BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 23, 2011 - January 29, 2011

10 things we didn't know last week

16:11 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

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

1. Polar bears can swim for nine days.
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2. Tony Blair never had a mobile phone as prime minister.
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3. JD Salinger was a big fan of Tim Henman.
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4. Prince Philip almost became a coal miner for a month.
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5. Social networks may date back as early as the 1970s.
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6. The kilogram doesn't weigh as much as it used to.
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7. Huskies can smell thin ice.
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8. Kelly Hoppen used to be Sienna Miller's stepmother.
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9. Many Kenyans think twins are cursed.
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10. Pigeons can smell their way home hundred of miles.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Your Letters

15:48 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

Good grief BBC, (or should that be "Cor Blimey!) just taken your Great British Class Survey. What on earth is "Middle middle class"? And does my lack of knowledge (or care) regarding these finer distinctions automatically "class" me? One other point: to those people who seem to think we live in a meritocracy, I have only two words to offer: Katie. Price.
Rob, London, UK

Re: Falkirk inspectors find beef being sold as lamb. A boeuf in sheep's clothing?
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

Imagine my abject dejection when reading the story behind the headline "friendly robin reliant on shop for its morning crumbs" that it indeed did not mean a three-wheeled vehicle plastic car...
StuKP, Warwick. Warwickshire.

Piano on beach? In the USA? They're remaking an American version of a classic Antipodean film. It's not on. They always ruin them. Think La Cage aux Folles and countless others. So, hands off our movies!
Susan.Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

Dear Adrian, (Thursday letters), I believe the clue was in the 'The' being omitted.
Carl, Crepy, France

I have just changed my name by deed-poll.
Martin (formerly Anne R), Fareham, UK

Caption Competition

13:59 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it's perfomers at the awards ceremony for the 35th Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival in Monaco.

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

6. Needlenoddlenoo
Drunk Girl decides to spice things up a bit.

5. Eattherich
When I said we should carry a spare, this isn't what I meant.

4. Whatever Next
Sky commentators remark that some women don't understand how to ride a bike causes outrage

3. Clint75 
The ladies' cycle team welcomed their new Australian member.

2. PollySaxon 
When Norman Tebbitt and Andy Gray collide..

1. MuteJoe 
I think you'll find I'm level - and therefore onside, Mr Gray.

Paper Monitor

13:40 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The popular soccer website Football365 likes to point out particularly gratuitous use of words like "ace" in the sports pages of the tabloid press.

But today they've managed to infiltrate the news bit of the Sun.

The front page splash is about a "Prem star" [translation: a football player from the English Premier League] who has had a "4-in-a-bed orgy".

The story carries on on page five with the headline "Ace Orgy".

But there's an even odder use inside. "Rings ace in surgery" is about Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. He is most definitely not a top sportsman.

All the redtops have big pictures of Richard Keys' wife Julia bringing a tray of cups of tea out of her house. But where was she taking them to?

The Daily Mirror speaks of the "lads gathered outside". But the Star and the Sun explain that the tea was being delivered to the press scrum gathered outside the mansion in Surrey.

It is not as rare an occurrence as one might think. Even with their houses surrounded by a mob armed with camera flashes and waving shorthand pads, some people respond with hot drinks.

Oh, and it also gives you a chance to say your piece in a fashion that's a bit more natural than a prepared statement.

But Paper Monitor is left wondering whether a tray of teas might have melted the hearts of determined besiegers from days gone by.

How would Genghis have responded to a cuppa?

Your Letters

15:48 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

Re: The piece of paper that fooled Hitler. Bletchley Park is a site of National, if not International historical importance. It is a point of national shame that it is being allowed to fall apart. It should be heavily invested in to preserve this treasure. Come on private sponsorship - especially the computer industry who owe much of their later success to the pioneering work of Turing and team.
Vwlearner, UK

Jeremy Clarkson's apparent inability to distinguish between unspoken thoughts and spoken words does seem to explain rather a lot about his career. It's still no excuse, though.
Sue, London

I was so expecting a major city to relocate when I read this Hague arrives in Syria for talks. How disappointing!
Adrian, London

When I saw that a piano had washed up on a sand bank in Miami, I was wondering if there is a connection with Piano Man. Perhaps a reunion can be arranged.
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

Re: John A Walsh (Wednesday letters), you clearly not only believe in a class system, but also put yourself firmly in the "middle" class - between prince Charles (upper and "above" you) and the bus driver (lower and "below" you). How we betray ourselves with our examples, eh?
Greg, Dallas, TX

Have celebrated Australia Day with a bit too much enthusiasm. Is there a cure for a surfeit of lamingtons?
Rachel, Wayzata, USA

Going for six in a row.
Spartacus, but you can call me Martin, Stockport

Paper Monitor

11:53 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

Theresa May

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

We look to the British newspapers to address the burning issue of yesterday. Not sexism, phone hacking or economic gloom, but something equally demanding of attention - Home Secretary Theresa May's extraordinary jacket.

To Paper Monitor, it resembled dazzle camouflage. To the Daily Mail: "Her garish outfit was perhaps more suited to a children's entertainer than to one of the most senior women in British politics making an [sic] statement to the Commons on terror laws."

Seeing as portrayal of women is in the news at the moment, here's a quick quiz: Which paper has the most shots of cleavage* in the first 10 pages today?

A) The Sun

B) Daily Mirror

C) Daily Telegraph

D) Daily Mail

It's the Daily Telegraph of course.

The cleavages in question belong to Elle Macpherson, Padma Lakshmi, Keeley Hawes and a 17-year-old public schoolgirl convicted of careless driving over a fatal accident.

The Sun features the decolletage of Myleene Klass, Holly Willoughby and the naked chest of Kelly, 20, from Daventry.

The Mail also has Klass and Willoughby, as well as Richard Keys' daughter. The Mirror has Klass and Alesha Dixon.

Time for the Telegraph picture desk to have a bit of high-fiveing, or look a bit sheepish?

* As defined in fairly loose terms by Paper Monitor.

Your Letters

15:29 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Re: Working, middle, upper - which class are you? I don't believe in any of them. I work, I go home I do what I want, sleep, make plans etc. So does prince Charles and the bus driver.
John A Walsh @BBC News Magazine

What is the word that describes the disappointment that I felt on reading the headline "Fox helps pregnant woman on plane", only to find on clicking through that it was Liam Fox, not the four legged variety. Such utter disappoinment it is hard to describe. There must be a word, please advise!
Ellie, Herts

Fox helps woman on plane - the follow up to Snakes on a Plane?!
Jenn, Porthcawl, Bridgend

I'll start by saying I hate football. Nothing to do with being a female - motorcycling is my sport and they race with broken bones for a fraction of the money that footballers (who'll limp off with a broken toe-nail) get. Anyway, rant over, and back on point. I learned the offside rule (or enough at least to be able to recite some and give the impression of understanding the basics) without the use of handbags/shoes/lipstick. And I did this for one reason alone (the same reason I learnt the principle of how the rotary engine in my car worked) - there's nothing more satisfying than seeing a sexist man's expression when you've proved you know more than just how to apply nail varnish. I'll get my top coat.
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Al, (Tuesday's letters), perhaps Gordon Brown could offer some explanation of the "open mike rule"?
Graham, Hayle

Tuesdays Paper Moniter hit the nail on the head, Re: sexism. The "news"papers have no place to comment on such stories given they are responsible for displaying these views themselves and encouraging these outdated attitudes towards women, with the drivel they publish daily.
Nicola, UK

The name Martin has appeared on the ( letters) page for the last 4 days. Can we make it 5 days in a row?
Martin, Luxembourg

Paper Monitor

11:25 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The shock 0.5% shrinkage in the UK economy dominates the front pages of the heavies. As might be expected, they all offer a slightly different nuance on the news.

The Financial Times emphasises that the Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, still supports the government's cuts. A plunging standard of living is the Daily Telegraph's top line.

The Guardian speaks of the coalition's refusal to change tack. While the Independent goes for a big moody picture of Mr King. The dreaded phrase "double dip" appears on the Times.

But how does the Sun convey this disastrous economic news to an anxious readership. With a fluorescent yellow "frowny", of course. In the Daily Star, the news is relegated to page 15.

By that point Star readers have already found out that Justin Lee Collins accidentally exposed himself in a dance class, that a drunken Korean man faces jail for groping a firefighter's breasts and that a row of occupied houses was wrongly demolished in Zagreb.

All of the redtops lead on the sacking of Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray in the sexism row. The Daily Star relishes the fact that the latest developments involve a blonde former glamour model. Pictures of her, scantily clad, go on the front and page five. The Sun opts for a more sensibly dressed shot.

But for the pithiest take you have to turn to the Star's celebrated Text Maniacs page. There a couple of texters suggest that Loose Women on ITV is every bit as sexist as anything said by Gray or colleague Richard Keys.

But the best text is from "EILSEL" who says: "Neanderthals KEYS & GRAY wud not av bin insulting if girl ref had bin wearing stockings."

The Daily Mail has been applying the hatchet as no-one else can. They have a big piece ripping into Gray's personal life.

The reporter delivers the following barb:

"As a young man he was cursed with a face only a mother could love; a sallow, greasy complexion which led to acne well into his 20s, topped with a curly mop of hair so unruly he was surely grateful for the early onset of male pattern baldness."


Your Letters

15:33 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Re: Sexism, Sian Massey ran the line at Northampton Town a few years ago. For the uninitiated amongst PM's readers, the correct form is for home fans to jeer, boo, and swear profusely at every single offside decision irrespective of the accuracy of the call in order to intimidate. In this case the crowd, and in particular some of the older spectators, were clearly uncomfortable using the necessary colourful language to a lady. After about 30 minutes of her signalling every decision correctly, as well as keeping up with play, the crowd visibly relaxed and began calling her all the names under the sun. Some of insults were male gender specific, but the crowd seemed unwilling to change the habits of a lifetime. Sexism does not pervade every area of the game.
Richard Martin, Northants

It seems to me that Sian Massey and Karren Brady are better at their respective jobs that Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Someone should explain to the "broadcasters" the open mike rule.
Al, Wellington NZ

The thing about the offside rule, is that as a complete no-football-fan, I don't actually CARE what it is. Ok, so I'm also female; however I could have taken a good running guess at what it was and on reading the article, I see I wouldn't have been that far wrong - on the basics anyway.
Kay, London, UK

Why is football knowledge measured by the offside rule? Surely this is a trap. Anyone who says they understand the offside rule is exaggerating because it defies understanding. However women defy my understanding therefore only women can understand the offside rule.
John Airey @BBC News Magazine

Offside rule in soccer? Pah! Child's play compared to the rules for Rugby Union!
Howard, London, UK

I thought the offside rule was: Right in the UK, left on the Continent. I'll get my car-coat.
Paul Greggor, London

Sue (Monday's letters), he must have also missed the sign forbidding horse play.
Peter Douglas, Brussels (formerly Edinburgh)

Paper Monitor

10:17 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sexism. It's a serious matter. No really, it is. All the papers have something to say about Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Both have been disciplined over off-air remarks about referee's assistant Sian Massey, at Saturday's Wolves-Liverpool game. They also had a pop at West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady for - shock, horror - raising the possibility that sexism existed in the game.

Tackling the story with the seriousness the paper obviously feels it deserves, the Sun's front-page headline reads: "GET 'EM OFF". Cue schoolboy sniggers. It's talking about Gray and Keys. Obviously.

It also runs a big picture of Ms Massey in a short denim skirt and a vest top, dancing whilst on a night out. The same photo appears in the Mirror, the Express and the Daily Mail, which also publishes a holiday snap of her in a bikini. Of course they all do. Whatever news story a young woman finds herself in the middle of, there has to be a snap of her looking pretty and having fun - preferably in swimwear.

The Sun does get Ms Brady, one of its columnists, to comment on the storm. She makes her point well.

Let's make one thing clear, this isn't about what was said about me. That was personal opinion and everyone is entitled to that. I've put up with a lot worse during my career and I'm old enough and experienced enough to brush hurtful comments aside. But here is a woman who is doing a very important job under difficult circumstances and considerable pressure, who deserves respect.

The Mirror also gets a woman in the male-dominated world of football to give her opinion. Its sportswriter Ann Gripper says the pair's "casually sexist remarks are a sad reminder that stone-age attitudes linger in some parts of the game". You can find her article right under a guide to understanding the offside rule for women, using little lipsticks to represent the players.

Maybe football isn't the only world where such stone-age attitudes to women linger?

Your Letters

15:48 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

Surely bankers, of all people, should understand the very basic principles of borrowing and debt. They are right now very heavily in debt to this country, both financially as a result of their bailouts, and morallly as a result of the pain and suffering their actions have inflicted on the general public. How would they react if a mortgage holder chose to splash out on a sports car instead of paying their loan back? They need to get their account with this country in order before splurging on self-congratulatory bonuses.
Mark Jefferson, London, UK

Re: The ethics of bank bonuses. Why do they still call them bonuses? You'd have thought that bankers would have invented a more customer-friendly description by now.
Ian William Johnson @BBC News Magazine

I was wondering whether there might be a word for men who do understand that offside rule - and think it's important?
Martin, Luxembourg

In his autobiography Len Shackleton had a chapter on what the average director knows about football, and it consisted of a blank page.
David Alexander Hough @BBC News Magazine

Re: Why is football knowledge measured by the offside rule? Men just don't understand where to put the salt and pepper pots. I've had to explain it to Stephen, using the offside rule.
Mrs Stephen Fry Via Twitter

Mischief the horse rescued from Hampshire swimming pool: A step into the unknown for equine nominative determinism?
Anthony, Freising, Germany

He clearly hadn't read the sign about no heavy petting. I'll get my horse blanket.
Sue, London

Is the caption to the top image on this article meant to be ironic?
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

From now on all my e-mails will begin with Dear... you never know it might catch on.
Ian Friend @BBC News Magazine

Paper Monitor

11:14 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Newspapers are like sausages: however much we like consuming them, we don't want to know how they are made. So, it would appear, most editors of the UK's national press have concluded.

Of course, there are exceptions that are happy to talk us through, in gory detail, the fatty, gristly process. Both the Independent and the Guardian peer into the mincing machine to explain the latest developments in the ongoing News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

But other titles are somewhat more reticent.

In the Guardian, media pundit Professor Roy Greenslade notes that, while the affair has raised the spotlight on the industry's "dark arts", several titles have "largely ignored the revelations".

He adds: "While newspapers cry out for greater transparency in politics and in business - indeed, in every sphere - it is ironic that they are so opaque in their own dealings."

To give credit where it is due, however, the Daily Mail's Peter McKay does offer a spirited defence of Fleet Street's more salacious offerings under the headline: "Hurrah for good old British sex scandals!"

Referring to recent allegations about the private lives of Lords leader Lord Strathclyde and former Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson, McKay declares cheerfully: "At last, some proper political scandal involving sex and hypocrisy!"

The appeal of these stories, he argues, is that they are essentially reassuring.

"We can't expect politicians to be any more sensible than the rest of us when it comes to sex," McKay observes.

"The best any of us can do is try always to reduce the collateral ­damage and see the funny side of it."

Paper Monitor enjoys a Sunday morning serving of scandal as much as the next person.

But like sausages, it's not always so edifying pondering how each offering makes its way to the plate.

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