BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for June 13, 2010 - June 19, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:46 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

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

1. Whale poo helps absorb CO2.
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2. The BBC failed to record Charles de Gaulle's famous broadcast to German-occupied France.
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3. Vuvuzelas are pitched at the B flat below middle C.
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4. Male menopause exists (in 2% of men).
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5. Britain's VAT of 17.5% is one of the lowest rates in Europe.
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6. That "USA WINS 1-1" headline in the New York Post? They were joking.
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7. Men were taught to change nappies at Fathercraft classes in the 1920s.
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8. The government considered blocking North Korea from the 1966 World Cup.
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9. Using the words "Games" and "2012" could land advertisers a £20,000 fine come the next Olympics.
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10. Mathematicians busk.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this photo of 10 England flags.

Your Letters

17:17 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

sheen_hayward.jpgBearing in mind he has cornered the market in portraying real people (Kenneth Williams, Tony Blair, David Frost) should Michael Sheen be contacting his agent about portraying BP chief executive Tony Hayward in the inevitable TV movie that will ensue?
Zoe, Birmingham, UK

Re the US bashing around the "USA wins 1-1" (Wednesday's Paper Monitor), this explains the context behind (what I think might be the mother of all) tongue-in-cheek headlines.
Behn K, Plymouth

Is Monitor in cahoots with Murdoch? That's two days in a row the quote of the day has been from The Times and I've been confronted with an angry paywall when innocently trying to "find out more". Hurrumph.
Phil, Oxford

Re Do you drink more than you think? Lager with lime - Strawberry Diaquiri - Pimms with cucumber - Cherry brandy - Ketel One Lemon Vodka... there's your five daily fruit & veg servings.
Alan Foley @BBC News Magazine

I see Lee Dixon is offering valuable insights as to how England can win against Algeria. Might I, as a humble layperson, suggest that the best way (or possibly the only way) would be for England to score more goals than Algeria.
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

"The killing of Jews was not good, but everybody has a positive and negative side" (Hitler memorabilia 'attracts young Indians' ). Unbelievable. Can we send Dimple Kumari a few more books that demonstrate that the ever so slightly 'negative side' of Hitler was actually extraordinarily cruel, vindictive and power-crazed evil?

Joel (Thursday letters), I probably won't be alone in pointing out that actually, the World Series isn't named after The New York World at all, rather a gradual shortening of World Championship Series. You can read more about it on the Snopes myth-busting website.
Ben Merritt, Sheffield, England

I was once teasing an American friend about the World Series only having teams from the US. He said "Hey, put a team together and we'll play you." Check-mate to him, I feel.
Phil, Guisborough

Caption Competition

13:39 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week it's a researcher testing the loudness of a vuvuzela in a German laboratory. The horn's parping reached 160 decibels during the tests.

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

6. GreatUncleBulgariaJr
The Terminator T1000 had good reason to want to kill all humans.

5. BaldoBingham
"No, I still don't see the attraction of jazz."

4. MightyGiddyUpGal
The battle against the Crazy Frog ringtone was nearing victory.

3. LaurenceLane
Research continues into how men can be conditioned for married life.

2. MorningGlories
"And we've discovered people actually prefer bagpipes."

1. GuitarKate
"It's no use Herr Professor, I can still hear the England fans playing the Great Escape."

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:21 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

"Where are the brakes?" - First question asked by airline stewardess as she replaces plane's co-pilot

Patti DeLuna, 61, was summoned to the cockpit of an American Airlines flight carrying 225 passengers after the co-pilot collapsed. She had an expired 1970 commercial pilot's licence and immediately had to familiarise herself with the controls as she followed the captain's instructions for landing.
More details from The Times (subscription required) or Chicago Tribune

Paper Monitor

09:15 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Once again, Paper Monitor diligently flicks past all mention of vuvuzelas - a stern test of resolve given the Sun's decision to despatch a reporter to Ascot's Ladies Day in a hat fashioned from the blusterous instruments.

No, with £11.5bn of spending cuts freshly announced, these are serious times - although Paper Monitor's mental arithmetic is stretched by a Q&A in the Times, which states that the £17bn worth of savings outlined in just over five weeks since the new government took office works out at £500,000 a day.

Doesn't £17bn divided by 37 days equal something just south of £500m? Paper Monitor doesn't have enough fingers to be certain.

And then there's the inquisition of BP chairman Tony Hayward by the US Congress over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

West Ham supporter Mr Hayward is currently, according to the Guardian, "America's most hated man". So Paper Monitor is gratified that the hapless businessman is offered the proverbial cup of sweet tea and soothing shoulder massage by the press back home.

The Daily Mail describes with pathos a scene "almost too painful to watch", as Mr Hayward offered his apologies "like a nervous best man".

Andrew Gimson of the Daily Telegraph is yet more gallant in the BP chief's defence, lambasting the "self-important, self-righteous and self-promoting" politicians who conducted the grilling.

Mr Gimson continues:

So Mr Hayward was given a tough time. That is what a scapegoat is for. We congratulate him on his steadiness under fire, his inability to engage in abject displays of emotion, and his refusal to answer "yes" every time he was invited to plead guilty.

It's almost enough to make you forget Robert Green's own ordeal at the hands of Americans.

Which would bring us to the Daily Star, which is offering each reader a free vuvuzela. Except Paper Monitor isn't talking about them.

Your Letters

17:25 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

Build a 62ft statue around a metal frame. With a couple of sharp bits pointing upwards. Stand it in water. The miracle is that it lasted 6 years before lightning struck.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Re World Cup: More African Football Shorts - my husband needs some new ones. What sizes do they come in?
JennyT, NY Brit

So, an FA spokesman thinks a that a 13th Century 3 lions badge looking like the England football team logo (which is based on the 12th centuy English coat of arms) is "uncanny". Don't give up your day job.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Best. Opening. Sentence. Ever.
Gareth, Wellington, New Zealand

Fi (Wednesday letters): I probably won't be alone in pointing out that the World Series in the US doesn't actually refer to the world, but the competition's original sponsor: The New York World.
Joel Horne, Tokyo, Japan

Michael, re the guy in this story. Not only is he a model, but given the story is about UK drink driving laws, he is sitting in the passenger seat so behaving pretty responsibly. Unless he's just figuring out where the steering wheel has gone.
Paul, Ipswich

N-Dubz rapper Dappy routinely lies about his identity to police? It's a good job he's a non-entity and can get away with it.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Paper Monitor

14:04 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Welcome to a vuvuzella-free Paper Monitor - that's not an easy prospect given the Sun's sublime headline for its front page picture of Desmond Tutu and Prince William both grasping the aforementioned instrument.

Instead, its attention has been attracted by the picture of the owl chick that alighted in its den. It's a pairing that lends itself to a very obvious headline, as evidenced here:

The owl and the very big pussycat - Daily Mail

The owl and the pussycat make friends - the Independent

Owl and the very big pussycat - the Sun

The owl and the (very big) pussycat... - Daily Express

The owl and the BIG pussycat.. - Daily Mirror

The Guardian is alone in doing something different:

Animal magic: the odd couple

Finally, Kelvin MacKenzie's column in today's Sun marks a significant erosion of that old bedrock of understanding between newspapers that they never attack each other, at least not overtly.

MacKenzie devotes the lion's share of his column to knocking the Sun's arch rival, the Daily Mirror, and specifically Sly Bailey, who is the chief executive of its parent company Trinity Mirror.

MacKenzie notes the success of ex-Mirror editor Piers Morgan and pits it against the falling fortunes of his former employer.

If there was any doubt whether MacKenzie is gloating, check out this sentence: "When [Bailey] was hired the circulation of the Daily Mirror was two million a day. Today it is a lamentable 1.2 million, almost a third of the Sun's."

Ouch. Paper Monitor wonders if this is revenge for when the Daily Mirror laid into James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks for shouting at Indy editor Simon Kelner. The Mirror even depicted the temper tantrum in cartoon form.

If so, it seems red-top revenge is a dish best served cold (that story was in April)... and eaten with a runcible spoon perhaps.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:24 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

"How did you muck that up?" - Question by a Spanish journalist to her boyfriend, goalkeeper Iker Casillas, after Spain's shock 1-0 World Cup defeat

Imagine it happening in England. Wayne Rooney faces the cameras after England lose to the US and one of the first questions, from Coleen is this: "How did you mess it up?" Spanish fans are reportedly unamused after watching a similar scenario involving Telecinco's reporter Sara Carbonero and the beleaguered goalie Casillas.

More details (Times)

Your Letters

16:22 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

What I want to know is how did anyone identify the orange-dressed women as part of a publicity campaign? Wearing all orange at a Dutch football match can't exactly be suspicious behaviour.
Edward Green, London, UK

Hands up everyone for whom a certain beer brand would never have registered on their radar, if it wasn't for this story. Foot well and truly shot.
Ray, Turku, Finland

US experiment hints at 'multiple God particles' Let's see: Father, Son, Holy Ghost...
Paul Greggor, London

Re Why not ban all drink-driving, I was amazed to recieve a leaflet from Havering council telling me how long to wait before driving. Are we all the same?
ThurrockPhil @BBC_magazine

The guy in Why not ban all drink-driving is a model? I'm changing my career!
Michael, Hull

To John Whapshott (Tuesday letters), I guess it depends how long it takes the US to set up their own "Soccer World Series" in which (yes, you guessed it) only US teams compete...
I'm surprised no one has done it by now.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Kate (Monday letters) - you owe me a new keyboard. Coffee everywhere.
Paul, Hull, UK

Paper Monitor

12:43 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

If ever evidence were needed of the growing power of the vuvuzela, people need look no further than today's Daily Star. For days the little horn has been hogging the headlines (including the Magazine's Can TV mute the blare of vuvuzelas), but now it has done something that would have been considered utterly impossible and downright ridiculous this time yesterday. It has knocked a story involving 36 scantily-clad women at a football match off the Star's front page. Paper Monitor kids you not.

The story is about ITV's football pundit Robbie Earle being sacked after the women, wearing little orange dresses to allegedly promote a Dutch beer, got into the stadium with match tickets allocated to him. Fifa saw the stunt as "ambush marketing" and the women were ejected from the stadium. ITV saw it as a red card for Earle and he has been ejected from the studio sofa. As far as the Daily Star is concerned, the story has it all - lots of blonde women, skimpy dresses, football and - and - beer. Nevertheless, news that the vuvuzela will probably be at a football stadium near you by next season has won the battle for the front page.

Please pick yourself up from the floor.

Those left wondering if there are any certainties left in life anymore - will day follow night? will Victoria Beckham ever wear dangerously high heels again? - the Sun rides to the rescue. The orange-clad women are splashed across its front page with the puntastic headline "Tout of Africa".

Posh is also pictured inside wearing platforms on a family day out rock climbing. So rest easy.

The Guardian reveals the women could get up to six months in jail for the stunt as ambush marketing is a criminal offence in South Africa, even though there was no logo on what they were wearing - the dresses were just orange. Columnist Marina Hyde quite rightly wonders:

"What sort of prison stretch is one looking at for taupe?"

And finally, after seeing the look on a Kiwi colleague's face as rank outsiders New Zealand equalise with Slovakia in the 93rd minute of their first World Cup game in 28 years, Paper Monitor now understands the sentiments behind the New York Post's widely sniggered-at headline "USA wins 1-1" (Monday's Paper Monitor).

The little face, all lit up... bless. And it's a look no doubt replicated throughout that far-off nation of some four-and-a-bit million souls that doesn't even have its own professional league.

Whether you love the World Cup or hate it, it's always sweet when an underdog pulls one out of the hat.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:24 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"Maximum six cases per person. Please drink responsibly" - Sign on stack of beer crates in supermarket in St Albans

A letter writer to the Times notes how his local supermarket is anticipating increased beer sales during the World Cup (but acknowledging its responsibilities at the same time).

Your Letters

19:01 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Playing fast and loose with the word "popstar" here.
Phil, Oxford

Dear Dr PhD, (Your Letters, Tuesday) A student of mediaeval Europe can tell you there was indeed a belief in twin-tailed mermaids named Melusines, of which the Lorelei was probably an example. The Templar Abraxas cult was another. A certain well-known coffee chain adapted a fifteenth-century woodcut showing one as its logo.
Rahere, Smithfield

So, the World Cup organisers are "urging fans to refrain from parping during national anthems". "Parping" means something quite different where I come from, clue here, but not for those of a nervous disposition or those easily offended.
Paul Greggor, London

It looks like the "USA wins 1-1" headline has gone from the New York Post site. However, there's a comment from one patriot who says that he can see the USA winning the World Cup in the next "2-30 years". Do you think there's something he hasn't quite grasped?
John Whapshott, Westbury, England>

Re "Bid to make maths in East Sussex schools 'less boring'" - how about using a different picture to the two previous articles on improving maths?
Tom, Worthing, West Sussex

Paper Monitor

12:31 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Can any story be given a World Cup spin?

The football tournament in South Africa is the only tale in town for many of the papers, so wrapping any story up in its shiny gift paper is guaranteed to make it a more attractive prospect.

Let's take one of those "Scientists have discovered" stories that appears in several of today's papers. It's about academic research which has found people tend to mentally distort the size of their bodies.

How do we know? Because those ubiquitous scientists did an experiment which involved people estimating the size of their hands.

Can you see the World Cup angle yet?

The Guardian's science correspondent can't, preferring to go down the eating disorder route.

"The work... may help explain the underpinnings of certain eating disorders in which body image becomes distorted."

The Telegraph ploughs a similar furrow to that of the Guardian:

"How your brain, not the dress, makes you look fat" is its headline.

Hmm, not even the faintest whisper of a vuvuzela in that headline.

"Even the slimmest women have, on occasion, stood in front of the mirror and asked: 'Does this dress make me look fat?' But according to a new study, long-suffering husbands and friends called upon for reassurance may be dealing with more than just irrational anxiety."

It all feels a little bit too Glamour magazine, rather than Four-Four-Two.

Over to the Times.

"Blundering goalkeeper 'thought his hands were wider'"


"As the ball skimmed his glove and rolled into the back of the net, it was a moment of head-in-hands calamity for the England goalkeeper Robert Green. For scientists, the USA's equaliser on Saturday evening may simply have confirmed the discovery that our mental representation of our hands is about two thirds wider than they really are."

Next up, what Franz Beckenbauer's comments on England's "kick and rush" game tell us about the Gulf of Mexico oil slick.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

"See that man there? He's a movie star and I get to sleep with him every night" - Catherine Zeta-Jones humbly accepts her leading actress award at the Tonys

Days after receiving a CBE, the Welsh actor pulled off a Gwyneth-style acceptance speech at the Tony awards in New York. She later admitted her comments were "crass".
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

17:26 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

Re Windscreen water infection risk: I always give aggressive tailgaters a quick back-off squirt when they're a few inches off my bumper - the fact that I may also be giving them Legionnaires Disease is just a bonus.
Sue, London

Imagine my disappointment at clicking on Murray beaten by Fish at Queen's and it being about tennis. I was hoping for a story about someone being battered by a fish at Buckingham Palace.
Andy Nichols, London

I was hoping he'd been called to Buckingham Palace for a quick slap with a haddock.
Jinja, Edinburgh

I can't see why anyone finds vuvuzelas a problem. God forbid that anyone try anything a bit different, eh? Let's just stick to Abide With Me and the like.
Jane Callaghan @ BBC News Magazine

I have been all for trying to appreciate the way South Africa is showing passion, but am genuinely missing the operatic highs and lows that only human sighs and cheer can produce. Without the singing from the terraces, it is 90 minutes of the beautiful game scored in the key of same pitch irritancy.
Jake Williams @ BBC News Magazine

During this time of World Cup fever, might I point out that the correct expression is, "Come on, England!" as opposed to, "Come on England!", which means something else entirely.
Kate Davey, London, UK

Oh! Is the World Cup happening? Surely someone should have mentioned something...
MD, Southsea Hampshire

Having spotted this headline in the "most read" list - Saville to be given to ministers - how many others were similarly disappointed that this didn't involve jangling bling, a cigar and a silver tracksuit? Surely the obvious addition to the cabinet to help fix Britain's problems...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Pre-historical Pelican had a big beak. If it didn't, would it be a seagull?
Nuno Aragao, Aveiro, Portugal

Does the opening sentence of this article make any sense to you guys?
Liam, Northampton

Dressed as mermaids (last photo in Day in pictures)? That would be the rare two-legged, non-fishtailed mermaid that seems to have escaped everyone's attention until now, then?
Dr Reece Walker PhD, London

Seeing as Monitor is familiar with 3rd and Bird (Friday letters), I am urging him/her to do the muffin. Shake, shake, the muffin!
Sharon, Nailsea, UK
Monitor note: Wicky wicky.

Paper Monitor

12:15 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a clean sweep, a full house - bingo! The face of England goalie Robert Green is pictured on every single front page this morning. John Terry must be more than happy to hand over the column inches to his team mate.

Yesterday was all about blame, but today it's about rebuilding and the papers are taking it very seriously. Show the hapless Green a video montage of his best performances to re-create a "winning feeling", suggests one psychologist in the Guardian - assuming there are any.

The Independent speaks to no fewer than four psychologists to get advice. Among their suggestions is don't bring in a psychologist to talk to him - that would be "patronising". Or maybe they're all just too busy giving the papers advice on giving advice.

And it seems a football is not the only thing Green has let slip through his fingers recently. His ex-girlfriend features prominently in the red tops. Model Elizabeth Minett, 23, is splashed across the Daily Mirror's front page - in an England bikini of course. A "close source" says Green broke up with her because "he wanted to focus on his football". That went well then.

The Daily Telegraph offers some alternative advice to Green - how to turn his butter fingers into a bumper bank balance. They have gone to brand experts to find out how he might turn this mishap into an opportunity. Advertising butter, insurance and spectacles are his best bets, it seems.

The coverage of the game in the US papers brings the Guardian some cheer. It sniggers at the headline in the New York Post: "USA Wins 1-1". It says Americans are now falling in love with 11 heroes who "most of them still couldn't pick out of an FBI line-up".

But while the papers debate Green's howler, his future, his lovers and his life in general - what about the man himself? He has done what any self-respecting footballer would after a personal trauma - and just about anything else in their life: Green has headed for the green to drown his sorrows with a round of golf. Cue the "putter finger" puns.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:21 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

"A torn man boob" - a cardiologist explains to comedian Frankie Boyle his chest pains aren't a heart attack after all

Boyle was missed his last Mock the Week episode because he was rushed to hospital with pains in his chest. It turned out Boyle was suffering muscle problems after a few too many unaccustomed push-ups. "After watching [the film] Bronson, I thought I'd get into prison shape."
More details (Jonathan Ross show, iPlayer)

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