegraph's round-up.

And the day of leg-pulling would not be complete without the Guardian's byline anagram in its spoof story. This year it's about the paper switching to Twitter and the journalist is Rio Palof.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:28 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

"You looked a bit slimmer after your diet. On the other hand, you were crap" - Eric Pickles' wife on his Question Time appearance

The sizeable Conservative Party chariman was given a rough ride by the audience at last week's Question Time after defending his second home expenses claim. Keen for a bit of feedback, he phoned home for some feedback.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

15:55 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Can you claim expenses for attending a hearing about your expenses?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Has Paper Monitor been acquainted with Charlie Brooker's Newswipe on BBC Four? I'd imagine they'd get on like a house on fire. (They'd make Brass Eye a bit jealous though).
Mohin Miah, London

I note with interest that research suggests women's shopping sprees are linked to the time of the month - presumably, the minute the previous month's credit card bill arrives.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

This phenomenon isn't confined to women, you know. I myself have a monthly event that subconsciously influences my shopping patterns, only I call it "payday".
Edward Green, London, UK

Stuart is correct about long-tailed-tits and the name "bumbarrels" (Monday letters) - and the Latin name is almost as evocative. I have been wondering over the weekend whether the stress is on the "bum" or on the "rel". Can anyone put me out of my misery?
Maggie, London

Alice of Worcestershire (Wednesday's letters): Surely it's Woostershuh? At least, that's how I always pronounced it, but in an Italian shop I have to ask for "Perrin's", otherwise I get blank stares...
Geoffrey, Rome, Italy

Re Security experts eye worm attack: All noun headline alert!
Timothy, Leeds

Jack (Friday and Monday letters): Nominative determinism. Haven't we had this conversation before in the Monitor? Google reports 211 references to the phrase on the BBC website - 212 now.
David, Bagshot, UK

Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Bet they did. Just know they must have.

[Sound of shuffling through stack of newspapers.]

Ah. Here it is. So did they? [Sound of pages turning and the discarding of the Education Guardian supplement.]

Ah-HA! They did - the Guardian's G2 has been renamed G20. And inside are the answers to 20 questions about the global shindig. There are serious questions:
"Why 20?"
"How many Gs are there anyway?"
"Will I be in danger if I go to the protests?"

And less serious, to which Paper Monitor will provide a pen portrait of the given answer:
"Why is Obama flying to Stansted?" Too much disruption at Heathrow, so he'll land at the Essex airport's "allegedly exclusive Harrods terminal".
"Why do those US Secret Service agents always wear shades?" The official reason is to protect their eyes from the sun. But it doesn't hurt that would-be attackers can't quite tell which way they're looking.
"What about the goodie bag?" A tie, a tea towel, a few scented candles and some chocs.

It's like Christmas with Great Auntie Mabel. Bagsy not sit next to Uncle Silvio.

Meanwhile, there is more - do not be surprised, people of Britain - on the porn watched in Jacqui Smith's absence.

Guardian columnist Lucy Mangan muses that the films pertained to constituency issues. "Perhaps a series of Redditch housewives had experienced problems with their washing machines, and had written to their MP asking how to deal with the repairmen?"

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, does its bit for boosting the image of journalism as a tough, nitty-gritty job, by asking a female writer to watch subscription channels for a day.

One channel she scrolls past offers "amateur action... filmed by real people at it in their own homes, perhaps even your neighbours!" A resistible offer.

She also spots that Playboy TV's website offers "all MPs and their husbands a special VIP subscription".

She watches women pretending to be lesbians, women spanking and being spanked. And is outraged that these "battery hens of the sex industry" perform "degrading acts for the cheapened pleasure of others". Dreadful. Just look at the accompanying picture of three young women a-bed, clad in little more than their bras. See how they are kissing? Can you see - can you see - how degrading it is?

In case you can't quite tell from just the one photo, the same article online is illustrated with that pic, plus two of G-string clad bottoms and a lassie having a shower.

Degrading. That's what it is. And you should be ashamed of yourself for even looking.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:42 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

lampard_getty_203.jpg"Even though we have these terrible tops on, at least we're all wearing the same" - Frank Lampard is not a fan of England's "leisure shirts".

England have a hard boss in the form of Fabio Capello and as well as discouraging "wag culture", he has insisted that the whole squad wear the proper clothes. In this instance, however, the proper clothes appear to be a rather unfortunate stripey polo shirt.
More details (the Sun)

Your Letters

15:19 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

Re: Jack of Manchester's letter on Friday, how about we call it "namey-job-coincidenceism"?
Samuel, Leeds

Jack, re your letter of Friday and a catch-all term for "for when someone's name can clearly be seen to determine their chosen topic of conversation, occupation or other aspect or their life", how about "pertiname"?
Andi, Rutland, England

What else would you call the man from the Campaign for Water Justice?
Anne, Bucks

Small man or large railway?
Alan, Norwich

It's only the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) that have the local name "bumbarrel".They're also known as "mumruffins". Wonderfully evocative names for a characterful bird...
Stuart James, Monmouth

And the first prize for best alliteration goes to...

Lauren, Taunton UK

Daily Mini-Quiz

14:14 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

england_kit_203.jpgFor those led here by Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, here is the new England football kit.

Among the claims of manufacturer Umbro, it has "intelligent ventilation" and a cut designed to "accommodate the biodynamics of the shoulder." It's also got a collar that can't be turned up, a la Eric Cantona.

Paper Monitor

12:45 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Oh dear.

Oh dear, oh dear.

We've all done embarrassing things in our life, but few can have had a day like Richard Timney, husband of the much-troubled Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

For there are few who, after being caught watching porn, have to face the serried ranks of the media outside their house.

And the papers are having so much fun they don't even know where to start.

The Sunday Express takes the credit for the original scoop, but the Daily Express today could be accused of hiding its light under a bushel a bit. It chooses not to mention that Television X - one of the channels that Mr Timney might potentially have been watching - is owned by Northern and Shell, which owns the Express papers.

Indeed the Daily Telegraph seems convinced that it was Television X and suggests the programmes in question might have been the colourfully named Raw Meat 3 or By Special Request.

After going with a fairly lively headline - "WHY WOULD YOU WATCH PORN WHEN YOU'RE MARRIED TO A BLAIR BABE?" - the Sun then plays it disappointingly straight. In the entire piece on Ms Smith's expenses, the only bit it thinks worth highlighting is an 88p BATH PLUG, which it emboldens.

It has a bit more fun a couple of pages later, suggesting that Jenson Button may have had some sort of liaison with his girlfriend immediately after winning the Melbourne grand prix.

It's a case of "POLE POSITION", "post-race debriefing", "made his way around some extra curves", "he fancied popping a second cork", and sundry other strained "witticisms".

And where would the Sun be without captions like "breast of British" or a picture of Kelly Brook with the headline "KEL'S SEA CUPS"?

But a few pages later it has a scare story about the "pornification of our kids" with the quote: "The girls have big boobs or they're skinny and very pretty - you feel you have to look like that to be attractive."

Err, we're a bit confused now.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:26 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

"Additional features" - Virgin Media's euphemism for pornographic films

Richard Timney, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's husband, is rather embarrassed today. He will probably still be rather embarrassed by this time next year after being caught watching two "adult" movies. But you've got to love the way they are described on the bill.
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