BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 10, 2013 - March 16, 2013

Your Letters

16:05 UK time, Friday, 15 March 2013

Ed, Thursday's Letters - Schoolboy error. In this case "without" means outside - the opposite of within. I'll get my coat as I'm not going without the building without it in this weather!
Jimlad, Paris

David of Cardiff, according to the OED, since 1910.
roarshock, Oregon

The last sentence here "where he was given tea, biscuits and curry chips" seems like redundant detail but does raise the question: what are curry chips? Did they mean 'curry and chips'?
MJ Simpson, Leicester

As two female Popes, well under 76, my daughter and I have felt seriously overlooked - especially as we both did Latin at school and can do the lingo - although we can see that living in new build houses without chimneys we are going to have some difficulties with sending up the white smoke...
Louise Pope, Birmingham

My Friday looked as if it were taking a turn for the better when I saw the headline 'MPs to examine whiplash claim levels'. How I looked forward to stories of male MPs cowering in dungeons before fierce leather-covered women wielding...Anyway, it wasn't about that.
John, Bath

Gregory III - a pope ahead of his time!
Jill B, Detroit "under new management"

10 things we didn't know last week

15:12 UK time, Friday, 15 March 2013

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

1. Plants lace their nectar with caffeine to keep pollinators loyal.
More details (New Scientist)

2. Hemingway never used a Moleskine notebook.
More details (Guardian)

3. You can attract beluga whales by singing underwater.
More details (Financial Times)

4. Shops get staff to strategically mess things up.
More details

5. The phallus-shaped Spartobranchus tenuis was an ancient relative of acorn worms.
More details

6. One of the Crossrail tunnelling machines is called 'Phyllis' after Phyllis Pearsall who produced the first A-Z.
More details (Crossrail)

7. On the net's most crime-ridden network - Spectranet in Nigeria - 62% of addresses controlled by the ISP send out spam.
More details

8. "Aunt" is the most popular pornographic search term in Syria.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

9. Dominic West is a disciple of guru Babaji.
More details (Financial Times)

10. Big eyes contributed to the Neanderthals' demise.
More details

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

Caption Competition

13:17 UK time, Friday, 15 March 2013

Comments (178)

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Chimp with watering can

This week a chimpanzee tends to a herb garden in Stirling. Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Gurney Nutting:

OK, so he doesn't know a lot about botany, but the manure's good.

5. Raven Clare:

In the eighties, the Russians sent us up in rockets. Now we're growing it. That's evolution for you!

4. SivAngel:

Radio 4 strongly denies that "anyone could present Gardeners' Question Time".

3. MagnumCarter:

"Well, things have certainly moved on since joining the RSC and a stint of voiceover work at Pixar, but I still have the teapot."

2. Gray Gable:

Some of the more sophisticated members of the group had come up with a less exposed method of marking their territory.

1. MightyGiddyUpGal:

Do my opposable thumbs look big in this?

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Friday, 15 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's hard to avoid celibacy. Well the discussion of it.

Metro splashes on the story of the priest with a hidden wife. The paper plays it straight but allows a hint of melodrama to suffuse proceedings.

The man's lawyer tells a court:

"So deeply in love was he that he was prepared to ignore the Catholic Church's ban on marriage, a secret which has been kept from almost everyone until now."

The courtroom then appears to morph into a Hollywood set. Did the collective intake of breath cause the jury to faint?

The lawyer - surely in a hushed tone - adds: "No, you didn't mis-hear me."

The couple were allegedly married on a Greek island and told only close friends. They didn't live together but went away on holidays: "Far from being celibate, they enjoyed a full and active sex life," the lawyer says in a tone of voice that one can only speculate about.

So that's one way to handle celibacy.

In stark contrast, the new pope dismissed thoughts of romance early on, according to the Daily Telegraph.

On its front page, the paper reveals a poignant story of unrequited love for young Pope Francis. Or Jorge as he was aged 12.

"The childhood sweetheart of Pope Francis disclosed yesterday that she had been forced to reject his boyhood offer of marriage, which eventually led him to devote his life to God."

Wow. That's some cause and effect. It almost beats that butterfly in China.

Anyway, the woman "known only as Amalia" says she received love notes from young Jorge. She even got a drawing of a house. "He had drawn for me a house which had a red roof and said that it was the house he was going to buy for me when we were married."

Then what happened?

I think we all know this is one story that doesn't end, "Reader, I married him." But you still want to hear the rest, right?

Well folks, Amalia's parents took a dim view of young love. They kept her away from Jorge. When he heard the news, he allegedly told her:

"If I can't marry you, I'll become a priest."

You can hear the voiceover as the violins begin to gently weep: "Reader, I never saw him again. And 64 years later he became pope."

Credits roll.

Your Letters

17:46 UK time, Thursday, 14 March 2013

A bumper crop of letters on Wednesday. Getting ahead for Thursday by any chance?
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

"Francis begins his challenging papacy with humility", is an example of a headline which would be way more entertaining in an opposite form... If he'd ended his easy papacy with arrogance, I'd be clicking straight away!
Jinja, Edinburgh, UK

Oh, so now I know which one's which!
Basil Long, Nottingham

BBC! Since when has "helluva" been a word?
David, Cardiff, south Wales

"Ancient phallus-shaped worm described". Described pretty accurately in the headline, I think.
Steve, Aberdeen, UK

It's clearly quite expensive to raise children in Bristol, as witnessed here and here!
Judith, Weybridge, Surrey

Rob (Wednesday's letters), your letter reminded me of the school hymn about a green hill, far away, without a city wall. Do many green hills actually have city walls?
Ed Loach, Clacton, UK

Re: Basil Long. Do keep reminding those in quiet carriage it's a quiet carriage. To list the number of times I've chose to be on one and others just enter and ignore the obvious signs loudly would be a long announcement itself
R.G, Watford, Herts.

Paper Monitor

16:36 UK time, Thursday, 14 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's an edition of Pope Monitor - sorry - today, as the newspapers riff off the newly-elected leader of the Catholic Church.

The Sun leads with "Hand of God", intelligently blending the new Pope Francis' Argentinian heritage with probably the only other thing the Sun knows to have come out of Argentina.

Old rival the Daily Mirror provides a fresh take. Wait for it.

"The New Hand of God".

Hmm...clunkier but technically more precise.

There's even a picture captioned "Old Hand" next to Maradona's famous original in case there's any confusion. OK, so, Old Hand, Maradona. New Hand, Pope. Got it.

But what Paper Monitor didn't quite get was Metro's "The Cross of Changes?" headline.

After some scratching of the head wondering what pun had been missed, a quick internet search revealed all.

The Cross of Changes was a 1993 album released by New Age band Enigma.

Ah, that makes perfect sense. The best puns are clearly ones that require an internet search and then still don't seem relevant.

Perhaps that's why the Daily Mail opted out of the Pope-punning on the P-opening day of Francis' leadership.

"At 76, can the first Pope born outside Europe for 1,300 years clean up his troubled church?"

Wordy, with a dash of mild ageism. Hmmmmm.

Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 13 March 2013

"Horsemeat scandal changing habits" followed by "Tesco buys Giraffe". Bravo.
Ian, Bristol

When I saw the headline "Tesco buys Giraffe restaurants", my first thought was "I knew there was something other than horse in those burgers".
Alan, Stockport, UK

I heard that Tesco bought Giraffe restaurant, so look out for their new range of pies and ready meals.
Adrian, Wednesbury

First StableGate, now this?
Probably not the first to write in along these lines, but hopefully in the top seven?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

So comedian Dave Allen was "Born outside Dublin". Er, weren't most of the people in the world?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Is this in the running for tongue-twisting headline of the year: Sick leave shark wrestler Paul Marshallsea sacked?
Henri, Sidcup

"LIVE: Smoke watch at Sistine Chapel"?!? Give me a day or so and you can show "LIVE: Paint drying from Mark's place".
Mark, Reading, UK

I whole-heartedly agree with this story. Announcements are too long, whether recorded or not. In the morning I travel from Nottingham and the initial announcement is so long that it carries on until they have to announce the arrival at the first station some six minutes later. I sometimes think the caterers feel they are auditioning as they reel off every single item of snackage they have available. That said, there is one announcer on the Cross-Country train from Leicester who always does it with a giggle in her voice, often coming out with comments such as "This morning we DO have a working ticket machine for the moment, however the rear set of doors have given up and gone back to sleep."
Basil Long, Nottingham

Paper Monitor, I can't help thinking that Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce should have been forced to share a cell in the same prison. This would have been sufficient punishment for both of them.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Since the UK experiences "weather" all day every day, has the transport network so quickly failed that any weather will now bring us to a complete halt? *raises fist angrily at all instances of sun, cloud, wind, precipitation (or not), etc.*
Alex, Birmingham, UK

Re: Slow moving traffic in Crawley - Drivers were getting very frustrated in Tooting.
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

Paper Monitor

13:07 UK time, Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's part of being British. You don't kick a man when he's down. Except when he's a former minister who's gone to prison.

The red tops delight in the alleged "welcome" for Chris Huhne at HMP Wandsworth.

The Daily Star splashes on how a bullied Huhne "begged for a prison move just hours into his eight month sentence".

The result: he was taken to the segregation wing. "Someone on the block found out he was a millionaire, so as soon as he was on the wing there were loads of people after him," a source tells the paper.

The Sun splashes on how a warder informed him over the tannoy that breakfast is served.

"Order! Order! The Rt Hon Member for Wandsworth. Come to the Office." It prompted howls of laughter from other lags.

The paper gets Jimmy Donovan - "in Wandsworth six times" - to describe how the disgraced Lib Dem will fare in the jail.

"Huhne will be like a lamb to the slaughter. The inmates will be queuing up to make money out of him."

Supposedly you can buy anything in Wandsworth from mobile phones to drugs to protection. It's a grim place, Donovan says, with rats feeding off the inedible food that prisoners throw out of their cell windows.

On the opposite page Vicky Pryce is given a rough guide to HMP Holloway by Susan May who served time there for murder. Rough is the operative word.

"Holloway at night is like something you've never experienced before...They shout the most terrible abuse, and sometimes they set fire to their bed sheets, so then the corridors fill with smoke, too."

There's something almost Dickensian about it all - caged animals waiting to tear each other apart. It's perhaps a little confusing for readers fed a diet of stories about prison being all Sky Sports, soft furnishings and en suite bathrooms.

It's comforting for readers to know that Wandsworth makes Dante's inferno look like Ford Open Prison. Especially when there's an MP inside.

Your Letters

14:54 UK time, Tuesday, 12 March 2013

"Frankfurt airport, Europe's third biggest, is shut down by heavy snow in Germany". So Heathrow hasn't been shut down by heavy snow in Germany? Surely only a matter of time before that excuse is used.
Martin, Luxembourg

I'm surprised that sniffer dogs didn't find the stowaway cat. But perhaps the airport is still waiting for the lab report.
GDW, Edinburgh

PMs reference to Fritz Spiegl caused me to look him up on a well known internet encyclopaedia. This told me he was (amongst other things) a "humorist". I've always wondered what the difference between a humorist and a comedian is so I looked that up too. Apparently "The material written or performed by humorists tends to be more subtle and cerebral than the material created by stand-up comics and comedy writers". The list of examples included Dom Joly. Have I been missing the subtle, cerebral nature of Trigger Happy TV all these years?
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

Picture 10. Slow moving traffic in Crawley!
MCK, Stevenage

Paul (Monday's letters); On first reading I thought your last sentence was part of the announcement as opposed to an observation.
Dec, Belfast

Paper Monitor

10:22 UK time, Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Practically no references to "Greek tragedy", very few "relationship experts" to offer their advice, and nobody on hand to talk about the "political fall-out" - Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce's sentencing is played pretty straight by most of today's papers.

Not much opinion is offered, but little needs to be added to Mr Justice Sweeney's summing up - his verdict that this was "a tragedy of their own making" provides the headline for both the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.

What stands out are the pictures of the convicted pair - on the front pages of the Times and the Independent, a shot of the former energy secretary arriving in court, a camera jammed up against his face, sums up the sorry theatre of the whole affair.

Meanwhile Pryce, snapped inside the prison van taking her to Holloway, bears the same impassive expression she maintained throughout her trial.

The Sun is the only paper which feels the need to provide its own verdict on Chris Huhne:

An arrogant, poisonous hypocrite with irrational obsessions over Europe and windmills.

But the mood of the papers is better reflected by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail, who reflects back the mood in Westminster on the afternoon of the sentencing:

Is it wrong to feel some pity for Huhne? All that effort spent on a political career, from his earliest Oxford days to those interminable policy meetings at Lib Dem HQ... not to mention those punch and nibbles fundraisers with dotty party activists - all wasted.

Finally, something Paper Monitor likes to call a there-but-for-the-grace moment.

The first edition (they must have spotted it later) of the Daily Express misses out the question mark on the headline: "Just how ill is the Queen."

They also miss the question mark off the words "The World's Greatest Newspaper" in the masthead.

Oh no, hold on, that's meant as a statement.

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Monday, 11 March 2013

David (Your Letters, Friday), I believe the installation of CAT scan technology at airports was deemed too expensive.
Jim, Crowborough

36% of people think they have nothing in common with their neighbours (today's random stat). At least they probably have that in common...
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

In response to this story, I was once waiting for a train at Fulham Broadway underground station late one Saturday night when the following came across the PA system, "This is a message for the couple on Platform 1: The act you are about to perform is illegal in public and you will be arrested if you continue". The Fat Controller is watching you!
Paul, Marlow, UK

Re David (Friday's letters) and Bisou the stowaway cat. I'm curious why, upon noticing the cat missing, the relative at home would suspect that Bisou had travelled with its owner. That would surely be a long way down the list of likely explanations?
Richard, Aberdeen, UK

Erratic in construction and doesn't scan very well. Just like their self-service checkouts then?
Graeme, Surrey, UK

Paper Monitor

11:16 UK time, Monday, 11 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

On a slow Monday morning, the choice in today's papers is not so much about the lead stories, which are - to use celebrity magazine parlance - "worryingly thin, but the lead pictures.

Readers can take their pick from the following portraits: Paul Gascoigne, Vicky Pryce or Nick Clegg.

Firstly in the Sun and the Mirror, Paul Gascoigne is pictured just out of rehab, and looking a lot better than he did a month or so ago. SIR ALEX PLEA SAVED MY LIFE reads the Sun's headline. The Mirror - in a tacit and sad acknowledgement that it's been here before - says: "It''s all down to you now, mate."

Then there's Vicky Pryce. The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail features snaps of the economist - who's due to be sentenced today - buying cheap-looking bin bags, as if this somehow encapsulates the pathos of her situation.

PRYCE STOCKS UP IN CASE OF LONG STAY AWAY reads the Telegraph headline, as though she was getting ready for a five-year stretch.

Finally, Nick Clegg. Why is he pictured in the Mail? Not because he has any connection to the paper's main political story - a riposte to church criticism of government welfare reforms by the "devout Roman Catholic" minister Ian Duncan Smith.

Have you noticed how, in the newspaper lexicon, Roman Catholics are always "devout", and protestants "staunch" in the same way that mining communities are always "close-knit"? (With kudos to Fritz Spiegl.)

No, Mr Clegg is pictured, because he's making an arm movement that looks a bit like (but isn't) dancing Gangnam style.

This rather makes Paper Monitor wonder if the Lib Dems are out of touch. After all, as any 11-year-old knows, Gangnam Style is sooo two months ago.

If Clegg were really down with the kids, he'd be doing the Harlem Shake.

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