BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for June 24, 2012 - June 30, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:18 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012


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

1. Deep sea worms produce acid to eat whale skeletons.
More details

2. The tastiest tomatoes are not uniformly red.
More details (Economist)

3. Paved gardens are most popular in the North-East of England.
More details

4. The leadership of Macaque monkeys is determined by which animal has the most friends.
More details (New Scientist)

5. The average cost overrun of recent Olympic Games is 179%.
More details (Bloomberg)

6. There is a Koran-reciting competition in Iran.
More details (New York Times)

7. Batteries can be sprayed on like paint.
More details

8. The average age of the Stone Roses is 48.75.
More details (Guardian)

9. Kit Kats used to be called Chocolate Crisp.
More details

10. The average waist to hip ratio for UK women is 0.83.
More details (Daily Mail)

Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

14:39 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

HB (Wednesday's letters) - there is also the Mexican angelshark which I guess may at times contain mackerel.
John Marchant, Diss, UK

Peter (Wednesday's letters) Do you mean letters in mackerel or coloured in capitals? In both cases I'm afraid Ipswich doesn't really qualify.
Paul, Ipswich

Can I have a rant about companies, mainly banks, please? Are any other Monitorites known by their middle name? I unfortunately also have the same first name as my father. I am increasingly annoyed that companies [and it started off about 10 years ago] send correspondence with the first initial only. The latest was a letter from my bank giving me a security password number. My father opened the letter. So much for data protection and my client confidentiality. If both initials were used there would be no problem or confusion, my father has a completely different middle name. Why do they do it? To save ink? [End of rant]
J. Paul Murdock, West Midlands, UK

Re Nude athletes. Wouldn't mind seeing some athletes in the nude these days, eh... ;)
Leigh Hamilton

Caption Competition

13:05 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, Dutch "swine whisperer" Kees Scheepens hypnotises a piglet to uncover stress attitude in a pigsty in Germany.

6. SimonRooke wrote:
And this little piggy went Z, Z, Z, all the way home.

5. patio-phalangistwrote:
"... And there you are, a perfect, sausage roll..."

4. Filboid wrote:
Just humour me - try holding the apple in your mouth.

3. Edmund Crispin wrote:
You are feeling streaky.... You are feeling streaky....

2. CindyAccidentally wrote:
How to cure bacon.

1. BeckySnow wrote:
"Do your wurst! C'mon, I dare you!"

Paper Monitor

11:56 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor wasn't sure this morning whether to reach for the works of Shakespeare or turn to one's best-loved rags for some grand theatre, played out in the medium of sport.

Well, hardly a day goes by without yet another dramatic development in the sporting world. Today your humble columnist can't help but notice that the narratives are reaching increasingly tragic proportions.

"Stabbed in the Beck", declares the Daily Star, with righteous indignation. The protagonist of the headline is of course the slighted England midfielder, international football star and modeller of own-brand undercrackers, David Beckham. His feelings on his omission from Team GB are only to be imagined... or not, according to the Daily Mail ("AGONY") and the Sun ("DEVASTATED").

"Golden bawls", declares the Star (Paper Monitor wonders if there is photographic evidence for this). However, for those who have so far failed to engage in the full emotional ramifications of his fall from grace, some helpful juxtaposing of happy-smiling-Beckham-pictures with sad-frowny-Beckham-pictures help get the message across.

Meanwhile on Centre Court, Rafael Nadal's early exit from Wimbledon has drawn metaphors from the warlike to the space-age. He was blasted/crushed/ejected/destroyed
depending on whether one reads the Independent/Guardian/Mirror. "Bounced out", says the Mail (see what they did there?), appended with suitable illustrations of the apparently agonised tennis pro.

In other news, banker Bob Diamond has been awarded the nickname "Bob the Rob" by the Sun for the latest rate-fixing revelations at Barclays. Paper Monitor can't help but wonder whether such a jaunty Warner Bros sobriquet quite encapsulates events - it is no match for, say, "Fred the Shred".

In fact, it sounds a bit like something Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men might say.

Bob the Rob.
Bob a job.

Your Letters

16:41 UK time, Thursday, 28 June 2012

Re: this story - could this be my Dragons Den moment at last? Anyone ever thought of putting bars on the windows?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

"Google to sell tablet and glasses" - I thought this story would include paracetamol and a drink of water. I'll get my pills.
Buzz, London

Peter (or Peters?, Wednesday's letters), Hoxton is a London Overground station, not an Underground. And as for Ipswich Town, there's a slight matter of a "c".
Andrew, London

HB (Wednesday's Letters) - Merluccid Hake is another fish which contains all the letters of the word Mackerel. It's not as nice smoked, though.
Richard Martin, Doncaster, UK

How amusing! I clicked play on item four of this story to see Meg Ryan's fake orgasm only to be told that the content wasn't working and I should try again later.
John Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale

Paper Monitor

13:20 UK time, Thursday, 28 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Two hardy summer staples are to the fore in today's cocktail of newsprint.

It's the first week of Wimbledon and the red tops can't get enough of British hopeful Heather Watson who made history yesterday, making it - wait for it - into the third round. She is the first British woman to get so far (gulp) in a decade.

Okay so on closer inspection it's not that historic after all.

The Daily Telegraph puts Watson on the front - "Heather on fire" - and at the top of page five - "Smoked salmon and sweat spur Briton to victory" is the rather weird headline. It's sure to get the retired colonels in Godalming and Tunbridge Wells rustling their copies.

Her breakfast choice of smoked salmon, eggs and toast on the side, is what most papers home in on.

But there's also who is watching. Remember, Paper Monitor's third law of journalism: royalty + adjacent celebrity = news.

The Daily Mail gives almost as much space to a sequence of photos featuring Prince Charles giggling with Wilnelia Forsyth and her husband Sir Bruce. "Good Game, Good Game, Lady Forsyth" runs the headline above informative captions like "Centre of attention: Wilnelia beams back at her host as Brucie laughs."

The Daily Star has stories featuring young ladies with fewer clothes. So poor Heather has to wait until page 17 for the inevitable "Tennis ace is a smash hit".

The paper deploys a speech bubble to good effect with a photo of Wilnelia, Sir Bruce and the Prince of Wales. "Nice to see one," Charles is saying to his neighbours.

So if female tennis players on the news pages is one summer staple, what is the other?

Ah, come in Peter and Abbey, who are joining us from a hot, foreign location with easy access to swimming pools and long lens photography.

"Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy soak up the Mexican sun", goes the headline in the Sun above pictures of the "giant" footballer and "model wife" canoodling. The picture captions - "He stoops to conquer" - could teach the Mail a thing or two.

Paper Monitor

16:43 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Hardly a day goes by when we are not reminded of our mortality by some study or another informing us that too much of this or that can shorten our lives by, say, a minute a day.

Today we get mixed messages courtesy of the Daily Telegraph. Page eight invokes the former Egg Marketing Board's "go to work on an egg" slogan - only this time the ellipsoidal object is in the firing line.

The headline exhorts readers not to go to work on an egg because of a study warning of risk to the heart. But, hang on, we know eggs contain a high proportion of saturated fat, so the news is what? Well it's actually about the Atkins diet, of which the egg is just one part.

According to a new study, dieters who try to lose weight by eating few carbohydrates and more protein were found to be 28% more likely to suffer a heart attack.

So here's a tip, skip the egg and stay in bed for an extra eight minutes. Further down the page, we learn that having an eight-minute snooze after waking up in the morning is one of the ingredients of a perfect morning.

Ideally this is what we should all aspire to - waking up naturally at 6.27 - preferably with a cup of tea that someone has made for you (so how does that person get to have a perfect morning, since they already have to be up waiting on you - but perhaps you have to take it in turns), a brief snooze, a nine-minute shower, and a bowl of cereal while watching reading a paper or watching the news.

Note that while all this perfect-ness is going on in households up and down the country, with people exchanging cups of tea and pleasantries, and not moaning about the time their partner or house mate is taking in the shower, Paper Monitor is busy toiling with a take-away coffee.

Which brings us nicely to the next piece of advice, courtesy of another group of researchers. Apparently two short lattes a day - or flat whites, if you can't bear the thought of having to pronounce the word latte - as part of a daily routine may be linked with a significantly lower risk of heart failure. (Paper Monitor wonders if this would cancel out the effects of the egg). Anyway, two short lattes, good - five or six cups of coffee a day, bad.

And what does coffee go nicely with? Cake. Which brings us nicely to an item at the bottom of the page which warns that images of fatty and sugary foods trigger hunger. According to researchers, "the 'striking' finding could partly explain high levels of obesity and over-eating, because such foods are widely advertised".

But hasn't the link between desire and advertising been evident ever since caveman etched a burger on a wall?

Your Letters

15:32 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Monitor: Technical problems stopped Letters being published yesterday, so here is a bumper crop.

MM must have forgotten to invite anyone else to the party. We'll take it you finished off all the Pimms - hence the noted absence and the influx of tumbleweed rolling past...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Mark (Monday's letters) - also there's only one fish that contains all the letters of the word "mackerel".
HB, Birmingham

Not quite a case of nominative determinism, but close!
James Lau, London

So disappointed that the "Bishop quits over bikini photos" article is not what I expected.
Heather, Portsmouth, UK

Sophie and Mark (Monday's letters) if you're bored next weekend, there is also only one US State and only one element in the periodic table which contain no letters from "mackerel".
Mark Esdale, Bridge, UK

Janet (Monday's letters) No. You just need glasses. (Or so I tell myself.)
Henri, Sidcup

Oh dear Sophie (Monday's letters) five minutes with an alphabetical list of tube stations and I found St. John's Wood. I'm not doing the football one as well, though.
Caroline, staycationing in Preston

Mark surely there are two teams, Swindon Town and Ipswich Town? And what exactly is football?
Peter, Swindon, UK

Mark (Monday's letters), there are actually two stations now - St John's Wood, and Hoxton. I'll get my Oyster card.
Peter, Swindon, UK

Paper Monitor

13:37 UK time, Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Forget football, a Brit girl wins Wimbledon!"

Hurrah! So what if the Daily Mail's rather misleading front page banner nods only to tennis player Heather Watson's performance on the opening day?! It's cheered Paper Monitor up no end after a dismal football effort on Sunday ("Glum on England" puns the Daily Star, with pics of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard doing their lip-pursing sad faces).

We need to move on, advises the Star - after all, "it's time for the Murray magic". And time, obviously, for photos of the Brit number one "adjusting" himself and inspired headlines about "new balls please, Andy".

And what kind of Wimbledon coverage would be complete without images of photogenic (female) tennis babes? Heather graces the Mail's front page, and the Sun, in its commendable effort to cheer up the nation and "get Ova" England's Euro defeat, also obliges: "Sexy Maria Sharapova gives deflated sports fans a little lift yesterday", it coos, "as she hitches up her skirt at Wimbledon".

Photographic proof provided, naturally. Apparently, the 25-year-old Russian "answered The Sun's Page One call for tennis to boost our morale from frock bottom". What a good sport. She's got such a beautiful... heart, that one.

But heaven forbid that the annual tennis comp excites editors merely because it provides an almost-legitimate reason to feature the thighs/bottoms of lithe young women at the height of their physical prowess. Indeed, today we also get features on body art - as featured on, erm, the thighs of Karolina Pliskova. AND it's another great opportunity for subs to stretch their headline-writing muscle: "I say, ladies, that's tattoo much", puns the Daily Express.

If you're still in need of cheering up, may we also recommend consulting page three of the Daily Mirror? After Holly Willoughby tweeted a snap of herself make-up-free, we're treated to a rather satisfying picture gallery of other celebs without their slap.

In difficult times like these, every little helps.

Your Letters

15:35 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

I am a highly literate retiree with post-graduate qualifications, but I just can not get captchas right. Am I past my sell-by date and therefore no longer human?
Janet Murray, La Vinuela, 29712, Spain

Oh Mark (Friday's letters). . .now I'm going to spend my whole weekend wondering which one!
Sophie, London, UK

Hi Fi from Gloucesterhire (Friday's letters) Long time no see! Good to see you back. When's the next MM party for a good chin way?
Sarah, Bois le Roi, France

And there's only one football team in the league which contains no letters from the word "mackerel".
Mark Scales, Gloucester

Paper Monitor

10:21 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Umbrella or sunglasses? Paper Monitor has found it rather difficult to negotiate what to reach for as it walks out the door this summer, and today's papers are not exactly helping the situation.

"Summer is on the way at last" declares the ever weather-obsessed Daily Express, which has the perennial problem firmly fixed on its front page.

The paper can barely contain its excitement that "a scorching blast of summer will at last roar in from the Continent" - saying "sun-starved Britons will sizzle", at least in the South of England, as temperatures are set to hit 93 degrees fahrenheit (34C).

However the Daily Mirror is not so optimistic. "What a pour summer" is its headline, as it reports "flood chaos" as the UK is hit by a month of rain in just 24 hours.

West Yorks has had a "deluge", the Isle of Wight is "mudness" and there is "misery" in Lancaster, according to the paper.

It thinks the outlook is not great either. Although there may be a two-day respite, it says there is more rain to come, with Wimbledon bound to be a "washout" and June set to be the wettest in 100 years.

To make matters worse for tennis fans, the "dreadful weather" has damaged strawberry crops so much there may be a shortage of strawberries and cream.

Now Paper Monitor isn't one to get too worked up about the weather, but a little consistency would be nice. Even if it's only so we can carry a lighter load to work.

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