BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for February 10, 2013 - February 16, 2013

Your Letters

14:50 UK time, Friday, 15 February 2013

I got 7/7 on the Quiz of this Week's news - first...time..ever! *faints*
SarahKay, Cannock, Staffs

Here you go Vicky S, an animal with a nominatively determinist name.
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

But how many London busses would fit inside it? We need to know!
Paul Lawrence, Cirencester

Sorry, Jenny (Thursday's letters), the name of the character in Much Ado About Nothing is Benedick - even more unusual.
Kathy, Caerphilly

How many other Monitorites glanced at this story and thought "That's a big fuss for such a short tunnel".
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Stablegate? (Rik, Tuesday's letters)... Is that because we're shutting the gate after the horse has been bolted down?
James, Stockport

10 things we didn't know last week

14:15 UK time, Friday, 15 February 2013

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

1. Urban blackbirds grow up faster than their country cousins.
More details

2. Fidgeting is good for men's concentration but bad for women's concentration.
More details (Daily Mail)

3. For every person in the US bitten by a shark, 25 get bitten by New Yorkers.
More details (BBC Radio 4)

4. Urban fox numbers haven't risen in 30 years.
More details

5. Dame Maggie Smith has never watched an episode of Downton Abbey.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. A Finnish radio station broadcasts news in Latin.
More details

7. Members of Congress start taking the best seats 12 hours before the president gives his State of the Union speech.
More details (Washington Post)

8. Workers at Amazon's warehouse in Rugeley walk past a life-sized cardboard image of a blonde woman who says: "This is the best job I have ever had!"
More details (Financial Times)

9. Victorian students put crocodile skins on their walls.
More details

10. Sea slugs have "disposable penises".
More details

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

Paper Monitor

11:27 UK time, Friday, 15 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Daily Telegraph letters page is tearing itself apart over beards.

Is facial hair a sign of the noble savage or classic phoney?

The beard camp comes out fighting. And Paper Monitor learns a new word - pogonophobia - for the haters. "Is the incidence of pogonophobia directly related to an inability to grow a beard?" Andrew J Fountain asks.

Some things are too good to be true. "Sir - I am sorry to learn that, after 35 years' commissioned service to the Crown, I am untrustworthy because I have grown a beard in retirement (Letters, February 14)," writes Colonel Philip Barry (retd). A bona fide retired colonel in the Telegraph - you couldn't make it up.

He is irked that a fellow reader has called into question beard growers' integrity. His decision to sprout is nothing more than a desire to protect his skin after "so many years of assault by razor-blade", he explains.

The theory that beards are associated with cowards in the Great War is bayonetted by another reader. "This cannot be true. We had a bearded monarch, George V, and Jack Tar, a member of the more successful service for most of that war, was on every Player's cigarette packet with a 'full set'."

But the beard love-in can only be allowed to go on so long. "I have always believed that men who grew beards did so because a) they were too lazy to shave; b) they wanted to cover their acne; c) they wanted to look like Jesus," a naysayer from Surrey writes.

Paper Monitor would add d) they live in Dalston and own a fixed gear bicycle.

A reader in Berkhamsted has the last word. Reminiscing about the only white minister in Kenyatta's governing party - yes this is the Telegraph, chaps - he recalls a conversation at the Nakuru club. An old buffer is heard to exclaim of the politician's mutton-chops: "I wouldn't trust him. Looks like a weasel peering out of a bull's bottom."

And there you have it. Perfidious facial hair, the perils of decolonisation. Sundowners all round!

Your Letters

16:28 UK time, Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hi Benedict Milne, you are not alone. My first name is Katharine, but everyone had their own way of spelling it, which really annoyed me, so I renamed myself Kate, which most people seem to be able to handle, spelling-wise.
Kate, Bromley, UK

Oh no, not here as well. I thought only neigh-bouring countries were affected. Sorry, I'll get my saddle-bag
Jonathan, Freising, Germany

If Ben wants to please his parents, he can try wearing a nun's outfit in France and call himself Soeur Benedict!SveninBasel, Basel, Switzerland

I think you'll find it was a bronze maquette that was valued at one million pounds by the Antiques Roadshow... not the actual Angel of the North.
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

To Benedict Milne, how about Benedict of Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing? He got half the best lines.

Paper Monitor

15:24 UK time, Thursday, 14 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

This is getting messier than a false start at the Grand National.

There are loose horsemeat stories running in all directions. Shadowy Dutch middle men in the Guardian, a millionnaire factory boss living it up on yachts and "F1 jaunts" in The Sun.

And in the Mirror? Actual Grand National runners being carved up in front of our very eyes. Possibly.

The paper has exclusive pictures from inside a horsemeat abbatoir 30 minutes before government officials ordered it to be shut down.

The factory's owner, it turns out, has the contract to remove Grand National carcasses from Aintree.

Craig Brown risks starting a national pun shortage in the Daily Mail with a Findus Guide to Culinary Terms, including A la Carthorse, boil-in-the-nag and, oh go on then, if you must, Horse d' Oeuvre.

But what, wonders Paper Monitor, about David Beckham? What is his role in this quintessentially British tabloid stew?

He could eat legal horsemeat all day if he wanted to, now that he is a Paris St Germain player.

But, reports the Daily Star, he is pining for simpler pleasures. He is to have pie and mash flown out to France.

The source for the Star's story is "friends" of the veteran midfielder and the only quote comes from Tony, of Tony's pie and mash shop, who reckons Becks is odds-on to order up his favourite dish once he gets settled in Paris.

Sounds like a non-runner to Paper Monitor.

Caption Competition

12:29 UK time, Thursday, 14 February 2013

Comments (171)

Caption Competition is now closed.

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

Fancy dress people

This week, revellers in New Orleans don fancy dress.

6. Bellhouse Hartwell:
Of course, we only do this for the Monet

5. Reeve Burgess:
Two campaigners from "Bring Back Clowns to the BBC Magazine Monitor Caption Competition" show their delight at their success

4. Martin Walter:
"No, you don't look mad enough," said Munch. "Next!"

3. MightyGiddyUpGal:
May we interest you in double glazing?

2. grazvalentine:
When did you update to Windows 8?

1. penny-farthing:
Facebook.....the early days.

Your Letters

15:40 UK time, Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I suppose if there are going to be sea creatures with detachable penises it's only fair that one of them has a nominatively determinist name like periwinkle.
Vicky S, East London

To Benedict Milne, how can you forget Sir Benedict Ainslie? Knighted this year for winning five medals in consecutive Olympics, four of them gold. Your parents were right - Sir Benedict does have a nice ring to it.
Jo, London

I'm disappointed that BBC Food has been dragged into the current food scandal with this.
Steve, Aberdeen

Am I the only person who thinks that the Met Office Yellow Snow Warnings should start Do Not Eat?
Ralph, Cumbria

Paper Monitor

10:47 UK time, Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's hard to know where to look. Pecs, ceps and six pack in all their rippling, sinuous glory. In moody black and white.

A full page in the Sun shows Cristiano Ronaldo stripped to the waist in a pair of jeans above the following Q&A.

Q: "Can you walk past a mirror without looking at yourself?"

A: "I promise you the maximum is one minute, I swear. When you've good hair like me, it's easy to style.

Ah, you think, shaking your head. Everything you know about the Portuguese goal machine is true. He loves himself. Vanity, vanity all is vanity.

But to be fair to Ronaldo - admittedly not what football fans see as their USP - the full interview on the facing page gives a slightly different view of the man from Madeira. His answer to the question reads as follows: "(Laughs) Ha, this is not true, this is a joke! I don't remember who said that about me, but it's not true. I'm not standing in front of a mirror for 30 minutes. I promise you the maximum is one minute, I swear. When you have good hair like me it's easy to style it."

The other significant moment in the interview? His use of 12 verys in a row. Asked if he would ever play for Manchester City he says nothing is impossible in football. Before taking the interview equivalent of a dive: "But I can say it would be very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very difficult to play at Man City. VERY difficult because of Manchester United."

Verily, the boy doth protest too much.

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Tuesday, 12 February 2013

How many romans? (Sorry, but someone had to say it.)
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

Neil (Monday letters) I've been expecting StableGate myself.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Well, that settles it then. It's a substance.
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Graham (Monday's letters) I would have thought sea level.
Suzie Curran, London

Colin, Exeter, fear not, you can add some (Loch) Brandy to your diet for some balance.
Jennifer, Dundee, Scotland

Re Paper Monitor, Monday, and the Daily Express's weather missives. 'Some perspective is required'. Indeed. Also a very large pinch of salt, as George Monbiot explains here
Richard, Aberdeen, UK

Just to point out, no doubt along with many other pedants, that Cardinal Turkson would not be the "first African Pope" if elected - there have been at least four so far. None for the best part of two millennia, of course, but...
Edward Green, London, UK

Paper Monitor

15:15 UK time, Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

You'll have seen the jokes circulating on social media.

The one about what the Pope has for breakfast, for instance. Ex-Benedict, boom boom! Or the cartoon of the Vatican topped with the incredulous speech bubble: "He's giving up WHAT for Lent?!"

So how have the redtops handled the Pope's shock resignation? The Daily Mirror starts off playing it with a straight bat - "I'M TOO SICK TO GO ON" - before adding "ILL PAPA" on an inside page.

Perhaps inspired by the aforementioned gags, the Sun's headline choice is typically waggish: "RATZ ALL, FOLKS!"

And the Independent opts for a headline so detailed there's no need to read any of the accompanying pages of analysis:

Frail Benedict XVI becomes the first pope to resign for nearly 600 years - and plunges his Church into turmoil"

And The Times gets down to the serious business of assessing his wardrobe, headlined "Let the Devil wear Prada - the man in the Vatican was dressed by Christ".

Interest in Benedict XVI's sartorial choices began when he sported a snazzy pair of red slipper-style shoes - widely believed to be vintage Prada - a year after his election... he clearly enjoys even more flamboyant headgear than his predecessor, using taller mitres and reviving the festive, Father Christmas-style Camauro red wool cap with white fur trim that had not been worn in public since 1963.

This is, after all, a man named as Esquire magazine's Accessoriser of 2007. Which is some achievement.

Your Letters

17:35 UK time, Monday, 11 February 2013

"Dogs understand human perspective" - wow, one up to them because I still don't understand the position of my Yorkshire Terrier on the banking crisis.
Mark, Reading, UK

What's the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year (or, alternatively, between Record of the Year and Album of the Year)?
Basil Long, Nottingham

At first glance at this story, I thought the Pope had announced his resignation via text message. I couldn't work out who he sent it to though.
HB, Birmingham

From my local Cornish news: "Porthtowan's growing sand dunes concern locals", Jack O'Shea from the Porthtowan Dunes Group said: "We have a very low beach in the valley,..". How low compared to other beaches? I'll get me bucket and spade.
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

With all the recent global sporting scandals going on I was wondering why I haven't read about Dopegate, Drug-gate or even Fixing-gate....
Neil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Re this story: I suspect there could be problems with finding Arran or Islay in your food, too. I'll stick to my diet of Rhum and Eigg.
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

Okay, hands up who else read (a href="">'Bayeux tapestry panel nears completion' and feared that 'Monkey Jesus fresco woman' had got her needle and thread out?
Christian Cook, Street, UK

Paper Monitor

15:49 UK time, Monday, 11 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sometimes the old ones are the best.

"Arctic chaos to last a week" the front page of the Daily Express screams.

The paper with staple splashes - Diana, Maddy, asylum seekers - opts for another old favourite. Snow.

"Britain was today in the grip of an Arctic blast with up to eight inches of snow set to wreak havoc."

The cause? Forecasters blame a "battle" between mild, moist air and a colder front. As with all the best stories it comes to an elemental battle between Good and Evil.

And like that bit in the A Team with the upbeat music where they fit out a new jeep, you can almost hear the snow ploughs revving.

"With more heavy snow on the way, 2,000 gritters across the country were gearing up for the busiest few days of an already biting winter.

A forecaster at Vantage Weather Services is quoted as saying south eastern England could see eight inches of snow. Night time temperatures could fall to -15C. A different forecaster warns of "a very severe spell of winter weather ahead."

The impact is reduced by a bullet point at the end.

"A huge blizzard with hurricane-force winds has battered the north-eastern US and Canada, cutting power to 650,000 homes and leaving at least eight people dead."

It goes on: "More than three feet of snow was dumped on the region in a few hours. Cars were entombed in drifts and many householders could not open their doors."

One might argue that some perspective is required.

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