BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 7, 2012 - October 13, 2012

Your letters

15:32 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012

I don't get it. Derren Brown makes things disappear, it's "an illusion". His cleaner makes things disappear, it's "theft".
Basil Long, Nottingham

The French phone bill in threepenny bits would be 2.344 Billion Km - the end would be somewhere between the orbit of Saturn and Uranus. Of course the trouble is that none of the banks would want to let you pay-in such a stash.
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

The murky allure of the Loch Ness monster - your estimation of the amount of water in Loch Ness was out by a factor of 100,000. Very disappointing, if you can get something this wrong etc. etc....
Steven Marshall

Emma, (letters, Thursday) - maybe it says a lot about my sense of humour, but when I heard about the musical mice, my first thought was Monty Python. And the Mouse Organ.
Paul H, Hedon

Mark (Thursday's letters), you can believe many things in Scotland. But believing that the Earth is flat isn't one of them. As one of the millions of people who have climbed (well, walked actually) to the peak of Beinn Nibheis (other mountains are also available) I can confirm that it is far from flat.
David, Romford

Paper Monitor quoting Harry Wallop (great name) on Thursday - I'm familiar with the West Lothian question, but what's the Midlothian question?
Margaret, Christchurch, New Zealand

Blimey, who knew luggage had its own country? A Glasgow Airport spokesman said: "Fire crews attended following a report of smoke on board. All passengers disembarked safely and were repatriated with their luggage once the aircraft had been declared safe."
Sarah, Basel, Switzerland

Could you re-post the article on procrastination, please, as I never got round to reading it.
John Whapshott, Westbury

On lifts: I have to tell you this. (In case no one else should be recorded for posterity). Our lift in Student Halls in 1984 had the standard buttons - Hold, 2, 1, G, B, LB. Some wit had added comments in indelible ink so that it read:
"Hold me tight
2 Night
1 more time
G whizz
B mine
It was never a lift to be scared in, most of my fellow (male) students could stop it between floors and force the doors open, to impress us with the depth of the drop. Otisosis? No way. We loved our lift.
Henri, Sidcup

Caption Competition

13:39 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

David Blaine amid an artificial lightning storm

This week, David Blaine stands amid an artificial lightning storm as part of his latest feat of endurance.

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

6. clearWonder wrote:
David Blaine's audition for the role of King Arthur was thought to be a bit too showy.

5. Candace9839 wrote:
"Yes, fabulous stunt, David, very impressive. Now about this electric bill..."

4.PeeJayEll wrote:
What bright spark thought this up?

3. Gray Gablewrote:
After years of research, scientists actually prove it *is* every six seconds..

2. Irish-Diwrote:
Dr Frankenstein looked at his creation and decided he preferred the first one.

1.Bellhouse Hartwellwrote:
Throughout those 72 hours, all David could think was "I just hope I'm not with British Gas".

10 things we didn't know last week

11:41 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012

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

1. People prone to feeling guilty make for the best friends.
More details (Daily Mail)

2. Mice can learn songs.
More details

3. The Duchess of Cambridge grows her own potatoes.
More details (Daily Mirror)

4. Women get more stressed than men when they read bad news stories.
More details

5. Plants grow better if you talk to them in a north-east of England accent.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. Dogs work better when they've had their breakfast.
More details

7. Men named Brian and women called Helen have the best credit profiles in the UK on average.
More details (Daily Mail)

8. Chinese soft-shelled turtles pass waste through their mouths.
More details

9. Men with high testosterone levels lie less.
More details

10. Bull sharks have the strongest bite of any sharks.
More details

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

Paper Monitor

11:10 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor isn't sure whether it's because autumn is in the air, with thoughts of its associated harvest, or something else is at play, but it can't help but be struck by one paper's seeming preoccupation with gardening.

The first story in the Daily Telegraph is arguably treading familiar territory. After publicising the role of a royal butler last year, this time the paper turns its attention to a position looking after Palace gardens.

The gardener, it says, should have "substantial experience" in "herbaceous and rose practices", and must also take a keen interest in the latest organic methods.

"The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have introduced several green initiatives at the Palace," it says, and duties will include carrying out "green waste recycling".

The salary the successful applicant can expect to earn for a 40-hour week? £15,000.

The second story tells the tale of a potted tree that the Mayor of Torquay, Devon, is shipping in from Spain.

It's being relocated to a take pride of place at a local roundabout, but the paper says residents aren't too happy by what they see as a "waste of money" when the council is making cuts.

That's because gardening is an expensive business, it seems. The tree's arrival is said to cost £7,000, with the whole roundabout scheme priced at £20,000.

Just a couple of days ago the paper also had another tip for its readers. It reported that one nursery owner thinks plants respond better to different accents.

The top talker? Geordie.

Paper Monitor would love to suggest it as a cheaper solution, but it can't imagine Devon going for that.

Your Letters

17:42 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2012

On todays random stat, it says: "7 portions of fruit and veg a day make people happiest". You got this wrong, it should read: "7 portions of fruit and veg a day make people smuggest."
Adrian, London, UK

Re: singing Mice. I thought everyone knew this, remember Bagpuss?
Emma Wilson, Jersey

So "This is nearly 6,000 times France's annual economic output." Great, but I need to know, if this were thruppenny bits, how high would the stack be?
Carl, Crepy, France (Soon to be twinned with Crawley, UK)

"If Operation Deepscan proved one thing, it is that you can't kill a legend with science." So in Scotland I can continue to believe that the Sun DOES go round the earth, that the earth is flat and that thunder is Thor messing about with a big hammer?
Mark, Reading, UK

Annabel (Wednesday's letters), dear, Porridge Watch doesn't start until the clocks go back when you can also break out the long pyjamas, put the heating on and eat soup instead of salad for lunch. You're a couple of weeks early.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Annabel, how about "Asking an open question that will definitely get a lot of responses and therefore award you with much kudos" watch? What does everyone else think?
ed, wakefield

Jill (Wednesday's letters), I wonder if elevated levels of Otisosis can be reduced by pressing the "Down" button? A field trip to test is planned!
martin pearson, Hoosick Falls,Upstate NY,USA

Paper Monitor

12:53 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After many years of searching, the Daily Telegraph has finally figured out why Britain is going to hell in a handcart.

The culprit? Look no further than the growing unpopularity of after-dinner mints.

Sales figures suggest that purchases of After Eights have fallen by 11% in the past year while those of Bendicks have declined 14%.

"Apparently, we are too busy dipping Doritos into jars of radioactive salsa while watching the X Factor pantomime to indulge in such refinements as sipping coffee from a demitasse, nibbling on a mint and discussing the Midlothian question with the guest on our left," shudders Harry Wallop, formerly the paper's consumer affairs editor.

"And we wonder why Britain is in such a mess."

The fading allure of post-prandial confectionary, Wallop suggests, is reflective of the slow demise of the dinner party.

After Eights were launched in 1962, he says, in an effort to meet the aspirations of the expanding middle class.

If they don't quite hold the same glamour in the 21st Century, nostalgics can be assured that - according to the Daily Mirror at least - another institution that had its heyday in the post-war era is staging a comeback.

The paper notes a surge in the numbers of package holidays - once considered an anachronism in the internet era - as tourists look to cut costs.

"There's no substitute for expert advice with the personal touch," says the Mirror's travel editor.

Perhaps with a wafer-thin mint thrown in for good measure.

Your Letters

16:42 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Remember "Porridge Watch" by Paper Monitor from years ago? At the same time I believe you kept watch on the Daily Express running some sort of story about Diana either on their front page or at least in it. What would this year's "Porridge Watch" be and please can you start one? Thanks and regards.
Annabel, London, WC1

I believe the medical term for avoiding eye-contact in lifts/elevators is Otisosis.
Jill B., Detroit

Re: today's quote of the day. Surely if a joke relies upon quoting Shakespeare, it's probably over the head of most multi-millionaire footballers.
Rob, Horsham

Paul (Tuesday's letters), I feel the same way about this one.
Kat Murphy, Ipswich

Actually Jez (Tuesday's letters) I'd far rather a cockroach eating contest was held in a pet shop than in,say, my favourite restaurant.
Vicky S, East London

Paper Monitor

11:41 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Whether blondes have more fun, Paper Monitor is not in a position to say. But it's no secret they have more pictures in the newspapers - if their name is Boris Johnson, anyway.

Even though Wednesday sees the prime minister's big speech to the Conservative Party conference, it looks like the Tories' favourite warm-up man hasn't left the stage yet.

"Boris mops up as Tories worship the Blond One" says The Times. "MAD FOR BORIS" is the Daily Star's headline.

In the battle of the column inches, it seems that carefully chosen pictures of Dave enjoying an intimate moment with Sam, or sharing a bit of supermarket-bought cake with the foreign secretary, can't compete with a big picture of the mayor of London looking like... well, just looking like his usual tousled self.

However, no man is a hero to his valet, or it seems, his former employer. In the Daily Mail, former Daily Telegraph editor Max Hastings praises Boris the journalist, before repeatedly sticking the boot into Boris the politician:

"I would not trust him with my wife nor - from painful experience - with my wallet..."

To be fair, the prime minister's conference speech does receive its due from the front pages. Carefully leaked extracts have been scattered around the papers - each one carefully tailored for its audience.

There's something vaguely liberal for the Guardian: "The Tories are for everyone, Cameron tells conference". There's a more stirring and resolute line for the Sun: "It's sink or swim, says PM".

But seeing as the prime minister's photographed inside the paper with Paralympics champion Ellie Simmonds, the answer is presumably "swim".

Your Letters

15:20 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2012

OK, ignorance here. What was so good about this artwork before this happened to it? I've tried, but it really doesn't do anything for me, before or after. I'll get my brush.
Paul, Ipswich

Own up. Who else misread X Factor host's brasserie burgled?
Peter, Pershore, Worcs

At a pet shop? Surely the last place on earth that ought stage such contests!
Jez, London

Paper Monitor

11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's the Conservative conference and, rest assured, the newspapers are lending the occasion the kind of forensic analysis for which they are renowned.

"Let the policy wonks at the Conservative Party conference argue about deficit reduction and employees' rights," writes Catherine Ostler in the Daily Mail in a full page lead.

"There are far more pressing matters to deal with, namely, can Samantha Cameron really get away with turning up to conference . . . in a pair of skinny jeans?"

With a level of scrutiny once devoted to footage of official Soviet functions by CIA Kremlinolgists, every effort is devoted to sourcing the origins of Mrs C's outfit.

The denims could be Topshop, we are loftily informed, and the "smart money" is on them being a pair of Moto Baxter, in indigo, yours for £40.

This is, apparently, a bold move. In the history of leaders' wives at party conferences, "not even Cherie Blair at her most subversive" appeared in jeans. Michelle Obama received "mixed reviews" on the rare occasions she did so, Ostler says.

But it's not just Samantha Cameron who is under scrutiny this week.

Her husband is, too. For setting up his own Twitter account.

In the Daily Telegraph, Bryony Gordon offers advice to @David_Cameron on how to use the social networking site effectively:

It doesn't work if you only tweet promotional pictures of yourself with nurses, or messages about how brilliant your Chancellor's Conference speech is going to be. It doesn't work if you only follow Tory MPs (though it is interesting to see which ones Cameron doesn't follow), and it doesn't work if you're not willing to vent your spleen about: The X Factor; Downton Abbey; Question Time; Kay Burley. And do we really want our Prime Minister wasting his time with all that?

Apparently there will be some policies and suchlike launched in Birmingham this week, too.

Your Letters

17:00 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2012

I've just heard a BBC commentator refer to the date '90BC' as "The first century BC". Shouldn't that be the "last century BC"? Perhaps I should unearth my abacus.
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

Gentlemen, look away now this article contains much 'ouch'.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Re 10 things we didn't know No.8. The title confuses the Ford F150 Pickup truck with the Ford Mustang Sports Car. There is no mention in the article that the Mustang is a Pickup. It is just that the F150 Pickup is mentioned before the sentence on referring to the tuning of the Mustang's exhaust pipes. I know its pedantic but I guess I just woke up that way this morning. The Mustang is a sprts car and not a pickup.
David Bailey, Stuttgart

I'm sorry, could someone please translate this into a unit of measurement understood by the MM community. I mean, 'mammoth'! Means nothing to me. Is that bigger than a bus? Bigger than two buses?
Vicky S, East London

Paper Monitor

13:09 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press, yah?

New Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell is the talk of the tabloids and trending on Twitter after her weekend debut, OK?

But rather than her technical expertise, fans and pundits have been captivated by her verbal habit, as The Daily Mail 's Claudia Connell explains:

Every word of advice is followed by a needless 'yah' 'yeah' or 'k' ('OK' is clearly too time-consuming) all delivered with an even more annoying Antipodean-esque inflection.

In a whirlwind of attempted jokes on the subject, full marks go to Connell for the phrase "all that yahing is rather jarring".

Despite the apparent annoyance the habit causes, yah, nobody can refrain from "humorously" using them in their own critiques.

And clearly, yah, Paper Monitor is no wittier, OK?

But Paper Monitor is especially fascinated by the mystery about where this comes from.
Connell's case for blaming those Down Under presumably rests upon two pieces of evidence.

Exhibit Ahh - she lived in Australia as a young girl. Exhibit B-ahh - she is married to an Australian banker.

But Paper Monitor, yah, does not see this as an open-and-shut case, k?

With the "Gap Yah" viral video still relatively fresh in Paper Monitor's memory, one cannot discount one Twitter user's suggestion that Bussell "sounds like such a Sloane Ranger".

Paper Monitor eagerly awaits more evidence from next week's show, yeah, but more interesting will be the sub-plot of watching how Bussell reacts to the furore.

Will every inadvertent "yah" be followed by visible disappointment (after a rigorous week of vocal training), or will she air her "yeahs" with pride at her "yah" vernaculah?

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.