BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 5, 2012 - August 11, 2012

Your Letters

17:24 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

I may have come across as a little "ranty" yesterday for which I apologise.
Basil Long, Nottingham

I just scored a big fat zero on the outfits quiz. Does that make me a slob, out of step or uniquely stylish? No, don't tell me! I'll get my kaftan.
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

I just scored seven out of seven on the quiz about famous costumes, a subject about which I know absolutely nothing. I have no idea of the significance of this fact, but I am going to tell anyone who will listen about it.
Angus Gafraidh, London

"Colin Farrell plays Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2012 remake of Total Recall"
It's not strictly true, but it's what we're all thinking.
Sarah , Basel, Switzerland

Paper Monitor, were there no headlines along the lines of "Tweddle medals?" Have you looked on the back pages?
Alan, Stockport

For a moment, I thought Madonna was trying to release a new album.
Tom Hartland, Loughborough

Random stat "41 per cent more crisps being secretly eaten by men compared to a year ago". If it is a secret, how do we know what happened? How many of us have come across male secret-crisp-eaters and reported them? (to whom, exactly?) I think this statistic is completely random.
Alex, who does not eat crisps in secret. Or maybe does: it's a secret.

When did we suddenly become so familiar with Olympic athletes? Rebecca Adlington has become Becky, Victoria Pendleton has become Vicky. Is this the Sebastian "Seb" Coe effect?
Ed, Wakefield

Two days with no Letters. Is it the gold postboxes popping up everywhere that are frightening people?
Malcolm, Wrexham

Monitor note: Apologies for interruptions to the service caused by production errors. Enjoy today's bumper crop.

Surely everyone knows that blue tongues on Olympic athletes mean they're competing under the influence of Getafix's performance-enhancing magic potion?
HTFB, South London (for the 2024 Olympics)

Caption Competition

13:09 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Fan in panda costume

This week a fan in a panda costume arrives to see an Olympic basketball match between France and Nigeria.

Thanks to all who entered. A small quantity of kudos goes to the following:

6. SkarloeyLine wrote:
The 2012 Olympics ticket holder: a protected species.

5. Valerie Ganne wrote:
Well, we've got to do something to slow Bolt down.

4. ARoseByAnyOther wrote:
This is not the Hippodrome after all.

3. CindyAccidentally wrote:
I'm here for the bear sprint - the ursine bolt.

2. throbgusset wrote:
I've just come from the velodrome... someone said it was PandaOmnium.

1. Gray Gable wrote:
A spokesman for Edinburgh Zoo refused to comment further except to add that he can't have gone far, and that he would probably find somewhere quiet and away from the public, to hide away..

10 things we didn't know last week

11:58 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

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

1. Mice can be genetically modified to run 5km on a treadmill without stopping.
More details (Financial Times)

2. The earliest known use of "OMG" was in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill.
More details (New York Magazine)

3. Olympic swimmers pee in the pool.
More details (Evening Standard)

4. Schiphol airport has used drones to scare away geese.
More details (Guardian)

5. It takes more energy to sit through a 15 minute meeting than it takes Usain Bolt to run three Olympic 100m races.
More details (Economist)

6. Submerged beetles create air bubbles around their feet to allow them to grip.
More details

7. Sir Chris Hoy is a trained barista.
More details (The Times)

8. Stressed men find heavier women more attractive.
More details

9. Sleep deprived birds sire more chicks.
More details

10. Pink was chosen as the Olympic colour to stand out from London transport colours.
More details (Economist)

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

Paper Monitor

10:46 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What is it with a certain international peri-peri chicken chain and today's news?

The papers justly celebrate the achievements of Nicola Adams, gold medal winner in the first ever Olympics women's boxing tournament.

The Daily Mirror, however, focuses on how she intends to mark her success:

"I'm going out to Nando's with my family to celebrate," she said. "I'm going to have chicken pitta, medium heat, with chips.

"There may be a few drinks as well and we're going to have a good night."

Paper Monitor is impressed that Adams specified her order in such detail, perhaps in case any Mirror readers spots her on the streets of her native Leeds and decide to show their appreciation.

But there is further flame-grilled reportage in the Independent, covering a visit to Northamptonshire by Labour leader Ed Miliband:

"I want to know what the one thing politicians can do to help you," Mr Miliband asked a group of teenage girls he met on the town's high street.

"Get a Nandos in Thrapston," replied Verity Smith.

With its popularity established among gold medal winners and east Midlands adolescents alike, Paper Monitor wonders how long it will be before politicians begin chasing the latest crucial electoral demographic - "Nando's Man" or "Half-Chicken Woman".

Paper Monitor

12:02 UK time, Thursday, 9 August 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's exhausting for Paper Monitor, this Olympics lark. So many supplements to plough through, puns to process.

Post-event hedonism - well, if you're an Olympian anyway.

"It's not the winning, it's the taking party", sniggers the Daily Mirror, serving up a snap of a very merry-looking* (*drunk) Belgian cyclist Gijs van Hoecke, ostensibly covered in spilt drinks and being carried out of a club by his teammates.

Also enjoying well-deserved downtime are members of Team GB - including new cycling sweetheart Laura Trott.

Ah, Laura. Only 20, two gold medals under her belt - and now hanging out with the third in line to the throne, no less.

Pictures of her having a ruddy good time at the beach volleyball with Prince Harry are splashed across many a front page.

"Golden girl Laura Trott's surprise 'date' with Harry", sings the Daily Express.

"Wales and Wheels", goes the Sun, offering more on "Harry's night with cycling's golden girl Laura" on pages six and seven ("Harry's hot to Trott", apparently).

Yes, "like the rest of the nation, Harry was clearly smitten with Team GB's power-pedalling princess", we're told.

And the Daily Mail details "Gutsy rise of a sick little girl who grew up to win gold (and swig beer with a Prince)", providing a run-down of her triumph over a host of medical problems and a helpful little graphic showing her lucky charms and superstitions, should Paper Monitor ever feel the urge to follow in her footsteps/tracks.

The list includes lucky hairbands, lucky necklaces and lucky earrings.

And standing on a wet towel - although Trott "has not divulged how or why it started".

Sounds stressful at the top - time for a lie down, Paper Monitor feels.

Paper Monitor

13:45 UK time, Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So you've shed the requisite blood/sweat/tears to become not just an Olympian, but a gold medal-wielding Olympian. You want recognition, glory, a bit of a hero worship - copious pictures of you in the national newspapers, perhaps biting your glorious new disc-shaped pendant, maybe weeping beatifically.

At the very least, you want a picture of you to be, er, a picture of you.

No medals will be handed out to the Daily Mirror on this score today, though.

In their Olympic supplement's feature about Team GB's Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer, who took team gold for dressage in Greenwich yesterday - hurrah! - it seems that more time was put into dreaming up pleasing Only Fools and Horses-related puns (in fairness, there can never be too many - the banner reads Only Golden Horses, we get "lovely jubbly" and a line about "Trotters") - than photo sourcing or querying dubious captions supplied by agencies.

Because instead of a picture of the glorious British trio, as the caption also promises, we get a snap of three Dutch dressage competitors - touting their distinctively Dutch orange lapels (and bronze medals). The same error is made on page seven of the paper proper.

And the Daily Express isn't blooper-free, featuring as it does a picture of the Dutch trio grinning away under the headline "Happy and Glorious". On its front page.

Poor show (that's "slechte show!" in Dutch)

And spare a thought for Irish boxer Katie Taylor - that's IRISH Katie Taylor - who has been given a whole new identity and declared British by the Daily Telegraph on page 35 of their sports supplement today.

Paper Monitor accepts that Olympics-related excitement can muddle even the most competent journalists.

Your humble columnist is muddled most days, as regular readers will no doubt be aware, Olympics or no Olympics.

Your Letters

16:21 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2012

In light of the "Olympic Effect", can I just point out that, despite what the government may tell you, SPORT IS NOT GOOD.
1) It is not fun. It is hard work, and even - or especially - if you do it properly you will be aching for days after.
2) It is not good for you. Aside from the aching, many people are injured doing sports. You could get run over or drown. At the very least there are bruises, blisters, sprains and stubbed toes. You ask anyone who has dropped a barbell on their foot or performed a bellyflop if it is good for them.
3) It does not make you look good. You end up hot and sweaty, panting and wheezing and bright red. It is not a sexy look and man-sweat smells. In all the times I have jogged down to the station, not once has any of the train-fitties decided that was the moment to ask me out. In fact, you look daft just doing the running/swimming etc. with legs and arms flailing everywhere. Fitness equipment and clothing is very gaudy and unflattering. And if you go swimming you end up with panda eyes.
4) You won't be any good at it. The vast majority of people aren't. Are you seriously expecting to be the next Becky Adlington or Bradley Wiggins? At your age? It's not going to happen, believe me.
So, please don't go swimming or cycling. Leave the pool empty and the cycle lanes clear for those of us who have been exercising regularly for a considerable time now and for whom it won't just be a one month fad, the same as it is for you every January. Many thanks!
Basil Long, Nottingham

Re Olympic nominative determinism - I can't be the first person to draw MM's attention to the hurdler who didn't finish because she fell?
Duncan, Hurstpierpoint

More Olympic nominative determinism. If only there was an exclamation mark after his surname...
Sue, London

Bullets bad for your health. Who knew?
Chrism, St Helens

Following on from Fi's observation (Monday's Letters) that the Dutch judoka who hit the alleged bottle-thrower was called Bosch I am reminded that the Dutch have form in this niche-within-a-niche. Dutch prog band Focus used to have a drummer called Bert Smaak.
Paul, Marlow, UK

Paper Monitor

14:07 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In tribute to the sterling work of the problem page agony aunts:

Dear ersatz-Deidre (Sun)

I am a naysayerish sort of person and have long vocally dismissed the Olympics as a load of old cobblers - as well as a waste of money. But now I am secretly full of excitement and joy and long to join in the hubbub at the water-cooler about Alistair Brownlee. How can I reveal my change of heart?

Ersatz-Deidre says: The easiest way out of this is to say that the Olympics misery guts was in fact your long-lost brother who took over your life while you were on holiday but has now gone back home. Read my leaflet Inventing a Long-Lost Brother.

And over in the Daily Star:

Dear ersatz-Jane

I'm the sports minister of a largish country in Oceania that isn't doing very well at the Olympics. We really put sport on a metaphorical pedestal, but none of our sportspeople have been able to get near an actual pedestal recently. What should I do?

Ersatz-Jane writes: It's important not to get too fixated on this. Why not focus on the way your economy has outperformed much of the rest of the developed world recently? Or how about increasing your cultural output so sport plays second fiddle?

Your letters

16:58 UK time, Monday, 6 August 2012

Apropos the equestrian sports (esp today), I would like to raise a toast to the late Dick Francis, without whom I would never have known anything about horses (other than that they bite and kick), nor horse jumping. Cheers mate, wish you were here to see it.
Buzz, London

Olympic 100m bottle throw I can't find the results. How did Team GB do?
roarshock, Oregon USA

Is this a new event?
Robin, Herts, UK

Most meaningless quote of the Olympics: "We need a clear round to make it a definite probablity". Er, yes, of course.
Henri, Sidcup

Olympic nominative determinism - a Dutch judo champion who hit the man who threw the bottle onto the track before the 100m final. How apt!
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

16:40 UK time, Monday, 6 August 2012

It seems that animals, except those beautifully turned out horses, of course, are missing out on prime news slots as everyone remains glued to Olympic success. So it was with much interest that Paper Monitor greeted this gem in today's Daily Telegraph. It seems farmers are increasingly turning to guard llamas to act as guard dogs to prevent rural crime. According a leader in the same paper:

Such non-traditional methods may not fully supplant the more orthodox techniques of locks, chains and burglar alarms. But are there not urban and suburban applications? Instead of Neighbourhood Watch schemes, homeowners could simply station a llama in their back gardens - and sell some rather fine cardigans on the side.

Paper Monitor would love a llama to guard the office from those pesky night-time stationery thieves.

It's not only llamas that have missed their chance to shine among Olympic heavy coverage. The Daily Mail reports on a ninja-like cat burglar who battled with the a monster fridge and defeated the heavy door, the video of which has gone viral online:

The cat's moves appear to mirror a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where hero Indiana Jones pulls himself up the front of a moving truck... As he comes to a soft landing on the kitchen counter, the cat climbs back on his feet and surveys his handiwork, the freezer door wide open and its contents ready for the taking.

Paper Monitor is sure no real cat burglars would ever dare venture into the house of this brave ninja-cat.

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