BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the all-on-one-page home for some of our most popular features, including the Caption Comp, 10 Things, and your letters. The Monitor is updated every weekday, with new stuff at the top.


10 buses by John Murray

Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

1. Britain is almost alone among Western countries in favouring lower-grade gold for its jewellery, preferring nine-carat rather than the purer and pricier 18-carat standard elsewhere.

2. Running a car costs the average motorist £101 a week, according to the RAC.

3. Trekkies will already know this, but the first name of Scotty in Star Trek was Montgomery.

4. In 1911, Pablo Picasso was one of the suspects arrested for the theft of the Mona Lisa.

5. While phone and computer makers try to sell flashy new palmtops, thousands of people are - allegedly - still using a device which Apple discontinued in 1998. The Worldwide Newton Association is holding its first conference this weekend.

6. Until Friday, the fastest bus in London was an old fashioned red double decker, registration number ALD 971B. Unlike other buses, according to reports, this one did not have a speed regulator and so could go above 30mph. The Routemaster, the classic London bus design, was retired from key routes this week.

7. There is a world record for being able to squirt liquids out of a human eye. The existing record is 8.7 feet (2.65m), but a Turkish man claims to have broken the record with a 9.2 feet (2.8m) squirt.

8. Motorcyclists can now get air-conditioning to use on their bikes, thanks to an Israeli inventor. The system, which puts cool air into a thermal vest, cost £278,000 to develop.

9. Meanwhile, air conditioned jackets costing £87 each, are all the rage in Japan which is having a particularly hot summer.

10. Historic footnote of the week. Greg Dyke was on the Atkins diet at the time of the Hutton Report, he revealed in extracts of his memoirs published this week.

If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it. Thanks to Bryce Cooke.

Your e-mail address

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


Your Friday challenge, should you choose to accept it...

Paul Newman, epicurean and sometime actor, was in London this week to promote the charitable work funded by his food company, Newman's Own.

But the Oscar-winning actor is not the only celebrity to crossover into a culinary venture.

We expect it of Jamie Oliver and his like - after all, they are professional chefs. But some celebrities have a less obvious connection grub.

Terence Stamp, the swinging 60s actor, has a range of wheat-free bread that goes by the name of The Stamp Collection, while jockey Frankie Dettori is a purveyor of frozen pizzas, under the brand Frankie Dettori's Italian Foods.

So which other celebrity faces would you want to see on the shelves of your local supermarket, and what food would they be best associated with? (Entries now closed.)

Spicy Tim curry and Pure Alan sugar
Matt J

How about Reese Witherspoon marketing a brand of very, very strong tea?
Kip, Norwich

Marshall Mathers should market a range of citrus drinks: Lemoneminem.
Suzanne, Oxford, UK

Halle's Berries could be found in the fruit and veg aisle.
Rikki Tissier, Essex, UK

Bob Marley could make a range of doughnuts with Jam'in.
Kieran Harrod, Derby, UK

Stephen Fry could sell a whole range of things... from cooking oil to bacon and eggs.
Jen, UK

The Kate Moss celery range
Jon Keen , Sandhurst, UK

Katie Price chicken fillets?
David JW, England

Jack Klugman should bring out a range of fruit products. I for one would love to see "Quincy Quince"
Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

Eminem to launch his own sandwich business: The Gangster Wrap!
Glenn J, UK

GMTV jolly person Lorraine and her new range of sheep's visual organ delicacies; Kelly's Eyes
John C, Oldham

Paula Radcliffe: Fun-size Snickers (You'll have to work out for yourself why.)
Neil Webber, Bristol

Jade Goody Kebabs, although I know i wouldn't be eating it.
Tony, Berkshire, UK


Day three of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

The journey goes on. Our humble postcard, being sent from one Magazine reader to another to test the Post Office's next day delivery service, safely negotiates its third hurdle.

Mark Langford, Suffolk
Jacqui Mulholland posted the card yesterday in Falkirk, and it arrived safely this morning with teacher Mark Langford, who lives 360 miles away in Beccles, Suffolk.

Mark says: "Our post has been very variable. I think it varies a lot with each individual postie. We've recently had a new one here - but I don't think their jobs are made any easier by the amount of junk mail they have to deliver."

Mark is now posting the card on to the next volunteer who - to preserve the integrity of the test - shall remain secret until Monday. One clue though - the postcard feels like spending the weekend by the seaside.


It's time for winning entries in the Magazine's weekly caption competition.

This week, a foolhardy spectator is forced to make an ungainly retreat at a bull-run in a Madrid suburb, Spain.

6. Graham Radford, UK
"and take the rest of your English footballers with you."

5. Rory, Sheffield
Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen reflects that a "bright, energising red" probably wasn't the best choice for his bull-ring revamp.

4. Sara Whitaker, Cyprus
Illustrations for mothers rules, number 17: "Always wear clean underpants for those unexpected moments like being run over by a bus or gored by a bull."

3. Jack, UK
Superman has a wardrobe malfunction.

2. Ian Prideaux, London
Bull: "I learnt that one from Beckham - over the bar he goes."

1. Pat Murphy, UK
Oh dear, and that's four faults for a refusal at the last fence.


Day two of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

Hurdle two safely navigated by the Post Office. Yesterday, Andrew Robson from Oxford received our postcard and posted it to the next Magazine reader and volunteer in the chain - Jacqui Mulholland, from Laurieston, Falkirk (331 miles, or a six-hour drive, away).

Jacqui Mulholland, Falkirk
The postcard arrived safely this morning at 0932BST, Jacqui tells us.

"Our post can be a bit hit and miss, but it arrived safe and sound. We have had quite a few instances of late deliveries and some cases of letters getting lost. When they first moved to a single delivery we didn't think it would affect us much because our village only had one delivery anyway, but there were times when it was coming at two or three o'clock.

"Things seem to have settled down now."

Jacqui is now posting the letter on to its next volunteer recipient - check back with this page tomorrow to see if it arrives.


In response to Ray Booth's request for an indeterminate unit of time between a 'jiffy' and a 'while' (Monitor Letters, Wednesday), I'll forward an answer in just a mo.
Alan Cotter

Re: Ray Booth's question? That will be a "tad" then?
Phil Mason
Macclesfield, UK

How about a "bit"?
Chris King
Helsinki, Finland

Re: Not-so-little Britain, 1 September. It seems that, for the British woman's hourglass figure, the sands of time have fallen to the bottom.
Sarah Bowyer
Reading, UK


Day one of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

Andrew Robson, Oxford
Andrew Robson, Oxford, with our postcard
The Royal Mail has passed its first test. Yesterday we launched an experiment to see how effective the Post Office's next day delivery was by sending a postcard to reader Andrew Robson from Oxford.

We sent Andrew a special postcard in an envelope last night, and sure enough it arrived at 0810BST. He will now post it on to another volunteer who, all being well, should receive it tomorrow.

Oxford is one of the places that new statistics showed had a particularly low level of next day delivery.

But Andrew, an operations manager for a payment processing company, is happy, on the whole. "To be fair, our post is pretty good. We do have issues though when the Post Office here goes on strike - I think that's because the postmen in Oxford are perhaps more prepared than in other places to stand up to management when they want to."


It's time for Punorama, our pun-writing competition. The rules are straightforward - we choose a story which has been in the news, and invite you to create an original punning headline for it. Originality is what counts.

So set your phasers to pun on the story about Serena Williams wearing a denim skirt and knee-high black boots for her game at the US Open, saying it was a "rebel" outfit inspired by James Dean. (See this story for pictures).

Entries are now closed. Here is the judges' report.

A taxing subject this week, perhaps because there was just too much to go on. Tennis puns, Serena puns, clothing puns, James Dean puns... where to begin?

So just three to highlight. Silly Jean Bling from Will, London (neat, but disregards Serena's lack of diamonds), Boots you, Ser, from Jim Gall in Glasgow, and the winner, for the second week running, Roy from Helsinki, with Rebel with outré clothes.

MOST WANTED 1 Sept 1030

The most popular stories in the Magazine in August

1. In top spot is the The terms they are a-changing, 11 August, which looked at the modern minefield Richard Madeley found himself in by thinking it was OK to use the word dyke.

2. A close second was Grin and bare it, 9 August, which marked the 25th anniversary of Brighton nudist beach and asked if nakedness was still a giggling matter.

3. Third was a view from an expat, Magazine reader Sara Whitaker, who wrote in Sunstroke, kebabs and grockles, 3 August, what it was like to see her holidaying countrymen descending on Cyprus each year.

4. Next was the examination of The unwritten rules of the motorway, a look at how the wide open road is liberation for some but torture for others.

5. In fifth place was Do they speak English in Australia, 25 August, a look at the new requirement for Commonwealth citizens to prove they can speak English if they want a British passport.

YOUR LETTERS Weds 1 Sept 1030 BST

Ticket sales up as Fringe closes, 31 August. Seems a bit pointless buying tickets after the event doesn't it?
Dave Williams
Prudhoe, UK

Re 10 Things We Didn't Know, 28 August. Can anyone suggest an indeterminate unit of time of duration somewhere between a "Jiffy" and a "While"?
Ray Booth

Being hard of hearing, I find that various BBC presenters, announcers and commentators, frequently lower their voices during saying their pieces, and I lose the trend of what they are saying. Could they please talk at a better level?
Henry North

I was interested in your postal test. Last week my mum posted me a letter on Thursday and I received it the following Tuesday..... 12,000 miles away! Pretty damn good!
Melanie Peet
Auckland , NZ

Why doesn't the BBC do a parallel postal check using other couriers by sending a parcel to some of the remote areas? In some areas the carriers don't even bother to deliver so if we lose the Royal mail we will have to pay large surcharges to get goods.


Your chance to join in an experiment to put the Post Office to the test.

Join the test
The Royal Mail is having a tough time, failing to meet a range of targets including the number of letters delivered next day.

Over the next two weeks The Magazine will be running an experiment across the country to see how efficient things really are. But we need your help.

We are going to post an item from our headquarters in Television Centre, Wood Lane. This will be delivered to one volunteer who will take a photograph of him or herself with the item, and then post it on to another volunteer who, all being well, will receive it the next morning and do the same, etc. Here on the Magazine Monitor we will keep a daily track of where the item is.

We need volunteers from every part of the UK. There are a number of criteria you will need to meet to make the experiment work properly. If you are interested in taking part, please read the criteria and use the entry form.

READING LIST Tues 31 Aug 1215BST

Things worth reading on other websites.

  • Boy boxer Amir Khan impressed many people - including Canadian writer Stephen Brunt, as he reports in this article from the Globe and Mail. He says: "Even if Khan doesn't turn out to be a lighter weight Cassius Clay, even if he never amounts to anything more than what he was here, it will be a pleasure to bore the grandkids with stories of the day you first saw a boy genius, a pugilistic Mozart, at work."

  • On the other hand, it's amusing to ponder, as Michael Ward does in McSweeney's online magazine which e-mail addresses would be the most annoying ones to have to explain over the phone

  • And lastly, how an ill-timed "shuffle" can kill a party or a workout, and a nice example of appreciating irritating minutiae, from the New York Times (you'll need to register, though).

    (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)


    I believe your statement about "Cyberia" being the world's first internet café ( 10 Things We Didn't Know...) is incorrect. The short-lived Netropolis in Aberdeen pre-dated it by several months.
    Dave Stanley, Aberdeen

    Re: Hugo's comments about the rail consumer champ (Monitor, Thurs 26 Aug). I'm assuming that public-school educated Hugo doesn't have to live in an area blighted by graffiti and yobs. His enjoyment of getting mucky with the proles on the train might just be tempered if he did.
    Ed, Manchester

    Re: BA directors rally terminal staff. I knew BA staff had problems, but I didn't realise it was that bad!
    Liam Sato, Tokyo, Japan

    Re: Remember what Sundays used to be like? To us Sunday is still a very special day. In the morning we go to church. We always have a family lunch and often spend the afternoon walking and enjoying each other's company. The evenings are quiet and peaceful. We do not go to big shops and we try and do as little work as possible. It is most definitely not boring.
    Noel Kent, Wadhurst, East Sussex


    Each week LBQ giant Si poses a riddle for you to puzzle over. The answer, and winner, will be revealed next Monday. Enter using the form below.

    Cryptic Games?

    How many can you identify from the following clues?

    No turning back after horrid sweet (9)
    Hold on without your companions initially (7)
    Arguing? (6)
    Spoil a thong - almost! (8)
    Sing about trouble (7)
    Packing? (6)
    Sealed broken pot inside (4,3)
    Found in shock eye treatment (6)
    Bound after saying "Hello" (4,4)
    Squashed a cherry (7)
    Break left wing outside (9)
    Aspire to follow? (12)
    Almost talk about... (6)
    ...vile Jan coming around (7)

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from correct entries, was Mike Annan. The answer was Rt Hon Peter Hain, Leader of the Commons and MP for Neath. The reason is that Clarke is MP for Norwich, Darling MP for Edinburgh, Hoon is MP for Ashfield, Murphy is MP for Torfaen, and Reid is MP for Hamilton et al. The initial letters of their constituencies spell NEATH which is Peter Hain's. (Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website, which has a puzzle-solving tutorial.)

    Your e-mail address

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


    The Magazine Monitor has several of our most popular features, all on one page. Throughout the week, new items are added at the top of the page, with a note of when they were added.

    Among the items you will find here are the Caption Competition, the Friday Challenge, and 10 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Week. Your letters, which we previously published in The Last Word, will now be added here each weekday. The Lunchtime Bonus Question will continue as normal.

    You can contact us using the form on the right hand side of the page.

    At the bottom of each item is "Link to this item" - this will give you a URL in your browser which you can use to link exactly to that item, wherever it is on the page.

    At the start of each week, we will start a new page. The previous week's entries will still be found via our search engine.

    The Magazine Monitor will always be found on the Magazine index, which you can bookmark using the address

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your comment

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


    News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
    Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
    Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific