BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for September 2, 2012 - September 8, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

17:41 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2012

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

1. Birds hold funerals for their dead.
More details

2. Tigers work night shifts to avoid humans.
More details

3. Barack Obama is into home brewing.
More details

4. There has only ever been one Secretary of State for Wales named Jones.
More details

5. Drivers in the French countryside must leave at least a metre-and-a-half's gap when overtaking cats.
More details (The Daily Telegraph)

6. Iceland has the greatest web use, with 95% of its population online.
More details

7. Freedom of a city does not give you the right to graze your sheep.
More details

8. Spoof disaster movie Airplane! elicits three belly laughs per minute from viewers - more than the Life of Brian's 1.2.
More details (The Mirror)

9. Men and women see colours differently.
More details (The Daily Telegraph)

10. Junk DNA is not junk after all.
More details (Time)

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

Your Letters

15:27 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2012

Simon (Thursday's letters) - you can indeed take your own food into a Vue Cinema, however do be prepared. During handbag / carrier bag searches (presumably looking for recording equipment) one can be made to feel very small / mean / miserly under the disdainful looks from security (and the popcorn wielding family held up in the queue behind) when they unpack your bottled supermarket pop and little bag of Revels. It's technically allowed but not particularly condoned.
Shiz, Cheshire

I don't know what's better: having a colleague congratulate me on getting a letter published, or having the exalted 'Fi, Gloucestshire' reply (in Wednesday's letters). Could you make it a perfect week by publishing this letter?
Ben Hill, Cardiff, Wales

Does anyone else see a letter from Basil Long and start singing the theme to Robin Hood?Rob Mullan, Crowmarsh Gifford, UK

Rik (Thursday's letters) - not an adjective, but... Strife on Mars?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Caption Competition

13:00 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, participants arrive for the annual Vegetable Battle in Berlin.

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

6. RampagingRabbit:
"Shoo, Box!"

5. James Cram:
BBC insists cuts to Doctor Who special effects budget will not affect quality.

4. iksander:
Half a leek, half a leek,
Half a leek onward,
All in the Veg Battle of Berlin
Rode the six hungry ones.
"Forward the Cardboard Brigade!
Charge for the Courgettes!" he said.

Courgette to right of 'em,
Courgette to left of 'em,
Courgette in front of 'em
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with pea-shot & coconut shell,
Boldly they rode & well,
Into the jaws of Beth,
Into the mouth of Mel
Rode the six hungry ones.

3. Chopper32:
Thinking outside the box doesn't work for me.

2. SkarloeyLine:
"Yes, I'm excited too. Just try to contain yourself."

1. spherodynamicklutz:
I'm only guessing, mate, but is your name "Jack" by any chance?

Paper Monitor

11:34 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Everyone, especially newspaper editors, recognises the British obsession with property.

In few other countries would government proposals to allow people to relax planning laws and allow people to build larger extensions on houses generate so much sound and fury on the opinion pages.

But then this is the UK, a country in which so-called "property porn" has surely proved as lucrative down the years for publishers and TV producers as the "mommy" variety has for EL James.

To Anne Ashworth of the Times, those who object to the plans are "Nimbys" - a pejorative term for those whose response to every innovation is Not In My Backyard.

Countering this, however, is none other than Anthony Horowitz, writer of Midsomer Murders, who in the Daily Mail seeks to reclaim the term.

"It often strikes me that it was an evil genius who coined the word Nimby and used it as an insult," he writes.

"But really, shouldn't we all be Nimbys, looking after not just our own interests but those of our neighbours and local community? If we don't do it, who will? Politicians? Hardly."

Whichever side of the debate one falls on, Rachel Johnson offers a rather different perspective.

While all the attention has focused on the effects of a new mass conservatory-building programme on the nation's economy, Ms Johnson wonders in the Daily Telegraph what impact it will have on people's marriages. "I know for a fact that I am not one half of those couples you read about in the property sections who enjoy 'doing up' houses together 'as a project'," Ms Johnson admits.

She continues:

Simply renovating one small grotty bathroom has so far caused more domestics than almost anything else in my 20-year marriage. The row about the medicine cabinet has lasted a year and we are still grimly deadlocked over whether to move the heated towel rail.

Few commentators have yet explored this unintended consequence of planning reform. Paper Monitor would delve further into the issue but really has to get round to putting up those shelves as promised.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2012

Wow, you can take your own food into Vue cinemas! They kept that quiet! Thank you for the most important piece of information I've acquired today. Do you know if they charge corkage?
Simon, Cambridge, UK

I know I 'm late getting to this one but blimey! what is it with politicians and marathons? Is it in the job spec? Or is that what they really mean by "running for office"?
Susan, Newcastle

Ian (Wednesday's letters),good idea of yours about the Freedom of Mars. And there's no need to take a sheep dog along for the job. I hear there's a few Rovers there now that could easily be used to round 'em up.
Martin Pearson, Hoosick Falls, Upstate NY, USA

Is there an adjective which describes the disappointment felt when a promising side-bar headline Mars warning over deep fried bar (suggesting little green men) prompts composition of a letter to Monitor, only to find that the actual (and hyperlink-able) page headline turns out to be rather mundane? Never mind, maybe I'll qualify for the Freedom of Mars (Wednesday's letters)?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Quote of the Day is about strippers; Random Stat is about lovers. Is there something on the Magazine's mind this morning?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Please could you publish two letters from Basil Long in the same batch. This would compensate for my never getting any double-yoked eggs.
Liz, Virginia, USA

Paper Monitor

12:19 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

In the latest crisis to cause consternation among Daily Telegraph readers, the paper's letter pages are awash with a perplexing problem.

The source of the anguish? Soap. Imperial Leather soap to be particular. Or the sticker on Imperial Leather soap to be precise.

Apparently it is slippery. So slippery that it falls off.

The issue was raised by Alan Bonsor, from Birmingham, at the beginning of the week.

Long-lasting labels SIR - In my youth, the label on Imperial Leather soap would remain on the bar of soap until the bar was too small to use, whereas now, in this superior technological age, the label comes off early in its life.

Since then readers have been debating whether their favourite soap has suffered a fall from grace.

On Wednesday, David Fisher, from Leicester, said he had never known the Imperial Leather label to come off. "Has Mr Bonsor been using a counterfeit product?" he asked.

While Professor Julian Verbov, from Liverpool, wrote "SIR - I always peel off the label before using the bar of soap. It gets in the way".

Today the debate has shifted towards finding solutions.

Howard Bishop, from Ballaugh, in the Isle of Man, thinks the clue is in the strapline of the product's advertisement: "It stands on its name".

"If I place the bar in the soap dish with the label on the underside, the label lasts for the life of the bar of soap," he says.

Others have brought up different complaints, such as cracks appearing in the soap, and the soap itself also disappearing. Keith Hill, of Rochester, Kent, writes:

SIR - It's not just the label of Imperial Leather that's gone down the drain. Every bar I have bought in the past year has developed unsightly deep cracks after a week or two of use. On reporting this to Imperial's managing director, I was told that the cracks are caused by the use of vegetable oil now that they have stopped using animal fats in the soap formula.

However P J Moyes, from, Rochford, Essex, raises the biggest smile.

SIR - In the early days of recycling, I returned home from work one day to find that the label had disappeared from the soap bar in my en-suite. My mother-in-law, who resides with us, was so enthusiastic to involve herself in recycling that she had removed the label and placed it in the paper collection bin.

We soon adopted liquid soap.

Your Letters

16:11 UK time, Wednesday, 5 September 2012

"The behaviour, words, and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall," says the US Department of Justice. Exactly! What middling-sized dry goods manufacturer that sells through suburban malls would tolerate their executives going off to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico? The idea is preposterous!
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

As apparently it's purely symbolic I feel that we should declare anyone who gets a letter published in Magazine Monitor the Freedom of Mars. Heck, we can even let people drive their sheep down Valles Marineris for free.
Ian, Redditch

RE Ray from Turku, Finland (Tuesdays letters), "Only Fools and Horses is..." is the correct structure as it is a singular programme, not a plural.
Andrew Duncan, Muir of Ord, Scotland

Hang on - those guide dog toilets have toilet roll! That's better provision than most humans get at a music festival (well, except Glyndebourne maybe).
Basil Long, Nottingham

To Ben Hill (Tuesday's letters): No, but I did think it was sensational and I haven't been able to get the sound of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" out of my head since.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

12:09 UK time, Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is a little tickled by the way some of the papers present David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle today.

First there is the rose garden analogyin the Times, which catalogues all the "chopping and changing". So it is that Jeremy Hunt, who takes on the "thorny brief" of Health, and Patrick McLoughlin, who will "prepare the ground" for airport expansion as Transport Secretary are "cultivated (promoted to grow)".

Andrew Mitchell, now Chief Whip, and Owen Paterson, now Environment Secretary have been "pruned (moved sideways)", while Justine Greening, who has been "uprooted" from Transport and Andrew Lansley, who "failed to blossom" at Health, have been "sheared (cut down)".

Others are catagorised as "firmly rooted", in the "growth greenhouse" or "bright young saplings", while Boris Johnson, who "poked his head through the cracks to pour scorn on the PM's new arrangement" is termed "Japanese knotweed".

Then there is Michael White's sketch in the Guardian, which sees the ministerial parade out of the big black door of No 10 on reshuffle day as a "political spin-off from Britain's Got Talent".

Jeremy Hunt, the minister being rewarded for organising the Olympic bunting, is actually very tall. But when waiting reporters shouted "are you the new health secretary?" as he emerged from his audition with the coalition's Simon Cowell he flinched as if this was the last question he had been expecting. "Huge task, biggest privilege of my life," he gulped.

No room there to mention the NHS: it was all about Jeremy, his hopes and dreams of stardom. Very BGT.

Talking of Jeremy Hunt, Paper Monitor can't help but notice that most papers pick the same, slightly comical, picture of the new Health Secretary waving his arms in the air.

And then there is the Daily Mirror's picture that depicts David Cameron as a mouse, claiming the PM "bottled out" of axing George Osborne.

The silly season might be over, but Paper Monitor thinks some of the papers might still be a little bit bouyed by that summer feeling.

Your Letters

17:13 UK time, Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Billy Beetroot claims there are only 187 words that can be typed with the right hand alone. On the contrary - there are many many more words that can be typed with just a single finger stabbing away, as many of my colleagues are proud to demonstrate.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Will I live longer than my cat? Some of us are just pleased to have outlived our goldfish.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Surely the object of translating cat years into human years is to measure length of life on the same scale? If you're routinely coming out with "human years" ages for cats that greatly exceed the age of the oldest living person, you've probably got your scale wrong.
Kat Murphy, Ipswich

Tsk! Tsk! Monitor. Re 10 things no eight, surely it should read: 8. Only Fools and Horses *are* popular in the Balkans. I'll get my weasel.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Did anyone else read Andrew Hill's entire letter in Monday's letters in a "wedding DJ"/Tony Blackburn type voice?
Ben Hill (no relation), Cardiff, Wales

Paper Monitor

14:56 UK time, Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And the papers have a long history of flattery.

Paper Monitor was idly perusing a copy of the London Evening Standard yesterday and a story caught the eye.

The youth who mugged BBC Home Affairs correspondent Tom Symonds has been given four years in young offenders institution.

Symonds's run-in with the mugger and the police who helped find both his iPhone and the culprit made for a powerful story on pages not far from these.

The use of a tracking app was key.

The Standard's article quotes Symonds talking about his experience, designated by the word "said".

Symonds, who was working on a BBC Ten O'Clock News report on police pay and conditions, said: "After 19 years of crime-free living in London, I was the victim of a mugging. I did the right thing and handed over my iPhone and wallet, trying not to raise the temperature of the encounter."
So that's "said", not "wrote".

Compare that with a similar passage in the original feature:

"After 19 years of crime-free living in London, I was finally the victim of a mugging. In my own neighbourhood. Breathlessly, I did the right thing and handed over my iPhone and wallet, desperately trying not to raise the temperature of the encounter."

There's probably nothing amiss. It's probably just a coincidence.


Your Letters

17:30 UK time, Monday, 3 September 2012

"Her creators claim she is the largest landscape replica of the female body ever seen anywhere in the world." Uh ... there are others?
Angus Gafraidh, London UK

Interesting article about Hospital Radio today on your website. As the manager of Hospital Radio Stafford, I can confirm that we are here in force 24/7, providing, news, information & requests to Stafford & Cannock Hospitals. Our dedicated volunteers ensure that patients are visited on the wards and requests are taken. All providing a unique service of face to face contact and a quality broadcast programme line-up using the latest professional equipment.See our website or follow us on Twitter @hrstafford . We are here all day, all night & taking new volunteers to help run our service.
Andrew Hill, Stafford

My dear Paper Monitor: if you are going to discard the orange creams from your Quality Street, please chuck them in my direction - I love them!
Fiona Craig, London

Paper Monitor, I will gladly send you all of my green triangle noisettes and brazil nut caramels in exchange for your strawberry delights and orange cremes. We could start a Swap (Sweet) Shop!
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Paper Monitor

16:51 UK time, Monday, 3 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's time for outrage over the incredible shrinking products again. Straitened economic times has seen a number of the nation's favourite chocolate bars being reduced, while their price remained the same.

But Paper Monitor expects a brouhaha in the lead up to Christmas over the latest casualty - Quality Street.

According to the Daily Mail the tin is getting smaller - meaning fewer chocolates. The paper quotes a spokesperson from the manufacturer Nestle as saying that it has reduced the recommended retail price - but claims that some stores are selling them at the same price as last year.

Paper Monitor proposes that if savings need to be made, simply chuck out the Strawberry Delights and Orange Cremes - no-one eats them and it will avoid that heart-sinking moment when one peers into the tin and sees nothing but sweets wrapped in red and orange.

The same paper has another story about a shrunken item - this time it's a scaled down version of the 17th Century warship Sovereign of the Seas. Here's the headline: "Model warship that takes longer to build than the real thing - and costs you £800."

Paper Monitor is fascinated by partwork magazines, and the rather nerdy reputation the market has, and the sheer dedication that goes along with collecting every issue.

The Mail's story focuses on a new weekly partwork magazine showing how to create a 110cm-long replica of the magnificent ship commissioned by Charles I. It works out that it's going to take two years and seven months to complete - nine months longer than the original.

But then again, Paper Monitor thinks that the magazine is probably aimed at people with an awful lot of time on their hands - not too many distractions. Anyone recall the retired chap who spent 10 years on a matchstick armada?

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