BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 19, 2010 - December 25, 2010

Your Letters

12:56 UK time, Friday, 24 December 2010

My main issue with Thought for the Day is that I only tend to hear it when I've left the house about 4am, and after World Service and earlier programmes this is the first programme of the day that makes my eyes glaze over and my head start nodding such that I don't feel it should be broadcast when anyone is driving on safety grounds. But perhaps that's just me.
Ed, Clacton, UK

Are those who give reflections as part of the Thought For The Day usually subject to "rigorous questioning" or are the NSS just being Grinches? Merry Christmas and/or happy holidays, my fellow Monitorites. :D
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Am I alone in thinking the BBC is being just a teensey-weensey bit subversive? Front page, bottom LH corner, perma-link to quite an expensive wedding of the twenty-something children of two millionaires and all associated gossip, while right next door: university cuts. I had thought I was being a conspiracy theorist, but it's been like that for days now.
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

Bas (Thursdays letters), might I suggest spare-pen-dipity for the first situation and sync-wrong-icity for the second.
Thank you and goodnight.
Ellie, Herts

Bas, London - given what happenes when you use predictive text, I would call that a "smirnoff" moment.
Dear Monitor, I know that's an 'advert' but really, try it out and see what alcohol does to you!
Caroline Brown, Rochester, UK

Bas: I can't come up with a flexicon I'm afraid, but I can tell you that my ex-landlord has long, white hair, an equally long white beard and wears slightly hippyish, robe-like clothing, and my phone insists that his surname (Ind) is actually God. I was a bit scared the first time it happened.
Sue, London

Regarding predictive text mistakes, You may be interested in this blog post by an acquaintance of mine
Luke, Edinburgh

Dear MM, For those of us fortunate enough to be working next week, how about a bumper Christmas sack of interactove daily entertainment to keep us going? (Not just quizzes, Greg doesnt like them)
Claire, Nottingham

Help! Is it too late for the sprouts? Or do I give up and start them now for next year?
Mark, Cornwall

I've just watched part 3 of 'The Nativity' on BBC1. Everyone involved in its production deserves to be congratulated. It's very well told and great to watch. Happy Christmas.
Ben, London SW17

No caption competition for two weeks! I am hoping you get a delivery of fresh kudos soon.
Gordon, Newcastle

Paper Monitor

10:34 UK time, Friday, 24 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Who would have thought that a fingernail could tell us so much?

While most onlookers were studying the sparkly engagement ring sported by the soon-to-be-betrothed Zara Phillips, it was up to the Daily Mail to tear Fleet Street's most watchful eye away from the glitz and direct it further down Zara's digit to a far more revealing spot.

The Queen's grand-daughter did not, notes columnist Jan Moir, have time for a manicure. Her "paws looked as if she had just mucked out the stable, using her fingernails as shovels".

In contrast, says Moir, Kate Middleton had "a manicure that was born to rule".

Paper Monitor considered interjecting at this point, just to note in Zara's defence that Kate hasn't been winning Olympic and world medals in equestrian sport. The last time PM checked, the world of PR wasn't such a messy business.

But to stop Moir when she's gathering up a head of steam is doing the world a disservice. Let's just enjoy her wonderful sense of understatement:

The manicured and the non-manicured brides-to-be spoke volumes about class and aspiration, about the suburbs that seethe with ambition and country houses stuffed with the idle and the noble. Especially when, as in this instance, the unpolished and the coarse is dragged into the vortex of the royal family.

Frankly, it proved the old truth - if you are really rich and posh, you don't have to bother yourself. It is only the aspiring and the determined, rest of us who have to make the effort, day after day, coat after coat of Jezebel Red or Mink Muffs.


Paper Monitor [face now a Jezebel red with sartorial humiliation] is still wearing musk rat.

How embarrassing...

Your Letters

15:51 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010

Given my results over the last two days I can confirm that I am RUBBISH at quizzes.
Greg, Dallas, TX

Would you go so far as to cover your festive turkey in gold? No it looks disgusting :( yuck!!
@ColetteWeston via Twitter

Re: nominative determinism in street names, the South Yorkshire Police helicopter is based on Letsby Avenue in Sheffield.
The Laughing Policeman, Sheffield

Vicky (Wednesday letters), actually no, but I defend my right to wear a curly wig at work.
Graham, Purmerend

Yes, Dave (Wednesday letters), there's a word that sums it up perfectly: frequent.
Adam, London, UK

Dear monitorites, is there a word that sums up the happy feeling when your first ever letter gets published, mixed with a touch of embarrassment that it's probably the worst one you've ever submitted?
Dave, Taunton

Can I call for Monitorites to dust off their Flexicons and come up with a term for the time when predictive text on your phone comes up with a better word than the one you were trying to type? Also noted are the times when as you type you see words which inspire you to change what you are writing.
Bas, London

Caption Competition

12:21 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010

There will be no caption competition today or next week. It will return on Thursday, 6 January.

Paper Monitor

10:16 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

First of all, Paper Monitor would like to offer an apology.

Over the years, it may have appeared that Paper Monitor was of the impression that newspapers were primarily a repository of silly ephemera.

But one cannot help but be reminded today that newspapers do something important. Turn to page 12 and 13 of the Times and you see it in full effect.

Here over two pages the Times sets out the work it has done to investigate the 1993 conviction of Eddie Gilfoyle for murdering his wife. Gilfoyle's supporters say he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, while the justice system says otherwise.

Whatever you think, the role of the Times and other newspapers has to be applauded.

Right, now back onto the silly ephemera.

Paper Monitor loves "nibs". These news-in-briefs are the first assignment for many cub reporters. And it's an art packing a whole story into a single paragraph.

The Sun does them beautifully.

Here's a crop from today:

"Robots resembling Star Wars droids like R2-D2 serve food to diners at a restaurant in Jinan, China."


"Volunteers will eat cheese for six nights to see if it causes bad dreams in tests at Brecon, Powys."


Also amusing today is the Daily Mail's concentration on the hair of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. It accuses David Cameron's hair of having gone from "thinning" to "luxuriant".

And it accuses Ed Miliband of having done something to his grey streak.

Back in the Sun, there's a splendid intro.

"A boss who won't buy heaters for his freezing staff has had them hypnotised into thinking they're warm."

Paper Monitor notes that the place of business is a cobblers.

Paper Monitor

13:34 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Cable Guy, the sequel.

So much to write, so little time.

Firstly, there's Vince's surname, which provides much merriment for the sub-editors:





After hearing the first tranche of Cable revelations, there was a Clegg-Cameron press conference which was dominated by questions about the Business Secretary. Little did they know that the most explosive story was just about to break.

The Times sketch writer, Ann Treneman, neatly summed up their ignorance:

They would defend him: Vince may have been a fool but he was their fool. He'd been caught smoking by the bike shed but, at this point, no one realised he'd torched the thing

Meanwhile, the paper at the centre of the story, the Daily Telegraph, which finds itself under pressure for the sting and for holding back the disclosures about Murdoch, offers just one line of explanation.

The recording was leaked to the BBC before publication in this newspaper

Good to see Zara and Mike lightening the mood with their engagement, which gives the Daily Mail the chance to put its favourite two words on its front page.


Your Letters

13:10 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Why all the focus on London Heathrow? Does life not exist outside London?
Gareth Bevan @BBC News Magazine

I'd have been very surprised if an aircraft had pulled up outside her home, even if it was low flying
Sarah, Nantwich

Surely the year has to end before making wild statements like these?
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

Please tell me it will remain "White Space Avenue" and that there IS a future for English eccentricity.
Susan, Newcastle

So, the zebra crossing now given Grade II listed status isn't actually the one the Beatles were photographed crossing? Will we now see the block of flats near us given similar status because of the remains of the Roman villa it was built on?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

"Older people who eat healthy diets 'lead longer lives'" - really? I mean, really? No. Honestly, Really?
Marc, Oldham, UK

Re. nominative determinism in street names (Letters, Monday). The town planners clearly had something like this in mind when they decided to put Hackney's library on Reading Lane.
Phil, Hackney, London

Not many people will know that this story on BAA illustrates nominative determinism. The reporter's surname 'Musafer' means 'traveller' in Urdu!
Maham, London

After reading this, I did a bit more research, found a journal from a study conducted in Turkey on the same subject and couldn't help but notice that one of the regions studied in Turkey is Marmara. So who missed the opportunity to have the pesky varmint re-named the Marmara Mite? I'll get my (lab) coat...
Neil Franklin, Chandlers Ford, UK

Upon checking the weather forecast for Christmas Day, I was delighted to find that we were to be hit with a (very) late Indian Summer of 28 degrees. I was all ready for the turkey to go on the barbeque and get the garden furniture out again...much to my dismay, I realised I had inadvertently switched to Fahrenheit. Boo!
Amy, Alloa

Dear monitorites, is there a word that sums up the feeling you get when you've written what you thought was a witty, clever, or illuminating letter, only to see other lesser missives being published instead? (Not that I'm bitter)
Dave, Taunton

Dear Graham, (Tuesday letters)
Maybe. Are you a judge?
Vicky, East London

Your Letters

15:23 UK time, Tuesday, 21 December 2010

With regards your story "Internet porn block 'not possible' say ISPs". I'm with ISPA on this. I have a two-year-old son and he can only access any website that I have approved first. CBeebies is on the approved list. BBC news is not (nothing personal - I just think he needs to be older before being exposed to some of the news stories that appear). Parents should take responsibility for their children's online activities. Even the IWF mentioned in the story has been known to overreact and there is so much porn pretending to be something else that to have effective filtering, every file on the ever-growing internet would need checking every time someone wants to access it, which isn't workable.
Ed, Clacton, UK

Re: How do you de-ice a plane? I returned from Munich on Thursday evening where they de-ice planes at the approach to the end of the runway where there are two lanes. The planes then immediately take off. There should be a best practices guide book for all airport operators, it's too important for poor management to have such a huge impact. As ever, hot air and no government action just makes it easier to explain away such ineptitude!
Tim Parsons, Hopwood, Worcestershire

I had a look for the moon this morning, but I didn't see it. Does this mean I saw the eclipse?
Stephen Buxton, Coventry

Gordon (Monday's letters), why not just cancel the damned thing completely for this year? Sure as eggs is eggs there'll be another one along in 2011.
Ian William Johnson @BBC News Magazine

Rob (Monday's letters), you may very well be right, out local Health Centre is on Well Place. I find this most reassuring when I seek medical assistance.
Pam, Stirling

Dear Vicky (and the cats) (Monday's letters), are you a pop combo?
Graham, Purmerend

Cows laying eggs, whatever next?
Rory, Perth, UK

Paper Monitor

09:48 UK time, Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Poor Vince.

A few days ago, he was featured smiling in the Daily Telegraph, waltzing his way through Strictly Come Dancing.

Now the business secretary is the unhappy subject of the same paper's lead story, threatening to "bring down" the coalition government if pushed too far.

The Telegraph's undercover sting involved two journalists posing as Lib Dem-voting constituents.

According to the full transcript, among his opening remarks were: "Can I be very frank with you, and I am not expecting you to quote this outside."


Unguarded comments made public, causing subsequent embarrassment, but not enough for heads to roll. Yet.

And the word "cable" playing a part.

Sound familiar?

But rather than hearing, Wikileaks-style, what a diplomat thought was going on, this is a first-hand account.

Whatever you think of the ethics of this kind of journalism, it's a reminder of the old, pre-Wikileaks world, and it's shed light on some not insignificant issues..

One of the most revealing insights is that the business secretary believes the coalition is moving too fast with its reforms. And he thinks David Cameron could be about to cut winter fuel allowances for pensioners.

The question now is whether Vince will be able to quickstep his way out of this rumba or he will think enough is enough and just cha-cha-cha...

Your Letters

15:37 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

In light of recent travel disruption and the non-delivery of presents can I suggest we all move Christmas back one week? That is not too much to ask, is it ?
Gordon, Newcastle, UK

"We can completely ignore timetables today," a Plymouth CityBus spokesman said. My early-morning bus to the station manages that every day, regardless of the weather.
David, Romford, UK

When I saw Hammond supports high speed rail I immediately clicked on it, thinking that a Top Gear presenter had finally been weaned off his petrol head. Imagine my chagrin to find it was the transport secretary. How very disappointing.
Adrian, London, UK

I think nominative determinism may well extend to street names (Thursday Letters): my secondary school was in Mob Lane. Not sure if that says more about me then the school though...
Rob, London, UK

Dearest, dearest Monitor, as a long-time faithful reader of MM, I'm overwhelmed that you have rewarded my first ever caption entry with a small amount of kudos. I can't tell you how much this means to me, especially as I'm having to put up with day after day of sunny 27C weather, instead of all that Christmasy white stuff you have over there. At least I have my small amount of kudos to cool me down.
Jan, Port Macquarie, Australia

Paul (Friday letters) - I think it was flu: it took me two-and-a-half days to type that, and I had to use my tongue. Much recovered now, though, after a few pickled onions.
Sue, London

I might not be able to get all my cards posted this year, you know how busy things get, so can I take advantage of MM to wish all my friends and family a Very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Vicky [and the cats]

Vicky, East London

Paper Monitor

10:42 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When Jesus Christ shed tears for Lazarus, it was news.

David Beckham sobbing is not.

Especially when he does so on primetime television.

Anyone watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year last night will have seen him weep when he received a lifetime achievement award.

It was an emotional moment, for him and the viewers, but for the UK's biggest-selling newspaper, the Sun, to repackage that event as a front page story the following day is a little desperate.

Millions already saw it happen, and those who didn't are probably not very interested.

But Paper Monitor is a big fan of the Sun and there is plenty else to admire - the headline Golden Bawls on the Becks story, for example.

And inside, it has a three-page special on The Apprentice which features a rundown of how long past winners stayed at Lord Sugar's company, which can be summarised thus:

2005, Tim Campbell: quit after two years
2006, Michelle Dewberry: quit after six months
2007, Simon Ambrose: quit this year [although this is disputed elsewhere]
2008, Lee McQueen: quit after two years
2009, Yasmina Siadatan: works for Amstrad Healthcare

The climax of The Apprentice and several other TV talent / reality shows in the last fortnight have filled countless news pages.

And today feels like the post-season hangover, after Kara / Stella / Matt / Stacey [delete as appropriate] have been crowned queens and king of their respective contests.

As well as providing Fleet Street fodder, these "events" prove that the obituaries for terrestrial television were written in haste.

About 30 million are estimated to have watched either X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing on Sunday of last week.

But now that they're over, certain newspaper editors are going to be scratching their heads.

Or maybe not. ITV's Dancing on Ice begins in the new year...

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