BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 15, 2012 - April 21, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:53 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2012

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

1.Chris Hoy's first bike was a girl's.
More details

2,A dog can be best man at a wedding.
More details

3.You can be arrested for entering a mannequin in an election.
More details

4.Thinking about death is good for you.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5.Bees dance better vertically than horizontally.
More details

6.There are professional artisanal pencil sharpeners.
More details (ABC)

7.People with corgis are the most extrovert dog owners.
More details (Daily Mail)

8.The polar bear is 450,000 older than previously thought.
More details

9.Being yourself at work is bad for your career.
More details (The Independent)

10.Swans cannot break your arm.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Your Letters

15:09 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2012

Isn't Demba Ba (Sarah Conner, Thursday's Letters) the opening chant of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'?
Nik Edwards, Aylesbury, UK

In response to Sarah Conner, Thursday's letters, far more prestigious is the Test hat trick. you can then choose from Hugh Trumble, Jimmy Matthews or Wasim Akram. Perhaps with a Trumble (my favourite) you could get to take the coat stand home with you as a memento.
Rob, Horsham, UK

Re having three letters in one week published in my case it would be just "thanks,thanks thanks". I'll get my gratitude cloak and be gratefully on my philanthropidist journey...
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Probably just me...but did anyone else look at the picture in this article and instantly think it looked like an ad for a new twin-blade razor?
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

You've missed one of Tesco's biggest mistakes. Some of us won't give our money to a greedy, overbearing giant that wants a finger in every pie from insurance to mobile phones, and one that happily stomps over small independents and ignores local objection. The high street has changed forever thanks to Tesco, and not for the better. Nobody likes a bully.
Sue, London

Caption Competition

14:09 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week two students sit on a giant chaise longue at the University of Zurich.

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

6. Nick Fowler wrote:
So this is the Large Hadron Recliner we've all heard so much about.

5. Raven Clare wrote:
IKEA were advertising a massive furniture sale.

4. Valerie Ganne wrote:
I think my psychiatrist has delusions of grandeur.

3. ARoseByAnyOther wrote:
And the curtains are yellow. Can you guess where I've been shopping for furniture?

2. Camilla Bit My Finger wrote:
Universe Settee of Zurich.

1. midge-de-zarquon wrote:
"I'm pretty sure we'll beat Tracey Emin. Not only is our bed made, we've actually drawn something on it."

Paper Monitor

12:42 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

At first glance it looks like a classic of the Daily Mail's favourite genre, a headline so comprehensive there's no need to read on. But yet...

"I still shudder to recall the day my three-year-old son told my boss: 'Dad's on the loo'"

There is something buttock-clenchingly compelling about this piece by former Westminster lobby correspondent Tom Utley (not least of which is the question "which boss?" - surely not... Paul Dacre?).

"Perhaps only a fellow stuffed-shirt Englishman will understand fully why I found that little speech so excruciatingly embarrassing - and why the blood still rises to my cheeks as I type it out, 25 years on."

(He doesn't reveal the identity of said boss, who apparently responded with a contemptuous chuckle.)

So why is Utley revisiting this trauma?

A new study suggests that revealing our true selves to our friends and family is likely to make us happier, but "authentic self-expression" may damage our careers. So people often employ dramatically different personae according to their social setting.

Utley cites "preacher of hellfire" Ian Paisley.

"My most surprising glimpse of the man came when a colleague rang to speak to him and overheard him addressing his wife tenderly as 'Mammy'."

And when it comes to revealing real personalities, our pooch predilection also give us away, according to a study covered in the Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

Psychologist Lane Workman has found that owners tend to pick animals that mirror their personalities:

  • corgi owners (the Queen, Chris Evans) are likely to be extroverts
  • owners of gun dogs (Gwyneth Paltrow and cocker spaniel-owning Kate Middleton) are intelligent, agreeable and conscientious
  • and terriers are for those with "low emotional stability" but who make pleasant company

"I don't know [terrier owner] Simon Cowell," says Dr Woodman. "But it may be that if you know him personally that he is a nice chap to have around."

(Amateur psychologists may wish to note that the Mail Online illustrated its article with photos of Duchess of Cambridge + cocker spaniel and Geri Halliwell + shih-tzu - but a Pugh cartoon instead of a photo in its newspaper - while the Telegraph opted for the Queen + corgi online but Kate + cocker spaniel in its print version.)

Your Letters

17:37 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2012

I feel that the kudos to be gained from having something published on Magazine Monitor needs to be quantified. Does the kudos gained from having, say, four or five letters published equal the kudos gained from being published in the caption competition? Are they exchangeable? Also, how do they compare with having a letter published in a broadsheet newspaper? Can the Independent Guardian of Monitor Weights and Measures help us? Also, is there an agreed protocol for referring to one's kudos in conversation with women?
Rob Mimpriss, Bangor, Wales

Liverpool is marking the sinking of the Titanic with huge amounts of water gushing where that's not supposed to happen, in a re-creation of last year's burst water main in Huyton. This seems to be in rather poor taste.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Is it just me or was the Neanderthal man modelled on Carlos Tevez?
Andy Taylor, Southampton

Responding to Christian Cook's comments (Wednesday's letters) I can do no better than quote Justin Leigh, of BBC Spotlight: "It's been a very wet start to the drought!" I'll inflate my liferaft.
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

If I could just think of something interesting/witty to write there is a chance of getting a hat trick of letters published in one week - a feat I did achieve once before. I have (sadly) checked to see if there is a term for a double hat trick but alas no, so I'm proposing one. I'm suggesting a "Demba Ba" after the Senegalese footballer who has twice put three past the goalie. A "Paul Scholes" or a "Steven Gerrard" were other less exciting options.
Sarah Conner, Birmingham, UK

Sarah (Wednesday's letters), just to note - chocolate is poisonous to dogs. PS, what is your address? I'm trying to get in touch with you.
Model 101 Terminator, Cyberdyne Systems, US

Paper Monitor

17:29 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's joyful juxtapositions today.

Firstly in the Sun - left-hand page "Mentally ill young porn link", right-hand page (a few millimetres away) Page Three featuring topless 25-year-old Sam.

Then on page 11 of Metro - left-hand side is 100 days to go until the Olympics, next to a story about a Taliban commander who handed himself in to police while trying to claim the $100 reward on a poster. Hundredtastic and also notable for the quote from an official:

"Clearly the man is an imbecile."

Slightly less obvious in the Daily Express is the position of a diary story about John Lydon complaining about the campaign to get God Save the Queen to the top of the charts. The adjacent advert is headlined: "I AM A BIG DEAL". Quite.

Away from matters juxtapositional, there is some dreadful punnage at the back of the Express. Chelsea (with a Didier Drogba goal) beat Barcelona (star man Lionel Messi gives ball away for goal).

Headline on the back: "Blues clean up the Messi". Ouch.

Inside story: "Hot Drog is the mustard".


Your Letters

16:52 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2012

To all the people questioning how there can be a drought with all this rain coming down, stop a moment and spare a thought for the men and women of our wonderful water companies who are out in this weather trying to catch raindrops in a pipette to squirt into their collection thimbles. It's a very tricky job and we should all be grateful that there's any water in our taps at all.
Christian Cook, Street, Somerset

So this is what we could call petty crime, then?
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

How can we be sure it is only water?
Henri, Sidcup

Er, me Henri (Tuesday's letters). I only had children so someone would eat the strawberry creams and I'm pretty sure the main reason my parents had my childhood dog (Raggs RIP) was to eat the coconut ones.
Sarah Conner, Birmingham, UK

Can't they just dig a hole and bury them?
Stuart, Auckland NZ

This article is, as I write this, linked from the BBC News front page as "Di Matteo eyes two 'perfect' legs". This driving me crazy. It's either total genius or the worst piece of hackneyed sub-editing I've seen in a long time and I can't work out which.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Paper Monitor

10:13 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Remember Samantha Brick? Of course you remember Samantha Brick - the writer who provoked a Twitter hate campaign after declaring in the Daily Mail that other women hated her for being beautiful.

The feature generated so much attention and web traffic that the papers' commissioning team ordered up another bite of the proverbial cherry. And another. And one more.

And yet again the paper returns to Ms Brick, the gift that keeps on giving.

Today we do not hear from the lady herself directly, although a ragged-out reproduction of the original article is present.

It appears at the top of a first-person feature by writer Fiona Duff, who endorses the Brick thesis on the basis that her own allegedly average looks have apparently led to her enjoying plenty of friendships with more attractive women.

Or as the headline puts it: "Why do women love me for being a Plain Jane?"

It continues:

While Samantha says she has struggled to make female friends because women are jealous of her beauty, I think the opposite is true for me. The fact I'm no threat in the looks league means I've always had lots of pals.
Some 800 words ensue in this vein. Paper Monitor has no view to express about whether Ms Duff is as ordinary-looking as she suggests.

But it is with genuine fascination that this column wonders just how the Mail's features desk will manage to come up with another Brick-related story idea.

Your Letters

15:11 UK time, Tuesday, 17 April 2012

She must be really sick of being called Terry by mistake.
Sarah Conner, Birmingham, UK

Is this evidence that Twenty Twelve is actually a documentary? The article is just missing the phrase "Jubilympic torch relay".
Mark, Southampton

"Pulitzer win for 24-year-old reporter." Yes, good headline. An award for reporters goes to a reporter - what a surprise. Now "Pulitzer win for 24-year-old basketball player" - *that* might have made a good headline...
Mark, Sydney, Oz

Re: "Sugar warning for 'healthy' soft drinks." How many other people thought the former Suralan was diversifying?
Rachel Fox, Nottingham, UK

Who in their right mind misses the "coffee creme"?
Henri, Sidcup

Paper Monitor

14:03 UK time, Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Question: Where are we?

Clue: The spelling is not great.

Second clue: All human life is here.

Answer: We are in the Daily Star's Text Maniacs section of course.

It's the Old Faithful of letters pages. It always delivers. There are no off days.

They make every topic come alive. The big topics of the past few days have been kicked around by the broadsheets and heavyweight pundits. But now it's time for the masters of pith, those champions of brevity, our texting thinkers.

"So they want to tax fatties takeaways. I'm fat but I don't eat em so how will they tax me? Expect BREATHING TAX to be next. Idiot government!" - 54ROCK


"making aintree fences smaller & easier 2 jump makes horses go faster so more likely 2 fall. Simple fact." - taximan


But it's the ability to switch from quotidian political discourse to true insight that dazzles the reader.

Take this missive from "ciderman":

"There is nothing worse than getting to the bottom of my vanilla shake and tasting banana, strawberry or chocolate. How about washing nozzle before each flavour change? Seems to be enough staff standing round to warrant that. Sort it out people!"


Your Letters

14:34 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

I wish to report an omission: an entire article about the 70s, and no mention or photo of Alison Steadman in Abigail's Party?
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Like Alastair Campbell, I used to think that self-doubt was a good thing, but now I'm not sure that I was right.
John Whapshott, Westbury England

Scientists count penguins from space! Nobody told me about this... where are they landing ? I want to see them... how do they fit their beaks into space helmets?
Graham, Purmerend, The Netherlands

Re 10 things point one: Surely not the rude ones or are is someone 'monkeying' around with our pri...mates?
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Bloke Street. Why are roads always named after men? They're not.
Ed, Queen Elizabeth Street, Wakefield

Paper Monitor

12:35 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is drawn to a couple of stories sparked by the Grand National, and neither of them are about horses.

Firstly, the Daily Telegraph reports that an inquiry is under way after a police officer used Facebook to publish what it calls "a rant at Aintree racegoers".

It says Pc David Crawford, of Merseyside Police, took to Facebook to launch a tirade against the "tramps" at Ladies' Day.

"Enjoy Ladies day - ladies," it reports him as posting, before it will be "back to drink Lambrini at 10 in the morning, watching Jeremy Kyle whilst shouting the kids 'Britney and Tyson come down for ya pork scratching breakfast'."

"Ladies Day - more like Hallowe'en," he concludes.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail uses Liverpool ladies' love of fake tan as a peg for a Make-up map of the UK.

Under the headline cosmetic capitals, it says new research shows a woman's look can reveal where she is from, citing that Edinburgh women buy 15% more foundation than those from anywhere else, and Cardiff women buy 51% more blusher than the national average.

Other revelations include London's favourite facial serum, Bristol's love of lipstick and the Geordie obsession with moisturiser.

Whereas in Manchester, it is all about the nail varnish.

It is at times like these that Paper Monitor is glad it is a national brand so it can't get pigeonholed.

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