BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 1, 2012 - January 7, 2012

Your Letters

18:49 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

Update from 25/12-2012: On Christmas day Yulia was born, on twelfth night our next little one arrives. What are the odds she's called Viola? (PS: note to Andy from Friday's letter, twelfth is pronounced with the full four consontant cluster)
Becca, Trondelag, Norway

Re Andy Hill in Your Letters Archives 25/12/11 to 31/12/11.
How about 'fourths', 'fifths' or 'sevenths'? Or if you fancy a five-consonant cluster, there's always 'eighths'.
Dave Parker, Aix-en-Provence, France

What about a commerorative 50p with one side left blank, for those of us who aren't the slightest bit interested in the Olympics? I'd get my trainers - but I don't have any!
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

Searching for the most expensive train journey - I'm pretty sure it is the Northern Line between Embankment and Charring Cross. Being 180m apart and a single cash fare on the Underground being £4.30 it works out at £38.45 / mile. Granted you'd probably not do that as a commute...
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

First off, why is a 300 year-old house causing problems on sat navs? I can't help thinking that a map "fix" rather than a map "update" is needed! Second off, when it costs £50 per year to keep tom-tom maps up to date the problem will only be slightly reduced by updating maps - virtually nobody will get them!
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

So, Black's has gone into administration? Now I suppose we'll be subjected to a barrage of "Now is the winter ..." comments (well, you could hardly call them jokes). I'll get my tent.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Never mind if there's a 'sake' in there or not ... does anyone know what it actually means?
Dr Reece Walker Ph.D., London UK

Sake? What on earth would Rabbie Burns be doing with "sake" anyway? I thought he would be more of a uisge beatha drinker!
sveninbasel, Basel, Switzerland

10 things we didn't know last week

18:06 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

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

Bees are being turned into "zombies" by a parasitic fly.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Scientist Stephen Hawking does not understand women.
More details (Mirror)

Bond star Daniel Craig does not like his knees.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Brain function can start declining at the age of 45 - much earlier than previously thought.
More details

Loch Ness tilts back and forth each day.
More details

The town of Swindon is twinned with Walt Disney World in Florida.
More details

JRR Tolkien was passed over for the 1961 Nobel literature prize as judges deemed his prose "second-rate".
More details

A young Hitler may have been saved from drowning by a priest.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Lord Byron was one of the first diet icons.
More details

Events can be made to "disappear" through a hole in time.
More details (Christian Science Monitor)

Paper Monitor

14:46 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One of the goals of tabloid journalism is to help a wide spectrum of reader understand complicated stories.

So on the eve of Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday the Sun helps its readers understand his place in Britain's cultural pantheon in the only way it knows - a picture of him at Stringfellows.

The piece itself is written by "Sun professor" Brian Cox. The University of Manchester might beg to differ, but what do they know?

Over in the Daily Mirror they're bringing Shakespeare to the multitude. How? By showing a tattoo on the bikinied body of Danielle Lineker that quotes Measure for Measure.

The Mirror coyly describes the tatt as "under her left armpit", while yesterday's Mail preferred the term "sideboob".

The offering from the Daily Star is the village of Kingsclere in Hampshire, where remote car keys, TVs and heating systems are mysteriously breaking down.

Sadly, the Star has no in-house professor to explain why that might be.

Caption Competition

14:30 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

There is still no prize, except the traditional small quantity of kudos. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

Lifeguard in a bath

This week it's a lifeguard in a steaming hot bath at a winter swimming event in Edersee lake near Hemfurth, central Germany.

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

6. Gray Gable
He was 32, still living with his parents, and longed for his own place. It was only a bath, but it was start.

5. Flora Brecon

4. Fern Coolbra
George,are you sure you know how to order Lobster Thermidor in German?

3. Laurence Lane
He may have lost his house, car, savings and custody of the kids in the divorce but, on the bright side, he did have a great view, a warm bath and now, a freshly laundered suit.

2. Bo Conferral
Ackerman just adored his new Mercedes U-Benz

1. Gareth Glynroberts
The economic crisis puts pressure on this year's Ideal Home Exhibition

Your Letters

16:33 UK time, Thursday, 5 January 2012

Dear Royal Mint, I had a verruca when I was at school and couldn't go swimming. Then the doctor burned it off with acid. Never had another verruca. Could go swimming and gained a silver medal in life saving. If you are stuck for ideas for Olympic commemorative coin designs maybe you could do a before and after of my foot (with the certificate). Contact me if you're interested. Regards.
stop press, UK

Why are towns un-twinning? No idea, but it brought to mind a comment by the late, great Linda Smith who, talking about her birth town of Erith in Kent, said: "It's not twinned with anywhere, but it does have a suicide pact with Dagenham."
Sue, London

Down here in Devon the forms from the post office do still say "Sorry, you were out" (Wednesday letters). Although the one I got this week was certainly incorrect - I was in the hallway so as soon as I saw the notice come through the letterbox I opened the door and got my parcel!
Kate, Exeter, UK

As a fraction, how many of the letters complaining about the mathematics behind the random stat didn't get a Kindle?
Ben Hill, Cardiff

I appreciate the needs for cuts, but someone please tell these people that Wile E Coyoye isn't real.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Henri, Sidcup (Wednesday letters), the article actually states that since 2009, Canadians wishing to cross into the US must have more than a driving license, so without having the scanned image on his iPad, Mr Reisch would not have been allowed access.
Emma Wilson, Jersey

Angus (Wednesday's letters) - I'm sorry but I won't be out-pedanted on this one. The official Robert Burns website has the full wording here with not a "sake" in sight. I'll get my kilt.
Shiz, Cheshire, UK (ex-pat Scotland)

Vivian R (Wednesday's letters) - Dr Reece Walker PhD could be wanting to show off that he or she has two PhDs or a medical doctorate and a PhD - or maybe their first name is "Dr", in the same way that the first name of the inventor of the safety razor blade was "King" (King Camp Gillette).
HB PhD, London

Pedantic? It's Reece, not Reese C, not S. I'll get me soat.
Dr Reece Walker

Paper Monitor

14:29 UK time, Thursday, 5 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. So says the Daily Telegraph.

The paper cites an academic study which apparently concludes that female humans display more "sensitivity, warmth and apprehension", while their male counterparts favour "emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance".

The conclusions have been contested by a rival school of scientists, the article continues.

But it appears the survey may have one learned supporter, if an article in the Times is anything to go by:

Stephen Hawking, the former Lucasian professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, admitted that these days he spends most of his days contemplating women but they remain a "complete mystery" to him.

And are they a "complete mystery" to Fleet Street?

The morning's papers feature a mocked-up photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge as a Scout, myriad pictures of Meryl Streep at the premier of Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady and a story about the daughter of a 1980s pop star falling pregnant.

Paper Monitor will leave male and female readers alike to draw their own conclusions.

Your Letters

16:10 UK time, Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The P739 form (Paper Monitor) hasn't said "Sorry, you were out" for quite some time (well, certainly round here). It now says "We've got something for you". Presumably because neither was I out nor were they sorry.
Basil Long, Nottingham

I don't think I'm particularly talented in the field of pronounciation, but I have no trouble at all pronouncing the word "sixths" correctly. Neither do my friends. If "hardly anybody" pronounced it correctly as Andy Hill (Friday letters) asserts, it wouldn't be so noticeable (and VERY annoying) when it happens.
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

Dr Reece Walker PhD (Monday's letters): A bit pedantic, I know, but should it not be: Dr Reese Walker or Reese Walker PhD? Tautology, pleonasm or too many toots on the horn? I'll get me Fowler's.
Vivien R, TMR Canada

What a non story!
It has long been possible to get between Canada and the USA without a passport - in 2008 I (a UK passport holder) travelled from the US into Canada (with my US children) - the children held only "US Citizenship Certificates". Passports were not required.
Duh. Story should have read "Technology dispenses with hand held passports".

Henri, Sidcup

Shiz (Monday's letters) - the first verse is "For the sake of auld..." It's only the chorus that is "For auld..."
Angus, Stranraer

Paper Monitor

10:37 UK time, Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ever heard of a P739 form? Paper Monitor has been the recipient of many. They are better known as the postman's "sorry you were out" card and, according to The Mirror, complaints about these cards being left by postmen claiming residents were out when they tried to deliver packages have hit record levels.

Last year, some 32,000 people complained to the Royal Mail about being left the cards, claiming they were at home at the time. The newspaper points out that this is a rise of 14% on 2010 and says this is being blamed on staff having less time to deliver.

The Royal Mail has apologised to aggrieved customers and says it has taken steps to improve its service.

The Daily Express, in its comment section, has its own suggestion for the posties:

the Royal Mail has promised to mend its ways. It's simple. Ring the door bell...and wait.

And one thought the postman always knocked twice.

Speaking of doors, The Daily Telegraph carries the story of David Taylor whose front door was kicked in by burglars while he was at work on New Year's Eve. He returned home to find his prized posession - an African grey parrot who referred to his owner as "Daddy" - missing.

Mr Taylor is now warning the thieves that the parrot, known as Loui, might fight back if treated badly. The devastated taxi driver from Rochdale explains:

...parrots are a one-man bird and they have just one friend... Whoever has got him could be in line for bitten fingers. If he doesn't like someone, he will bite them.

Paper Monitor says, "Go, Loui, go". And fly all the way home.

Your Letters

16:23 UK time, Tuesday, 3 January 2012

She's back! I hope she's not transferring her allegiance from the BBC to the Telegraph though.
HB, London

Brussel sprouts been cooking for three days now - should just about be ready by Christmas.
Sveninbasel, Basel, Switzerland

StuKP (Monday letters) and Dr Walker, I'm sorry to disagree with you, but Andy Hill was talking about phonetic consonant clusters: si[k s th s] is four consonants, while ei[t th s], seve[n th s] and fi[f th s] etc all only have three phonetic consonants per word, and wei[t s] etc all have 2 only. I'll get my headphones...
Sarah, Coventry

Shiz (Monday letters/Friday letters): In that case I don't know anybody who knows the song as that's the only line I've ever heard confidently sung in 38 years.
Kay, London, UK

Paper Monitor

13:31 UK time, Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor was just idly glancing over the front of a newspaper today and realised something shocking - with the top of the paper folded over it wasn't immediately clear which one it was.

Further investigation reveals it's the Independent. Under Chris Blackhurst, it now has proper stories on the front page. Today there's three of them. And some rather engaging looking blurb under the masthead.

Its front page can no longer be cruelly categorised as it once was in The Thick of It by a fictional but cruel newspaper night editor:

"It's not like we're the Independent - we can't just stick a headline saying 'CRUELTY' and then stick a photo of a dolphin or a whale underneath it"

Supporters of the old-style Indy might say "it's gone like any other newspaper", with its engaging blurb and mix of front page stories.

But that's rather akin to saying a motor vehicle "has gone like any other car" because it has the humdrum basics of four wheels, an engine and a steering wheel.

Surely it's what wheels and engine you choose that makes a car distinctive - not going off-piste and having three wheels? Or indeed creating a sort of terrestrial glider by removing the engine.

Comparing its story mix with its long-time spiritual stablemate the Guardian and there's now quite a disparity. The Grauniad's top two on the front are headlined: "NHS accused over disabled patient deaths" and "Labour urges radical rethink on welfare".

The Indy on the other hand has: "Crackdown on small firms, a blind eye for big business" and "Gun laws in spotlight as man with arms licence kills family".

The new captain is steering the ship on a very different course.

Your Letters

13:47 UK time, Monday, 2 January 2012

Re: this article - either a better caption is needed, or that one wasn't painted on one of her good days.
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

She's back for New Year!
Malcolm, Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom

Andy Hill (Friday letters), might have to disagree with you there. How about the pluralisation of any word that ends in "ght"? Weights, heights, lights, insights etc etc
StuKP, Coventry

By its very nature, being the plural of a noun describing a mathematical division, it cannot be the only one! In fact if you think about it, there is (literally) an infinite progression: fifths, sevenths, eighths (that's five, sorry), ninths, tenths ...and so on. I'll get me cosine.
Dr Reece Walker PhD, London, UK

"Government advisers say everyone should be asked about their diet, smoking and drinking habits every time they see a health professional." They would need to allow a little more than 10 minutes per GP consultation, in that case.
Henri, Sidcup

Kay (Friday's letters), I'm afraid you've quoted the most common words *mis-remembered* - the line is "For auld lang syne" (with no "sake" about it). My favourite line is "And we'll tak a right guid willy waught" which always made us snigger as children.
Shiz, Cheshire, UK (ex-pat Scotland)

Paper Monitor

10:21 UK time, Monday, 2 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Happy new year! Paper Monitor turns to the morning's newsprint offerings hoping to block out memories of the after-effects of Hogmanay over-indulgence, but everywhere are memories of the night before the night before.

Most papers carry spectacular images of fireworks bursting from the clock tower of Big Ben.

According to the Times, pyrotechnician Darryl Fleming, who led the team which put on the display, was the "first man since Guy Fawkes to take gunpowder into the Palace of Westminster".

It was a record which weighed heavily over Mr Fleming. "I didn't fancy being hung, drawn and quartered if anything went wrong," he told the paper.

In the Guardian is a montage of images of New Year's Day swimmers enjoying - if that's the correct word - a bracing dip in the Firth of Forth, the English channel, Whitley Bay in Tyneside and other less-than-tropical locations.

After carefully surveying the photographs, Paper Monitor does not regret taking the decision to spend the day indoors.

An even more sobering selection of pictures have been chosen by the Daily Mirror to illustrate its new year round-up.

They show a selection of revellers in various states of drunken incapacity in cities around the UK. According to the story, the festivities "left emergency services across the country with a massive hangover". The headline is BENDER THE YEAR.

Interestingly, of the eight photos of drunken mishaps, two feature men looking tired and emotional while the remainder focus on overly-refreshed young women.

Does this signal that 2012 is the year we discover a new Drunk Girl?

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