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Archives for May 13, 2012 - May 19, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:57 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2012

Apple iPad

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

1. Dinosaurs suffered from arthritis.
More details (Metro)

2. Apple's co-founder doesn't have broadband at home.
More details (The Guardian)

3. A woman's gaydar improves when she is ovulating.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

4. Prince Charles is a fan of Burnley FC.
More details (The Sun)

5. Whales can adjust their hearing.
More details

6. Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw and ex-News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks used to commute together.
More details (Daily Mail)

7. A cut of meat is intellectual property in the US.
More details (Gizmodo)

8. Underground train networks end up looking the same wherever they are.
More details

9. David Cameron's favourite album is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
More details (Daily Mail)

10. Half of lottery winners move in the three months after hitting the jackpot.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

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

Your Letters

14:46 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2012

Surely this deserves to be chosen as the quote of the day? "He offered to postpone the wedding but personally I think it's dangerous to postpone a wedding" - England manager Roy Hodgson on John Ruddy's wedding plans.
MF, Oxford

Person shopping in pyjamas/nightwear/inappropriately saying at the wet fish counter: ''Is that crab dressed?'' You couldn't make it up.
Tim McMahon, Martos /Spain

Re this story, as a pharmacology student in the mid 70s, I was familiar with the effects of tetrodotoxin but we were told that it was found in the Japanese puffer fish (so called because of its ability to self inflate in the face of danger, so that the spines stood out). The fugu was never referred to as a 'blow fish'.
Rory Mescall, Stockport, England

"About 10 years ago, I reported on a class arranged for the parents of truants. Even though many of those due to attend had been ordered to go by a court, almost no-one turned up." Who'd have thought it - truancy has a genetic link.
Jenna, Bath

Caption Competition

13:04 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2012


It's the Caption Competition.

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

New film

This week, an actress sits among a row of inflatable figures dressed as fans to fill the seats during filming of "42", which is about baseball great Jackie Robinson's first year in the Major League.

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

6. Peter N wrote:
Justine pondered whether her business idea had got any legs.

5. Steele Hawker wrote:
OK, so you pull this lever and all their heads turn left, push it and they all turn right...

4. Kieran Boyle wrote:
Metropolitan Police identity parades to be reviewed.

3. CindyAccidentally wrote:
Yet another Olympic ticket controversy set to erupt.

2. The Coachman wrote:
Joanne had been selected by Madame Tussauds to be the one to go "Boo" to visitors.

1. Pendragon wrote:
Yeah, Cliff Richard's singing bores me rigid too.

Paper Monitor

09:46 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor was entertained enough by a prank by Oxford University students at Brasenose College - which saw laminated notices warning students to stop eating breakfast in pyjamas put up around the premises - earlier in the week to make it the quote of the day. The sign read:

There is a clear distinction between night wear (private) and day wear (public). I trust that this slovenly practice will cease forthwith.

So it is delighted to see that Daily Telegraph readers have given us an opportunity to take a second bite of the cherry.

In its Letters to the Editor page, the aptly named Chris Cherry, from Longdon, Staffordshire says:

Sir - I admit that, on occasion, I take breakfast in my pyjamas. However, to avoid startling my wife of some 42 years, I do wear a dressing gown and a cravat.

Meanwhile another Telegraph reader, Penelope Nicholls, from London N1, reminisces about the good old days.

Sir - One of the joys of life in an all-female Oxford College in the Seventies was the chance to come down to breakfast in one's night attire.

However, the term "slovenly" could never have been applied; I still remember a student wearing a pale pink crocheted matinee coat with a marabou feather edging.

Now there is no suggestion Paper Monitor has turned up to work in its pyjamas, but as it sips its coffee and butters its toast, it can't help but feel slightly underdressed.

Your Letters

17:39 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2012

This sounded so much more delicious than it turned out to be. I was so hoping there was a government initiative I could support wholeheartedly for once.
Nadja, Virginia, USA

Following the announcement of the England squad for Euro 2012, could this man's selection be the stuff of dreams for sports headline writers? Nominitive determinism in the making perhaps?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

If this photo wasn't take in Madame Tussauds, then Simon Cowell should be very worried...
Sue, London

I love this from the BBC website : "An 83-year-old man has become the oldest person in the UK to donate a kidney while still being alive, the NHS Blood and Transplant service has said." If he'd donated the kidney whilst not alive, he wouldn't be 83 now, would he?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paper Monitor

13:56 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor loves a good gaffe, so a big thank you to the gaffe-gift-that-keeps-on-giving, aka the Duke of Edinburgh.

And the nation's picture editors are much indebted, your Highness, for letting the latest blooper involve a pretty young thing in a tight scarlet frock.

The Duke unleashed his un-PC comment mid-jubilee tour walkabout with the Queen in Bromley - as the Daily Mail quips fondly:

"[I]t wouldn't be a proper royal visit without Prince Philip making a remark in dubious taste."

So what did he say this time?

"Cheeky Prince Philip copped an eyeful of a sexy blonde - and could not resist a joke about unfastening her zip-fronted dress," sings the Sun, under the banner "MY HUSBAND AND EYEFUL". The 90-year-old reportedly joked to a nearby policeman: "I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress."

And he continued to put the royal foot in it, asking one elderly woman wrapped in a foil blanket for warmth, "Are they going to put you in the oven next?" According to the woman's daughter Pam, it made her mum's day.

So if you want to catch the Royal Eye - and that of the newspapers - it helps to wear something eye-catching such as:

  • zips
  • foil
  • or Liquorice Allsorts.

Who dresses as a Liquorice Allsort? That's the Mail's verdict on pop princess Cheryl Cole's latest sartorial choice:

"Wearing a brash ensemble of a black and white striped jumpsuit, teamed with a bright pink blazer and pink sandals, the singer drew comparisons to the sweet brand's mascot Bertie Bassett."

But the Sun shows she's in good celeb company, serving up a bite-sized feature (headlined "Sweetie Darling") on other celebs who are "suckers for looking like a sweetie". It likens Lady Gaga's garb to a Toblerone, X Factor judge Tulisa's gown to candy floss, and actress Carey Mulligan's recent dress/hair combination to a walnut whip.

(Mmmm, walnut whip. Hungry now.)

What might Prince Philip say were he to meet these lolly ladies?

Your Letters

16:44 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I don't know about anybody else, but when I am crossing the road, because I am looking at my destination - the other side of the road - I automatically read the "look left/right" on that side of the road without even considering that it is upside down; thereby confusing myself as to which direction to actually look.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Here's my guess for this.
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Ah, Richard (Tuesday's letters), I don't know John Rentoul to ask him. With luck, he's a fan of the Magazine and will let us know. However, Seamus Heaney himself it is who refers to this use of the particle "so" as "Hiberno-English Scullionspeak". So there.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Regarding the halfpenny sweets (Tuesday letters), I remember after decimalisation, our local sweet shop sold 2 halfpenny (1/2d) sweets for the new 1/2p!
Gail, Reigate

A couple in Somerset have tried to get a local lay-by closed because motorists tend to use it as a "comfort stop". Can you blame them when lay-bys often have a huge blue sign marked "P"?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

"Studying how snakes got legless". They could have asked my friend - she uses white wine!
JennyT, NY Brit decamped to New Jersey

Paper Monitor

14:44 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's the return of a well-worn turn of phrase as many of Paper Monitor's favourite rags gleefully report on Immigration Minister Damian Green's explanation for queues at Heathrow. "WRONG SORT OF WIND!" - calm down, Daily Star.

No, they're not referring to embarrassing intestinal problems, but to how far meteorological factors might worsen already lethargic immigration queues.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (or Chas, as we like to call it here at Monitor Towers) has also rather startlingly observed that border computer systems are prone to "falling over", (The Times tells us) rather like an inebriated passenger before excise duty restrictions were bought in. Or an exhausted person queuing to, er, get through border control.

Indicating that the British are indeed completely weather-obsessed, the Daily Express (or Daily Express Weather as regular readers know it) trots out some exciting word play on a seasonal theme. There's "snow sign of summer" it gloomily forebodes, illustrating the point with a couple of slightly chilly-looking rural scenes.

Even heads of state, it seems, are not immune to bursts of inclement weather on the home-front and on the continent. Queen Elizabeth II remained sprightly and "cracked some jokes" at a festival in Richmond Park, according to a jaunty picture caption in the Express.

Meanwhile, Francois Hollande appears to have undergone everything short of a plague of locusts as he entered his presidency, according to the Daily Mail. After his drenching in an open-top car (or sun-roofed family saloon, to be more accurate), the Mail somewhat implausibly likens the French Premier to everyone's favourite sodden Regency dreamboat, Colin Firth's Mr Darcy.



Sorry - Paper Monitor was just having a moment.

A slightly more down-to-earth Sun contributes the neatly-turned "Sarko to Soako". Every cloud has a silver lining.

Your Letters

17:14 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Well, there's only one way to find out... FIGHT!
Basil Long, Nottingham

It must be very frustrating to have an over-sensitive porn filter on your mobile phone when the BBC's most-read article is Sex toys taken during burglary.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Imagine the conversation when they decided to start that business, awkward no matter who initiated it…or is it just me?
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

Is there a word for the outrage that's felt when Monitor completely ignores your letter about how newspapers agree on who gets which pun from six months ago, and then publishes one from Rob in London (Monday's letters) asking the same thing?! Granted, Rob's was a little witter and more succinct. But still. I'll get my envious coat.
Jacob, London

Sadly Susan (Monday's letters), whilst you may yearn for the far-off halcyon days of halfpenny sweets, I'm afraid you are wrong. When we went decimal, the pound stayed the same. So, shillings being a twentieth of a pound, stayed in circulation for years but were deemed to be worth five new pence. In fact even sixpences stayed for awhile, as 2.5p. I have a recollection that they could still be used in phone boxes in the second half of the 1970s. No mobile phones when I was at school.
Caroline Brown, Rochester, UK

Jen (Monday letters), OMG.
Dec, Belfast, Northern Ireland

So, Rik (Monday's letters), I'm guessing John Rentoul didn't have much truck with Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf?
Richard, Reading, UK

Paper Monitor

13:32 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There must be a blueprint somewhere for sub-editors searching for headlines on the theme of... triumphal colours.

Today the newspapers have been swept up in a tide of colour-related metaphors as Manchester City surprised the footballing world by grabbing a last-minute victory from its red-rivals Manchester United. That happened on Sunday, but the party stretched into an open-top bus victory parade on Monday.

The Daily Star's headline "Sea of Blue" could have referred either to this parade or to the glorious technicolour employed by its production team to bring the news to its public against a perfectly matched background. The paper appears to be on Cloud Nine, raving over City's "Blueties" and breathlessly declaring the crowds to be in "blue heaven".

The Daily Mirror is similarly impressed by the level of popular support for those true blues, dubbing the team's reception in Manchester to be "FANtastic".

The Dailies Mail and Telegraph share the headline "City Paint the Town Blue" - showing the gamut of colour-related puns to be nearly exhausted at this stage.

But the The Times remarks the event could be "Once in a blue moon" (rather snidely, to Paper Monitor's mind - is the Thunderer a United fan?). Perhaps a bit more blue-sky thinking required...

Your Letters

16:42 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2012

Just wondering: when all the newspapers have to come up with a punning headline, such as Friday's "reign/rain" efforts (PM, Friday), do they ring each other up to avoid any inadvertent identical headlines?

"What are you using?"

"Oh no! We were going for that!"

"Tell you what: let us have it, and we'll let you have the next Wayne Rooney one".
Rob, London, UK

So, Luke L, (Friday letters), you didn't hear John Rentoul's thoughts on starting a sentence with "so"?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

"A shilling - worth five pence" - surely this should read "worth five pence at the original exchange rate, in the days when you could still buy halfpenny sweets"?
Susan, Newcastle

Reason I'll Be Sticking To My Car Thanks Very Much #23: this story.
John Bratby, Southampton

Regarding number 6 of this week's 10 things: My mum thought the same. She only discovered it didn't mean that after she'd used it to end a text sent to a friend, offering condolences following the death of her grandfather. LOL.
Jen, Norwich

I have no idea what this article is about. Translation please?
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Paper Monitor

16:37 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's two days since the Britain's Got Talent finale, but Pudsey - the canine half of its winning double act - is still tabloid top dog.

"Everyone's begging to hire Pudsey," announces the Daily Express; "I'm going to be bigger than Simon Growl," predicts the pooch (via speech bubble) in the Daily Mirror.

Hollywood beckons, apparently. There's talk of dog food promotions. And - the sign of bona (or should that be boner? [No - Ed]) fide celebrity - he's already the star of a sex scandal of sorts, with a "woofs 'n' all" biography in the pipeline.

For Pudsey has a "gay secret", pants the Daily Star's Peter Dyke. Despite having fathered six puppies, Pudsey has a "pedigree chum" in the shape of a cocker spaniel named Sam, and Crumble, Pudsey's border collie girlfriend, is in the doghouse.

Pudsey's owner/trainer/soulmate, 17-year-old Ashleigh, admits it's true: "Whenever Pudsey sees Sam, he is in love... Pudsey is a complete flirt."

Woof woof.

But it's not all sex, dog treats and rock'n'roll. Being so in demand means Pudsey may have to get his very own "doggyguard", writes Mark Jefferies in the Mirror.

"I went to take him to the toilet and I needed security with me at the weekend because people were coming in the gates, crowding around," says Ashleigh. "I was like 'he just needs a poo, leave him alone'. He was mobbed and it did stress him out."

She added: "I think people forget he is a dog."

But the Mirror's Jim Shelley isn't impressed. "Having given the world punk rock and pop music, Britain is now captivated by, represented by, a dancing dog," he howls.

"The country really has gone to the dogs."

Indeed - and it turns out Pudsey himself has a rival for the newspapers' affections.

"It's a rare occurrence to see the Duchess of Cambridge hounded out of the limelight," concedes the Mirror ("A royal heir of the dog"), but both the Express and Daily Telegraph admit that her cocker spaniel puppy Lupo stole the show at a polo match on Sunday at which his master William was playing.

The hound has also won over Harry, who is pictured rubbing noses with Lupo - a "prince and paw-per" moment for the Sun.

And the "clean queen" Duchess of Cambridge is pictured clearing up Lupo's droppings. "Wags to Riches, Kate," puns the Sun, conceding that "classy Kate" remains elegant even in her poop-scooping duties.

No such respect is shown to politicians in today's papers, at least not in Phil Disley's cartoon in the Independent - headed Britain's Got Talent - which has a leopard print-clad David Cameron on his knees with a Nick Clegg-headed Pudsey-esque white dog following his master on his hind legs.

"Why are they booing, Pudsey?" asks Cameron, as the pair is pelted with rotten veg and eggs.

It's a dog's life.

(Unless you're Pudsey. Or Lupo.)

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