BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for September 19, 2010 - September 25, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

16:37 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

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

1. Blowflies can help solve murders.
More details

2. New Zealand's birds suffer from body odour.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. Would-be hobbits should be no more than 158cm (5ft 2ins) tall if male or 153cm (5ft) if female.
More details

4. Strong winds could have parted the Red Sea.
More details

5. Children's waistlines have expanded by an average of 12.5cm (4.9ins) since the 1970s.
More details

6. Ed Miliband can solve a Rubik's Cube in one minute 20 seconds.
More details

7. Customers using cash machines of the Vatican bank are offered Latin as the preferred language.
More details (Reuters)

8. The Facebook logo is blue because founder Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind.
More details (New Yorker magazine)

9. Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of out gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the UK.
More details

10. Denim jeans come from Italy.
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 windows.

Your Letters

15:13 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

Re: Montana woman fights bear with courgette, I don't know about courgettes in the UK, but zucchinis as they are known here in N America, can get seriously marrow-ish, so there's every chance that she stunned the beast senseless when she smacked it around the head with a vegetable as it tried to gnaw her leg off. I mean, we wouldn't want anyone thinking that bears in Montana run off when someone wags a finger at them, now would we?
Nigel, Edmonton, Alberta Canada

When I told my husband about this story, he said he'd run away if anyone tried to get him near a courgette (or any other green vegetable really).
Susan Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

Re. Council tax bands. They should bring a new band, A* in for council tax. It's too easy to get an A nowadays.
Phil, Milton on the Keynes

Jennie F, Leeds, UK (Thursday's letters) - as an expat northerner now down south, it's nice to see the use of the word "quid". My (southern) wife informs me that it's just not something that's used down here. Is latin not taught in the south anymore?
Phil, Milton on the Keynes

Is it possible for the average human olfactory system to distinguish between the excreta of humans and other animals? Probably, yes. Humans tend not to eat as healthily as most animals, and there is certainly a difference between the smell of a backed up sewer and that of a freshly muck spread field. P.S. I've submitted various comments to this section over time, with much less lavatorial themes, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that this is the only one that ever gets published. Ah well.
Rae, Cardiff, Cymru

In this story you report that "last year only 10 banks in London were robbed and in four of those cases the criminals went away empty-handed." So actually only 6 were robbed!
Sukie, Loughborough

RE: all the people commenting on the Chris Moyles story (Thursday's letters). The whole thing was taken out of context, even the "I'm not a morning" quote has been. Don't comment on something if you don't know what was actually said.
Ian, Kent

Rik (Thursday's letters), the whole point of the rant is that he wasn't getting paid, and hadn't been for two months. Assuming he has a mortgage, television, internet connection, car...there are a lot of things to spend money on each month. Could he have amassed significant enough savings to cover those two months by now? Probably, yes, but he shouldn't have to.
Andrew, Glasgow, UK

If these people were so familiar with the TripAdvisor webpage, it's a wonder they stayed at the hotel at all!
No Name, Swindon

Caption Competition

13:45 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it was a model in a hat by designer Kinder Aggugini, at London Fashion Week.

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

6. TheCoachman
My husband won't let me unwrap it until my birthday tomorrow

5. Rob Falconer
If Blue Peter went into fashion ...

4. Nick Fowler
The organisers unveil the official authorised Commonwealth Games hat

3. Fi-Glos
Jemima was not looking forward to the swimwear section...

2. bennym22
Bring your child to work day has its limitations

1. Max S
Lady Gaga protests against the privatisation of the Post Office.

Paper Monitor

10:27 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What's this? A pressie?

DVD giveaways are back.

There's a Cliff Richard film in the Daily Mail, which could be described as a match, in the chaste sense, made in heaven.

So, what film is it? Summer Holiday? I love that bit where they all get on the bus and...

Not that one? Oh. Well, what about The Young Ones? Or Expresso Bongo?

Not those either. It's a DVD called Two A Penny, which was apparently funded by and features evangelist Billy Graham. If you like action flicks, it's probably not for you.

The Telegraph is also in generous mood, promising a John Wayne film with tomorrow's paper. Wayne fans will probably be happier than Richard fans with the giveaway, because it's The Shootist, Wayne's final film in which he plays a dying man, opposite James Stewart.

Other papers are also waging celluloid war, but the Times and Guardian rise above the handouts, or maybe they just couldn't afford them. Instead they supply journalistic giveaways, with a Film Power List in the Guardian and a feature on therapy cinema which the Times trails on its front page.

Returning briefly to matters of Christianity, it's noticeable how quickly the Pope has disappeared from view, after the seven-day glut.

There are no papal mentions, which reflects how quickly the news wheel turns.

Let's hope editors take heed of the Telegraph, which has a story that warns: "Turning your back on God could be bad for your health"

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:29 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

"I'm not a great morning person" - Chris Moyles, presenter of BBC Radio 1's breakfast show, on air from 6.30 til 10 each, er, morning.

Moyles played down an on-air tirade in which he said he had not being paid for two months. The DJ explained that he was "very, very moody first thing in the morning".
More details (The Sun)

Your Letters

16:00 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

Love how Chris Moyles, the BBC's longest serving Radio 1 Breakfast DJ, is not "a morning person".
Jo K, London

"I'm very, very moody first thing in the morning," he said. "I'm not a morning person."
So.. umm... why do a BREAKFAST show? Oh yeah, because you get paid half a million quid! He should be the one showing respect to his listeners (I am not one of them, I should point out) whose loyalty has kept him on the airwaves.
Jennie F, Leeds, UK

Re Hamlet and finding ways to keep "To be or not to be" fresh. I have to admit that Jude Law was one of the best Hamlet's I have see after Kenneth Branagh. I never expected him to be, but he was really amazing, better than David Tenant.
Joanna Jones @BBC News Magazine

Crikey, Teresa Lewis doesn't stand much chance with this legal team: "With an IQ of just 72, both her current legal team and death penalty opponents..." Ah, the dangling modifier.
Alex , Edinburgh

Re The perils of earning a £100,000 salary: Envy is pernicious - we are all tested in different ways - some are tested through poverty, some through wealth, some through beauty & some through ugliness, some though genius & others through mediocrity. Having said that I like Spike Milligan's comment: "All I ask is the chance to prove that money doesn't make you happy".
Ashley Pearson @BBC News Magazine

Re Why this is going to be a particularly bountiful autumn: I have already harvested blackberries, elderberries, rosehips, sloes, whortleberries (look it up!) and apples, all in vast quantites and have made a large batch of Hedgerow Jam (yum yum) as well as several pies. I love autumn.
Katie Bourn @BBC News Magazine

Paper Monitor

14:28 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As the paper which sent its chief rock critic to review the Pope's appearance in Glasgow last week, Paper Monitor was secretly hoping the Times might dispatch an eager travel journalist on a junket to the troubled Commonwealth Games's Village in Delhi.

Alas, the job fell to local correspondent Rhys Blakely. He nevertheless employs the sort of critical faculties Judith Chalmers used to unleash when examining a hotel/building site on the Costa Brava for Wish You Were Here in the early 1980s.

While most of today's national press feature the story about the troubled build-up to the games, Blakely appears to be the only hack to have gained access to the "off limits" Games village - although all it required was straying across "a tape marked 'Delhi police do not cross'... lying in waterlogged mud!".

(Given the absence of punctuation in this directive - perhaps it was members of the local constabulary who were actually being warned to stay away.)

So how bad is it, Rhys?

"A bathroom was encrusted in grime. The windows were filthy. A circle the diameter of a teacup had been burnt out of the plastic bathtub in the two-bedroom apartment and a jagged edge of metal stood proud from the surface. The beds, which were only just being installed, were chipped."

Imagine, athletes sleeping in scuffed cribs. The indignity.

Actually, there is worse. Blakely notes that as he crossed into the village he was "met by the smell of human excrement".

Sorry readers, to sound vulgar, but is it possible for the average human olfactory system to distinguish between the excreta of humans and other animals?

This is all on the front page, but there is more evidence of the ramshackle conditions inside the paper - including a picture of, brace yourselves, a "too-hastily planted tree".

The Mirror is the only other paper to have planted (geddit?) a man on the scene, although its reporter ventured into the showpiece stadium rather than the athletes' village.

And in time-honoured tabloid style, we know he was there because there are pictures of him, in this case standing in front of the "chaotic main venue" and pointing to an "unfinished sign board".

And what's this from the Telegraph? It seems the Delhi authorities have found their own way of answering visiting journalists' griping.

"Hoteliers revenge after 'smell' TripAdvisor review"

Thursday's Quote of the Day

12:38 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

"I'll make sure there's water in the pool before I jump off the board" - Diver Tom Daley jokes about the perils of competing in the Commonwealth Games

As more negative headlines appear surrounding preparations for the Games in Delhi, some British athletes have pulled out amid safety concerns. But not teenage diver Tom Daley, who applies a light-hearted touch amid the gloom.

Your Letters

15:43 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Re: The perils of earning a £100,000 salary. I'll have it if they don't want it, as long as they keep doing the working bit though. I'm too busy for that right now.
Scott Smith @BBC News Magazine

Regarding earning a £100,000 salary, I think Dickens got it right when Mr Micawber observed: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
Matthew Peter Wood @BBC News Magazine

"... the Trading Standards Institute said many items ordered online have failed to arrive. ...There has been a four-fold rise in the number of fake goods seized at UK borders in the last 10 years." Any connection, perhaps?
Rob, London, UK

"Lost frogs found after decades" - and boy were they tired!
JennyT, NY Brit

What next? Water turned into wine by fermentation process?
Phil, Milton on the Keynes

Why did this story make me giggle?
Carol, Portugal

David Richerby (Tuesday's letters), it could be worse: In Denmark there is a peak (once thought to be the country's highest point) called 'Himmelbjerget' which translates to Heaven Mountain or Sky Mountain. It is 147m above sea level.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Leib & Eric (Tuesday's letters) - everyone I know calls it Pry-mark - could it be a regional thing? I don't think I'm that posh.
Catherine, Hitchin, UK

Paper Monitor

12:57 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As ever, it took the inimitable Danny Baker, on his recent Saturday morning radio show, to give voice to a conundrum that has been troubling the entire nation:

"Who remembers that fella Stephen Fry? Whatever happened to him?"

Sightings of the Lesser-Spotted National Treasure have been few and far between in recent months. Always one with an ear to the terra firma of Bloomsbury, Paper Monitor can reveal that Fry has actually written a book of memoirs and, what's more, one or two specialist retailers are said to be stocking a few copies in the run up to Christmas.

Now the Guardian can reveal that Fry has broken cover. The raconteur has taken to performing a couple of low-key shows in a backstreet London venue called the Royal Albert Hall... one of those pub theatres probably.

The paper even sent one of its writers to the gig to pen a review.

Guardianistas will be aware that in the past Fry has enjoyed a close relationship with the paper - at one stage penning a technology column for it.

So it's bound to be a chummy write up - all friends together, a sprinkling of mildly deprecatory remarks here and there just to relieve the unctuousness of it all, but nevertheless a lather of warm words and generous sentiments.

Just look at the headline: "Slick, disarming, appealing..."

Tells you all you need to know.

"...and really rather dull"

Oh dear, it seems reviewer Stuart Jeffries has broken ranks.

"Sometimes his patter is so banal that you feel that as a responsible member of the audience you should retire to the bar..."

"Much," of the material, says Jeffries, "is stupendously dull."

Boy, it's going to be an interesting Christmas party at Guardian HQ this year when the staffers get their annual opportunity to rub shoulders with the freelance contributors.

On the other hand, maybe Fry will sit out the occasion and return to the obscurity he is so fond of.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:36 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010

"Keep on rockin" - How Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards expressed his support for the Iraq invasion in a personal note to Tony Blair, according to reports.

A "source close to the Blairite court" is quoted to the effect that Richards' missive was the former prime minister's "single most treasured possession". Alas, there is no mention of it in his recent memoirs.

More details (The Guardian)

Your Letters

15:55 UK time, Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The release of the e-fit of lettuce man is obviously a very clever ruse on the part of the Hampshire Constabulary. An image that would otherwise have been seen by almost no-one (save the dedicated Crimestoppers among you) has now been viewed by a gazillion BBC website users. Perhaps tomorrow the police will announce that they made a mistake and that he's in fact wanted not for a £60 robbery but for murder. I look forward to seeing the fruits of this project in future (excuse the pun), may I suggest rosy cheeks and cauliflower ears?
Simon, Cambridge

Is it too much to hope that the lettuce-head suspect will turn over a new leaf? Perhaps he needs to put down roots somewhere.
GDW, Edinburgh

Rocket Man?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

Iceberg right ahead!
Ellie, Oxford, UK

Please tell me we're not really calling 1,000m hills, "super-mountains". That's just embarrassing. On that scale, Everest must be a "mega-ultra-super-dooper-really-big-with-knobs-on mountain".
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

Blue Baby (Monday's letters): oh, no you don't! I think you'll find that Primark is an Irish retailer that is and always has been pronounced Pree-mark!
Leib, Belfast

Blue Baby (Monday's letters), unless you're trying to make yourself feel better about shopping there by making it sound posher, it's "Pree-mark"
Eric, Bristol

It's risky, but I'm going for NOT being published on three consecutive working days (Monday's letters). Day one, fingers crossed, here goes...
Graeme, Egham

Paper Monitor

12:49 UK time, Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a numbers game in the papers today and what many of them are trying to work out is exactly how many babies Keith Macdonald has had and with how many different women.

On Monday, the Sun reported the 25 year old had fathered 10 children by 10 different women. Today it reports that he has turned down the paper's offer to pay for a vasectomy for him. Just in case he wants more babies in the future.

The Mirror puts Mr Macdonald's running total at 15 children by 14 different women. Although, it says he denies the latest estimate and has only admitted to eight kids.

The Daily Mail reports the same (15 by 14) and does some extra number crunching for readers. Each child could over 18 years cost £50,000 in child tax credits and £20,000 in child benefit, while each mother could receive £30,000 in income support and £50,000 in housing benefit because hardly any of them work. Columnist Bel Mooney also gets stuck into him.

Looking at the photograph of the weasel-faced Keith MacDonald, it's hard to imagine why so many women were prepared to jump into bed with him... Most girls would want to run a man like that under the tap before even sitting next to him on a bus.

But she tries to be fair - and gets stuck into the mothers as well.

You might be waiting idly at a bus stop, as one girl was when she met Keith - but nobody forces you to board a bus going in the wrong direction.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Macdonald receives incapacity benefit for a bad back. No wonder.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:33 UK time, Tuesday, 21 September 2010

"What would that be like? Page 1 kebabs, page 2 chips, page 3 ambulance?" - Paul O'Grady imagines what his Heart Disease Diet Book might entail

Before you check your local bookshop, O'Grady, who has suffered two heart attacks, was joking. He was making a point about celebrity-endorsed health DVDs and books.

More details (News of the World)

Your Letters

15:40 UK time, Monday, 20 September 2010

Re: How to say 'Louis Vuitton' and other designers' names. I'll stick to Primark (pronounced "pry-mark"), thanks.
Blue Baby, London

So... smaller, cheaper cars will mean less congestion in the future. Do you mean in the same way that, back in the '70's, computers were going to do all the work in the future, so we would all have more free time?
Robert, Glasgow

"Imagine a car so narrow that two can drive next to each other in one lane; a car so small and short that three can park in one parking space." It's called a (motor)bike!
Henri, Sidcup

Re: Should under-16s be expected to work? On my 16 birthday I had been in the Army almost a year!
Jim Paterson @BBC News Magazine

Re: Should under-16s be expected to work? Expected no. Allowed to, yes.
Luke Charmander @BBC News Magazine

Presumably these neighbours thought that the primary school they were buying a house next to would be silent, with no children being taught there?!
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

Re '10 Things' number 9. I rather have to put on my pedant's hat to point out that the statement, and the article to which it refers, must presumably mean cow's milk or similar. Unless breast feeding in humans is a new development?
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Colin in London (Letters, Friday) - those people born on the 29th February 1992 may only (technically) have had four birthdays, but they'll still be eighteen years old this year.
Jeremy, Gloucester

This is an unabashed attempt to be published on three consecutive working days.
Neil Franklin, Chandlers Ford, UK

Paper Monitor

09:50 UK time, Monday, 20 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As Nick Clegg opened the morning newspapers at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool, he would have been offered a stark visualisation of the perils of a centre party in entering government.

On the one hand, the Independent, which endorsed the yellow ticket at the last election, has a front page which contrasts Mr Clegg "signing up to a Tory-led programme of savage cuts to public services" with his host city's "most deprived areas, where the human cost of those cuts is shockingly clear". Inside, the paper quotes Lib Dem activists expressing varying degrees of unease about the coalition.

On the other, the Daily Mail takes one look at the party's plans to crack down on tax avoidance - a move designed to reassure its erstwhile centre-left supporters - and thunders its revulsion under the headline "CLEGG TAX WAR ON BETTER-OFF".

Who would be a Lib Dem in these troubled times? Yes, if you're an MP there's a good chance of getting a nice ministerial car.

And when guidance comes from broadly sympathetic columnists, it is, at best, elliptical.

For evidence, turn to Jackie Ashley in the Guardian. "The Liberal Democrat gamble could pay off", she offers, helpfully. "It probably won't." Thanks, Jackie.

Nonetheless, Mr Clegg will doubtless be heartened by support from an unlikely source.

The Sun may not, traditionally, be an ally of the Lib Dems when it comes to the party's long-held enthusiams for social liberalism, electoral reform and the sartorial twinning of beards with sandals.

But the paper's leader gushes in support of Nick Clegg for showing "leadership by calmly explaining the truth".

Columnist and former political editor Trevor Kavanagh - who may be bearded, but has never exactly been noted as a disciple of Beveridge and Keynes - praises the party for deciding to "take tough decisions instead of sniping from the sidelines". He adds:

To his credit, the Deputy PM has rounded on critics who accuse him of "selling out" and blamed them for risking our children's and our grandchildren's future. Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander has emerged as the unlikely champion of realistic spending cuts.

Praise indeed. It seems this government is producing more and more unforeseen coalitions.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:32 UK time, Monday, 20 September 2010

"I pull them on the buses" - Kevin Macdonald, who has fathered 10 children by 10 different mothers, on how he has managed to attract so many women.

The unemployed 25-year-old's fatherhood spree is reported to have resulted in a £2m bill for the taxpayer. For his part, Mr Macdonald, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, says he made the acquaintance of the mothers of his children along the north-east's bus network.

More details (Daily Mirror)

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