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Archives for October 3, 2010 - October 9, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:28 UK time, Friday, 8 October 2010

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

1. The world's largest circulation newspaper is the Japanese title Yomiuri Shimbun, selling 15 million copies.
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10 telephone cables

2. Squirrels can be black.
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3. Chimpanzees can become addicted to smoking.
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4. One in 10 babies born in Europe is conceived in an Ikea bed.
More details (Daily Mail)

5. Tarantulas are edible.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. People can begin apprenticeships in their 70s.
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7. Adolf Hitler promised to give his foreign minister Cornwall.
More details (Daily Mail)

8. Men sweat more efficiently than women.
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9. Sewage can be used to heat homes.
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10. Potatoes can be purple - inside and out.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this week's picture of 10 telephone cables.

Your Letters

15:44 UK time, Friday, 8 October 2010

Re: today's quote about Mr Rooney, I initially thought this was a slang word, so went off searching in Italian slang for it. It wasn't there, but I did uncover a lot of other good Italian words beginning with C, which I am saving for future use.
Ronald King, Purfleet, England

Oh curse you, Magazine! I would have got my first ever 7/7 had you numbered the pictures of question one in a proper order! The '1,3,2,4' arrangement cost me dearly!
Aaron, Lowestoft, UK

Since I have a pet turtle, I watched the video to see a tortoise who is apparently "mothering" a baby rhino. But the video said it's a male, so shouldn't he be fathering it? Rather dark age to act like tenderness can only be maternal.
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Monster-bottle Baby is becoming the new Drunk Girl. He (or is it she?) is here and here. Surely there are other winsome poppets out there?
Kirsty Nicol, East Lothian, Scotland

As I didn't do at all well on the History Quiz, I thought I'd go for a pedantry prize instead... clocks in Bristol are not set faster than those in London - a day is still the same length of time. They're just set earlier. A clock only runs fast when it is continually gaining time.
Joe, Folkestone, UK

Now I know what word to use so chavs don't know what I'm talking about.
Ismay Woods, Newtownards, Co Down, Northern Ireland

I was wondering whats all the fuss was about of Purple Potatoes? A few years ago in one of the daily papers they were offering a victorian breed of potato which happened to be purple. I purchased some potatoes and grew them. and ate them and no difference was noticed apart from the "Ooh they're a different colour". Novelty sells.
Mandy C, Stoke, Staffordshire

Please, Dan Wilkinson (Thursday's letters), if you are going to give your full interstellar address do get it right - you missed out "Solar System". Otherwise you could be mistaken for the Dan Wilkinson living on the Planet Earth in some other star system in our Galaxy.
Fiona Craig, London, UK

Caption Competition

12:56 UK time, Friday, 8 October 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it was the new award-winning mini-kiwi from Labatut, southwestern France. It's said to be about the size of a thumb and is very rare.

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

6. Clint75
Processed pea's kiwi impression still needed some work.

5. Rogueslr
Does this mean that Five-a-Day just got alot easier?

4. Spraggy
I've told you a thousand times, I am just a grape!

3. BSPRobinson
It is believed that Mrs Milibands attempts to redress the balance between her sons over dinner have failed.

2. Andy
The Hobbit's casting team were told to sign up any small Kiwis.

1. MuteJoe
Apparently, it's perfectly normal for one to be slightly smaller than the other.

Paper Monitor

11:13 UK time, Friday, 8 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Friday! And as with most Fridays, Paper Monitor is counting down the hours until home-time, interspersing long stretches of clock-watching by formulating plans for the coming weekend.

A trip to the cinema - or, if you prefer, an excuse to sit in darkness and munch Maltesers - sounds enticing after a long week. So Paper Monitor turns to Fleet Street's film critics for advice.

The big cinematic release this week, it transpires, is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone's sequel to his 1987 morality tale. The original, cinephiles will recall, was set among Lower Manhattan's financial alpha males and made Michael Douglas's name as anti-hero Gordon Gekko.

Paper Monitor has fond, if vague, memories of the first instalment, and harbours a secret affection for pinstripes and oversized mobile phones. A plotline concerning misdeeds among bankers and stockbrokers could hardly be more relevant.

So this must be the obvious choice on that trip to the multiplex, surely?

Not according to Guardian film columnist Anne Billson, who admits that "whenever I hear the words "insider trading", "subprime" or "hedge fund", my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about hats, or miniature dachshunds".

The paper's review of the film awards just two stars to a film which leaves critic Peter Bradshaw not angry, just disappointed:

The issues are fudged with creamy indulgence; and speculative trading, notionally reviled, is finally shown to be the means of getting vital funding for politically correct clean energy, and even of reuniting father and daughter. Gekko winds up as a lovable grandad: the biggest jungle beast is a sweet old pussy cat, and a rather boring one.

Christopher Tookey in the Daily Mail is even less forgiving of Stone, spitting: "Hollywood's most notorious champagne socialist seems to be turning into the poor man's Vince Cable."

In the Daily Mirror, David Edwards is equally scathing. "Money never sleeps," he drawls, "but you might."

There is some sympathy for all involved. Kate Muir in the Times says it suffers [subscription required] under a "weight of expectation, trying top be a history lesson as well as a movie". She awards it four stars "for trying, for old time's sake".

A ringing endorsement it is not. So much for the clock-watching. Paper Monitor will be staying in tonight.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:27 UK time, Friday, 8 October 2010

"A bit of a coatto" - Frederico Macheda's description of Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney.

The 19-year-old striker used the word for "chav" in his native Italian, according to the Sun, although other papers translated it as "a bit working class and vulgar".

Macheda, who was praising Rooney - saying he was a "great person" who always passed on advice - when he used the term, later issued an apology.

"I didn't mean any offence to Wayne for whom I have the utmost admiration and respect. All I meant is he is down-to-earth and friendly," he said.

More details (The Sun)

Your Letters

16:58 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

Has Paper Monitor gone on holiday and been replaced by Comic Monitor today? Please, highlight the richness of the daily press with dry witicism or beguiling charm, not the tawdriness of red top relationship advice with crass cliche. It's not worth the paper it's not written on.
Aghast!, at the Part time PP of paper monitor

Paper Monitor, I really must complain. It is 2.16pm on Thursday 7 October, and there is no sign of you, or your cousin Caption Comp. Some of us only get the chance to surf at lunchtime which does not go on all afternoon. And this is the second day this has happened. Are you in love, or ill? This tardiness will not do. You must address yourself to making improvements and pull your socks up. Naughty PM!
PollySaxon, Lichfield

Paper Monitor writes: Sincerest apologies for the tardiness of today's entry. One could mention how complex things gets when herding little Paper Monitors through life's difficult early years. Of course, there are always reasons but never excuses. On the matter of the "tawdriness of red-top relationship advice", Aghast, is this not a constituent of the riches of the daily press?

Thank you M Ross (Wednesday letters) for echoing my sentiments entirely. I got all excited at the thought of sausage and purple mash and was all prepared to set off to my local Sainsbury's when I realised I lived in the wrong part of the country. I have been denied the chance to sample such wonders of nature. Completely ruined my day. How far will Sainsbury's deliver to?
Kazbat, Merseyside

Helen/Michael (Wednesday letters) - very true, I have been through Manchester, NH, on the way to Chesterfield NH (don't ask). As you can imagine there are numerous places in New England that have the same names as British places, but I don't recall that any of them were referred to as "Manchester, USA".
Dan Wilkinson, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK, Europe, Planet Earth, Milky get the point...

Re 7 questions on British history: despite my history degree, I only received 5/7, but may I point out that all Henry VIII's wives died?
Kirsty Nicol, East Lothian, Scotland

Is the Magazine a marital status reader? 5/7 for 7 questions on British history and it gave me my marital status. I'm spooked.
RD, London

I'm pretty sure that tarantulas are venomous rather than poisonous, otherwise Mr Onac wouldn't be here to tell us of his experience (Thursday's Quote of the Day).
Sarah, Oxford, UK
Monitor, who has never tried the delicacy, stands corrected. Thursday's quote has been amended accordingly.

Paper Monitor

14:11 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is feeling a little sorry for the Daily Star's agony aunt Jane O'Gorman. It's not normal to extend a hand of sympathy to those who dish out advice on how we should live our lives - agony aunts are oracles of wisdom when it comes to our modern-day dilemmas.

But today Jane's sage advice is definitely playing second fiddle to the problem itself. And what's worse, is that the reader seeking a life steer from Jane isn't even named. Not even a "name withheld " or an "anon".

His problem is that he can't stand his girlfriend's moaning... no, not that sort of moaning.

"My girlfriend... is completely intolerant of other people, of noise and even smells," writes this poor put-upon reader.

He goes on to explain that as someone who works from home, he is dreading the imminent prospect of said girlfriend also working from home.

But what's this, apropos of not much really, he reveals that "I've got a secret arrangement with a woman a few doors down. She gives me massages in return for me looking after her garden. Nothing sleazy (well, a bit sleazy sometimes!)"

If his girlfriend is at home full-time, he'll never be able to "visit my neighbour again".

Eh? What exactly is the nature of this plea for advice? Is it about being wound up by somebody's whingeing, or about a little of extra-curricula, ahem, gardening?

Jane's advice is squeezed into a few short of paragraphs at the end - and suffice it to say, it wouldn't pass muster on the Guardian's women's pages.

"Why doesn't she rent an office nearby... you need your space. She might not fall for it, but it's worth a try."

This seems an appropriate juncture, readers, to invoke that time-honoured BBC warning: "don't try this at home."

Thursday's Quote of the Day

08:25 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

"Like eating those very dry cheese biscuits" - Headmaster Aydin Onac on eating a tarantula

How do headteachers raise funds for their schools in these hard-pressed times? Mr Onac came up with the novel idea of sponsored tarantula eating. The venomous spiders are farmed in Cambodia where they are seen as a delicacy.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:45 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Would a cleverer Monirite than me explain why this person has greater claim to UK residency by virtue of their television appearance on a talent show than any other (whose circumstances upon their return to country of origin may be far worse in comparison): just why is there this fuss?
R.G, Watford, Herts

Sick PCs should be banned from the internet. Come on, that's a bit harsh. Put them on point duty - they can't infect anyone while directing traffic!
JennyT, NY Brit

Scottish-grown purple potatoes sold in Scotland and South-East England? What are we in the rather large bit in between, chopped liver?
M. Ross, Lancaster, UK

In reponse to Andrea's query (Tuesday letters), whereas the majority of buildings in the UK are built from masonry, which tends not to combust, buildings on piers need to be light weight and have therefore tended to be timber framed or timber clad, which burns much more quickly and easily. For a similar reason many fewer timber framed houses exist from the past centuries than do masonry ones.
Sarah, London

Andrea from Manchester (Tuesday letters), my guess would be that it's a bit harder to park the fire engine alongside than with most buildings.
Adam, London, UK

John Whapshott (Tuesday letters) may be sure that Manchester University, UK is the only Manchester University but not everyone may have been. There is, for example, another Manchester (in New Hampshire, USA) which has not one but 2 universities. As for "Westbury, er, UK": it could easliy not have been. As well as the 6 in the UK there are Westburys in Australia, Ireland, Canada and 2 in the USA. Sometimes a little clarification helps.
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

I hope this is one of many letters who pointed out to John (Tuesday letters) that there is another Manchester University (albeit the University of Manchester, but similar enough to require clarification) in the USA.
Helen, Norwich

Paper Monitor

13:02 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Decisions, decisions. Get them right and no-one will thank you. Get them wrong and you'll never hear the end of it, a maxim reinforced every time Paper Monitor picks a birthday present for Paper Monitor's mum.

Take the latest course of action taken by the government - to remove child benefit from families with at least one parent earning more than about £44,000 a year.

You may, like Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph, believe that "absurdity of paying benefits to the better-off should have been addressed decades ago". Or you might prefer to follow the advice of Allison Pearson in the same newspaper: "If you have a binful of dirty Pampers, prepare to start pelting them now."

What everyone can agree on is that David Cameron's government has annoyed a sizeable chunk of its core support.

The Daily Mail is livid that families with stay-at-home mothers will be penalised under the plans. CHILD BENEFIT BACKLASH GROWS, it howls, over a selection vituperative comments selected from its own website and that barometer of political opinion, Mumsnet.

The Sun opines that it is to Mr Cameron's "great credit" that he has not been afraid to annoy his own supporters in his efforts to reduce the deficit.

However, a gleeful Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian wonders whether this "might soon stand alongside Gordon Brown's scrapping of the 10p tax rate as a gross political error".

None of this, however, comes close to the fury unleashed at X Factor judge Cheryl Cole's decision to axe contestant Gamu Nhengu in favour of two rivals who had botched their auditions.

According to the Sun, Ms Cole has received a series of "chilling" death threats.

The Daily Mirror, too, reports "a flood of protests" from "furious viewers" - likely to be made all the more furious after reading that Ms Nhengu will be deported after her visa reached its expiry.

Perhaps Ms Cole and Mr Cameron could share coping strategies on provoking the wrath of one's own fanbase.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:42 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

"Franzenfreude" - term for authors' envy at the many brilliant reviews bestowed upon author Jonathan Franzen

The wall-to-wall praise of the writer's fourth novel, Freedom, has led US chick-lit author Jennifer Weiner to coin a phrase for "taking pain in the multiple and copious reviews being showered on Jonathan Franzen".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:58 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Breaking news! Someone does their job!
Sarah, Nantwich

Dear Magazine, I have been reading you for a while now and while I've never interacted, you have answered many curiosities of mine ranging from laundrettes to budget airlines and others. However I ask of you, now that the Hastings Pier was "largely destroyed" in a fire - why is it that piers of any kind in this country seem to be the only buildings that just can't seem to be saved when fire breaks out?
Andrea, Manchester, UK

The two scientists who have won the Nobel Prize for Physics are described as being at 'Manchester University, UK.' This is to distinguish it from the other Manchester university where? Bolivia? Suriname?
John Whapshott, Westbury, er, UK

Erm, connected much? Story from 4th October and story from 5th October.
Kevin Langley, Kevin, Eastbourne

If Europe plays as a team, what's the chant?How about "we are the champions"?
Andrew Evans @BBC News Magazine

Graham (Monday's letters), the Bangladeshi tigers are not small. They're just far away.
GDW, Edinburgh

Strangely, the thing which made the biggest impact on me from Monday's letters was a place name. Does Johan really live in "Urk"?
PhilPhil, Norwich, England

Paper Monitor

13:29 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's still a little early in the day to get all philosophical, but here's a question worth pondering over your lunchtime burrito: if a provocative art exhibition receives no coverage in the press was it ever provocative in the first place?

Paper Monitor is thinking about the Turner Prize, which, back in the day, used to have editors foaming at the mouth at its championing of installation art. Wot no watercolour landscapes of rural England was always the subtext.

These days, it seems as though the papers are all fulminated out.

Dailys Telegraph and Express don't even mention the unveiling of this year's shortlist. And the Daily Mail's indignation is relegated to page 28, and pretty lukewarm at that.

In fact its description of artist Dexter Dalwood's painting, The Death of David Kelly, is respectful in tone:

"Dalwood's paintings represent 'new visual testaments to well-known moments from recent history'"

There's a bit of sniggering elsewhere not least in the subheading - "Broken paintings and a woman who sings at Tesco" and a picture caption that asks "worth £25,000?". But its all fairly mild.

Maybe the outrage has instead been channelled against the Tate gallery's media relations team. The gallery had insisted that press photographers must sign a form guaranteeing their pictures would not be used in criticising the artworks.

Metro, making a rare appearance in Paper Monitor, quotes critic Brian Sewell on the matter, in which he wonders whether "organisers of the prize were 'prickly' about criticism 'because they are mocked about it year after year'".

Given the age-old maxim that no publicity is bad publicity and the dearth of column inches on the story today, the Tate can only be wishing that were the case.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

08:20 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

"It's like the Krankies turning out to be rocket scientists" - Lenny Henry on his starting of a PhD

The West Midlands-born comedian is beginning a PhD on the representation of black people in the media, after completing a masters degree in screenwriting. But he concedes it's an unlikely move for a man who most people know as a comic actor and stand-up.

More details

Your Letters

15:57 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

So experts are baffled as to why certain Bangladeshi tigers are so small. Surely this is to allow them to fit more easily into petrol tanks.
Graham, Purmerend, NL

I'm not sure why Alex, Bristol, thinks "one-fourth" (Thursday's letters) is an Americanism, because it appears in an article by a BBC correspondent about a UK-Japanese collaboration. I've never heard "one-fourth" in the US, especially not in the fourth quarter of an American football game, in which a quarterback plays. Maybe he should keep his Knibb out.
Brian Saxby, Chicago, USA

I do think that MM should put a warning out when there is a particularly funny letter - I have had to clean my keyboard of coffee after reading the letter from Sue, London (Friday's letters).
Lynne Holmes, Lincoln

Adam (Friday's letters), these cars do have indicators, it's just that they only function when the car is stationary on double yellow lines (or at a bus stop). Then the left and right indicators flash simultaneously.
grumpyoneuk, Ilford

Re: 10 Things number seven: All I can think of is a whistle-blowing conductor hollering, "Commuters, READY!"
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

After seeing the picture in this article, I was waiting for the A-ha quote. Or am I the only one thinking that the three guys in the picture look very similar to those '80s Norwegian heart-throbs?
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

A personal worst in the 7 days quiz - 1/7. Thank goodness for the giant penguin, not often you get to say that!
Ellie, Herts

Paper Monitor

10:23 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

For just a few days, every two years, Paper Monitor loves golf.

It is not so much that the Ryder Cup brings a refreshing element of team play to a sport which is usually the preserve of ruthlessly efficient individuals.

Nor is it that it is the only golfing tournament that allows raucous football-style chanting and wild celebrations to pervade the sedate atmosphere of the fairways.

Rather, Paper Monitor delights in the rare opportunity to see the British press unite unconditionally behind a European cause.

And while fans surrounding the greens struggle to come up with a coherent chant - the continent's two syllables are just not conducive to hollering [got a potential Europe team chant? Post it on the Magazine's Facebook page] - the papers suffer no such difficulty.

"Eurostars," screams the back page of the Daily Mail, a paper more usually associated with barracking Brussels bureaucrats.

Inside, it proudly flies the EU flag opposite the Stars and Stripes as it runs through the opposing pairings for the final day's singles. It is Team Europe's official emblem but still...

Meanwhile Neil Squires, at the Daily Express, was positively salivating with continentalistic fervour - did Paper Monitor just invent a word? - over Europe's "golden day" on Sunday.

"The force is with Europe and in Lee Westwood they have their Luke Skywalker leading them out."

Paper Monitor was beginning to wonder whether EU foreign minister Baroness Ashton had negotiated an uneasy truce with Fleet Street's editors for the duration of the competition.

Reassuringly, however, page 19 of the Mail reveals a short article predicting the "death of the euro".

With the economic woes of Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal threatening the currency's future - in the eyes of some economists at least - the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh describes the euro as "like a dodo":

"Just as we warned at the launch of the reckless gamble a decade ago, we can see this bird was never meant to fly."

However, he is not the only party pooper to spoil the European love-in.

With rain forcing the Ryder Cup to spill over into an extra day for the first time, many fans had hoped for a Wimbledon-style "people's Monday", where tickets would go to people on a first-come, first-served basis.

However, as the Times reports, as if things weren't sodden enough already at Celtic Manor organisers chose to "tip cold water" [subscription required] on the prospects.

Only those with valid Sunday tickets will be allowed in, prompting speculation of spectators sending sick notes back to work en masse.

It leaves one wondering whether a clause could be added to the EU working time directive to allow people leave in the event of a repeat of this year's over-run.

Surely everyone would unite behind that?

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:02 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

"This little girl has a lot to answer for" - An internet forum user blames a four-year-old who was injured while walking under a horse chestnut tree for a council's decision to remove all its conkers.

Katie Roden suffered a fractured skull last year after a branch thrown into the tree to dislodge the horse chestnuts fell on her.

Nottingham City Council staff used a cherry picker to pull down this year's conkers after her mother Tracey alerted them to the danger. Many taxpayers have branded the move a waste of money.

More details. (Daily Mirror)

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