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Archives for May 6, 2012 - May 12, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

17:17 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

Woolly mammoth

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

1. Fifty percent ofUS roads are unpaved.
More details

2. Crows recognise familiar human voices.
More details

3. Reindeer like lichen.
More details

4. Vidal Sassoon was an anti-fascist street fighter.
More details (The Daily Telegraph)

5. Some mammoths were tiny.
More details

6. David Cameron thought LOL was shorthand for "lots of love".
More details

7. Flatulent dinosaurs caused global warming.
More details

8. Oliver Cromwell was keen on grooming products.
More details (The Sun)

9. The new French president doesn't own a car.
More details (The Guardian)

10. There are 115,000 postboxes in Britain.
More details (The Daily Mirror)

Seen a thing? Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

15:18 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

So, the teaser headline reads "Mercury to appear in Queen show" Are we also to have "Venus to appear in Bananarama show"? I won't even mention Uranus...
Basil Long, Nottingham

I hate to be picky, but it's hardly veiled at the moment.
Ralph, Cumbria

So, I was expecting to see a Magazine article on Spencer Perceval today. It's not too late to knock something up is it? His name has helped me gain points in literally twos of pub quizzes. Perhaps BBC One's The One Show will run a typically punchy feature...
Luke L, Woking

Monitor Note: We got there two days ago

Caption Competition

13:48 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012


It's the Caption Competition.

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

Baboons in a car at Knowsley Safari Park

This week, baboons put a car to the test at Knowsley Safari Park.

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

6. The Coachman wrote:
I aint going South of the Thames after midnight, mate.

5. Rob Falconer wrote:
You hot-wire it. YOU swallowed the keys.

4. Paris-Amsterdam Yank wrote:
If Richard Hammond is tall enough to reach the pedals, surely you can manage it.

3. Candace9839 wrote:
We've taught them to clean windscreens at the lights, but we have a few minor details to work out.

2. Valerie Ganne wrote:
The lions have got the passengers - we're having the car.

1. midge-de-zarquon wrote:
It may take an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of years to retype the works of Shakespeare, but it only takes six monkeys 10 minutes to get the Vauxhall Astra working.

Paper Monitor

11:09 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Prince of Wales' have-a-go weather forecast is the kind of punning opportunity newspaper sub-editors relish, and true to form, the papers have had a field day.

"Cool heir moving in - it's the Prince of Gales," says the Daily Mail, which says if his Royal Highness ever fancies becoming a weatherman, he would "rain supreme".

"Long to rain over us," is the Daily Express' headline, which agrees both Charles and Camilla, who also tried her hand at being a weather girl at BBC Scotland, looked like consummate professionals.

The rain/reign homophone is clearly too good to miss too. The Sun goes for "Little chance of reign" while the Daily Mirror goes for the other tack "Looks like reign again".

The Royal weather debut wasn't universally praised however. The Times decides it was a "mixed outlook for royal forecasters" - pointing out that while Prince Charles may have found a new calling, Camilla's version was not used.

"It was indeed, as the new weatherman on BBC Scotland pronounced, an unsettled - not to say unsettling - picture," is the Guardian's verdict.

But for the Daily Telegraph , the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, who were visiting the Pacific Quay studios in Glasgow to mark the 60th anniversary of broadcasts by BBC Scotland, brought back memories of a by-gone era.

"The Prince's demeanour and performance recalled the golden days of TV forecasting, the era of Bill Giles and Michael Fish," it says.

Paper Monitor only has one thought on that - let's hope for his Royal Highness' sake a storm isn't on its way.

Your Letters

17:55 UK time, Thursday, 10 May 2012

This story is nominative determinism as spoken by an airplane-mad toddler!
Sarah, Horsham, UK

Did anyone else think of Littlenose's pet mammoth, Two-Eyes?
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

This article demonstrates one of the main problems with the font chosen. The Beastie Boys album could be called "Licence to LLL" or "Licence to 3" or "Licence to iLL" (capitals have been used/dropped to prevent further confusion). I'm assuming it was "Licence to ill" (with a capital 'i' and lower case 'LL's) otherwise the play on words doesn't work.
Basil Long, Nottingham

I hope this administration is less sordid than Clinton's last.
Nik Edwards, Aylesbury

Two whole years since I bought it up, it seems that videogames, according to the BBC, still don't get to be "Entertainment", merely "Technology".
M Kelly, Stockport

Paper Monitor

16:56 UK time, Thursday, 10 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So sorry for the late arrival of today's instalment. By way of apology, please accept this charivari from the papers:

"KATE'S DAUGHTER WILL BE QUEEN" - three guesses. Yes, it's the Daily Express which has form when it comes to overly-aerated royal coverage (see Diana: A year in headlines, Jan 2007). And no, the Express isn't first with news of a royal pregnancy - it's about a change in succession law flagged up months ago.

Another spot quiz: which paper is - about a week after the event - still banging on about the woman-who-refused-to-shave-her-armpits/legs/bikini-line-for-a-WHOLE-YEAR-AND-A-HALF!!!-and-went-on-morning-TV (aka Emer O'Toole).

What's that? The Daily Mail, you say? Why, yes. Columnist Amanda Plattell uses Emer's appearance on daytime telly as a hook on which to reveal that the happiest day of her life was the one on which her aunt introduced her to Veet (other hair removal products are available).

Never will she, Platell, be parted from her shaver/tweezers/waxes and beloved Epilady (other electric plucky devices are available). But she adds, sensitively, that she:

"Respects any woman's right to establish her own relationship between her body and her body hair - even if that involves going on national TV looking like a gorilla."

Platell admits to having a "rather troubled history" with her own hairiness. At birth, a swathe of black hair covering her forehead earned her the moniker "the wolf baby" from the nurses. Luckily for her shocked mum, the down on mini-Platell's face soon fell out naturally.

From wolf-babies to animals-that-look-like-politicians - and another Mail staple, the double-page photo spread.

Last week, Boris Johnson's blond mop saw him compared to a scruffy bouffant alpaca; now the Mail has found:

  • a "hangdog" that looks like David Cameron
  • a horse that looks like Tony Blair (captioned "mane man")
  • a hippo that resembles John Prescott (captioned "hippo-crite")
  • and a baboon that is the spit of Russian president Vladmir Putin (a "vote-swinger" prone to "going ape")

Even the unhirsute William Hague, for whom Plattell was once press secretary, has a tortoise twin - "Tortoise and the hairless" puns the paper.

And, as is traditional after any big red-carpet bash, the day after the day after the night before brings yet more sartorial judgement.

Gwyneth Paltrow wore a silver Prada halterneck to the Met Ball. The Express's Virginia Blackburn regarded it as an object lesson in how not to dress - best summarised as "cleavage or legs, but not both" - while the Daily Star leers over her "skimpy outfit" and commends Gwynnie on her macrobiotic diet.

Speaking of food - a topic close to Paper Monitor's heart - guess what the latest superfood is? Why, the earthy potato should now be a rival to the much-vaunted beetroot, broccoli and even the avocado, reports the Express.

That'll be a serving of chips for afternoon tea, please.

Your Letters

17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Now this Miss Morissette, is ironic.
Clare, Luton

You're all right. In England, there is also a regional variant of the crumpet called the pikelet. It is usually made from the same batter as a crumpet, but the way in which it differs from a crumpet varies from place to place. In some parts of England (for example in the Midlands, around Wolverhampton) a pikelet is simply a crumpet without holes. In other parts (for example, Lancashire) it has holes, but is wider, thinner and more irregular than a crumpet because it is made without being restrained by a mould, and so spreads in the pan (or griddle) while cooking. I'll get my apron.
Jo, Aylesbury (wish it was somewhere warmer)

Hurray! A new unit of measurement!
Sue, London

So, just how small do mammoths have to get before the name "mammoth" is a misnomer.
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

I sense a sequel to a well-known film on the way.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

I sincerely hope there's no nominative determinism here!
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

I predict the next big technology legal battle will be between O2 and the Chuckle Brothers.
Paul I, St G, Cornwall

Paper Monitor

13:47 UK time, Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It ain't easy living in the media glare, but the Nation's Sweetheart™ continues to bask in newspaper love/lust.

Photos of the Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Thirty Club dinner in an ivory floor-length dress split to her upper leg splash across many a fawning front page and inside picture special.

  • "Her Royal Thighness" puns the Metro
  • "a bit of all white" - Daily Star
  • "cream of crop" - Daily Mirror
  • "the epitome of glamour" - Daily Express
  • "Kate now a pin-cess" who entered "thigh society" - the Sun, in pun-tastic mood

Sartorial judgement is less kind when it comes to Hollywood and fashion royalty, the finest of whom have been strutting their stuff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala - aka "The Oscars with a dash of crazy", the headline for Jess Cartner-Morley's post-match analysis in G2.

The Mirror's verdict?

  • singer Florence Welch's gown looks "like a lampshade"
  • actress Kristen Stewart is "a fright in a Balenciaga outfit that shouldn't see the light of day"
  • Alexa Chung's S&M librarian ensemble is "strictly wrong"
  • and fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker looks "rather frumpy"


Beyonce's get-up is similarly controversial. The Sun cries that her sheer-black-lace-dress-with-purple-feathered-tail-over-nude-leotard look is "a howler", while the Express likens her to "a bird of paradise" and crowns her "the belle of the ball". For G2's Cartner-Morley, "the immediate reaction was: we can see Beyonce's bottom".

But few are as practised at on-the-spot putdowns as Russell Brand. Metro reports on the comedian's response after a heckler repeatedly shouted the name of Brand's ex-wife Katy Perry throughout his performance in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the weekend:

"I was hoping that your personality was as a result of physical beauty, then I saw you. I thought this guy's confident probably because he's incredibly pretty, but look at you. You look like someone that's fallen off the outside of a church! And what is it that you have rattling inside of your mind? Some bizarre combination of alcohol and idiocy... and yet the confidence to continue shouting! Silence is your friend. I think keep your lips firmly clamped together because everything that comes out of your mouth from your idiotic announcements to your disgusting halitosis is an abomination."


Did the heckler have a comeback? Metro is silent on that matter.

Your Letters

17:05 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

RE: HTML5 takes the internet by storm. Many pedantic monitorites have probably already pointed this out, but the image used on the preview of the video is PHP not HTML5. But let's not have details ruin a good story...
Tom Webb, Surbiton

Rob, (Friday's letters) re: Cafe Oto. Surely the very essence of Italian Vogue is to celebrate the "most awkward, inappropriate, and over-rated" so therefore Cafe Oto would come out on top of any survey they produced...?
Simon, Lovely Newark

Sue (Monday's letters) - aren't pikelets essentially mini pancakes made with sugar? I recently moved to NZ and offended my flatmate by referring to his offerings as a pancake!
Kieran, Nelson, New Zealand

Not sure what Sue, London has eaten all her life, but the items in the picture are definitely crumpets. Pikelets are more like fat pancakes. I'll get my butter...
Kay, London

So Punch and Judy celebrate 350 years of their puppet show. Crocodile says it passed "snappily", those sausages must have past their sell-by date surely? The times on an English beach sitting cross-legged watching these two characters bash each with no health and safety or do-gooders spoiling the fun like they have done to lots of normal childhood activities today. ''Crocodile, Mr.Punch...'' Oops back on that beach for a second there....idyllic times...
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Dinosaur gases warmed the Earth? Sounds like a lot of hot air to me.
JennyT, NY Brit decamped to New Jersey

Is last week's 10 Things photo meant to evoke the idea that for every cockroach you see, there are 9 others you don't?
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

My father was in the City of London yeomanry and in the Gallipoli campaign. In 1916 he heard that anyone who could ride a horse could fly a plane. He trained on a Maurice Farman and then flew the Sopwith Pup, Avro and Bristol Monoplane. One of the Bristol monoplanes engines ground to a halt and he landed in the desert. The engine was a mass of metal. He was not an ace but loved flying. After the war his ex CO was in charge of Hanworth "Aerodrome" and he asked if there was any chance of flying. The CO said if you will take people up you can. He loved flying and "stunting" but when I was four my mother thought it was too dangerous for a father of a growing son. As an occupation I think flying was the only thing he really enjoyed.
Kenneth R Arliss, Toronto, Canada

Can I be the first to congratulate Franc Bolero for not only finishing 4th in the caption competition but also for introducing some nominitive determinism.
Ed, Wakefield

Paper Monitor

12:09 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It may not have been the official start of May, but many of traditional celebrations associated with it were held over to the Bank Holiday weekend.

In towns and villages across the nation Morris dancers and Jack in the Greens evoked centuries-old rites with their folksy capers. The Guardian's excellent picture gallery of the annual Rochester chimney sweeps festival portrays the town's residents having the time of their lives. There are children dancing, and a Tribal Banchees dance troupe. But Plug from the Wolf's Head and Vixen Morris dance team deserves a special mention. Ancient meets modern as the traditional "tatter jacket", and blackened face is brought up to date with mirror sunglasses and nose chain.

In Colchester, however, the Morris Men had been banned from their usual venue of the town's shopping centre.

Last December, the company that manages the centre imposed a rule limiting charitable collections on weekends.

The Daily Telegraph was dismayed to learn that the Morris Men had been lumped together with the "'chuggers' who plague passers-by".

This is an insult to a fine and ancient pursuit. If it is the morris itself that the bureaucrats dislike, rather than the passing round of a collecting tin, there are more creative objections they could raise. Is that Fool insured against any injuries he may cause when hitting people with a bladder? Has the fertility cake been cooked in properly hygienic conditions? And, if it works as advertised, will it be the morris men or their hosts who are liable for the ensuing costs in food, clothing and education? As for the swords that some sides use, best not to dwell...

A number of the newspapers focus on another type of "fool" - a drunk one. The Daily Mail begins:

A scholar once wrote that Cambridge was 'an asylum, in every sense of the word'. But even he would have been shocked at the behaviour on display in the historic university city over the weekend.

Apparently 2,000 Cambridge students held a "riotous party" in a public park, where some stripped, vomitted and drank themselves silly. Police and paramedics had to intervene.

According to the paper, girls drank port from condoms and "acted out sexual positions with male students." And all this while mums and dads looked on "appalled".

These were, the paper says, "some of Britain's brightest minds" gathering for the annual Caesarian Sunday, which apparently marks the start of the summer term. The term ends with post-exam shin-dig at the end of June, known as Suicide Sunday.

Watch this space.

Your Letters

14:28 UK time, Monday, 7 May 2012

Last year, you told us there wouldn't be another one for "20 years or so". How dare you sneak in another crafty one at such short notice. I missed this one too! Still, no sense in mooning over it, I suppose...
Rob, London, UK

You mention the Scilly Isles in your magazine, what about the islands Channel, White Isle, Mann of Isle? It is the ISLES OF SCILLY, stop insulting us.
Jeremy Thomas, St Erth Cornwall

10 Things, point 5: A bit confusing but surely everyone's world will end in their lifetime as in when you die. Well that's the way I see it but not in the imminent future I hope. As Groucho Marx said and I am with him on this one, "Death doesn't bother me as long as I am not there at the time!" Ah well onwards and forwards(slowly) lots of living left to do.
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Okay, I'm well aware that what I'm about to say is extremely controversial, but as far as I'm concerned, those are not crumpets. Those are pikelets. There, I've said it.
Sue, London

In line with the new definition of "super" as 14% above average, it gives me great pride to announce that I am now super-rich. Alas, money has not bought me happiness, as I am becoming concerned that I may also be super-ugly.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Paper Monitor

14:16 UK time, Monday, 7 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has spent its lunch hour pondering this question - what is a Jaffa Cake's finest attribute - the layer of orange-flavoured jelly or the chocolate topping? And what sparked this off? A story in today's Telegraph confirming that McVitie's is experimenting with the possibility of launching a milk-chocolate version of mini cake.

For the best part of 85 years, the sponge-based treat has been crowned with dark chocolate but, according to the company's brand manager, "the UK thinks of itself as a milk-chocolate loving nation". The story quotes a report from market research firm Mintel, which states that last year some 83 per cent of the population said they ate milk chocolate, while only 21 per cent enjoyed dark chocolate.

However, for those excited by a the prospect of a new Jaffa dawn, the company won't be be ushering it in any time soon. As manufacturing manager Brian Small points out: "You need extra kit. You can't just put milk chocolate in a dark chocolate tank." Paper Monitor would like to point out that, personally, it doesn't have any issue with mixing the two. It isn't fussy.

On another cocoa-related theme, the Daily Express reports that the Cadbury's heiress who tried to stop the takeover of the company by the American food giant Kraft two years ago has sold her £30m mansion in order to launch a new brand of chocolate.

The paper's leader column praises Felicity Loudon on her proposed initiative, under the headline: "Not such a soft-centred heiress." She is, the paper says:

Displaying the can-do attitude that her ancestors used to establish the most famous name in chocolate - an attitude that was once the backbone of British industry and enterprise.

Apparently Loudon has promised to create a "quirky" brand in memory of her great-grandfather George. But she insists the new product won't to be high-end but something a "child would buy". Now Paper Monitor recalls the quirkiest chocolate it ever bought as a child - Fry's Five Centres. It was a bit like a Fry's Chocolate Cream but with different flavoured fillings - raspberry, lime, strawberry, pineapple and orange. It was consigned to the big stockroom in the sky in the early 1990s. No prize for guessing why.

Here is a novel suggestion - chocolate with pepper filling anyone? According to a report in a number of papers today, scientists believe they have unlocked the secrets of the beneficial fat-fighting effects of black pepper. Apparently, the substance piperine that gives black pepper its characteristic taste, also can block the formation of new fat cells.

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