The Loop: Ship, starting with 'V' but no 'y' at the end


Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts from Twitter and Facebook.

Speed reading. It's easy to do, but fraught with danger. Read a word, quickly assume it says what you think it says, get on your high horse, let of a bit of steam - only to wish you had slowed it down a bit. So it was with this week's Magazine quiz, 7 days 7 questions (what we like to think of as the internet's favourite news quiz). We asked a question about shipbuilding in Portsmouth and showed a picture of a battleship being launched there in 1859. The name of the ship? There was a "V" and the beginning, but there wasn't a "y" at the end.

Sure enough, though, into the Magazine inbox flowed the emails. The outrage - "HMS Victory 1859??? Nelson died on her in 1805," one reader wrote. Another: "HMS Victory was launched in 1759, not 1859. That would have made Nelson's job all that harder." The first emailer spotted the error of their hastily sent correspondence and promptly issued a mea culpa. There was a queen on the throne in 1859. Enjoy the quiz - it's not a race.

Image caption HMS...

But thank you to Brian Ridley-Jones from Hampshire, who pointed out that the quiz had a stray "the". "HMS stands for Her (His) Majesty's Ship - you would not say the Her Majesty's Ship, so the use of the word 'the' in front of HMS is completely incorrect and entirely superfluous."

Readers in the UK will know that this has been the week of fireworks and bonfires. Our article on Tuesday wondered if the tradition of children making effigies of Guy Fawkes and then burning them on the bonfire - a rite of passage for generations - was still observed. Burning people, even when they are not actually real, seems to some to be... well... just weird.

There were many theories as to what had made times change, among them political correctness, health and safety, lazy children. We didn't think for a minute that it could be something we'd done that had made the difference. But John from St Helens asserts: "No wonder Guys are rare when people like your writer refer to 'Fireworks night'. What on earth is 'Fireworks night'? It's Bonfire Night - that is the whole point."

Image caption Remember this guy?

Perhaps it's just that children today have too many toys. That's at least the theory that Joanne Furniss posited on Wednesday, but any parent will know that the most fun comes from the cardboard box rather than the expensive present.

Jon Kettle tweeted to @BBCNewsMagazine that his child made a "ghost puppet out of lollipop and tissue". Caroline from Oxford emailed to say that her youngest son Alexander "colonised my aeroplane neck support cushion saying it was a life-ring and he needed to be saved."

Tom Bullock added: "I remember my father giving me the old Yellow Pages more than 20 years ago to play with. I turned it into many things including a cow and a swimming pool."

And the picture: Toastman - made by a child just of of bread and a potato - is courtesy of @RenterNomads. Heston, take note.

Our correspondent in Shanghai, John Sudworth, wrote this week about his slow recovery from Bell's Palsy, a little-understood condition which causes paralysis to one side of the face.

He wrote, "The hardest part for me, as well as the loss of my smile, was the inability to close my left eye. Bell's Palsy leaves sufferers with one eye stuck permanently wide open, unable even to blink, sometimes for months on end. Of course, the other, unaffected eye carries on as normal, merrily blinking away. So, for the record, my apologies to anyone who may have mistakenly thought I'd been winking at them for the past year or so. Except the barmaid in the Nag's Head. That was a wink."

Reader Angela Lawson thanked Sudworth, via our BBC News Magazine Facebook page, for "a really inspiring story".

"I too am a Bells Palsy sufferer, having had it twice in my life on either side of my face. It's not until you start to recover that you really appreciate the little things like beng able to smile, talk properly and close your eyes. I've been left with a couple of minor side effects like watery eyes and what looks like a squint after a few glasses of wine, but I'm lucky enough that I recovered. I only wish that I smiled as much as I did before the illness (think I got so used to not smiling in case people were horrified."

And finally three unrelated points. Andy from Broadstairs, potentially impressed by the heft of Will Self's vocabulary, writes: "What does valetudinarians mean Will? have you been at the thesaurus again?"

Tim Rackham writes: "Did you receive my story about the dead mole?" No Tim, we didn't.

And our wisest reader of the week is Elliot Metz (sometimes known as Skippy), from Kansas City, who tweets: "Without fail, I always find a fascinating story at @BBCNewsMagazine. Definitely worth a follow (and a browser bookmark)."

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