BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 21, 2012 - October 27, 2012

Your Letters

17:00 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012

"Vatican City has a railway station - with only one train a week bringing in bonded duty-free goods, a Post Office, a radio station, a pharmacy, a supermarket, a fire brigade, a five-star hotel, and one of the world's most visited museums ... " Now that must be one big train.
Angus Gafraidh, London UK

As the owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note, I can indeed confirm that they are the world's biggest phone.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Jinja (Thursday's letters), how about Mr Bunn the Baker? Oh hang on, that's not a real person.
Jo Penn, Lichfield, UK

"Ageism"? No, I think it's called "coming to their senses".
Tom Hartland, Loughborough, UK

To Martin, Hemel Hempstead (Thursday's letters): I keep reloading the letters page, but details of how to find this page are simply not appearing. Oh the irony of it...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

10 things we didn't know last week

13:54 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012

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

1. Honey bees can stun with their bite.
More details

2. Since colour TV, only one candidate (Bob Dole) has worn a green tie in a US presidential debate.
More details (Financial Times)

3. Elizabeth Taylor's annual earnings from beyond the grave outstrip those of Michael Jackson.
More details

4. Dogs copy their owners' yawns from the age of seven months.
More details (ABC News)

5. Some 10% of UK lottery millionaires buy a caravan.
More details (The Guardian)

6. Formula 1 organisers in India have to "dog-proof" their tracks.
More details

7. The actor who plays Q in the new James Bond film doesn't own a computer.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. Dinosaurs may have evolved wings for courtship displays.
More details

9. Blood rain is rarely red.
More details

10. British MP Jamie Reed was a contestant on the children's fantasy role-playing gameshow Knightmare where he "perished by spider".
More details (Twitter)

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

Caption Competition

13:41 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Two dogs staring at each other while wearing fancy dress

This week two small dogs involve themselves in a staring contest at a Halloween pet event in Texas.

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

6. CindyAccidentally:
The wedding planner's e-mail attempting to ban Wags from the reception appeared to have backfired.

5. Lelystad:
"Smirk if you like - but once the Argos catalogue goes, you'll end up wearing Vivienne Westwood too."

4. safegraham:
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of ... Oh well, maybe not.

3. MorningGlories:
Sniffer dogs, undercover division.

2. david regan:
Yep, looks like we both used fake details on the online dating site!

1. Lin Vegas:
"Your owner wants you to parade down the WHAT-walk?"

Paper Monitor

12:09 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Dum der der dum dum, DER DER DER DUM der der der dum dum, dum dum.

Yes, a new Bond film arrives at the multiplexes and Paper Monitor wonders whether to spend a night at the flicks watching tuxedo-based action scenes or staying at home to put the washing machine through a service spin.

So of course this columnist turns to the newspaper film reviewers, the majority of whom appear to have arrived at the collective verdict that Skyfall - Daniel Craig's latest outing as 007 - is something of a cross between Citizen Kane and whatever your favourite previous Bond film happens to be (Thunderball, in Paper Monitor's case).

"Nobody's done it better," gushes Kate Muir of Times, garlanding a maximum five stars. Best film of the year so far, reckons Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail.

For David Edwards of the Daily Mirror, it "might just be the best James Bond film ever". Even Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian notes with approval, rather Guardianishly, that product placement is less ostentatious than in previous 007 outings.

Paper Monitor is suspicious of such unanimous praise and searches for something more skeptical.

Anthony Quinn of the Independent is somewhat more circumspect. Three stars. Yes yes it looks great and the villain is very entertaining, he says. And yet:

And yet something about it prevents me from joining the loud "wahoos" already raised in acclaim. Enjoyable as it is, there are creaks and judders in the machinery that suggest the film-makers' nervousness about Bond and about his long-term appeal.

At last, a maverick voice. A lone figure willing to take on all-comers. It reminds Paper Monitor of someone. Dum der der dum dum, DER DER DER DUM...

Your Letters

17:02 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

What's this?! Patrick Howse lives in a house? Can anyone find a more generic determinism?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Cindy Gallop, an advertising executive turned web entrepreneur, has set up a site which compares the "porn world" with the "real world" of sex. Yep, that name sure sounds appropriate.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

J Paul Murdock (Wednesday's letters) I expect a piano will fit into most modern houses, unless there is a particularly awkward corner just inside each door. But perhaps the more interesting question for the Keeper of Monitor Weights and Measures is how many pianos fit in an Olympic swimming pool, and would the "piano" be useful as a unit of volume. Say what you want about electronic keyboards but I'm sticking with my flute and bagpipes. I'll get my shepherd's plaid.
Greg, Cumbria

Following on from all the talk of unwanted pianos, my friend had owned an upright ever since she bought her first house. Subsequently married and expecting her first child, the inevitable move to a larger property meant leaving behind her prized piano. Improvements to the old house had included new doors, and the thing would no longer fit through. I don't know who was more devastated - my friend, or the new home owners when they found most of the hallway still occupied!
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

If you know where to look you can still find a single (if somewhat out of date) page of Ceefax being broadcast - hopefully it will continue to be overlooked for quite some time. And, it's proved somewhat comforting to have during the withdrawal process.
Martin, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Paper Monitor

11:55 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If Paper Monitor was ever to consider a job move into the public relations industry (heavens forbid), its advice to attention-seeking clients would probably be this: Consider changing your name to Kate.

Kate can be classy, she can be brassy, but even as the world goes to Hades in a handcart, it seems there will always be a space on the front page for a Kate.

Today's Daily Express wins the award for Most Gratuitous Picture of a Kate.

She may now be formally styled Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, but the former Ms Middleton will always be Kate in the headline-writer's heart:

"NOW KATE IS VOTED OUR MOST NATURAL BEAUTY" reads the headline, alongside a quarter-page picture of her, fresh complexion and all. The words "see page eight" run underneath the headline and no doubt a couple of readers will do just that.

One name they will not find among the runners-up to the natural beauty contest is Katie Price - not that Paper Monitor thinks she'll mind. The model formerly known as Jordan has always been, in the words of the song, her own special creation.

"WHY I DUMPED CRAZY KATIE" is the Sun's headline. "Katie Price's ex Leandro Penna has torn into her over their love split."

The "Argie hunk" goes on to punch a hole through a carefully-worded statement prepared by Ms Price a few days earlier that suggested the split was amicable:

"There was nothing else I could do. She was driving me insane."

And although the ever-quotable darling of the tabloids doesn't contribute a response to her ex's cri de coeur, the full-page picture of her at this week's premiere of the new Bond film suggests she's coping admirably.

But then, you can't keep a good Kate down.

Your Letters

16:18 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Will your piano end up in the dump? How many "ordinary" people play the piano nowadays? How many modern houses can you fit a piano into? But even trying to get rid of a clapped-out piano is a pain as no one wants one, even for scrap. The operatic society I belong to will tell you. ("A Christmas Carol" in two weeks' time. Tickets still available.) Everyone works with electronic keyboards nowadays. I will get my coat of many colours. It was red and yellow and ochre and peach...
J. Paul Murdock, Wall Heath, West Midlands, UK

Joseph (Tuesday's letters) - it might not be pedantic to point that out but it would be wrong. The moon is gravitationally locked to the Earth, one side always faces us. The phases are causes by the angle between Earth, moon and sun, which does change.
Dave, Greenford, UK

Oooh! Wow! So thrilled to see that I'm not the only one (cf Joseph of London) who remembers Hapshash and the Coloured Coat (they featured the Human Host and the Heavy metal Kids, you know). Now I'm off to find my kaftan and beads - bet they don't fit though!
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

A sad final farewell then to the analogue signal and Ceefax. I'm in bits.
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

We certainly miss Ceefax. We lost our analogue service years ago, but there seems nothing fast enough to replace it on digital, so we now have to use the internet instead of Ceefax. And I still have a (much begrimed) Channel 4 Bamber Boozler t-shirt (I bet nobody remembers those).
Valerie Ganne, Penarth, UK

John (Tuesday's letters), as salad cream has been stated as the greatest English addition to the culinary world, anything with it must be definition be English food!
James, Cambridge

Paper Monitor

15:49 UK time, Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Twenty-four hours is a very long time in the tabloids.

Take the Daily Mail. Yesterday it went big on the BRIDE (yes, it was actually written in capital letters) that was banned from getting married in her dream venue, "a posh Goldfinger hotel" called Stoke Park Hotel in Buckinghamshire.

Pauline Bailey, who is referred to as "a law graduate" and "a drug and alcohol counsellor" ended up "bursting into tears" when she received an email from the hotel's wedding planner by mistake, which described the couple as not the "type of people that we would want" to get married there, it says.

"We're a respectable, middle-class, hard-working, well-educated couple. Paul and I can hold our own anywhere and in anyone's company. We are thoroughly decent people and didn't deserve this humiliation," it quotes her as saying.

Her future husband, Mr Carty, 51, is describe as working "as an engineer for the Ministry of Defence".

Now Paper Monitor is not suggesting the hotel was in any way justified for trying to turn away the couple.

But it can't help but smile at the other way the story has developed today.

"The bride who's not exactly blushing!" is the online version of the paper's take on the story.

"Law graduate snubbed by wedding hotels turns out to be star of adult TV," it goes on, saying she is also a glamour model known as "Rachel T".

"Mr Carty apparently produces the segments Miss Bailey stars in," it goes on.

Paper Monitor imagines it has been a very long 24 hours for the couple too.

Your Letters

17:06 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mr Marsh, regarding your comment about CTM not quite being "British", *all* curries are fine old English foods. As are pizzas, fish-and-chips and pork and turkey burgers in buns. Foreign foods are anything with olive oil, salad cream, mayo or any sauce without massive amounts of curry and peppers in it. I hope that clarifies everything?
John, England

Mobydoc, Monday's letters, would it be pedantic to point out that there is no side of the Moon that permanently faces away from the Earth? The revolution of the Moon on its axis along with its trajectory around the Earth is what gives us different aspects of its light and dark sides. I'll get my (Hapshash and the Coloured) Coat...
Joseph, London

OK, so the red stuff is blood rain; what do we call the sandy and the brown types?
Diane, Sutton

I'm looking forward to seeing the weather symbol for this. It is nearly halloween after all.
Jo K, London

Who else thought that news of a "pilot cull" postponement referred to Ryanair having a rethink about it's new HR policies? Just me then...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Am I the only one hearing "so long and thanks for all the fish"?
Daniel Smith, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Paper Monitor

14:33 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
It's headlines quiz time.

The rules are simple. These headlines come from the papers. No more than one from any paper. And not all papers are represented.

That should be obvious as there are more than six British national daily newspapers.

Hint: The Daily Sport is not one of the answers.

1. "Britain's postgrad crisis puts us on the same level as Kazakhstan".

2. "Gunships and Pip's party tips".

3. "Some day my prints will come: Charles treks off in search of Hobbit's foot".

4. "Fertility benefit of a little housework".

5. "The party's OVER when you hit 40".

6. "Charity saves food from landfill to feed poor".

Answers now follow.

Wait for it.

Keep waiting.

Here they are:

1 = Independent. Pretty straight sort of education story to start us off. No Borat reference would have suggested heavy rather than tabloid.

2 = Sun. Bit trickier as one can guess it's about Pippa Middleton and a number of the papers carried the story.

3 = Times. Slight googly as there's a bit of a pun but it is from the newspaper of record.

4 = Daily Telegraph. Not easy. "Fertility benefit" suggested a heavy but topic fairly light.

5 = Daily Star. This one probably caught out all but the hardcore. Only the capitalised "OVER" gives any inkling of Star quality.

6 = Guardian. Easy one to finish with.

That's your lot.

Your Letters

17:46 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2012

This item on the acceptance of fine British foods on the other side of the channel was holding my attention for a while. Crumble, Stilton, all good British things. One eyebrow raised itself at chicken tikka masala but it has a British-flavoured history, so okay. But BLT? I don't think so.
John Marsh, Washington DC, USA

Surely, the "Dark Side of the Moon" is the side that permanently faces away from the Sun, while the "Far Side of the Moon" is the side that permanently faces away from the Earth. Don't "Speak To Me" about it - I'm "On The Run" and haven't "Time" to "Breathe", let alone discuss "The Great Gig In The Sky" when there is an "Eclipse".
mobydoc, Exeter, Devon

I know I'm too late for Friday's letters, but I just had to have a brag. Not only did I get the first 7/7 I've had for a while [in the quiz], but I also gained some kudos in the Caption Competition. I just hope this run of luck extends to the Euro-Millions...
And another thing (not my own name...), Dundee, Scotland

Paper Monitor

14:40 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is always interested in how the other half lives, so it was with intrigue that it turned to the revelations about what the UK's 3,000 Lotto millionaires did with their jackpots.

As might be imagined, property, paying off mortgages and holidays ranked up there. Winners have purchased 7,958 homes with their cash, an average of 2.7 properties each, according to the Daily Mail. They have also paid off the mortgages of 3,700 friends and families.

While £7,100 was the average sum spent by a winner on their single most expensive holiday.

But there were also some slightly more surprising stats which caught the eye of editors.

"The prized investment for lottery jackpot winners... a caravan" says the Daily Telegraph, which reports that rather than forking out on fast cars, one in 10 jackpot winners cashes in on a caravan.

"Jacuzzis all round!" is the Daily Mail's headline, which discloses that a third of winners splash out on a hot tub.

However for those still waiting for their ticket to come up trumps, the Guardian has some consolatory news.

It says the 3,000 UK winners have already created another 3,780 millionaires among family and friends, as well as having contributed £750m to GDP.

And let's face it, not everyone wants a hot tub.

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