BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 29, 2012 - February 4, 2012

Your Letters

16:55 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

What is "the lowest note ever written for a choral piece" supposed to mean? *draws stave, bass clef, five ledger lines and a note* See? I just wrote a lower one. If only I'd made it choral, the record would be mine.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Before everyone writes in and says that Paper Monitor must be male because (s)he enjoys a pint, I'd like to point out that I'm female and I drink pints of bitter - so there!
Gail, Reigate

Caption Competition was really funny but I feel I must point out to VirtuousFang that it's a DS not a Game Boy - that's the only reason I can see for you not being 1st!
Jenny F, Aberdeen

It will not be possible to tell which were the cleanest Olympics "ever" until "ever" is over. Perhaps they mean the cleanest Olympics "so far". I'll get my coat (and scarf, gloves hat and thermals).
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

It's good to know that the Falkland Islands are doing well. I never realised that two telephone boxes could give birth to a letter box.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

I notice Ray Lashley refers to himself as "Guardian of Monitor Weights and Measures since 2005" (Wednesday's letters). I wonder if the well-known broadsheet newspaper has a "Monitor of Guardian Weights and Measures"? (Other centre-left newspapers are available, although there might not be.)
Ian, Bristol

10 things we didn't know last week

15:30 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

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

1. Newt Gingrich's name at birth was Newton Leroy McPherson.
More details (LA Times)

2. Lard lasts 64 years.
More details

3. Castaways on Desert Island Discs have taken 183 pianos, five trombones, the Albert Memorial and a cheeseburger machine.
More details

4. Twitter is more addictive than cigarettes.
More details (The Guardian)

5. Tree trunks can be played like vinyl records.
More details

6. Tripe is one of Nelson Mandela's favourite foods.
More details

7. Gorillas reassure each other by grinning.
More details

8. The earth is getting lighter.
More details

9. More babies were born in the UK during 1920 than in any other year.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

10. Fans of snowdrops are known as galanthophiles.
More details

Caption Competition

13:20 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Children in costume

This week it was two children in Viking costume preparing for the Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland.

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

6. BeckySnow wrote:

"Let's go and raid the tuck shop."

5. VirtuousFang wrote:

As Thor hogged the Gameboy yet again, Loki started to plot his revenge.

4. penny-farthing wrote:

"Yes, it looks like the next longboat in will be the 3.10 from Orkney."

3. Woundedpride wrote:

"So if we DO launch this bloodthirsty pillaging of northern Europe project of yours, Timothy, can I bring my teddy?"

2. Mr Snoozy wrote:

I'm just checking the list of places to rob and pillage, and I see that after Mothercare it's Toys R Us.

1. Rob Falconer wrote:

And, at the end, we get to burn Edward Woodward.

Paper Monitor

12:48 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor enjoys a pint as much as the next person and enjoyed the brouhaha in this morning's papers over a guest ale that was removed from a parliamentary bar in the House of Commons.

The beer in question is called Top Totty and features a pump plate featuring a half-naked lady wearing bunny ears. Now brewers are famed for having a laugh when it comes to beer-naming - Big Horn Buttface Amber Ale comes to mind.

To many, it's a bit of puerile school-boy fun. The thought of this nation's MPs asking for Top Totty all evening might raise a snigger in some quarters. But for Shadow equalities minister Kate Green, it was too much. An hour-and-a-half after complaining, the beer was removed.

Some people think she's simply had a sense of humour failure - but others have supported her view that this was demeaning to women.

Jemima Lewis, writing in the Daily Telegraph is with Green on this one.

This is seen in some quarters as an example of political correctness gone kerr-azy. But what ought to trouble us more, surely, is that a smallish, family-run Staffordshire brewery should think it reasonable to use such porn-lite branding. Images of naked women are now such a ubiquitous part of mainstream culture that we hardly question them anymore. It's only when they pop up somewhere unexpected, like a dusty parliamentary bar, that their casual vulgarity gets noticed.

The Daily Express , however, is in the political correctness gone mad camp. Under the headline, Let's Drink to Top Totty, a comment writer opines:

That a Labour MP should call for and achieve the banning of Top Totty blonde beer from a Commons bar shows how crazily far the cult of political corerctness has travelled. But Kate Green should not think she has disadvantaged the Stafford brewers of this ale in any way. For beer drinkers everywhere will have just one question in mind: I wonder what it tastes like?

Now Paper Monitor recalls a sojourn in Canada, and a brown ale called Moose Drool. Nope, no matter how many times it heard the name, it simply wasn't tempted.

Paper Monitor

10:51 UK time, Thursday, 2 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
Unlike Macavity, who famously wasn't there, the papers are full of cats today. The Daily Mail - "Cat craze born and bread on the internet" - shows half a dozen pictures of moggies with their heads apparently stuck in a slices of... er bread. The practice is known as breading. The pictures are rather sinister - the cat's head protruding from a soft, doughy rectangle that resembles an Elizabethan aristo's ruff, a mournful look in its eyes, as if to say "This is my cross to bear in life - a slice of own-brand wholemeal."

It's a minefield for puns, with the Mail supplying the internal monologue of cats subjected to the trend. "Sometimes you just have to roll with your owner's whims - however crummy they might be."

Martyn Lewis, former newsreader of this parish, recognised many years ago the appetite for all things feline in his authoritative Cats in the News. And it's not just the cuddly variety we pine for. In the last few days that hardy perennial - big cats loose in the British countryside - has risen again. Apparent sightings and a mauled deer in Gloucestershire hit the headlines. But today the air went out of the balloon a little with the news that DNA evidence showed that the deer was likely to have been killed by a fox.

But for big cat lovers, there's still Pumas. Not real ones. These are women seeking Previously Married and Attractive men. Not to be confused of course with the Cougar - an older woman who preys on much younger men. The Daily Telegraph reports that single women are turning their backs on toyboys for men with experience of relationships. But on closer inspection the story appears to have as much veracity as the Gloucestershire big cat. For the survey it was based on claims that fewer than 10% of single women would prefer to date a divorced man than be a cougar.

Pause for thought.

Your Letters

15:04 UK time, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

I just read the headline Terry race trial after Euro finals and thought some of Terry Wogan's sarcasm of Eurovisions past had come back to haunt him.
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

If Menna Pritchard thinks there's no risk to her two-year old daughter from climbing a cliff with no helmet on, why is she wearing a helmet herself?
Tim, London

In this story, where is Drunk Girl and what is that photo anyway?
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

Synch the Bismarck!
Henderson Grigg, London, UK

In The Bathers at Asnieres and its modern Olympic reinterpretation, why are there more hats than people?
HB, London

I suspect Lewis Graham (Tuesday's letters) was just trying to wind me up, but the bus is a measure of length or height, not volume. For volumes we use Olympic swimming pools, which I estimate would only be filled about 16 chews deep with £1m worth of genuine "penny" chews (assuming they haven't been shrunk to keep the price down). Perhaps the most appropriate comparative measure would be the three international football pitches they would cover.

As a slightly concerning aside, in researching this, I have discovered a large number of people called Penny Chew on a well known social networking site, but none give their occupation as "confectioner".
Ray Lashley (Guardian of Monitor Weights and Measures since 2005), Colchester, UK

Paper Monitor

12:13 UK time, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Everyone loves a politician slipping up. The press enjoys it even more when it's a woman stumbling on her way to see the prime minister because of her fancy shoes.

Theresa May, famous for kitten heels, "became the latest victim of Downing Street's uneven surface", explained the Times, after the Home Secretary's heel got stuck in a groove between the paving stones.

A photographer lay in wait of course. This after all is one of the most perilous catwalks in the world for slip-ups, whether ambulatory, or involving private documents.

The Times' picture montage showed how one of Mrs May's feet advanced while the other stayed resolutely put. In the end she was forced to press the ejector button by kneeling and disengaging foot from shoe.

The montage helpfully showed two other recent victims of the treacherous Downing Street pavement - Gabby Bertin, the prime minister's press secretary, who snapped a Christian Louboutin heel, and Labour MP Hazel Blears who was also forced to stop and take off her pointy heeled shoe.

Rather uncannily the Daily Telegraph had the tale of another woman's very public stumble.

This time it was an actress treading the boards of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Stratford HQ. The unfortunate Aicha Kossoko fell during a performance of The Taming of the Shrew and fractured her ankle.

Like May she had caught her heel in something. "She was very brave and managed to carry on," an RSC staff member said.

It sounds painful. But the animal world can be much crueller to those who fall over, as a Daily Mail story about the latest zoo "horror" shows.

"The owl and the rather peckish pussycat..." related how a "blundering" barn owl had been devoured by a lion at Colchester Zoo in full view of shocked visitors.

Ash, a nine year-old female, had landed on a ledge in the lion enclosure before losing her footing. It was lights out for the poor owl.

She was clubbed by a lioness's paw before being "swallowed up" by a waiting male. A cautionary tale for any female politicians eying up those Blahniks.

Your Letters

17:34 UK time, Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Of course mice sing (10 Things)! Have you never seen Babe? Quite a repertoire. Which reminds me - is it acceptable to call someone "babe"? Well, obviously, if you are a talented sheep-pig.
Aqua Suliser, Bath

I think Kate Fox's comment tags the issue here. It's not the nickname that's off-side, it's the one-way verbal traffic of men using intimate terms to women inappropriately (and women not correspondingly employing intimate terms) that grates.
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

Chris King - would it not make far more sense to spell it "lonnnnng"? "Loooong" just reads wrong... As, incidentally, does "soooo", which just sounds like my name.
Sue, London

How to Spend a £1m salary - a Monitorite question would be to ask how many double deck buses you could fill with £1m worth of penny chews?
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

Nominative determinism alert!Ralph, Cumbria

So, Pythons link to mammals decline? Personally I blame the Spanish Inquisition. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Paul Lawrence, Cirencester

Paper Monitor

11:46 UK time, Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor's eye finds itself drawn to a headline in the Sun today: "Captain Harry's hostage horror".

It's about Prince Harry. He's been "hooded and 'beaten' in training". Note that beaten appears in quotation marks.

Some canny readers pull journalists up on the use of quotation marks.

Sometimes they mean a person actually said the thing in quotes. Sometimes they are a paraphrasing of what was actually said. Very often they are used to indicate that it remains unclear whether something happened or not.

It's all very confusing.

In this instance, Prince Harry has been the subject of a simulated kidnap on a training course. Now, many moons ago Paper Monitor went on a training course with a not dissimilar scenario.

It involved being hooded, pushed around and then made to stand on tiptoe with arms outstretched while being shouted at.

The key quote in the Sun article is: "He'll have been hooded and mentally beaten to the ground." The italics belong to Paper Monitor.

Now one might assume that the treatment meted out in training to armed forces personnel is a fair bit sterner than that for journalists, but the Sun's article doesn't seem to do justice to the "hostage horror" of the headline.

Further into the Sun, and still on the subject of quotation marks, the paper has a head-to-head on the subject of whether women are better at parking than men.

Motoring writer Emma "Parker" Bowles (the quotation marks are Paper Monitor's own says: "Men can't park because they are used to lying about inches."

She's up against Sun motoring editor Ken Gibson who says: "Women are so slow at finding a space they invariably miss it."

Only he doesn't. That pull-out quote came from this paragraph: "I agree with the finding that women have a slower approach to actually finding a space. It's so slow, they invariably miss it."

Come on Ken, get pithy.

Your Letters

17:13 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

So, Gary Barlow was voted best-dressed man number 16 by a panel... including Gary Barlow? One can only wonder what he did to himself not to come number one.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Of course mice sing (10 things)! Have you never seen Bagpuss?
Richard, Newport

J Paul Murdock (Friday's letters), quite possibly, yes; the compulsory teaching of the political viewpoints of all parties in opposition would, of course, be the balanced approach in your situation, including if one of those parties were a single-issue, monarchistic-restoration party. However, do you really think there would be a national celebration for a significant anniversary of a democratically elected ruler? Tony Blair didn't have one on his tenth year in office. Largely because his supporters weren't so arrogant as to assume that the whole country was equally as jubilant as they were about the milestone.
David, Cardiff, Wales

Surely Michael Winner (Friday letters) should have on his notepaper OBE (offered but eschewed)?
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ

Storm in a B-cup?
Mike , Newcastle upon Tyne.

R.G. (Friday Letters), that's nothing! My feet seem to swell and shrink from shoe to shoe, let alone shop to shop: within mere seconds, it seems I can be a 10, 11, or 12! Fear keeps me from measuring my height...
Rob, London, UK

Paper Monitor

14:01 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If you missed it at the time, you're certainly going to be spoilt for choice by today's newspapers. And it's Novak Djokovic's shirt-ripping session, we're talking about.

The Daily Telegraph teases with its front-page photograph of the shirt being ripped off Incredible Hulk-like by an exhausted Djokovic. But it's the Guardian that really nails it on the front page of its Sports section. Under the headline Super Nova, its shot - taken from above - is of a bare-chested, extremely fit Novak, leaning backwards, clenched fists, eyes closed, wooden crucifix resting atop the Serbian's buff chest - looking more like a boxer than a tennis player - letting out a victory roar.

Given how exhausted the man must have been after the longest final ever in Grand Slam, it's a wonder he had the energy for such crowd-pleasing showmanship.

Definitely a picture worth a thousands words - and then some.

But the sub-editors have tried to put the event into words - the best coming from The Sun: "HE'S DJOK THE RIPPER," it screams. "Novak Djokovic ripped off his shirt in a show of 'roar power' after beating Rafael Nadal to take the Australian Open title".

So what happened to the shirt? Again if you missed it, Australia's Herald Sun provides the answer. It features a clip of Djokovic clearly picking out a young woman in the crowd and lobbing the shirt towards her. Quick as a flash, however, another woman grabs the shirt, leaving the younger lady slightly aghast.

THERE'S just one problem when you swipe Novak Djokovic's shirt as he tries to throw it to a young girl in the crowd after his epic Australian Open final win.

Your greedy act is probably going to be beamed to millions of television viewers worldwide.

Do you know the girl or the shirt snatcher?

Paper Monitor was momentarily confused when it copped an eyeful of Celebrity Big Brother winner Denise Welch and pals in The Sun lifting up their shirts in public.

Were they paying homage to Djokovic? No, it appears they were trying to engage the attentions of actor Tim Healy, who was celebrating his 60th birthday at a pub in Alderley Edge.

Now Paper Monitor can understand exposing oneself in Melbourne - it's warm there. But in Cheshire, in January?

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