BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 27, 2012 - June 2, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:00 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2012


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

1. The average person receives 9,672 minor injuries in a lifetime.
More details (The Atlantic)

2. Almost half of meerkats are inbred.
More details (Press Association)

3. Robert Mugabe is a Chelsea and Barcelona fan.
More details (The Sun)

4. Dormice climb trees using their whiskers.
More details

5. A man called Sidney Barthwell was a classmate of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
More details (The Daily)

6. British censors banned under-18s from viewing the film Alien because it presented "a perverse view of the reproductive function".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

7. The Queen used to practise wearing her crown while bathing Prince Charles.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will crash into each other in four billion years.
More details

9. One in three South Koreans follow Manchester United.
More details (The Times)

10. The US has more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world put together.
More details

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

Your Letters

14:43 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2012

How is it possibly newsworthy that a free-to-use social networking site is down for two hours?
Alex, London

Measurement Alert! While it is helpful, but perhaps unnecessary, to provide conversions of ounces into litres, please could a guardian of weights and measures provide conversions of the other units used - bucket-sized, rowboat-sized (what's that?), livestock-trough sized? And please could somebody tell the writer of the article that no drink, soft or otherwise, can sooth anything; even in American English a verb is needed at that point in the sentence.
David, Romford, UK

The sub editors need a coffee. Woolly jumpers make traffic pull over. Surely. It might be Friday afternoon, but the day's not done yet.
Christian Cook, Street, Somerset

Re this, I hope she isn't watching - that would take the surprise out of it all.
Di, The Castleton, North Yorkshire

Caption Competition

13:00 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2012


It's the Caption Competition.

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

Heathrow baggage trial

This week, Heathrow airport carries out a trial to ensure it can cope with challenges posed by the number of visitors during the Olympic Games.

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

6. Andy wrote:
"Hey Dad, Are you SURE this is quicker than the immigration queue?"
"Just get back in your case, son".

5. Filboid wrote:
Ryanair's sudden decision to charge £100 per bag had unforeseen consequences.

4. penny-farthing wrote:
"This isn't so bad. The part we hate is when the stewardess closes the overhead bin."

3. DPNixon wrote:
I asked her to travel light, but she never listens.

2. BeckySnow wrote:
"Could everyone going to the Barbie convention leave their luggage at Point D."

1. Gray Gable wrote:
Hello darling, I'm at the airport now, um, are you sure your Mother's only here for the weekend?

Paper Monitor

10:59 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Friday brings a flood of new cinema releases to the UK's multiplexes, and - more importantly, from this column's point of view - Fleet Street's film critics offer up their verdicts so better we can decide which to watch.

Perhaps it is the impending bank holiday, but the reviewers are in pleasingly inventive spirit this morning.

This is how the Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin begins his take on Ridley Scott's Prometheus:

At the edge of a small patch of woodland around half a mile south of the village of Dunmore in central Scotland, there is a 37-foot-tall stone pineapple, erected by the 4th Earl of Dunmore in 1777. It serves no purpose whatsoever other than to look very much like a giant stone pineapple, which it has been doing for the last 235 years with a great deal of success.

Which, in a roundabout way, is Collin's way of saying that Prometheus is an enjoyable folly.

Kate Muir of the Times is in similarly whimsical form in her treatment of Snow White and the Huntsman, which, apparently, is a vaguely goth take on the fairytale.

For some reason, she observes, instead of "Disney names such as Happy, Sleepy and Doc, these dwarves are Scottish: Broch, Coll, Beith, Duir, Gort, Nion and even Muir, which confirms long-held suspicions about my own short-legged DNA".

However, Paper Monitor favours the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw trashing a big-screen version of Top Cat by reworking the cartoon's fondly-recalled theme song:

Huge big band intro. Top Cat! Do you remember it? Top Cat! Well, they've dismembered it. Cartoon cats who're breaking the law -- we loved it on TV, but the film version's poor. Top Cat! The indisputable worst film of the year! The animation's bad, and the script is just sad, I think we've all been had by - Top Cat!

Your Letters

16:55 UK time, Thursday, 31 May 2012

Re this story: "The council created a storm by featuring a fresh-faced Prince Charles kissing a blushing Princess Diana. 'Appearances can be deceptive,' ran the copy." Oh, the irony.
RG, Watford, Herts

They should have told 'em to have a break as well...
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

Would "Hospital staff given two fingers by management" not have been a better headline here?
Sue, London

Is it just me, or does this, SpaceX Dragon ship aims for Earth, sound like the plot of a B-movie?
Jimmy, Milton Keynes

From the headline, "Half a unit a day saves lives", I thought this article was encouraging me to drink - but it's actually encouraging me to drink half a unit a day less!
Louise McMillan, Woking, Surrey

At the risk of offending Richard in Aberdeen again (last Friday's Letters), can I just point out that the two biggest ever box-office flops in American film history both star the same man ? If that's not nominative determinism, I don't know what is! (And as it's such a nice day, I'll get my shorts).
Rob, London, UK

I think the otherwise quite generous desire of Mitt Romney campaign to better the entire world is strangely marred by its sole exception of an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Or am I perhaps missreading the slogan, "A Better aMercia"
roarshock, Oregon USA

Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Thursday, 31 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Tell the truth now. When news broke last December of the death of Kim Jong-il, did you or did you not react by thinking something like "oh... so ronery"?

Well, Team America: World Police fans, the Sun has news for you.

Two of its journalists have been reporting from North Korea - or, as the red-top put it on Wednesday:

  • Lights all go out at 11pm
  • Gum is given as change
  • Don't know Jacko's dead

That's right. "North Koreans are so cut off that they did not even know that Michael Jackson had died."

It's this sort of killer factlet that holds a mirror up to the secretive state in a way that news reports on food shortages and missile launches do not.

The pair, who posed as businessmen for a week, also noted the downtrodden mood among the populace.

"Nobody was smiling and most people were walking alone in a zombie-like state, staring at the floor."

(Sounds rather like Paper Monitor's daily commute. There are even badges. But instead of the badges mainly reading "Baby on board", in North Korea everyone wears one adorned with the late Dear Leader.)

Today's instalment is headlined:

North Korea's got talent

The Sun's men in Pyongyang were taken to "the sickest show on earth" - a circus where gaudily-dressed bears and baboons perform on rollerskates for an audience presumably under orders to applaud on cue.

Dancing dog in Britain's Got Talent

Sounds vaguely familiar.

A sidebar describes how Sun photographer Simon Jones entered the three-day North Korean Golf Open - the "most exclusive tournament in world sport" - and won.

"[Simon] joked afterwards: 'It's got to be the only sporting event in the world where just getting into the country is tougher than winning it. I just hope I can get the trophy back to Britain.'"

Aptly, it's the same tournament in which the late Kim Jong-il is said to have shot 38 under par the first time he put club to ball.

Simon's win will no doubt go down in Sun lore in much the same way.

Your Letters

17:16 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2012

So, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror are to merge. After much reflection I think this is good... I've always wanted a two-way mirror.
Martin Pearson, Hoosick Falls, Upstate NY, USA

Over in the Daily Mail, as is so often the case, society's wheels are falling off: "Children losing their taste of marmalade" (Paper Monitor). Yikes indeed! Although never having eaten any children I was not aware that they tasted of marmalade.
Malcolm, Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom

I notice from the BBC Food Blog that street food may have lost its way. Has it considered buying a map or investing in a GPS system?
Steve Morrison, Aberdeen, Scotland

Hundreds of bored school kids will be delighted to know that there were no Tudors (as might their over-worked teachers). It frees up two terms for more interesting things like Euro 2012.
Alex, London

Catherine O, (Tuesday's letters), I agree. My seven-year-old told me there were four historical periods: Tudor, Victorian, Oldendays and Nowadays.
Sarah Conner, Birmingham

Isn't it nice not to have to listen to be people getting their coats anymore?. Bet they start again when it gets cold, though.
James McWaffler, London

Paper Monitor

08:44 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Neighbourly disputes have always been a mainstay of media fodder, but Paper Monitor is struck by a couple of more unusual ones in today's papers.

First up, the Daily Telegraph reports that one resident of London's Knightsbridge has perfected the "art of offending neighbours". That's because the art dealer has placed works by Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin in a communal garden.

Some disgruntled party has now made a complaint to the local council, forcing the dealer to apply for retrospective planning permission.

For the record, if that decision goes agains the chap, Paper Monitor will happily take the Gormley but not the Emin for its own humble communal garden.

Just a couple of pages on and the Telegraph has a yarn about a Church of England chaplain complaining about excessively noisy gospel singers next door.

Over in the Daily Mail, as is so often the case, society's wheels are falling off.

"Children losing their taste of marmalade".


But the most extraordinary thing in the paper is a picture of an incredible line of people climbing Everest. After the recent deaths, it is both poignant and awe-inspiring.

The larger version in the paper works better but you can still get the idea.

In other news, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror are to merge.

The march of economics, however inevitable, can still provoke a pang of regret.

Your Letters

17:48 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Now we know the Tudor era is a myth, can we check how many dinosaurs used the word Jurassic?
Mark Williams, Oxford, UK

My six-year-old son is just starting to learn about the various ages of British history and his eyes light up when he talks about them. So please, I beg of you, don't deny him the Tudor era!
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

PC Andrew Morrow said: "At that time I believed the male was snorting cocaine or something along those lines". I wonder if the pun was intentional.
Tommy Scragend, Wigan

Edward (letters, Monday), there's nothing in the least bit determinative about my surname
Richard Leavethecoatwhereitis, Aberdeen

Paper Monitor

10:58 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There are few things Paper Monitor enjoys more in life than a headline so comprehensive there is little need to read the accompanying article. So imagine your humble columnist's delight at this gem from the Mail Online:

Barrister son of top lawyer in cocaine and ecstasy shame (... but he is let off with just a police caution and gets to keep his job)
  • Henry Mostyn is son of former top divorce lawyer Sir Nicholas Mostyn QC, nicknamed 'Mr Payout' for his big money settlements
  • Eton and Oxford-educated Mostyn fined £605 by a legal disciplinary panel for possessing drugs only weeks after being called to the Bar
  • Mostyn was arrested by police as he queued for an east London nightclub
  • Sir Nicholas walked out on his wife to live with divorce lawyer Elizabeth Saunders, whose barrister husband was shot dead during a siege in 2008

(Sadly it has been streamlined from an earlier labyrinthine effort, which was, as broadcaster Danny Baker pointed out on Twitter last night, an "impenetrable Escher staircase of a headline" that packed in the son, the drugs, the QC, the divorce lawyer he left his wife for AND her own husband's dramatic death - all in one line. Paper Monitor did not think to take a screengrab.)

What is it in the newspaper itself?

Barrister son of top lawyer in cocaine and ecstasy shame But he is let off with just a police caution and gets to keep his job

The Daily Telegraph, too, is fond of both over-explanatory headlines and multi-lawyer pile-ups. Its headline:

Judge's son caught with cocaine weeks after qualifying as a barrister

The U-turn on pasty tax is another opportunity for the sub-editors of Fleet Street to work their special magic:

"PASTY LA VISTA, TAXMAN" - the Sun, which has also named its campaign "Who VAT all the pies?"




Hungry now.

Your Letters

18:42 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012

To Richard, Aberdeen (Friday's letters): If you find something tiresome, don't read it!
However, if the anticipation of clicking on a link to find an amusingly named person makes just a few people smile in these times of doom and gloom, long may it continue!
I'm guessing that a lot of other people will agree. Otherwise, I'll fetch my orthopaedic shoes and forever stand corrected...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Just for Richard (Friday's letters), I'll fetch my coat this last time.
Ivor McIntosh, Winchester, UK

I notice that Richard from Aberdeen withheld his surname - was it potentially nominatively determinative?
Edward Green, London, UK

So: "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has an 80-inch tablet in his office" - He'll need a heck of a big glass of water to swallow that one!
Mike, Wiltshire

I hate to be the one to spoil an otherwise bullet-proof plot but the dark side of the moon, as almost, but apparently not quite everyone knows, changes gradually over the course of every 14 days. (As opposed to the *far* side of the moon, which is static.) I'm not sure I'll be able to take the film seriously now. (I'll get my space-suit...)
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

Paper Monitor

17:45 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is not late today. Oh, no.

Instead, we are making one of our regular forays into the world of evening papers.

As a cub reporter, Paper Monitor, like many others, did a stint in evening papers. There was always something magical about seeing in the afternoon a story one had written in the morning.

The paper would plop onto everybody's desks and there would be a quick riffle as the hacks looked for what sort of "show" they had. What page was their story on?

Now, of course, the role of the evening paper in the big cities that used to host them is much diminished. They sell fewer copies, have fewer editions, and much attention has now moved on to their website versions.

For logistical reasons - namely BBC News's lack of a helicopter budget for newspaper delivery - we couldn't get hold of actual evenings today.

The good news from Yorkshire is that the county's efforts to bring the Tour de France to the country could be one step closer. Leeds has been bidding with other European cities to stage the start of the annual cycling event. A delegation from the race organisers has recently been in Yorkshire, and the chief executive of Leeds City Council was quoted in the Yorkshire Evening Post as saying that he believes they were impressed with what they saw. A successful bid could bring millions of pounds to the area, the executive said.

The front page of the Manchester Evening News features a friendly at Old Trafford organised by Take That's Robbie Williams to raise money for charity, Unicef. The paper says that the match was "played in good humour", until, that is, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had to be stretchered off. The paper writes:

It was supposed to be a friendly match for charity at Old Trafford but apparently nobody told Teddy Sheringham. The former Manchester United star barged celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to the floor in a crunching tackle during Soccer Aid 2012.

The chef, who was taken off the pitch to a standing ovation from the 70,000-strong crowd, had been playing for the Rest Of The World (ROW) side, along with Michael Sheen, Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Edward Norton and retired boxing champ Joe Calzaghe. Sheringham's England team included Williams and Jamie Theakston.

"Teddy at least attempted to apologise to Gordon while he received medical attention - although at that stage it was probably a bit late for sporting gestures," the paper writes.

At least he tried. And that's what Paper Monitor likes to see - some good, old-fashioned sportsmanship.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.