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Archives for February 5, 2012 - February 11, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:35 UK time, Friday, 10 February 2012

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

1. The last chocolate in the box really does taste better.
More details (Daily Mail)

2. Diogenes extended his middle finger as a gesture of contempt in 4th Century BC Athens.
More details

3. A severed head was a Valentine's gift in 19th Century Taiwan.
More details (Independent)

4. Hitler was embarrassed about a photograph showing him wearing lederhosen.
More details (The Times)

5. Cabbages can talk to each other.
More details (Daily Mail)

6. Lizards can survive a spin in the washing machine.
More details

7. A source in an FBI report described Steve Jobs as a "deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. David Beckham has only three close friends.
More details (Daily Mail)

9. Seagrass is the oldest living thing on earth.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

10. Having an easy-to-say name makes you more likely to get promoted.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:24 UK time, Friday, 10 February 2012

I can add to this - a black and white mini-print pattern, like squiggles representing black flowers on white, acts as a convention signal for flies. I know this because I wore such a dress to a picnic. I'll get my Newcastle kit.
Diane, Sutton

Thank you for the extra information, RJ (Thursday's letters). As far as I'm aware, turning staff into Gorgons is against current employment law, which means that strip, er, I mean gentlemen's clubs are probably safer than I was led to believe.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

I always thought a Medusa was a jellyfish. I'll get my shrimping net.
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

If PM is considering relocating to Nottingham, I should have my spare room redecorated within a few weeks. It'd have been done months ago had I not spent all my money on lottery tickets.
Basil Long, Nottingham

To Paul, Ipswich: (Thursday's letters): I quite agree. Let's just hope no one mentions being urged to grow a business (as opposed to carrots or parsnips) and to (God forbid!) leverage assets...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Caption Competition

13:06 UK time, Friday, 10 February 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Shark tank

This week it was a tea party time in a Pacific Reef shark tank at a London aquarium.

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

6. Pendragon wrote:

"What's Jaws?"

"I'll have a pint, thanks."

5. Brian Saxby wrote:

Harry Ramsden's Kitchen Nightmares.

4. Tremorman wrote:

I guess it will be Jacques custard for pudding.

3. ARoseByAnyOther wrote:

Actually, I was wondering why we were able to get a reservation so close to Valentine's Day.

2. Valerie Ganne wrote:

Ah, petit fours! Er, which harpoon should one use?

1. Vicky S wrote:

"No, the service wasn't brilliant, but I still think we ought to leave a tip."

Paper Monitor

11:27 UK time, Friday, 10 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor can't help but be tickled by the way that David Cameron's latest tax break plans - which would see well-off working mothers get a tax break for employing domestic help - has been covered in the papers.

The idea, borrowed from the Swedes, would take the pressure off working parents and stop cleaners from working in the cash-in-hand black market, says the Times.

However for the Daily Mirror, the idea is simply a "tax break for toffs".

Another subject that receives a lot of coverage is the sudden film-maker focus on Princess Diana.

The Times notes that at least three films about the people's princess are in development.

For the Daily Mail, the news that Naomi Watts will play the coveted role in one of them - Caught in Flight - will "crown her career".

Call us cynical, but Paper Monitor thinks the battle of the blockbusters is bound to provide plenty of media fodder over the coming year.

Finally, most of the papers splash photos of the young British couple that scooped £45m in the Euromillions.

"For richer, for £45m richer," says the Daily Mirror, noting that their forthcoming nuptials are now more likely to be a more extravagant affair.

"Lottinghamshire" declares the Sun, which along with several other papers, notes that the pair live in the same county as a couple that won £40m prize two weeks ago.

So could Nottinghamshire be the luckiest place to live in Britain? Paper Monitor is considering relocating.

Your Letters

17:06 UK time, Thursday, 9 February 2012

Napoleon brought a quarter of a million horses to Russia but you say that he failed "for want of a winter horseshoe". I'd have thought that giving the lightest cart to the horse that had three winter shoes and one summer shoe have been reasonably effective. Obviously, he wasn't such a great leader after all.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

"Whiteread to make gallery frieze"? Why not? Everyone else is cold.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Dearest and most beloved PM; you and I have had an "arrangement" for many years, in that I pop in to see you around lunchtime each working day, and you lay out your very best wares for me to peruse. Imagine then how your latest behaviour of turning up several hours late has resulted in an empty space where your choicest morsels used to be, and the sense of disappointment, nay bereftness, that occasions upon my person. Have I offended you? Yours, through a veil of tears, P xxx
PollySaxon, Lichfield

Perhaps David (Wednesday's letters) should brush up on his Ovid. Medusa was a beautiful woman, and a priestess in Athena's temple - as such she had to remain chaste. When was "seduced" by Poseidon in the temple, Athena turned her into a Gorgon in a fit of rage. The whole story is shot through with sex, just not necessarily very pleasant.
RJ, Cambourne

Anthony (Wednesday's letters) - that doesn't really help. Noel as in Noel Edmonds or Noel as in the festive season?
Helen, London, UK

Alan, Amanda (Wednesday's letters), I have indeed downed pints and tools and upped games, (but never a swan). They are well known exceptions to the rule. I have never been invited to up my investments or down my financial risk and I still don't want to be. I'll get my dictionary.
Paul, Ipswich

Paper Monitor

15:50 UK time, Thursday, 9 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A jury's acquittal of Harry Redknapp on tax evasion charges was greeted with understandable relief and jubilation by the Tottenham Hotspur manager.

The conclusion of the trial was also welcomed by the media, too, with the occasion offering The Times the opportunity to re-publish a series of choice quotes from Mr Redknapp (who, lest we forget, writes a regular column in the Sun):

I write like a two-year-old and I can't spell ... I can't work a computer, I don't know what an e-mail is. I have never sent a fax and I've never even sent a text message.

After he was told another customer at his Monaco bank had a wife with the same name as his pet bulldog:

If she was as nice as Rosie they have got a good wife.

On signing striker Peter Crouch (6ft 7ins):

I said he's young, he's getting better, he's getting stronger... he's getting taller.

And so on. Little wonder, concludes veteran football writer and part-time Spurs fan Hunter Davies, that Redknapp is loved by supporters: "He represents a time when football wasn't about prawn sandwiches and everyone played on Hackney Marshes."

True. The fact that Redknapp is such reliably good copy also helps ensure he is popular with journalists and readers alike.

Your Letters

16:29 UK time, Wednesday, 8 February 2012

How is a name like 'Medusa' a "broad, unsubtle allusion to sex and glamour"? To me, it suggests quite specifically that, those entering lap-dancing clubs run the risk of being turned to stone, which seems neither sexy nor glamorous. I'll get my polished silver shield.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Reading this story: apparently, "The men, from Whitehaven, had been wearing no clothes on the trip from Gran Canaria to Port St Charles in Barbados to avoid chafing from material soaked by salty sea water." This was followed by the revelation: "Gradually it got worse, the swells got bigger... " Oo-er! Ouch! Far too much information!
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

I've just heard the name of Robert Baden-Powell in "Sport and the British" Radio Four, when will BBC presenters get the pronunciation of Powell correct. The founder of the Scout Movement said, "for Baden rhyme it with Maiden, for Powell rhyme it with Noel.
Anthony Adamson, South Shields, UK

Paul, the new verb you refer to has been in use in English since medieval times, mostly in the term "swan-upping."
Alan, Stockport, UK

Paul, have you never heard of the expressions "to up one's game" or "to up the ante", both of which include up as a verb. To down a pint would suggest that down is a verb, but I'll leave it to other monitorites to come up with examples for across and around.
Amanda, London

So if these killer whales get their day in court, how exactly will they be called to the witness stand by the defendant's counsel from cross examination?
Mark, Reading,

Paper Monitor

16:06 UK time, Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

On a rather downbeat day for news, picture editors gave thanks to a German-born dinosaur called Karl. Clear the front page, for Karl had savaged a British (strawberry) blonde.

It was like a modern King Kong. Well, Paper Monitor exaggerates only a little. For this was veteran fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld who had summoned up a bygone age with his comment that Adele, while having a pretty face and lovely voice, was "a little too fat".

Lagerfeld, who is a little white haired, teutonic and wrinkly - two can play at that game - gave the papers the perfect cue for full length pics of the curvy star. Some went for the nuclear option - the front page. "Lagerfeld's Adele faux pas" ran the Daily Telegraph headline, while the Daily Mail described it as a "cruel jibe" next to a full length picture of the Someone Like You singer.

The tabloid cavalry were not far behind. The Daily Mirror's Polly Hudson accused Lagerfeld of "blasphemy" and warned that "the bags of bones you send down the catwalk are hardly healthy role models."

The papers' appetite for discussing women's body shapes is apparently insatiable. "Post Bey-by curves are bootylicious" ran the Mirror's excruciating headline about Beyonce's fuller figure as she stepped out in public a month after giving birth.

The paper noted that there was no sign of a lettuce leaf diet as she scoffed chicken wings and ribs with her husband Jay-Z. Just don't tell Karl.

Your Letters

17:23 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

I am lettering you today to ask about the new verb as used in this, and many other BBC headlines. Should we all be using this way of expressing an increase now and can we expect downs, acrosses and arounds to come into use?
Paul, Ipswich

Spending 90 hours to earn £158 every six weeks... less than £2 an hour. Better off getting a real job.
Henri, Sidcup

I keep misreading this as Gambon and thinking Michael's in a strange new role.
Sarah, Basel, Switzerland

Re this article: Presumably the ideal audio solution for people who find the "L" and "R" markings on normal earphones just that little bit too confusing?
Graeme, Wild In-The-Streets, UK

Not at all, Mike (Monday letters) - voiceover artists rarely need to show up on the set. Despite "starring" together in Chicken Run, Mel Gibson and Julia Sawahla never met.
Dr Reece Walker, London

Please tell me I'm not the only one who wanted to shout "FENTON!!!!!" when they saw the first picture?
Sharon, Nailsea, UK

Paper Monitor

10:15 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is always one to advocate making sure children get the best start in life and today's papers have some snippets of advice for parents.

First up, the Daily Mail cites a study which says giving babies finger food can stop them growing up fat. According to the paper, Nottingham University researchers found that children who are fed smaller sized chunks of food during weaning gain less weight than those who are spoon-fed purees.

Certainly something to chew over. But Paper Monitor can't help but think there's something slightly unsavoury about the finger food it favours - fruit cut into chip-like shapes and bread sticks.

Meanwhile, a couple of the papers pick up on a poll of primary school staff which shows that a rising number of children are still in nappies when they start school.

"Schools go potty at idle parents 'failing to toilet-train kids'" says the Sun, which goes on to say that 62% of staff have noticed more toilet accidents in the classroom over the past five years.

The lesson? Toilet-trained children make cleaner classmates.

But more importantly, education suffers when teachers have to stop class to clear up the mess. And there is no toilet humour in that.

Your Letters

16:54 UK time, Monday, 6 February 2012

Re this story: I'm not surprised that the borrowers are shunning credit cards. It would take a couple of them just to lift one.
GDW, Edinburgh

Twitter might be more addictive than cigarettes.
But the Monitor letters page? That is as addictive as a really nice cup of tea... with biscuits.
Ps When is my next fix?
Andrew, Malvern, UK

I don't know if two phone boxes can give birth to a letter box (John Airey, Friday's letters), but looking at this view, I'm reminded of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Colin Main (Friday's letters) is not quite correct. It would be possible to truthfully assert that an Olympics was the cleanest Olympics "ever" (as opposed to his suggestion of "so far") if it could be shown that the Olympics was 100% clean. Then, the best any future Olympics could aspire to would be "joint cleanest Olympics ever" or something. I'll get my anorak.
HB, London

Here's a real piece of useless information for you: I've just read David (Darth Vader) Prowse's autobiography and learned that to this day, he and James Earl Jones, the man who voiced the Dark Lord have never met each other - how very odd, don't you think?
Mike, Knowsley

Re 10 things, number 5, surely as trees have rings (rather than the spirals on vinyl records), the music would be rather monotonous as it would be stuck in the same 'groove' ?
Paul Greggor, London

Paper Monitor

16:31 UK time, Monday, 6 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor loves group photographs. Inevitably, there is one person whose body language betrays them, and they look like they would rather be heading for the exit than taking part in a virtual group hug.

Not so the members of the group featured in a large photo that runs across the Telegraph's pages 11 and 12. This group of 20 young men are perfectly at ease in each other's company.

The reader is introduced to members of "pop" - not a boy band but former prefects of Eton.

Smiling, they are lined up in identical trousers and the most eye-catching waistcoats, which the teenagers have designed themselves.

The point of the photo? It's not immediately obvious. The picture was taken 12 years ago and includes Prince William. But scan your eye along and another face stands out - Eddie Redmayne of recent Birdsong fame.

Now, looking at the photo, you just know he was destined for a career in the public eye - he is pushing himself slightly forward in the line-up, head at a jaunty angle, the camera loving those cheekbones.

Under the headline "The Prince and the showman posing at Eton", the reporter gushes: "While the Duke of Cambridge... was the only famous face in in the crowd back then, today it is a different story... Redmayne's role as the hero of Sebastian Faulks's war story has turned him into the heart-throb of the moment."

The story goes on to inform us that, of the 20 young men in the picture, more than half ended up pursuing careers either in the law or as City bankers.

One of two, however, chose to follow a more unconventional path, we are told. One is an apprentice at a church in Chelsea, "where he leads home Bible study groups", while another "runs a group that organises meditation retreats in Britain and France.

The picture and accompanying story sit beneath a separate report that announces that bright private school pupils are 25% more likely to win a place at Oxford University than students from state schools with straight A grades. The story cites data released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some 5,300 applicants with three A grades at AS-level applied to Oxford last year. Among privately-educated students, 29 per cent of top students were given places but only 23 per cent of those with the same grades from state schools got in

So endeth the Oxbridge page.

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