BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for February 3, 2013 - February 9, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

16:02 UK time, Friday, 8 February 2013

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

1. Cockroaches groom themselves to improve their sense of smell.
More details

2. Hartlepool United has players called Hartley and Poole.
More details

3. Students can be awarded a £9,000 university bursary for being related to a grocer or a travelling salesman.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

4. It took Education Secretary Michael Gove seven attempts to pass his driving test.
More details (BBC Political Correspondent Gary O'Donoghue)

5. MPs drink more French wine than any other variety.
More details (Daily Mail)

6. Housing in the borough of Elmbridge in Surrey is worth more than all the property in Glasgow.
More details (The Financial Times)

7. Senior managers at Lego have to sit social media exams.
More details (Brand Republic)

8. Kasabian's tour bus always contains a variety pack of Walkers crisps.
More details (The Sun)

9. Wines with animals on the label are known as "critter wines" in the US.
More details (The Guardian))

10. Female hawksbill turtles can store sperm for 75 days.
More details (Science Daily)

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

Paper Monitor

15:55 UK time, Friday, 8 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When it comes to the tabloids' favourite Friday fodder, it doesn't get much better than a snap of a famous politician in a not-so photographic pose.

So it's hardly surprising that the red-tops had a field day when a fellow traveller snapped David Miliband caught napping on the London Underground.

"Mind the gap... David Miliband caught napping (and unzipped)" the Daily Mail says, revealing that the former Foreign Secretary was not only asleep, but seemingly also unaware that his flies were down.

"Politicians, as a general rule, enjoy being photographed on public transport. It enhances their green credentials and man-of-the-people appeal. At least David can console himself with the thought that the snap may finally draw attention away from his banana-brandishing moment at the Labour conference in 2008."

However the Daily Express thinks Miliband the elder made another faux pas:

"To add to the politician's embarrassment, Miliband was slumped in a seat reserved for disabled and elderly passengers, although the Tube was not busy at the time."

The picture was apparently taken at 3pm.

Paper Monitor thinks there may be some upsides to commuting in the rush hour.

Caption Competition

13:27 UK time, Friday, 8 February 2013


Caption Competition is now closed.

There is still no prize, except the traditional small quantity of kudos. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

Man in costume

This week a man in a pig costume makes a telephone call.

6. Alvin Olaf:
Speak up. There's a lot of crackling.

5. Catherine O:
Is that you, Babe?

4. Pendragon:
But I can't think of an ending, so you're on your own there, Mr. Orwell.

3. bradmer:
I can't remember - am I supposed to go to the market, stay at home, have roast beef (or not), or go home??

2. SkarloeyLine:
"Yes, I'd love to come to dinner. But, er... bring an apple in my mouth?"

1. Raven Clare:
Hello, Darling. I'm at the airport. Apparently, I can't fly.

Your Letters

13:13 UK time, Friday, 8 February 2013

Is there such a thing as collaborative nominative determinism?
Sander, London

Everytime I hear or read the name of the main contributor to this report it always brings a wry smile to my face, but the mention of him by dropping his first name and using the Mr tag has brought my enjoyment to a whole new level.
Martin, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Isn't it a bit odd to run this story and this story at the same time?
Henri, Sidcup

Loving the timing of your Shergar feature. What made you think of running that right now?
Judy Owens

Mike (Thursday's letters) pronunciation of acronyms and the words they represent are frequently different. We don't pronounce NATO "nuhtaw".
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

How can you make your desk lunch nicer? By reading BBC News Magazine while you eat, of course!
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ

Henri, Sidcup (Thursday's letters). Simply change your name to Basil Long, Nottingham and it's guaranteed to get printed. Just look below your letter.
MCK, Stevenage

Your Letters

15:19 UK time, Thursday, 7 February 2013

On Gif vs Jif - given that GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format sure the pronounciation debate is over!
Mike Thomas, West Kirby, UK

I am pleased to announce to your Royal Dining Etiquette expert that every single one of the members of the Royal Family who works in my office and ate at their desks this lunch time (a couple went to KFC so I discounted them) followed his recommendations.It makes me so proud to be British!
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

I wrote exactly the same letter as Howard (Wednesday's letters) and you printed his. I was so excited to see the headline on the Magazine page make reference to my letter. Only it wasn't mine. Sulks.
Henri, Sidcup

This is the least surprising news this year. After all, everybody knows that the internet is powered by photos of cats.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Fi (Wednesday's letters), you're thinking of a brand of surface cleaner, which was rebranded to prevent confusion with a brand of lemon juice. The rebranding worked, and my pancakes taste a lot better as a result.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

The video on the front of the news page was entitled What do moving planets sound like? I excitedly clicked on the link, full of awed anticipation, that I was about to hear some audible recording, or at least a simulation of what a planet might actually sound like as it moves through space. By the end of the video, that question remained unanswered. However, if I had clicked on the link, excited to finally know the answer to "What does a man playing a violin sound like?" then I would have been deeply satisfied and sitting in silent awe by the end of the piece.
Christian Cook, Street, UK

Thanks for cleaning that up Fi, Gloucestershire (Wednesday's letters). I'll get me marigolds...
Jennifer, Dundee

A "labelling issue? Could this be a nomination for understatement of the year?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

09:37 UK time, Thursday, 7 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Like it or loathe it, there's no escaping the usual rigmarole in the papers in the run up to Valentine's Day.

First up, the Daily Mail brings us an abundance of stats about the nation's romantic status.

"Call me Cupid!" it cries, as it reveals that a third of us have fallen in love at first sight.

However not all the findings - discovered by a flower delivery company, of course - are quite so romantic.

One in six Brits falls head over heels for a work colleague but keeps their feelings under wraps, the paper says, while 11% of men confess to falling for a friend's wife or girlfriend.

The study's next tip? Other than revealing that 20% of women believe love should be declared with flowers (no surprises there), it says 41% want a handwritten love letter.

Talking of handwritten letters, the paper also brings us news that writing them - three times a year, to be exact - is the secret to married couples staying together.

But far from penning sweet nothings, the letters should catalogue a couple's rows in "seven-minute essays... written from someone else's perspective", it says, as that will enable couples to move on and distance themselves from the situation.

There's still one whole week to go before Valentine's Day. Paper Monitor is bracing itself for seven days of similar love-themed stories.

Your Letters

16:16 UK time, Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Ray (Tuesday letters), I believe the correct term is: "It's complicated".
Howard, London

Rob, he looks more like Lord Farquaad to me.
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

Personally I think Paper Monitor is an advance Turing Machine with adaptive gender technology. I'll get my 43 4F 41 54
James, Cyberspace

Surely Paper Monitor must be a committee? Otherwise, how would he/she/it ever get a holiday? I'll get back to my round table.
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

Regarding the "gif" v "jif" debate, surely it was rebranded "Cif" some years ago. Or am I not helping...?!?
Fi, Gloucestershire

Paper Monitor

15:17 UK time, Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One of the more unforeseen consequences of Richard III's decision to fight at Bosworth Field in 1485 is the appearance in today's Sun of a minor rock star singing Leicester's praises.

"Curries, Engelbert, space centre, Attenborough, crisps, Elephant Man, Lineker...why I love Leicester by Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian," runs the headline.

Paper Monitor is as fond of the solid East Midlands city as the next man or woman. It seems a bit random though, this paean to the terroir of Showaddywaddy and Engelbert Humperdink.

Then the penny drops. It's all because of those bones dug up in that Leicester car park.

The DNA tests have now confirmed them to be Richard III as even a subsistence farmer in Papua New Guinea has surely by now heard.

But still. Leicester's part in the King Richard story is, erm, a little after the event.

According to Shakespeare, our last Plantagenet monarch uttered the line "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" shortly before dying. Was that a bid to escape the bathos of being excavated from the Greyfriars car park in New Street?

The article may be tenuous. But there's nothing like a good list. Red Leicester, Deep Purple's keyboard player, Queen's bassist, curry, Muzzy Izzet, John Merrick... there are no shortage of icons to celebrate.

And then there's the revelations. Of Walkers Crisps, Pizzorno writes: "As a band we are loyal to them. We always take variety packs on the tour bus."

Now that IS rock n' roll.

Your Letters

17:36 UK time, Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Jeff (Monday's letters), you do realize this is a British site - I'm pretty sure most of the BBC's readership thinks you have an accent - not just those of us from Boston. Just because your accent was popular for a few decades among newscasters for having fewer distinctive features doesn't mean you don't have one. Anyone not from the Midwest can clearly hear how nasal many of you speak. And I'd never heard anyone say "jif" before for "gif".
Nadja, Virginia, USA (but originally Boston)

"It doesn't look like the face of a tyrant." What was he expecting? Bald head, facial scar, and white cat on his lap? If tyrants were easy to spot, we wouldn't have had any!
Rob, London, UK

The Magazine yesterday took the momentous step of referring to "An atheist church". I'm look forward to a future where religion is irrelevant in news stories and Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations are simply referred to individually as "A monotheist church". Or am I reading too much into this and it's just that no-one has yet come up with a name for this "church"?
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

Personally, Lewis (Monday Letters), I'd be more interested in whether or not PM was single, married or 'in a relationship' (as I believe it is know known since social media took over our lives). Gender only matters to those with no sense of adventure!
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

Paper Monitor

12:35 UK time, Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"A very middle class stripper"

Could the Daily Mail have been more delighted than to have a reason to trot out this headline?

The story goes that Harry Styles blah blah blah 19th birthday blah blah blah lap dance blah blah saucy antics blah blah "my daughter's not a stripper" blah.

Can you guess what comes next?

Blah blah blah "...£1.1million five bedroom townhouse in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey..." blah blah.

Paper Monitor is most curious. How does the Mail get its house price figures? Presumably, when doorstopped, the very middle class not-a-stripper didn't pause after her "no comment" to add that the family home had recently been valued at £1.1m, and that yes, it did indeed have five bedrooms.

Does the Mail have a database listing the value of every house in the country (and beyond) just in case one of the inhabitants might perform a lap dance for a spotlit pop moppet? Does it have a tame real estate agent chained in the basement of Mail Towers? A crystal ball?

Wonder what figure it would give for Paper Monitor's abode?

Your Letters

15:19 UK time, Monday, 4 February 2013

You're never to old to spot nominative determinism
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Re 10 things, I've never heard anyone refer to gifs as "jifs". Must be a regional thing. Like the way people from Boston think people from the midwest speak with an accent.
Jeff, Chicago, United States

This American has never heard any other American pronounce "gifs" as "jifs".
Dennis Rayl, Eagan, Minnesota, USA

With regard to Been and Gone: Smoke on Water legend and civil rights campaigner. Don't you think that the Jon Lord passing away in July 2012 deserved a mention?! After all, he did write and perform the song from the article's title!
Adrian Bryan, Norwich, UK

PM's gender does matter - it's Valentine's Day soon!
Lewis Graham, Hitchin, UK

So we learn from 10 things that "Male birds become more attractive to females when they go grey." I think George Clooney might be rather offended to be referred to as a "male bird". Perhaps, "bloke" would've been more appropriate. I know what they mean though...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

12:25 UK time, Monday, 4 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ever wondered whether the perfect home existed? The Daily Mail brings us news that it does.

Apparently it's two miles away from the supermarket, 10miles from the coast, five miles from the countryside and within walking distance of a pub where the landlord knows your name.

The house should have good neighbours, off-road parking, a manicured lawn, a spare room, an en suite bathroom, an open fire, a comfy sofa, a large bed and a little privacy.

There will also be two pets - ideally dogs rather than cats. Oh and two 37in TVs.

However perhaps not a buggy positioned infront of either of the TVs. That's because the paper says the government's family "tsar" Louise Casey has warned some three-year-olds are unable to walk because they have spent too much time strapped in their buggies infront of said TVs.

"They are so used to being put in a buggy in front of the telly and one of them could not chew," it cites her as saying.

In other news related to chewing - although Paper Monitor stresses this is not appropriate for three-year-olds - the paper reports chewing gum is good for the brain.

Chewers are more alert than non-chewers, and reaction times are 10% faster, it says.

Paper Monitor just doesn't want to see it stuck to pavements outside that perfect home.

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