BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 16, 2010 - May 22, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:41 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

flower.226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Kiefer Sutherland watches Coronation Street.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

2. In Greece, trombonists and hairdressers can retire early because their professions are classed as unhealthy.
More details (Independent)

3. Sex is not dangerous for heart attack patients.
More details (AP)

4. A million people a month are refused a drink in a pub.
More details

5. American and British sign language is different.
More details

6. Twelve is the optimum age for lying.
More details

7. Jigsaw puzzle sales reached a weekly peak of 10 million in 1933.
More details (Daily Mail)

8. The German army used nettle fabric to make army uniforms during World War I.
More details

9. There are 450 music festivals in the UK this year alone.
More details

10. Sextuplets are born once in every 4.5 million pregnancies.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this week's picture of 10 flower petals in Welwyn Garden City.

Your Letters

17:39 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

Your excellent commentary on nettles left out one thing I learned during the course of a botany degree - they grow along walls near country pubs due to gentlemen pausing to, ahem, relieve themselves on the way home.
Megan, Cheshire, UK

Thank you, BBC, for my abrupt wake up call this morning. As usual I was enjoying my first mug of tea of the day, hunched over my laptop and trying to persuade my eyes to stay open, when I clicked on 'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists. If my eyes weren't brown, I could have been looking in a mirror thanks to that little shock.
Sarah, Oxon

Re How you would solve a problem like Eyjafjallajokull, I do particularly like the idea of a giant NANO tube.
Jo K, London

Re TV's most bizarre endings, for a great ending to a long-running show, see Friends. Ended with just the right tone, humorous and touching at the same time, and clearly wrapping things up.
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

Oh Sharon (Thursday letters), I agree with you totally. I've had numerous "conversations" with people who obviously think they have come with children, oops - must have left them at home. What about those with teenagers parking in parent and child bays - taking it to the limit me thinks.
Joanne, Leeds

Sharon for Prime Minister!
Ellie, Herts

In the main, parents of small children are young and fit. It's us middle-aged parents of sulky teenagers that need to park closer because we can't carry that much beer too far.
Bonbon laRue, Tamworth, UK

I have long thought we need specific bays to cater for the significant section of the population that are morally disabled. This would help reduce the misunderstandings in their interactions with the general public. We of course would require a designated symbol - I suggest two fingers. The beauty of this idea is that by occupying the bay you are self-certifying your condition.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

What a week! A letter published on Wednesday and 7/7 for the first time ever on the Friday news quiz. I'm on fire! Surely rounding off the week with a second letter published is too much to hope for.
Sarah, Birmingham

Caption Competition

13:16 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week, the new 2012 Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville visit a school in London.

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

6. Gray Gable
If Pete Doherty did School Dinners...

5. Frankonline
Jedward were unimpressed with their latest gig.

4. jtotheglo
Nigel was definitely going to win Show and Tell this morning.

3. MightyGiddyUpGal
The new boys from Sellafield are here.

2. throbgusset
"E-numbers?? want proof ...we got proof!"

1. MightyGiddyUpGal
Proof there is life after a failed Pixar audition.

Paper Monitor

12:34 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's nothing that columnists like more than to get their sharpened quills into the first public meeting between two leaders.

Every touch, frown and utterance is interpreted as a "do they, don't they" indication on the fledgling relationship.

Remember the Millary love-in last year?

Relations between the offices of British foreign secretary and US secretary of state returned to a less giggly and touchy-feely level when William Hague took over from David Miliband last week.

sarko_ap.jpg Now it's the David and Nick show.

No, not THAT Nick, the one in Paris.

Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy had met before in London, but this time it was public.

The Sun notes the double handshake (pictured) with the headline "CAM GETS SO COZY", while Lizzy Davies in the Guardian reckons their meeting was all "sun, smiles and arm pats. The entente cordiale." She went on:

"Despite being from similar camps of rightwing politics, camaraderie has not come naturally to the two leaders, separated as they are by 12 years in age, seven inches in height and an immeasurable gulf in attitudes towards Brussels.

The Independent's Simon Carr could detect Mr Cameron "drifting" while his counterpart went "on and on".

Some journalists pounced on what Mr Cameron had scribbled in his notes, and left on the lectern. He circled the date 18 June and wrote "CARLA", underlined three times.

Nothing for Sam Cam to worry about, of course.

Her husband was just keen to make sure he mentioned the French visit to London next month, and to extend the welcome to France's First Lady.

Weekly Bonus Question

10:56 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010


Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Question.

Each week the news quiz 7 days 7 questions will offer an answer. You are invited to suggest what the question might have been.

Suggestions should be sent using the COMMENTS BOX IN THIS ENTRY. Any answers submitted using the "Send us a letter" form on the right will be summarily ignored.

And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is SHOOTING A RHINOCEROS.

UPDATE 1754 BST: The correct answer is what did a former Scotland Yard detective compare the theft of five masterpieces from a Paris museum to? Of your wildly wrong answers, we liked:

  • James Keogh's Quick game of Chineses Whispers then... I'll start - "Tooting is preposterous"...
  • Kettering_Jeremy's How is "Eyjafjallajokull" the volcano in Iceland pronounced?
  • SkarloeyLine's What is Plan B when you forget your tin opener while on safari?
  • rogueslr's After despatching the elephant in the room, what's next?
  • LaurenceLane's In a fight between a panda and a rhino, what would the WWF recommend?
  • And giggsgiggsgiggs's What is Lord Lucan currently doing?

Thanks to all who entered.

Friday's Quote of The Day

10:43 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

"They kicked my shins and knocked me down and I said, 'Ow!'
But they said, 'No - you don't say ow until you actually have to go to the hospital'"
- Naomi Watts, sent to boot camp before playing CIA agent Valerie Plame

As filming started on Fair Game - which has premiered at Cannes - director Doug Liman decided to toughen up his leading lady with a two-day stint at military training. Plame was exposed as a CIA agent - and later sued the Bush administration over this - after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, took an anti-war stance.
More details

Your Letters

16:50 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

How you would solve a problem like Eyjafjallajokull is brilliant. Can you do one every week? We could solve all sorts of problems like the economy, education, NHS, Middle East and how to win the Ashes in Australia.
Judy, Leeds

Oh Greg (Your Letters, Wednesday), what sweet innocence. Women most certainly play 'hot or not'. We also play 'shag, marry or avoid' and 'how many pints would it take?' (or glasses of pinot grigio, depending on your taste). Sorry to spoil the illusion.
Caroline Brown, Hamburg

I see you tried so hard to avoid another "Pin number" incident, that an ATM machine crept in unawares.
Lee, Birmingham

Why is there a photo of Myra Hindley in an article about Jacqui Smith?
Syed, London

I feel I must publically apologise to the lady in the BMW who I confronted in a supermarket car park this morning. I apologise for making you feel embarassed by pointing out you parked in a parent and child bay when you didn't have a child with you. I hope our conversation about your inability to park properly and in the correct place did not spoil your day.
Sharon, Nailsea, UK

I feel these horses are humouring their owners somewhat.
Jo K, London

Paper Monitor

13:09 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After all the fun the press had at the cost of the London 2012 Olympic logo, reporters will have been salivating yesterday at the promise of not one but two official mascots for the games.

Wenlock and Mandeville, for those are their names, made it into all of today's papers, although the PR people will not be beaming with delight at the reaction.

Of course, it could be said that being aimed "squarely at children", as Lord Coe, chairman of the Games' organising committee, said they were, criticism should perhaps have been reserved for the pages of the Beano. But that would be to deny the aesthetes their moment of glory.

First up is the Guardian's architecture critic Jonathan Glancey, who notes the creatures' "cyclopean eyes... may remind many of the lenses of CCTV cameras staring from pretty much every building, station and street corner in the city".

Ooh, little bit of politics, as Ben Elton used to say.

Meanwhile, the Guardian's sports news correspondent, Owen Gibson, notes that "among the designs rejected at the start of an open pitch process were anthropomorphic pigeons, an animated tea pot and a Big Ben with arms and legs".

Come again, a Big Ben with arms and legs? Paper Monitor couldn't help but think back to (with the help of the Magazine's new "from the archive" feature) this suggestion submitted by Magazine reader David Oliver two years ago.

The Daily Mail is far from impressed.

"Blobs" is how the headline defines the creatures.

"Mascots rival that dreaded logo" runs its sub-headline.

It's not alone in comparing the mascots to Sonic the Hedgehog, although the paper's observation that they look like Mike from Monsters Inc is a better one.

The paper turns to design critic Stephen Bayley for an assessment.

"The logo was hideous enough but now we have these ridiculous, infantile mascots. Who is to blame for this I ask you?"

Far be it from Paper Monitor to take on the esteemed Mr Bayley, who contributed only this week to the Magazine, but isn't the point of these mascots that they are infantile? (cf Lord Coe's quote above)

The Times, the Independent and the Sun are less sniffy,with Independent reporter Ian Burrell quoting a fellow hack as saying "It's quite hard to take the [BBC taste and decency issues apply] out of".

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:35 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

"Information technology and manure have a symbiotic relationship" - Chandrakant D Patel, sustainable information technology expert

With a trend for computing centres to be built in more rural areas coupled with efforts by dairy farmers to turn cattle waste into fuel, it seems there could be a happy harmony somewhere down the line.
More details (New York Times)

Your Letters

15:53 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

One is left with a sense of bewilderment as to how these flags could possible be a "health" hazard. A safety hazard, yes - but why "health"? Isn't it about time people stopped repeating that phrase "health & safety" like parrots - and started thinking about what the words actually mean?
Chris Melville, London, UK

Robert Peston's latest blog, Eurozone may not be helped by naked shorts ban, did not live up to expectations.
Lee, Birmingham

I've not heard footballers' offspring being called SADs before (7 questions on mascots). It's an unfortunate title, especially when they don't have a choice in the matter - unlike most WAGs who generally would deserve it instead.
Tom Hartland, Loughborough, UK

The Labour leadership contest is starting to turn into a version of The Chain (a la Radcliffe and Maconie). David MILLIBAND - Ed MILLIBAND - ED Balls. Alas there are no more Labour Balls, or Nuts for that matter. There is however Andy Love.
Sarah, Birmingham, UK

Not to put a downer on things but just because Jazz is married to Kenton Cool, we shouldn't assume she is known as Jazz Cool (Tuesday letters). She might have kept her maiden name - I hope it was Hands. One thing is for sure, when that baby is born Kenton will become Daddy Cool.
Louise, Leeds, UK

How easy is it to climb Everest? More people have climbed Everest than have swum the English Channel.
Phil Sears, Dorking, UK

Mr Lowe who organises assents up Mt Everest... has never actually reached the summit? Doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Nadja (Tuesday letters), QUANGO stands for quasi-autonomous, non-governmental organisation. That's what a GCSE in politics does for you. But I much prefer your answer.
Kelly, Oxford

Yes, Minister - the source of all of my political knowledge - taught me that too.
Joel, Tokyo, Japan

I can't think of anything to sweeten the dullness of quasi-autonomous, non-governmental organisation, apart from quoting Sir Humphrey's famous observation "it takes two to QUANGO".
Frederick Heath-Renn, London, UK

Playing "hot or not"? Surely evidence at last that Paper Monitor is male.
Greg, Dallas TX

Paper Monitor

13:18 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

First day back at school for MPs! Fingers crossed there'll be the full low-down on Nick Clegg's new Spider-Man lunchbox, complete with annotated photographs, or at least something about the name tags sewn into the back of Sir Peter Tapsell's gym kit by his mum.

Paper Monitor hopes in vain, but even so, Paper Monitor is not completely disappointed.

How could anyone be, when the Sun proudly displays a mock-up coalition government souvenir mug, with a picture of Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg's grinning faces embossed onto fine china above the legend: "A new era of hope"?

It propels Paper Monitor, Proust-fashion, into memories of being expressly forbidden to drink from grandma's collection of Royal Wedding commemoration receptacles, "because they're bound to be worth something one day".

Perhaps one day, so will Paper Monitor's scrapbook (commenced 19 May 2010) of House of Commons newspaper graphics displaying the seating arrangements for the new parliamentary term.

The Guardian's effort is all trendy minimalism with clean, sharp blue (interspersed with yellow), red and grey-for-the-others lines. The Daily Telegraph hones in on a outline representation of the new government front bench - which will come in handy next time Paper Monitor is asked to pick out Iain Duncan Smith. In an opaque fog. Inside the debating chamber.

First prize goes to the Times, however, for its graphic-Commons augmented with mini-tables quantifying the number of MPs educated at Oxbridge, the ratio of male to female members, their basic salaries and the percentage who watched Luther last night on BBC One instead of attending to constituency duties (Paper Monitor may have made one of these up).

The Daily Mirror, Labour's lone remaining loyal Fleet Street voice, is still not satisfied.

"It was their first taste of power," it sneers theatrically, "but the Liberal Democrats were unable to utter a word."

The yellow members of the new ruling caste, it appears, stayed silent during proceedings (heckling, booing and yelling "hear hear!" from a sedentary position all equalling silence in parliamentary terms).

If Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail is to be believed, there may be an explanation as to why the new intake of MPs, at least, remained tight-lipped:

...there was so much moist-bottomed excitement it could have been a group outing by the Sisters of Mercy to a Boyzone gig.

Paper Monitor assumes he means the religious order rather than the 1980s goth-rockers.

If so, it recalls vividly one's own first day of school - a time when few, if any, bottoms remained moist for long, though out of trepidation rather than joy.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:54 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

"I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved" - Shia LaBeouf slates his own performance as Indiana Jones's son.

The 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull displeased many critics and movie-goers, including some of the cast. "The actor's job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn't do it," LaBeouf told the LA Times during the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, adding that co-star Harrison Ford "wasn't happy" with the sequel either.
More details (LA Times)

Your Letters

15:41 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Re Men are bigger liars than women, who says the women polled weren't telling fibs then and there?
Amy, Glasgow

I have a condition called "lazy eye" where my brain only processes detailed images from one eye (I have peripheral vision only in the other). So, 3D movies don't work for me, irrespective of how well they've been done (Paying the price for 3D roll-out).
Charlie, London

Female damselflies prefer hot males - this surely explains why I get stung more by mosquitoes than my nerdy brother standing in the same room.
Nuno Aragao, Aveiro, Portugal

While on a visit to Utah last week, we were asked for ID before buying drinks at an Applebee's restaurant (Monday letters). They said their policy is to ID anyone that looks under 50. Being over the half century, I took that as a compliment.
Mark, Bridge

I'm 36 and recently got asked for ID while I was rummaging around in my bag for my purse. When I looked up in shock the girl behind the till said "Oh right. Doesn't matter." Disbelieving joy to utter dejection in a second.
Kaylie, Runcorn, UK

"When we saw there was a piece missing from the middle (of the jigsaw), we just couldn't believe it" (Quote of the Day). It's down the back of the sofa, Jack.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

David Freeman points out the Everest climber's pregnant wife, named Jazz Cool (Monday letters). Shall we run a book on what the baby will be named?
Ontour UK, Leicester

I'm all intrigued - what's the origin of the word "quango" (Monday letters)? I imagine it's some clever acronym. Maybe Quite Unproductive And Needless Government Offices. Am I close?
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Paper Monitor

10:58 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Te-hee! What fun, the papers are teasing each other again.

In its review of director Stephen "The Queen" Frears' new romp Tamara Drewe, which premiered at Cannes yesterday, the Guardian is very naughty indeed, taking a pop at the swotty, serious kid in class. Yep, the Independent.

The story started life as a graphic novel serialised in G2 several years ago. The eponymous character is a glamorous columnist and interviewer for an unspecified metropolitan newspaper, returning to her home village in Dorset.

But in the film, she works for the Independent. Why?

"Frears said he had consulted the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, and suggested she might be made a Guardian journalist in the movie. Rusbridger preferred not (after all, Drewe does seem to do a minimum of work and sleeps with an interview subject, which would of course strain credibility to its utmost were she placed at the Guardian)."

Of course. Snort!

More waggish observers might remark that it could strain credibility to its utmost to have a Bond girl playing a Guardian journalist. (But admittedly it's been a long time since Paper Monitor played Hot or Not with those at the paper's King's Cross HQ.)

Unfortunately for bystanders, the Indy is not that waggish. Its review merely sniffs:

"[Gemma] Arterton plays a music journalist writing for The Independent (of all papers)..."

All of which suddenly brings that story of the UFOs that might - or might not - have mangled a wind turbine last year.

What's the connection, you might very reasonably ask? Well, the Sun took it as a opportunity to poke fun at the Guardian.

After the latter's director of digital content Emily Bell claimed the lights seen near the turbine were actually fireworks from her father's birthday, the red-top published her theory simply so it could pour cold water on its higher-brow rival.

Lots of cold water. It described Bell as "a local blogger for a small newspaper group..." (see Paper Monitor, 9 Jan 2009).

Harsh. But for Paper Monitor, it's a joke that never gets old.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:32 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

"When we saw there was a piece missing from the middle, we just couldn't believe it" - Pensioner Jack Harris spent seven years on a 5,000-piece jigsaw. Shame there was just one hitch...

Given a five-foot-long jigsaw for Christmas in 2002 depicting 19th Century oil painting The Return Of The Prodigal Son, by James Tissot, Mr Harris was confident he could finish it by spring. But it took much, much longer than that... only for him to find one piece missing. Suspects include the family dogs.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

15:31 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

Re: 37 year olds take note (Paper Monitor, Monday). PM might like to know that it is only in the last year that Tesco has stopped asking this 37 year old for photo ID when she buys alcohol. Over the hill indeed!(snort)
Kay, London

Not totally convinced that spending cuts will be "focusing on reducing the size of quangos", given that one of the very first acts of our new government was to establish the new Office for Budget Responsibility, which is, of course, a quango.
Adam, London, UK

I don't know about nominative determinism, but this bloke's wife has possibly the, er, coolest name possible. Although I can't get the Fast Show out of my head.
David Freeman, Epsom Downs, England

Re 10 things, number two - I remember as a nine-year-old in the early 1960s freely walking up Downing Street, the only restriction to stay on the pavement opposite the row of houses. No terrorist gates or barriers then. I was too young to grasp its importance, but definitely felt this was a big thing to do.
Tim McMahon, Pennar, Wales

Kit suggests the new cabinet wears green ties (Friday letters) as blue and yellow makes green. Personally I'm all for making them wear blue and orange diagonal stripes. Nice and distracting.
Katie T-J, Cambridgeshire

As a non tea-drinker I've always assumed that English Breakfast Tea already tastes of bacon and eggs (Friday letters).
Paul, Marlow, UK

Re coffee syrups and cheese and onion tea for the vicar, the London Tea Room in St Louis, Missouri, serves a blend of tea called The Naughty Vicar.
Heather Simmons, Macomb, Michigan, US

The idea of tea-flavoured coffee in Friday letters is not an original one. A mixture of coffee and tea (called yuanyang) is already a popular drink in Hong Kong.
Chris, Toronto

Re PIN number etc, conversely, "MoT Test" is correct (Friday letters).
Mark, Bridge

Tom, Croydon (Friday letters) - I don't often bother to refer back when people quote others' letters, but so worth it with yours.
Best. Letter. Ever.
Debbie, Essex

Can nobody spell absorbent (10 things and this story)?!
Janet Wheeler, Chorleywood
Monitor note: Adsorbent is a different thing to absorbent.

Paper Monitor

11:41 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A few choice snippets from the Daily Mail's follow up on its sister paper's Sunday scoop about (now ex-) chairman of the FA, Lord Triesman.

Dutiful parents, agony aunts and those who trade in the currency of life philosophy frequently remind us that, in love, looks are not everything. Someone, however, forgot to tell the Mail, which unsubtley notes of Lord Triesman

"[W]ith his shiny pate, rimless specs, enormous ears and newish bride, he didn't look much of a worry on the sex-scandal front"


Contrast that with the Mail's write-up on Melissa Jacobs (the woman to whom Lord Triesman related his thoughts about corruption, which were subsequently splashed across the press yesterday):

"With flowing flame red hair, a slim physique and ivory skin, she looks younger than her 37 years..."

Take note 37-year-olds - unless you are a biological anomaly, like Miss Jacobs, you're probably already over the hill.

But it's not all just about appearances - the Mail does note "an impressive academic background" although it appears to hedge this statement with the prefix "it seems".

Forgive Paper Monitor for feeling confused. However, this perplexed state is not helped by describing how Miss Jacobs "decided to turn the knife on an old flame".

We don't know the nature of their relationship, of course.

But anyone spot a mixed metaphor?

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:38 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

"Her candidate for the Labour leadership will be Jon Cruddas" - Ed Miliband reveals whom his mother is likely to back

After declaring his intention to stand in the Labour leadership contest, the younger Miliband was ready to deflect questions about his sibling rivalry with older brother David

More details (Press Association)

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