BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 12, 2010 - December 18, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:42 UK time, Friday, 17 December 2010

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

1. Catherine Tate appeared in her first Nativity play as Gary Glitter.
More details (BBC's The Andrew Marr Show)

2. The English language has doubled in popularity in the last century.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. The West Midlands is the obesity capital of the UK.
More details

4. The Christmas Day truce of 1914 was not a one-off, but repeated throughout the war.
More details

5. The average adult spends 24 minutes a day fetching and drinking hot drinks.
More details

6. Whoopi Goldberg sent David Cameron a gift - tickets to her show.
More details

7. The word "monkey" is one of the most commonly hacked passwords.
More details

8. Fearless people exist.
More details

9. Stressed-out elephants are more likely to raid farms.
More details

10. The world's most expensive Christmas tree is in Abu Dhabi.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Your Letters

13:23 UK time, Friday, 17 December 2010

On behalf of everyone in the UK, I'd just like to say "Brrrrr" and "It's freezing out there." There, that's that. Let's hear no more about it.
Sarah, Nantwich

To Phil from Oxford (Thursday letters) - have a cup of tea, that should help with the headache.
David, Greenford, UK

Jonny, Belfast (Thursday letters) - last year a gritter overturned on Freezinghill Lane near Bath. Just thought you may like to know.
Steve, Bath, UK

Sue (Thursday letters), sorry, if you feel well enough to send letters to MM you haven't got flu, you've only got man flu. Get well soon.
Paul, Ipswich

Could you please send me Sue from London's address so I can send her some pickled onions? Thanks.
M. Ross, Lancaster, UK

Will MM be checking the veracity of latest postal dates this year by sending Christmas cards to self-selected readers? If so, I selflessly volunteer.
Phil, Guisborough

Dear Monitor
Is it true that correspondents should submit letters in duplicate during the run-up to Christmas?
Dear Monitor
Is it true that correspondents should submit letters in duplicate during the run-up to Christmas?
Richard Martin Richard Martin, Northampton, Northampton, UK UK

Monitor Note: We would apologise for the double-production of Thursday's letters, but as it meant that you got a bumper crop, consider it an early Christmas gift instead. Please don't all write in to thank us.

Caption Competition

13:13 UK time, Friday, 17 December 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, it was a Christmas tree farm near Berlin.

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

6. SkarloeyLine
After the recent political upheaval, no one believed in Saint Nick any more.

5. Becky Snow Fan Club
Now, where's my sleigh? I could have sworn I left it in Zone C.

4. Martin
"After 50 yards you have reached your destination."
Next year I go back to paper maps!

3. wonkypops
Let's see, the 24th, the 24th... I just get this nagging feeling that I've forgotten to do something.

2. Valerie Ganne
Santa hadn't realised his grotto in Harrods was so big

1. Jan
I must be getting old. The trees all look so young these days.

Paper Monitor

10:31 UK time, Friday, 17 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

No sooner has fortune snatched one prize from your grasp, then she delivers an unexpected bounty with her other hand.

And so, as Paper Monitor struggled to contain its disappointment to find the Guardian's weekly Lost in Showbiz column strangely absent from the paper's G2 supplement, it resigned itself to looking elsewhere for its Friday fix of wit and whimsy.


What's this? A pressie?

In its place, the newspaper has provided a G2 calendar for 2011.

PM's heart usually sinks at the thought of calendars, the Crystal Palace FC 1980 vintage excepted, of course.

But this one has not a farmyard animal or waterfall in sight, pleasant as they are.

Instead, the pictures are supplied by readers, who followed the brief that each photograph must contain a G and a 2. Although this being the Guardian, they can't resist the odd political barb too.

And the words for each month are reflections written by authors like Fay Weldon, Lionel Shriver and Alain de Botton, who has this to say about June:

"By the middle of the month, one might have had five days of meaningfully warm and clear weather, and stepped out without any socks on. Suddenly all kinds of emotions that we'd resigned ourselves to, no longer seem to fit quite so well: being sad, for a start, but also living huddled in layers of clothes, shutting yourself off from nature, longing to live in Alicante. The weather gives us something to emulate. To think of going abroad now would be insanity. It's a dereliction of duty to leave. Stay and dare, for once, to be happy in Britain.

Uplifting stuff, especially as much of the UK finds itself frozen, and Magazine readers can look forward to more from De Botton in the coming weeks, because in the new year he takes over the A Point of View column on Sundays.

Your Letters

15:44 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Did anyone else notice Alan Sugar's supposed IT expert's slip up? He claimed that "ISP" stands for "Internet Service Protocol", where it actually stands for "Internet Service Provider". Do I win a prize?
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

I see nominative determinism doesn't extend to street names ...
Jonny, Belfast

To Nadja (Weds Letters): Why do you ask? Do you have some 'merchandise' available, that you want to advertise?
Ray, Turku, Finland

I think that White Space Avenue is a really good idea for a road name. As an idea, they should start using other media-based terms. Chain Mail Road, Compare The Market Lane, and (my personal favourite) Enalrge Your Penis For Less High Road.
Liam, Northampton

In this blog, Fergus says swine flu is returning, "especially in the 5-14 and 15-44 age groups". That would be the 5-44 age group then?
Richard, Shrewsbury, UK

So having lost 24 minutes of my day making tea, I then lost a further sizeable chunk reading about how I lost those 24 minutes and then composing this letter about how many minutes I lost making tea and reading about making tea. My head hurts!
Phil, Oxford

If I loose 24 minutes, on average, drinking tea at work I'd hate to think how much I loose, on average, on the BBC website alone!!
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

In this blog, Fergus says swine flu is returning, "especially in the 5-14 and 15-44 age groups." That would be the 5-44 age group then?
Richard, Shrewsbury, UK

I see nominative determinism doesn't extend to street names.
Jonny, Belfast

Re: the story about Henri IV's collectible head, "Researchers have reconstructed the face of Henry IV, using the presumed skull" Why bother when there's a picture halfway down the page showing what he looked like?
Clare, CT, USA

I'd like to complain about the complaining tone of Judy from Leeds's letter (Wednesday's letters).
Adam, London, UK

Judy (Wednesday's letters) - no.
Dan, Cambridge

I missed my work Christmas party today because Ive got flu and I'm feeling very sorry for myself. That's all. Thanks. Sniff.
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

11:38 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today is one of those rare days.

With no outstanding splash story, the papers each have a different front page.

On days like this, when Fleet Street editors go freestyle, their picks tend to endorse the paper's values and politics.

Bearing this in mind, Paper Monitor is proud to give you its front page quiz. Here are the headlines. You match the newspaper. Answers below. It's starts easy and gets harder.



3. "JORDAN'S DRUNKEN NIGHT WITH AMIR KHAN" (note from PM's lawyers: it's quite innocent)







Answers: 1. Daily Express, 2. Guardian, 3. Financial Times Daily Star, 4. Independent, 5. Daily Mail, 6. Sun, 7. Times, 8. Telegraph, 9. Mirror

Your Letters

16:08 UK time, Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dear Monitor, we note the absence of letters yesterday and must regretfully conclude that nothing arrived worth publishing. In the interests of ensuring at least one publishable letter today, may those of us who have concluded our Saturnalia shopping remind those less fortunate that a mere nine shopping days remain?
Hoping for a new coat, (hint hint, mother!)
Sophie, London

Hmmm. No letters on Tuesday - and first sight of PM not until almost lunch time on Wednesday... Are we to assume that Monitor Towers was throwing its staff Christmas bash yesterday? If so, have a speedy recovery from the hangover. And, by the way, do you have any leftover cheese & pineapple sticks?
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

MM was labouring rather than revelling, alas, but apologises for the interruption in service and offers a bumper crop of letters by way of recompense.

Monday's letters were all very gripey and complaining. I am not happy with them. Please can people be a bit more light-hearted and witty. Disappointed of Leeds!
Judy, Leeds

Re: this story and the picture caption "The scale of the bergs that arrive at South Georgia is hard to grasp". I suspect that they may be bigger than a London bus yet smaller than Wales. Does this help?
Lynn, London

To Mark Scott, Melksham (Monday letters): Not that I am in any way old enough to remember it, Emergency Ward 10 from the 1960s was also filmed live. I'll get me white coat and exit stage left...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

I would like to know how one goes about finding buyers for this sort of collectible. Is there a society? What do they call their newsletter? And what do they recommend for displaying their collections?
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Following your revelation that some papers are repeating news stories, could I ask that if the BBC ever feel the need to repeat a Lotto draw, they use the tape for Saturday 16 August 2008, since these are the numbers we buy every Saturday. Unfortunately we went away for the last two weeks in August 2008.
Bob Cratchett, London, UK

Re: John Marsh (Monday letters): I for one was thankful for the caption pointing out which figure was Mrs Philby, because as we all know, spies and anyone associated with them, are masters of disguise.
Carl Evans, Crepy, France

Not exactly nominative determinism, but I really hope the communications expert in this story is married to someone called Sue.
Ken, Hemel Hempstead

"Leaning Tower of Pisa Restored to Former Glory." So they got it up straight again did they?
JennyT, NY Brit

It certainly pays to be able to spell correctly. I bet an awful lot of people who can't have read Trollope sacked by Bristol Rovers and been a bit disappointed.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

"Gawker attack spawns Twitter spam" reads the story's headline. Yet without even a trace of drugs in my system it still makes perfect sense to me. Twenty years ago a powerful hallucinogen would have been required to comprehend that sentence. Such is the pace of human progress in this, our age of wonders.
roarshock, Oregon, USA

Mormotomyia "is unable to fly". Surely then, this is a walk.
Dick Savage, Plzen, Czech Republic

Paper Monitor

11:39 UK time, Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When journalists are young great pains are taken to instil them with "news sense".

Perhaps journalism's core skill is this ability to instantly judge whether a particular occurrence is both interesting to the audience and of significance.

Some journalists have this naturally, but many don't. And it's always possible to make mistakes.

Take for instance, the kerfuffle over cutting remarks made by British New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay about Sugar plum Fairy ballerina Jenifer Ringer, namely that she "looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many".

Unfortunately, Ms Ringer has spoken in the past of suffering from eating disorders, helping to propel Macaulay's comments into a very minor furore.

The Daily Telegraph's sense is that this is just a nib (news in brief), two pars in its world news section.

But the Times sniffs something more, letting the story have the whole of page 30.

They reason that the reader wants to see a big picture of Ms Ringer and the justification by the critic of his remarks.

You can again see news sense in action in the Daily Mail's coverage of the US satirical programme The Daily Show's japes at Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The show featured a "commemorative riot plate" as well as a "commute of terror" chess set, showing a king and queen piece in a car surrounded by a mob of the other pieces.

The Mail gives it half a page, the Sun just a few pars.

But all the papers seem to agree that the judge convicted for failing to control her dog, and who swore on her departure from court, is of undoubted interest.

But again, the Sun gives it less space than the likes of the Times, Telegraph or Mail.

Decisions, decisions.

Paper Monitor

10:17 UK time, Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Playwright Alan Bennett makes the news in the Daily Express, with the unhappy news that he was pickpocketed by two strangers pretending to be Good Samaritans.

They told him he had ice cream on the back of his jacket and offered to help him to clean it off, but stole an envelope containing £1,500.

Sounds familiar... Bennett, ice cream, thieves... Ah yes, six months ago, there was this report. And some helpful tips from the Magazine about how to avoid this and other tricks.

The Express doesn't say WHEN it happened, but Bennett was writing about the incident again this week, so it's an illustration of how news can get recycled.

Elsewhere, the Express is sticking to what it does best.

It ignores everything else going on in the world to use its front page to predict a white Christmas, bash the Germans and the EU and, finally, to pose an all-important question on behalf of its readership: "What's a posh bird like Liz doing with a barmaid-chasing Aussie?"

That's Liz Hurley and Shane Warne, just in case you didn't know.

And it's day two of the Daily Mail's war against scantily-clad females on The X Factor.
Yesterday, Paper Monitor highlighted the Daily Mail's horror at the "revealing outfits and racy content" in the performances of Christina Aguilera and Rihanna, with helpful illustrations.

Now it's front page news in the Mail, and the fallout involving MPs and Ofcom has even reached the BBC, so it's with great reluctance that the paper reproduces more images of the singers.

"We apologise to readers but you have to see these pictures to understand the fury they've stirred"

Your Letters

13:16 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

What purpose does this article have in telling us "Eight people - including a pregnant woman and a 76-year-old man" were involved? Are we to feel more sympathy for the pair of them? Are the others somehow less significant because they are neither old nor bearing new life??
Liz, Poole

Most boring headline ever? At the end of every year, there is a chance to look back over the news event and take stock. 'No ornaments for Tate Christmas tree' has to be the most tedious non-story of the entire year- I couldn't even bring myself to read the article. News? No. Public interest? Who would be interested in this? Why, when there are some really interesting things going on in the world, is time, effort and money being wasted on this?
Wonkypops, Leeds

"Prisoner compensated for non-vegetarian meals". If the picture is indicative of what they are being fed, I'm surprised they are not all on hunger strike!
JennyT, NY Brit

MM, how could you do it to me, after several years of doing the weekly quiz my highest score is still only 6/7. Today I could have got 7/7 except for your dodgy question 3, where the answer you give does not match the question. The technology to sort the notes has little to do with why they have not been destroyed!! Surely they could just destroy them all quite easily. Arrrgggghhhhhh.
Karl, Nottingham

It took me a few minutes to figure out, when reading the picture caption here, that "C" was not the code name for Mrs Philby, but was an abbreviation for "centre". An unnecessary complexity, in this case, as I believe I would have worked out which one was the lady in question.
John Marsh, Washington DC, USA

10 things - 10/12. Number 3 - Soap opera can be live. I think you have forgotten the EastEnders live episode in February?
Mark Scott, Melksham

10 things we didn't know last week #2. There's a condition that can cause teenagers to sleep for weeks on end. Er, is it called lectures?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paper Monitor

10:34 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Daily Mail wants to alert you to something horrific that happened last night.

This terrible event happened at the finale of the X Factor.

"Parents were left horrified at provocative performances by Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on the X Factor."

There were "revealing outfits and racy content". Aguilera "writhed" surrounded by dancers in "raunchy costumes".

Jan Moir also wades in in a piece entitled: "We didn't need sex-crazed nymphs before the watershed."

Images of scantily-clad females displayed to young folk before the watershed are wrong. The Mail has to illustrate this point with some images of scantily-clad females.

The picture of Aguilera and her dancers is 5.5in (14cm) by 4in (10cm). She gets on the front too. The picture of Rihanna "in a strapless bra and a pair of knickers for absolutely no good reason at all" is displayed at 3.5in (9cm) by 12in (30.5cm). Her décolletage along is about 2in (5cm) across.

As far as Paper Monitor is aware, the Daily Mail is available before the watershed.

The Daily Star pursues a similar line, helping anybody playing tabloidese bingo by cramming "raunchy", "cavorted" and "gyrated" into the same short article. All you need is "romped" and you could shout "house".

Popping back to the Mail for a moment and there is a glorious use of a throwaway parenthesis. A piece about a young blonde Russian lady, who allegedly has links to Russian intelligence, briefly working for the BBC, contains a belter. It notes she is "known to wear short skirts around Westminster".

It's all grist to the mill of trying to make her seem a modern Mata Hari, a kind of Latter Hari, if you will.

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