BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 26, 2010 - January 1, 2011

Your Letters

15:03 UK time, Friday, 31 December 2010

I've never sent a grumpy letter in my life, but this really annoyed me. It's all very well going for an attention-seeking headline, but BBC Sports linking this story as 'Pietersen takes credit for Ashes triumph' is quickly revealed as the opposite of the truth. It's quite clear that Pietersen is giving Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss credit for the victory, saying it could never have happened if he were still captain. Anyway, rant over. Happy New Year!
Jim O'Connor, Winchester

Karen von Cripps (Letters, Weds) has clearly never been to any Australia/England cricket matches. The rivalry is hearty and good natured, all said with a smile the way true friends usually tease each other.
Elspeth, Manchester (Formerly Melborne)

Re Premier League title is Man Utd's to lose. He didn't really say this, did he? Be honest...
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher dismissed Kidd's claims.
"It is just a bit of kidology," Scotland captain Fletcher responded

Adrian, Isle of Man

She's back!
Bas, London

Oh dear. I certainly seem to have stirred the grammar pedants up re my letter on Tuesday, I bow to higher intelligence but my true story was using poetic licence to put a point across.However my New Year resolution is determined...I will have to watch my 'Ps' and especially my 'Qs' in 2011.....have a Haqqy oops Happy New Year...more practice Tim...more practice...
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

The most embarrassing blunder I have made with predictive text has to be asking a (now ex) boyfriend if he wanted to 'go out for a neck'. It was supposed to be 'meal'. Whoops!
Rose, London

10 things we didn't know last week

11:12 UK time, Friday, 31 December 2010

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

1. Cavemen had a taste for vegetables.
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2. About 80,000 people die each year from smoking.
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3. An ironing board is used to replicate the sound of animal pens being opened and closed in The Archers.
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4. Councils held contests for best-decorated air raid shelters in Christmas 1940.
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5. St Paul's Cathedral was actually hit in the Blitz.
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6. The Women's Institute permits men to take on administrative roles.
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7. Beavers lead double-lives.
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8. Nearly one in five people will live to see their 100th birthday.
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9. Quidditch is real.
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10. When Morecambe and Wise were young, it was Ernie Wise who was the child star.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Paper Monitor

11:04 UK time, Friday, 31 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has always had a sneaking suspicion that newspaper problem pages are not an accurate reflection of UK society.

If you take Dear Deirdre, "threesomes" are pretty much the norm. To illustrate this, Paper Monitor picks a random copy of the Sun (dated 23 December) from the "big pile".

Top Dear Deirdre letter: "I cheated on girlfriend with festive threesome."

In the Sun's Dear Deirdre the titillation is all in the questions. The answers have always been remarkably strait-laced. Oh, and then there are the photo casebooks.

Today, Just Jane in the Daily Star (with Jane O'Gorman) has a photo casebook on swingers.

If the problem pages are right, then life in the UK is rather like an endless Robin Askwith film.

A cynic might say that some of the letters were made up, although Paper Monitor knows no paper would perpetrate such chicanery.

The Daily Star has a grim letter about a boyfriend that went off sex after a stag do. The answer is suitably grim.

"It sounds like your guy got up to some things that have pushed him to the limit physically, mentally and even morally."


The Daily Mirror now has Coleen Nolan where once Miriam Stoppard used to be the only source of sage advice. Dr Miriam always tried to deal with the questions properly, armed as she was with a real background in medicine.

The tone with Coleen is a bit lighter. And Paper Monitor believes questions on incontinence and prostate cancer are a bit less likely to crop up.

Coleen deals with a cracker today.

"The other night I was looking at porn on the internet and I saw my best mate's wife on there."

The man wants to know whether he should tell said best mate.

Coleen's advice: "You should stay out of it... it's time to change your porn sites."

Paper Monitor's advice: "Tell him. Tell him now."

Your Letters

14:39 UK time, Thursday, 30 December 2010

Given that the projections about people living to be 100 are for 2066, I rather doubt that, as the caption to the photo suggests, more people will receive a telegram from the Queen. Unless she lives to be 140.
Adam, London, UK

Ian (Wednesdays's letters), it looks more like Tom Selleck to me.
Jimmy, Milton Keynes

Re: Tim McMahon (Tuesday letters), I'm pretty sure the Welsh alphabet has more letters than the English. I'm not sure if there is a Q in it either.
Paul, Leicester

Karen (Wednesday's letters), wouldn't it be more economical to dump Giles Coren?
Rob Mimpriss, Bangor, Gwynedd

Fireman Sam? Oh you are treating us!
Basil Long, Nottingham

Predictive Text: I dated a girl once and sent her a text to see if she would prefer to go for an Indian or Italian meal. She replied, "I don't mind, I'm not furry". I never did get to find out...
Paul, London

In regards to "Why elephants can't dance", please could someone explain to me why exactly being able to jump should affect being able to pirouette? I can't see that the one has anything to do with the other.
Cat, Bristol, UK

Paper Monitor

10:20 UK time, Thursday, 30 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

With the snow having vanished in many places, the post-Christmas news drought is biting hard.

Journalists are, like hungry blackbirds, forced into sustained pecking and rootling if they want to find the odd juicy worm.

Paper Monitor finds itself unmoved by the Times headline: "A rose by many other names: the thorny problem of duplication on world plant list."

Err, right.

The paper does squeeze in a nib about a chameleon being rescued from a tree in Swindon.

But closer investigation reveals that the story is not new.

Those papers which are not totally news reliant (Daily Star) don't have any problems filling their pages.

A tale of a man building a jet-powered portable lavatory in the US fills one page.

Of course, the far-more-sensible Daily Mail also finds space for it (in the online version at least - someone has nicked Paper Monitor's paper version).

Paper Monitor finds itself enjoying the Star's quiz of the year.

There are totally straight questions. The choices for the question on which British chocolate company was taken over by Kraft are: Nestle, Rowntree and Cadbury.

But then it has a couple of more Star-ish options. For the question on what spilled out of BP's rig in the Gulf of Mexico the options are: oil, sewage, and beer. And the question on Julian Assange gives the options: Wikipedia, Wikileaks and Wikiquickie.

Over to the Guardian for a dose of seriousness.

What could be more serious than: "Ethical goods buck the recession with 18% growth in two years."

Or indeed: "114 Labour MPs oppose Miliband's pro-AV stance."

Take that (in the old-fashioned, pre-man band sense), slumbering news-consuming masses.

Your Letters

15:21 UK time, Wednesday, 29 December 2010

So we won some boring cricket game. Is that a good reason to be horrible to one of our country's best friends and allies? I would dump this country in a heartbeat for Australia, given the chance. The fact that they are rubbish at sport will only make it feel more like home.
Karen von Cripps, London

I question the accuracy of the report on hamsters and spiders falling out of aeroplanes. Although I realise that a proper survey is difficult due to the random nature of their landings, I would maintain that when spiders say they didn't feel the impact, it's merely bravado, and that they wince and rub their feet when the interview is over.
Graham, Purmerend

"Could we get an elevator to the moon?" So, you've already assumed it wouldn't be someone from the UK to invent it then?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

If this really is going to simulate "everything" that is happening on Earth, won't that include a simulation of the simulation? And a simulation of the simulation of the simulation? (This could be the longest letter of all time).
Francis Kates, Watford

Re. Birds in winter, I hope the birds in my isolated garden have made it, we fed them through the cold spell, even got a jay, which seems rare here.

The article "A real Good Samaritan" actually brought a tear to my eye. Lucky I've currently got an eye infection that makes my eyes water so no one at work noticed.
John, Edinburgh, UK

Re: Tim (Letters, Tuesday) There is no Q in the Welsh alphabet.
Alex, Hull

Re: Tim's letter (Tuesday) the Welsh alphabet has 28 letters, two more than the English one (although, to be fair, eight of them are digraphs). There is no letter Q in the Welsh alphabet - the "q" sound is represented by the letters "cw". But allow me to be first in the "ciw" to wish you a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Twickenham

I see SNCF has its own department of feeble excuses - "the train decided to replace its driver" Even the perpetrators of "the wrong kind of snow" would blench at that one!
Keith, Cambridge, UK

Is it just me, or was the neanderthal image here modelled on Robert Winston?
Ian Deaville, Solihull, UK

Midwives call for 'seismic shift'. Oh dear, in my day you just had to push harder.
Anne, Chester

No hope for us when the Welsh suffer from leaks, is there?
Rahere, Smithfield

Paper Monitor

11:10 UK time, Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Economic woe, public service cuts, ongoing travel chaos - none of it matters much to Fleet Street, for once.

England has retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years, and joy is unconfined. At least in the English editions.

"In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity." So quoth Winston Churchill.

It is advice gleefully spurned by Giles Coren in the Daily Mail, who, drunk on triumph, embarks on a splenetic denunciation of all things Australian that is truly breathtaking in its immoderacy and political incorrectness.

"Just what is the point of Australia?", the headline proclaims, and the article seemingly takes this as its cue to display increasingly petulant splutterings of glee at the overcoming of this once-great sporting nation.

Coren asks: "For now that we have taken cricket away, what does Australia have left?" Not rugby, he concludes, since England's union world cup victory on Australian soil in 2003 and the league side's repeated besting by New Zealand.

"They don't play soccer with any seriousness and nobody else plays Aussie Rules, so we have no way of telling how good they are at that," he smirks. "Probably rubbish."

And so the theme develops. "They have no art or literature worth speaking of, they barely even have an ozone layer any more, so you can't go outdoors in daylight without a radiation suit," Coren beams.

"The best Australia can offer in reply to Shakespeare and Dickens at the moment are the TV soap operas Neighbours and Home And Away - both of which have been relegated to Channel Five."

Even pop music, gloats Coren, has no place anymore for Australians. Kylie Minogue? "Pretty much retired." Her sister Dannii? "Made out of plastic and prefers television panel shows." Jason Donovan? "About as much chance of making a comeback as Michael Hutchence."

He saves the most barbed jibe for the final paragraph: "I only wish I had the sort of job that brought me into contact with lots of Australians I could gloat over. But I'm a bit old to be a barman."

Mark Steel of the Independent is more whimsical in his appreciation of the series.

With England-based cricket supporters having to stay up into the very early hours to listen to the Ashes live, he says, "a beautiful, shadowy, nocturnal community developed in recent weeks, similar to those in which people go into the woods in the middle of the night to bet on dog-fighting, or meet in a basement under a launderette to worship the Devil, of people ringing and texting each other to enjoy another Australian collapse, while we fight to stay awake amidst flickering Christmas tree lights, occasionally wondering why Rita out of Coronation Street is umpiring until realising you must have nodded off and had a little dream".

Still, there has been a Corenist rather than a Steelian sensibility predominantly on display among the Barmy Army, England's travelling fans in Australia, according to Stephen Bates of the Guardian.

Whereas listeners of the BBC's Test Match Special would once have "tut-tutted from Antigua to Calcutta" at the sound of the Barmies' barracking, they are now learning to appreciate their compatriots' chants, Mr Bates observes.

He adds:

Test Match Special newcomer Michael Vaughan, the former England captain who won the Ashes in 2005, and is no stranger to being barracked by Australian fans, was taken by the taunting, regaling Radio 4 listeners with the opening bars of the Barmies' song about Johnson, although wisely recognising that the scatological ending was best bowdlerised.

It's just not cricket.

Your Letters

13:51 UK time, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Re: Lawrence once shot his own camel in the back of the head during a battle (Paper Monitor, Weds). So did my uncle, who was a tank mechanic in North Africa during the war. As he proudly told us, "I rode a camel, got spit on by a camel, and shot a camel, all in one day."
Candace, New Jersey, US

Rob, London (Letters, Monday). My brother once text his entire phone book "Messy Xmas" at about 1:30am after we got kicked out of our local drinking establishment. On his address book, was his boss, who wasn't best amused at being woken at that hour! I remind him every Christmas!
Rich, Bristol

Predictive text: my husband is always amused that predictive text in Word spells his mother's name Eileen as Alien.
Susan Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

I realise that I'm a smidgeon late with this but why is Ronnie Corbett sitting with Susan Boyle?
Adam, Vancouver, Canada

The quote about impatience with queueing (Monday's Quote of the Day) reminds me of when I first moved to Wales.You would be in a queue and someone would push to the front and say:"I have the right money, there you are." One day having had enough I said to the queue jumper: "Excuse me, I know the Welsh alphabet has less letters than the English alphabet but there is a 'Q' in both, try it like the rest of us."The person joined the queue. See it only takes a bit training!
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Paper Monitor

09:41 UK time, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

By this stage in the festive calendar, most Britons - Paper Monitor certainly not excepted - may have observed a dulling in their cognitive faculties.

Too much food, too little work and far too many hours spent in front of the television do little for one's mental agility.

So three cheers to Fleet Street for stimulating their readers' grey matter with a series of end-of-year quizzes.

Fleet Street has clearly acknowledged that, for sheer comprehensive authority, the Magazine's own quiz of 2010 (available in four parts here, here, here and - yes - here) cannot be bested.

So each of the paper's puzzles has its own gimmick, a USP to set it apart from the competition.

Neatly straddling the diverse constituencies that make up its readership, the Daily Mail has no fewer than two quizzes - one on military history (sample question: "Lawrence once shot his own camel in the back of the head ­during a battle. True or false?") and an even more terrifying double-page interrogation on how to establish "your TRUE body age".

Bidding for a more cultured take on the format is the Times, which offers a 2010 arts quiz to those readers capable of wrestling with such conundrums as "To which London gallery does the star painting of Tate Modern's Gauguin show, Nevermore O Tahiti, belong?" and "The final scene of which Czech opera was played at the funeral and memorial concert of the great conductor Charles Mackerras, who died in July?"

Better pitched at Paper Monitor's current level of cranial function, however, is the Daily Star's Snowbiz Quiz.

Sadly not available online, this puzzle features various celebrities, politicians and newsworthy figures from 2010 rendered as snowmen and women by the paper's cartoonist. The reader is invited to identify them.

If even that sounds too much like hard work, Paper Monitor can only recommend a long, bracing bank holiday walk.

Your Letters

13:21 UK time, Monday, 27 December 2010

Is it just me, or does this headline make no sense whatsoever?!
Jaci, London Colney

Re the story about Hamish, the Cairn Terrier jumping on a Glasgow bus to keep warm. I assume he bought a Rover Ticket?
Dave Moore, Par, Cornwall England

Re this story, "administering poison with intent to annoy" - how British is that?
Clare, Aylesbury, UK

I wonder what the most uninspiring or Pooteresque Foursquare update on Facebook people have spotted is? Apart from "Adam was at Tesco", I've now had "Ewan was at M6 Toll". I wonder what will be next? Crematoria?
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Re the Quiz (pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4): I scored 10/12 on day four and guessed every single answer. I got more that way than on any of the other three quizzes. I thought you'd like to know.
Kay, London, UK

Regarding predictive text errors (Friday's letters), a friend texted me to wish me a "Messy Christmas". I'm not sure whether they intended "messy" or "merry", but I'm happy to confirm it was indeed both.
Rob, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:33 UK time, Monday, 27 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Weekends tend to be a lean time for news. But when Saturday and Sunday coincide with Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the drip-drip of news fare dries up almost entirely.

But little news thin papers doth not necessarily make.

And just when it might seem the news pipes had frozen solid, along come the New Year sales to act as a sort of emergency plumber - warming the pipes with double-page advertisement spreads that help elicit a steady flow of accompanying stories.

As anyone who has needed their non-metaphorical pipework thawing during the recent cold snap will know, the initial discharge is somewhat spluttery.

The Sun takes the opportunity to put its reporters at the centre of the story - with political editor Tom Newton Dunn representing the "first paper inside GCHQ". On behalf of the Magazine, Paper Monitor thanks it for this careful wording.

The paper also has a "Celebs share their candid yuletide pics" page - propping up an adjoining full-page ad for a toy emporium. It features a correspondent who has escaped Paper Monitor's attention of late, despite his Forrest Gump-like habit of popping magically appearing where least expected. Yes, it's Blur's Alex James, who is billed here not as the Independent's cheese columnist, or Radio 4's gardening columnist or some other paper's wonders-of-astronomy contributor, but as the Sun's food columnist.

One of the curtain calls that James never made - doubtless because he was still at school at the time - was on the stage of Live Aid in 1985. The Daily Mirror takes us back to that date with a fascinating piece of myth-busting by David Hepworth - the rock critic and one of the BBC's TV presenters of Live Aid.

Using the peg of a TV dramatisation of the event later this week, Hepworth recounts how Bob Geldof never actually said that notorious expletive-laden line imploring people to give their money.That's not to say Geldof didn't swear on live TV that day, but that famous quote credited to him, it seems, he never actually mouthed.

"It was a classic case of a myth getting half way round the world before the truth could get its trousers on."

On the other hand, perhaps this isn't the season for thinking too hard about myths travelling round the world.

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