BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 22, 2012 - January 28, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:15 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

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

1. The English eat more haggis than the Scots.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

2. The Dead Sea is only two-thirds the size it was in the 1930s.
More details

3. Mice sing.
More details (Press Association)

4. Of 163,000 space rocks owned by Nasa, 517 are missing.
More details (New York Times)

5. The world's most competitive espresso market is the UK.
More details (The Independent)

6. Dinosaurs were good mothers.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

7. Welsh doctors once used the skin of puppies as a dermatological treatment.
More details

8. King Charles II served his banquet guests 145 dishes during a single first course.
More details

9. A Lego man is capable of space flight.
More details (CTV)

10. Elephants can wear contact lenses.
More details (Daily Mirror)

Your Letters

13:30 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

At least the men can complain in inches. Over the past decade, my girth has increased (slightly) whereas my clothing size has fallen from 10 to eight to six. This can change within minutes on the same day between one shop and the next (Wallis lower, New Look higher and et al). Whatever happened to the pan-European EN-13402 standard?
R.G, Watford, Herts

Well Paper Monitor(s). As HM doesn't know who you (they) are, getting a gong is going to be a little difficult isn't it?
Aqua Suliser, Bath

So, Michael Winner now has on his notepaper "Michael Winner MA (Cantab), OBE (offered but rejected)." Can I have on mine "Rob Falconer OBE (not yet offered)"? Well, it's a lot less pompous than his.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paul Greggor, London (Thursday's letters): No, I think it's PC crashed.
John Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale

A test for Mr Graham Smith of Republic: If we were celebrating the 60 year term of service of an elected president, would he insist on a balanced approach in schools by the compulsory teaching of the advantages of an hereditary monarchy...?
J. Paul Murdock, Wall Heath, West Midlands, UK

Diane, Sutton (Thursday's letters): Maybe, as he's getting on in years, he's going to have a Blue Rinse Of Death?
MK, Stockport

Caption Competition

13:01 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

Comments

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Display

This week it was a display by the Indian Border Security Force "Daredevils" during a parade.

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

6. Candace9839 wrote:

The captain has always been a big fan of Bob Fosse, actually.

5. Fern Coolbra wrote:

I told you we were overstaffed.

4. Catherine O wrote:

We aim to bemuse potential invaders until they've completely forgotten what they were here for.

3. MagnumCarter wrote:

Glee does a Steppenwolf episode.

2. SkarloeyLine wrote: "...and the third rule of Motorcycle Club is, you don't fall off."

1. Frankonline wrote:

Exclusive preview Of Danny Boyle's sequel "Slumdog Pillionaires."

Paper Monitor

10:29 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Twice a year, Paper Monitor waits by patiently by the letterbox. And yet each time this column's services to highlighting the riches of the daily press go inexplicably unrewarded by the British honours system.

And yet clearly not everyone is so desperate for recognition. A freedom of information request has revealed the names of luminaries who have turned down gongs.

One person who has famously done so is Michael Winner, and he is commissioned by the Daily Mail to outline his reasoning.

The result is quite comfortably the most gloriously pompous opening paragraph Paper Monitor has ever had the pleasure to read:

A few years ago, I was offered an OBE. Twice! 'The Prime Minister (Tony Blair) has requested...' I simply wrote on the letter by hand: 'I will continue my good work unrewarded.' And sent it back.

Winner continues: "I now put on my notepaper Michael Winner MA (Cantab), OBE (offered but rejected)."

According to Harry Mount of the Daily Telegraph, those who do likewise are generally playing a game of "posh poker" in the hope they will be offered a more elevated bauble further down the line, just as Lucien Freud turned down a CBE in 1977 only to accept a Companionship of Honour in 1983 and the Order of Merit a decade later.

He identifies a pattern among the refuseniks:

They tend to be from the aesthetic world - artists, writers and actors. They can take the gamble that the Queen will up the ante if they don't say yes; if you're in the armed forces or the Foreign Office, when you turn down that knighthood, it's not going to be offered again, let alone bumped up a few notches later on.

Perhaps the Independent's leader is closest to the mark, however, when it notes that "with the Information Commission ruling that the details of such snubs can no longer be kept secret, admittance to the ranks of the refuseniks might prove more prestigious than inclusion on the honours list itself".

Paper Monitor still wouldn't say no.

Your Letters

16:40 UK time, Thursday, 26 January 2012

What on earth is a Windows haircut? Did the barber sell Mr Gates something rather newer and flashier than he wanted, and that he can't get a standard comb-through? Did it come bundled with the latest leg waxes and hair extensions that he'll never use? Has "I love XP" been shaved into the back where he can't see it? Or does it just look hacked?
Diane, Sutton

In addition to the "10 things we didn't know..." feature, could I suggest a, "10 things we'd like to know but weren't included in the story" feature? I'd start off by asking how many of the 4,000 pieces of George IV's Grand Service have been broken during banquets? Surely there is a Monitor Acolyte who can be tasked with such important pieces of investigative journalism.
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

Winston Churchill on Vic Oliver: "He did not impress me with being a bad man; but common as dirt: An Austrian citizen, a resident in US & here on license & an American passport." Hmmm, if only he'd met Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Candace, New Jersey, US

Pc gone mad?
Paul Greggor, London

Not only does Mike from Southport (Tuesday's letters) refer to trousers as "pants", but Paul from Devon says he's wearing knickers. You're wearing knickers?
Simon, Burnham-on-Crouch

Paper Monitor

12:10 UK time, Thursday, 26 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When Paper Monitor was a naïve cub, a wise old reporter once advised: "Always write up, not down."

The "up" he referred to was the opposite of downplaying a story. He meant to take the facts and make the most of them.

There are some fine examples in the Sun today. "'Cotswold panther' devours wallabies".

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Until you realise that the evidence of panther involvement is scanty, to say the least.

"The animals were found stripped to the bone with their internal organs left neatly beside their bodies," says the Sun.

Paper Monitor was unaware that one of the characteristics of big cat attack was the felines neat filing of their victim's viscera. We stand corrected.

The paper - and other papers it must be said - quote "animal expert Frank Tunbridge". Googling him appears to reveal a long-running interest in big cats.

But Paper Monitor is always confused by the failure - in this age of digital camera proliferation - to ever get a decent shot of a big cat.

Further into the Sun there's another variety of writing "up".

A 17-year-old British soldier found himself fighting the Taliban after hiding his age. He was three months younger than the 18-year-old minimum for combat.

The Sun's take:

"A boy soldier too young to play computer wargame Call of Duty ended up on the frontline in Afghanistan - by hiding his age."


Your Letters

18:01 UK time, Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I think this car should be sent back as it is clearly not fit for purpose.
MCK, Stevenage

Could there be a more inelegant sentence than this: "The UK government has failed in its attempts to reverse a decision which blocked its decision to dramatically cut domestic solar power subsidies"? I would suggest an alternative, but it's taken me most of the morning to work out what it means.
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

Best sentence on BBC website ever (see how long it takes you to work out the direction of the actual meaning): "The UK government has failed in its attempts to reverse a decision which blocked its decision to dramatically cut domestic solar power subsidies." I'll get my reversible mac.
Louise McMillan, Woking

Hang on! Mike from Southport (Tuesday letters) baked beans and gravy? Together? Really? Good Lord.
Simon Love, London

Interesting decisions not to use quotation marks, no. 34: apparently there's a genuine black hole in our defence budget! Insert obligatory "defence cutbacks really suck" joke here.
Edward Green, London, UK

Ray (Tuesday letters), surely you mean ram-PAhj?
Mary, Sydney


Paper Monitor

11:22 UK time, Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's no shortage of idealistic young people who opt for a career in newspapers. Having watched All The President's Men, they expect to unearth tales of corruption and pursue the wrongdoers until they are brought to justice.

And then they get the job and discover what a typical story is - how research on penguin behaviour "proves" that women really do feel the cold more than men.

Okay, so Paper Monitor made that one up. But where would the press be without academic research?

Of course there's research and there's, erm research. The Daily Telegraph features a weighty-sounding study from Spain suggesting that frying food in olive or vegetable oil does us no harm. But didn't we know that already? That's the other thing about research, it can be a form of stating the bleeding obvious.

The Independent contains a rather more surprising piece from the University of Essex about honesty. The key finding is that the British are losing their integrity.

"Lying, having an affair, driving while drunk, having underage sex and buying stolen goods are all more acceptable than they were a decade ago. But people are less tolerant of benefits fraud." On balance it found that women were more honest than men.

But was that because they were more dishonest when answering the survey, Paper Monitor wonders? The article didn't say.

So far so interesting. And then we come to the Daily Mail's research offerings. Within a few page turns we learn that dogs have been a man's best friend for 30,000 years, four hours a day is the average daily TV viewing, and birds have a natural speed limit. Oh, and that women's IQ levels fall at dinner parties.

One wonders how Bernstein and Woodward would have dealt with all these "scientific" findings.

Perhaps Watergate would have been forgotten in favour of a piece about the grooming habits of male caterpillars.

Your Letters

17:18 UK time, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The BBC News front page tells me that "Global economy 'in danger zone'" and also asks, "Are we being too optimistic about the economy?" If being in the danger zone is the excessively optimistic position, I just don't want to know how bad things really are.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

I'm a big bloke and the knickers I'm wearing today are more than three years old. This is because there isn't one single pair of size XXL mens underpants in the whole of the Exeter branch of M&S. Neither are there any jeans with 40 inch waist and 33 inch inside leg (plenty with long legs and narrow waists, and lots with short legs with wide waist, but nothing in proportion). Now I'm going to get my coat - if I can find one the right size.
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

Regarding trouser sizes. Why can't we have a 33" waist? I'm not a 34" waist but sometimes a 32" waist is just a little too tight, more so after a lovely portion of chips, baked beans and gravy. Of course there are those elastic waist pants.
Mike, Southport, UK

CJ, Cambs (Monday letters): Yes, which is why Andrej Pejic is so successful.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Paper Monitor - In today's i was a piece about possible disruptions to the Olympics - including "Flash-mob Morris events..." - the public should be told!
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

Josh (Monday letters), why don't you just say "tribute"?
Fee Lock, Hastings

Josh (Monday's letters), possibly they are actually using the French word "hommage", which (conveniently enough) means the same as humdrum English word you describe, but with added artiness, because it's French. I say this because I have hitherto only noticed that particular pronunciation used to indicate a work of art done as a tribute to the work of another, especially as an ironic or snarky way to imply that the expressions "copy" or "rip-off" might be more appropriate. Of course, there is always a danger with that kind of thing, that it gets picked up on by the pretentious and ignorant, and you create a monster that escapes its cage and goes on the rampage in everyday speech, driving people like you and Lucy Kellaway to distraction. I'll get my ouvert-cote.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Paper Monitor

15:06 UK time, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
It was a brave editor who didn't give Harry Redknapp's bulldogs Rosie and Buster pride of place today.

The Spurs' manager's lovable and well-fed mutts were pictured in different poses on the front page of the Daily Mail, Metro and Telegraph. "Redknapp, bungs and an offshore bank account named after his dog," was the Telegraph's enticing headline.

But every industry has its exceptions and one of the rules of journalism is that the Daily Express will plough its own peculiar furrow, usually involving Princess Diana or a speculatory health story. And so for their front page they opted for research suggesting that doing puzzles will ward off Alzheimer's.

Leafing through, Paper Monitor was about to give up on the Express's other staple until on pages 28 and 29, as if by magic, appeared a feature headlined "Did the King of Spain try to seduce Diana?"
Another hard and fast rule of journalism is that the Daily Mail will always have at least one story loosely connected - sometimes helped by a crowbar - to Downton Abbey. And today was no exception.

"Downton Shabby...unofficial collection" ran the headline above an article suggesting that a US television channel was selling jewellery associated with characters from the show without getting permission from the programme's makers. The jewellery range includes freshwater pearl earrings named after the Countess of Grantham, selling for $79.99, and the Lady Mary Crawley earring and necklace set going for $114.99. "The Dowager Countess would most certainly not approve," the Mail concludes.

Your Letters

16:43 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

If, as you suggest in today's Paper Monitor, MPs are saying "We want our chips in a tower", that sounds fine by me. Best place for them, in my opinion! And, while we're at it, "Awf with their heads!" I'll get me ermine cloak...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

J Paul Murdock (Friday's Letters), if trousers now only start at a 32" waist, then surely you mean the market is expanding?
Alex, Edinburgh, UK

Regarding clothes size - Has anyone else noticed that fashionable clothes are cut for women with no chest and no backside. In my book, that means they are made for boys.
CJ, Cambs

So The Times "celebrates all that is black, crackly and spherical" (Friday Paper Monitor). Spherical? Surely that's balls.
Jeremy Golding, London, UK

Paper Monitor, vinyl records (PM, Friday) are not spherical - were they so, I imagine storage of a record collection of more than half-a-dozen 12in LPs would have been slightly problematic. They are instead discoidal. I'll get my fold-out sleeve.
Rob, London, UK

Could you do a "how to say" on "homage"? On Would I Lie to You? and various other BBC outlets it seems increasingly common to believe it's a French word, to be pronounced "o-MAhj" rather than "HOMidj". Am I the only one to find this greatly annoying?
Josh Taylor, York, UK

Your Letters

16:43 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

If, as you suggest in today's Paper Monitor, MPs are saying "We want our chips in a tower", that sounds fine by me. Best place for them, in my opinion! And, while we're at it, "Awf with their heads!" I'll get me ermine cloak...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

J Paul Murdock (Friday's Letters), if trousers now only start at a 32" waist, then surely you mean the market is expanding?
Alex, Edinburgh, UK

Regarding clothes size - Has anyone else noticed that fashionable clothes are cut for women with no chest and no backside. In my book, that means they are made for boys.
CJ, Cambs

So The Times "celebrates all that is black, crackly and spherical" (Friday Paper Monitor). Spherical? Surely that's balls.
Jeremy Golding, London, UK

Paper Monitor, vinyl records (PM, Friday) are not spherical - were they so, I imagine storage of a record collection of more than half-a-dozen 12in LPs would have been slightly problematic. They are instead discoidal. I'll get my fold-out sleeve.
Rob, London, UK

Could you do a "how to say" on "homage"? On Would I Lie to You? and various other BBC outlets it seems increasingly common to believe it's a French word, to be pronounced "o-MAhj" rather than "HOMidj". Am I the only one to find this greatly annoying?
Josh Taylor, York, UK

Paper Monitor

13:32 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Front-page studies pt one:

There's a lovely teaser on the front of the Daily Telegraph today.

It says, "We want our chips in a tower, say MPs".

How could you not turn to page three? There you encounter a pleasing tale of the complaints made by people dining in the House of Commons.

Back onto the Telegraph front and they make a most uncharacteristic decision. There's a massive picture of playwright Tom Stoppard, accompanied by the bombshell that he does not possess a computer or "Twitter machine".

Yet on page two, there is a much smaller picture of model Lisa Snowdon celebrating her 40th birthday in a red dress slashed to the thigh. Surely they have got them the wrong way round.

Or perhaps it's just that she was wearing red?

Anyway there's a very Telegraph biscuity base to the bottom of their front page. "Nearly 700,000 middle class families are to be stripped of child benefit in just over a year's time."

Alongside is a story saying the UK has had one of the mildest winters ever.

Just below is an advert for the Sandals holiday chain with the slogan "Luxury included".

Interesting juxtaposition.

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