BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 5, 2009 - April 11, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

17:33 UK time, Friday, 10 April 2009

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Breaking wind is a bookable offence in football.
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2. Black soldiers fighting for the Free French Forces were removed from the unit which led the liberation of Paris to ensure a "whites only" victory.
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3. Many of the mosques in Islam's holiest city, Mecca, point the wrong way.
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4. Britain pays an annual sum to Ireland to cover healthcare costs of Irish workers who have returned home.
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5. Jellied hoof meat from horses is a delicacy in Siberia.
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6. Potholes are aggravated by cold weather.
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7. Car ownership in India is about nine per thousand people.
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8. Mexico City was once a floating city.
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9. Six percent of England's streets are littered with rubber bands.
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10. More than 97% of all e-mail traffic is spam.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sam Bennett of Sittingbourne, Kent, for this week's picture of 10 cars at the British Touring Car Championships meeting at Brands Hatch last Sunday.

Your Letters

17:00 UK time, Friday, 10 April 2009

Come on... have to be joking... it's a bank holiday Friday.

Your Letters will return on Monday (yes, and that's a bank holiday too).

Caption competition

14:45 UK time, Friday, 10 April 2009


It's the Caption Competition.

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


This week, it's the lovechild of Segway and General Motors. This Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle, or PUMA, survived a test run in New York's Times Square this week.

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

6. Woundedpride
If Volvo made electric wheelchairs...

5. Fauconnier
Trotter's Independent Trading finally fulfils its claims and makes it to New York

4. ValerieGanne
Boy, was that some sneeze!

3. youngWillz
Duncan Bannatyne (from cab): "I want 25%!! It's my final offer..."

2. MJF_dodo
Out-of-work estate agent invents large family car with spacious boot.

1. justfor
Just why had no one thought of it before?

Paper Monitor

12:08 UK time, Friday, 10 April 2009

Apologies. Paper Monitor is on a bank holiday break. Normal service will resume next week.

Friday's Quote of the Day

11:46 UK time, Friday, 10 April 2009

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

"I don't know what you're talking about" - Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director Billy Bob Thornton denies he is an Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director

Whatever you do, don't call him an "Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director". That was Canadian DJ Jian Ghomeshi's elementary error when embarking on an interview with the Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director musician, who was there to promote the work of his band the Boxmasters. More details

Your Letters

17:08 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Most Popular Now info at the bottom of the homepage tells you things like "Traffic is 7% above normal" or "Traffic is 5% below normal". But it never tells us what normal is!
Aine, London

"Snake diet find aids anti-venom" All-noun headline of the day?
Gareth, Carrickfergus, county Antrim

Re the Who is Older quizzes, I always pick 'same age' assuming that MM plays fair and that one in three will actually be same age. I should know better by now shouldn't I?
Vicky, East London

Kites? Kites?? My one chance to get 7/7 on the Easter Quiz, and you make the last question about kites? I am going to sulk in the corner for the rest of Passion week.
Andrew Bell, Leicester

I scored five out of seven in the Easter quiz - I correctly answered the first five questions which were based on religion, but slipped up with the cultural, overseas, questions. Which is great, considering I'm Jewish. Happy Passover everyone ! :-)
Sue, Oxfordshire

In the coverage of the Indian elections the country is descibed as "the world's largest democracy" - surely this accolade in fact belongs to Canada?
Ewan, Edinburgh

Re: 'Nosegay' ready for big day "She has one of the world's oddest job titles and is employed for just one day each year." So, let me get this straight, on one day of the year she is a florist, and for the rest of the year she is a florist. In my book that makes her a florist... and I can't see anything 'odd' about it at all. May I posit an alternate headline... 'Florist provides flowers for occasion'.
Kevin, Derby

Dear Mick-from-Crawley (Letters, Tues), according to Debretts, "Ma'am" rhymes with "Pam" not "palm"... I'll get my coat.
Charlie, Chesterfield

I wonder how those people who have access to the magazine DON'T have access to *insert search engine here*. One person makes a mistake, another pedant corrects it. A third tries to suggest the original is correct. Hey ho. Let the games continue. I am disappointed not to find the Ma'am answer on and think that the BBC should use their journalistic network to make it so. In the meantime, having discovered that the OED online seems to be missing pronunciation guides and thus leaving me lacking proof from an unequivocal source, I leave you with this thought:
"Wham, bam, thank you ma'am......"
Helen, Lancs

Dear Moni

Happy easter to you my darling. I hope you are keeping well and working hard. I am a little concerned as to your health when I noticed that you had not published any letters on your interwebby thing today. I do hope you haven't got a nasty virus like young Alex. Perhaps you've got hayfever again. I remember we used to have such a job with you playing in the wheat fields as a child. You'd sneeze a hundred times a day.

I hope you are coming to visit your Auntie Vera and Alex over Easter, I have your Easter egg here and I'm baking your favourite Easter Lemon Bakewells.

Love Auntie Vera

Auntie Vera Gibb, Bristol, UK

Monitor Note: Apologies for the lack of letters on Wednesday, which was due to staffing difficulties.

Paper Monitor

11:27 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

You could be forgiven for thinking the rare D notice issued by the government in response to the Bob Quick dossier blunder stood for dilemma - for the Daily Telegraph picture editor at least.

While the other papers opt for blurring almost the entire contents of the top secret dossier brandished by the now ex-Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, and photographed as he strolled across Downing Street, the Telegraph reproduces on its broadsheet front page a close up with almost nothing "left off" as we like to term it these days. So details that the Daily Mail redacts on its close-up on the inside page, are easily readable on the front of the Telegraph.

The Guardian, meanwhile, is pushing on its front page a feature piece about living on £10 a week. But how do you snare a Guardianista into reading a piece which, when you boil it down, is about low wages and poverty?

With a strapline like this: "I'd rather go hungry than eat polenta".

Lastly, to the Sun which has a story about the latest Apprentice casualty, news of which was apparently prematurely published elsewhere on the BBC website.

Who is to blame, in Sun speak? Why, it's all the fault of "Dozy BBC Internet geeks".

Thursday's Quote of the Day

08:58 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

"Edna once gave George Bush an atlas for Christmas, you know. He opened it at the index but couldn't find 'Overseas'" - Barry Humphries

Dame Edna Everage has interviewed some big names over the years, but "Dubya" is on her wish-list of potential victims, along with the Obamas and Sarah Palin.

More details (Sun)

Paper Monitor

13:21 UK time, Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What do hard working families everywhere (© Messrs Brown, Cameron etc) need to take their minds off the threat of redundancy and debt in these troubled economic times?

Butterfiles, at least that's if you're an Independent reader.

Launching its Great British Butterfly Hunt, in which the Indy-taking populace is encouraged to log sightings of the insects, the paper tells us "With millions of people worried about their jobs, we offer some relief from the gloom by helping readers to find, watch and delight in some of the countryside's loveliest creatures..."

Downing Street policy advisors will surely be wringing their hands, wishing they'd been first to land on this palliative for the masses.

Too late guys. The Indy has truly stamped its mark on this one, even reviving a time-honoured Paper Monitor favourite - the wall-chart (to be given away in tomorrow's paper).

Over at the Daily Mail, the story of a mid-air fling on a flight from Bangalore to London (first noted by Monday's Paper Monitor for its quality passer-by quote) continues to pay dividends. The paper has identified those involved in the alleged "romp" and is clearly excited by the fact that one of the women is of some status.

In the traditional English parlance - to which the Mail remains wedded - she is a "society beauty" although this is somewhat undermined a few paragraphs further on when we learn that said romper was also a "former stockbroker" who had worked as a "teacher".

There's more evidence - this time overt - of the erosion of Britain's historic class strata a few pages further on, in AN Wilson's "excoriating and provocative essay"* on Jade Goody. While Wilson lays responsibility for Goody's fame mostly at the door of reality TV, he draws an interesting parallel in the music hall star Marie Lloyd - "a dissolute drunk whose My Old Man Said Follow the Van became a theme song for the London poor".

* The Mail's own description.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:11 UK time, Wednesday, 8 April 2009

"The smell of a wet dog is irresistible to a shark" - A fisherman on the dog that swam six miles through shark-infested seas.

The story of the canine castaway which survived four months on a desert island has captivated the news-consuming world. But who knew that sharks liked one of humanity's least favourite smells.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

16:50 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Basil (Letters, Monday) asks about the Richter scale. The Richter scale is not used to measure large earthquakes any more. It has been replaced by the "moment magnitude scale". The Richter scale had an upper limit on the greatest magnitude it could measure; the MM scale, introduced in 1979, does not.

So now, when reporting large earthquakes, it is correct to say for example "a magnitude 9.0 earthquake", rather than "measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale".

Jon, Southampton, UK

As a Jedi, I was particularly pleased to read the headline "Gravity satellite feels the force", although I must confess to being a bit disappointed with the rest of the article.
Adam, London, UK

In response to J Paul Murdock (Letters, Monday), when addressing The Queen, Ma'am rhymes with harm not ham. Ma'am which rhymes with ham is how Americans address a woman.
Mick, Crawley

I can confirm, at least as far as the military in concerned, that Ma'am should rhyme with jam.
Andrew, Liverpool

I could have saved the Monell Center a lot of trouble. In my family, we ladies have always been the early detection alarm on spoiled milk and stinky clothes. A woman's nose knows...
Nadja, north of Boston, USA

When this dog gives up the ghost, can you use the headline: "Canny Canine Castaway Passed Away", please?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Paper Monitor

13:53 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Front page, the Sun, Monday, 6 April: "Jack's plea for Jade - Leave her in Peace".

Front page, the Sun, Tuesday, 7 April: "Bury me with Jade - Jack's wish at grave visit".

Readers may be relieved to hear that Paper Monitor resisted turning to page seven for the full story, instead landing on Gordon Smart's Bizarre column, where Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin is pictured riding the flying elephants at Los Angeles' Disneyland.

"The Coldplay frontman hates his kids having their picture taken, so I've left them off the page," writes Smart, who is clearly in a charitable mood.

But let's just revisit three words of that sentence again - "left them off". Hmmmm - sounds, how shall we say it, suspicious.

Sure enough, a quick visit to Gordon's column online reveals the un-Photoshopped picture with an identifiable Moses Martin in Mickey Mouse ears.

So there we have it - the new euphemism for Photoshopping: "Left off".

Over at the Independent, the paper's pull-out features supplement leads with a piece entitled "Dark side of Dubai", which understandably left Paper Monitor feeling troubled by a sense of deja vu.

Finally, to the Telegraph, where the paper has an interview with that poster child of TV property shows, Kirstie Allsopp. Paper Monitor has noted in the past how the Telegraph has a soft spot for women of its ilk - Keira Knightley being a prime example. If La Allsopp hasn't been added to this list already, then consider this a shameful oversight duly rectified.

It's all such a Home Counties love-in. There's before and after pictures of Allsopp's renovated other home, a full name check - she is, we learn, the Honourable Kirstie Allsopp - and the frank admission that "I do have a really lovely life".

At this point Paper Monitor can do no better than yield to the gushing prose of interviewer Bryony Gordon.

"Lovely is a word that suits Allsopp, because that is what she is... She is immensely good company... I say that perhaps she will one day turn up on Her Majesty's Honours List... She laughs, but I am sure it is not quite as ridiculous a suggestion as she thinks it is."

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:40 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009

scolari_ap_203.jpg"A Scolari" - TV slang for a presenter filling in while broadcasting live

Ex-Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari (right) mightn't have left much of a mark on the footballing world since being sacked by the London club earlier this year, but in TV land it's a different story. "That was a bit of a Scolari!" texted Gabby Logan to fellow BBC presenter Jake Humphreys after the latter tried to keep viewers from switching over while the Malaysian Grand Prix was hit by a rain intermission. Still not worked it out? Big Phil Scolari... big fill.
Source (the Times)

Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009

Re grapefruit: More worthy of awe for me is the fact that Florida has a Department of Citrus. Now that is news to me.
Aine, Croydon

I see that scientists have explained how scratching can stop an itch . Can they also explain how reading that article started me itching in several places?
Stephen Turner, Cambridge, England

Hmm, an odd "human interest" story about a local football game makes the national news.
Call me cynical if you will but the name of the league does make one wonder...

Chris Gallagher, Nottingham

A colleague of mine has pointed out that the BBC, when referring to the earthquake, gives the magnitude of the quake, but does not say that this is against the Richter Scale. Is there any particular reason for this?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Dear Simon P of London (Friday letters) how can "Obama arm on Ma'am drama" be a fine example of the headline art form when it doesn't rhyme? Even I, living north of Watford, know that "Ma'am" rhymes with "jam" not "arm". I'll get my ermine cloak...
J Paul Murdock, Wall Heath, UK

Nominative perversity, I like it. Can I suggest Donald Pleasance, who played Blofeld and other unpleasant, quietly sinister characters. It was his real name, not a brilliantly ironic stage name.
Anne, Chester

Paper Monitor

13:07 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If there's one thing Paper Monitor loves, it's those ludicrous quotes from unnamed passers-by that the tabloids are so fond of using.

When Paper Monitor was a cub reporter it was told that quotes should always be attributed to a name, otherwise it felt like, maybe, they had just been made up by the reporter.

There's a peach in the Daily Mail. Fiona Phillips, the former GMTV presenter, has been caught by a resourceful snapper while out jogging, horror of horrors, with no make-up on.

The anonymous passer-by says: "I had to look twice to make sure it was her, but it was good to see her out and about and not worrying about having to wear make-up."

And while it's definitely OK to protect your sources by not revealing their names, one has to wonder at the anonymous source quoted in the Sun.

The story is a kerfuffle on a flight to London from Bangalore when a woman woke to find her partner "enjoying a sex act" from another female passenger.

The police source says: "They certainly put the bang into Bangalore."

This bloke's wasted in the police. He should apply for a berth on the subs bench at the Sun.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:22 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009

"Botox makes everybody look the same. It's much cheaper to have a fringe" - Actress Keeley Hawes on efforts to look young.

Apparently there's a fad for celebs and stars getting this weird substance injected into their foreheads to make them go all smooth. But here's one celebrity who won't be volunteering.
More details (Daily Mail)

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