BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 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 Ducks by Maxine Khan, New York

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

1. Prince Harry has a coaching qualification for non-contact tag rugby.

2. Plastic surgery dates back to 600BC and the first nose job was in 1000AD.

3. In Sweden you can't have Superman or Asterix as a child's name, but you can have Tarzan and Batman. (Thanks to Annabel Schweinsberg, Bucks, UK)

4. Gordon Brown may not want to hear it, but only three of the past 19 chancellors have gone on to be prime minister.

5. Pigs have a sense of humour, according to Lyall Watson, author of a new book called The Whole Hog .

6. George Bush and John Kerry, who completed the first of three televised presidential debates on Thursday, shared the same debating coach while at Yale University. His name was Rollin Osterweis.

7. Word/phrase of the week: Wrap around childcare. It's applied to nurseries which open early in the day and close late, and so wrap around a parent's working day.

8. One in five British homes has a foot spa, although mostly they lie idle, among more than £3bn of "useless gadgets" to be found in UK homes, according to insurance firm Esure.

9. During World War II British interrogators dangled devil figurines through ceiling hatches of cells holding German spies, in a bid to disorientate them before questioning.

10. Seventy percent of students starting university courses this year will bring their own laptop.

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

Add your comments to this story using the form below:

Your e-mail address
Your thing and where you saw it

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...

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is cracking down on smokers who drop cigarette butts on the pavement, and has issued his staff with tiny heat-resistant pouches for disposing of their dog ends.

But what other bad habits niggle you so much you would like to see them tackled, and how?

Should shoppers who dawdle be forced to wear running shoes? Should people who insist on looking over your shoulder on the train to read your newspaper, be ordered to don opaque glasses?

Send us your suggestions using the form below.

People who mis-use apostrophes should be forced to sit down and read Eats, shoots and Leaves.
Jon, Sandhurst, Berks

Groups of three or more people who insist on occupying the entire width of the pavement and expect everyone and thing to manouvre around them should be forced to be hand-cuffed together for a further 24 hours.
Neil D, London

People who stand at the bottom of escalators should be forced to use the stairs.
Sarah D, England

People who consider it acceptable to use the opposing seat on a train as a footrest, should be obliged to let all other commuters coming onto the train to use THEIR trousers as a mat to wipe their feet.
Neil D, London

Able-bodied people who park in disabled spaces should have their kneeaps removed.
Bob, Wales

People who have their personal stereos too loud on public transport should be locked in a tin box full of bees to see how they like the loud buzzing.
Jon Keen, Sandhurst, UK

Shopping trolley operators who ram your legs whilst shopping will have to undergo training and have to wear "L" plates until they pass the course and qualify as a fully-fledged Shopping Trolley User.
Neal Fairclough, England

People who choose to sit right next to you on the train when there are free seats all around should be forced to have a fellow traveller accompanying them wherever they go for a day.
Lucy Larwood, UK

Shop assistants who continue their conversations whilst serving you. The solution is to ignore their request for payment until they give you their full attention.
Simon Marshall, UK

People who spread their luggage over the seats on crowded commuter trains should be forced to carry someone else's luggage for a day
Don, UK

People who ware Burberry should have it tattooed onto their skin.
Alan Bowden, UK

Drivers who constantly block the cycle lane should be forced to cycle in a damage />Natalie Hornshaw, Hull, UK

People who use their children's buggy as a battering ram in the Next sale should be forced to shop at their local pound store for a year.
Liz, UK

People spitting out chewing gum onto pavements should have their entire house re-carpeted in the "hook side" of Velcro. Their feet should then have the "furry" side glued on.
Neil D, London

Drivers who overtake you and then immediately stop to turn right should be chained to electric milk floats

People who insist on using swear words at least twice in every sentence, who incidentally always seem to have the loudest voices, should be forced to wear a muzzle.
Andy Harris, Uk

People who remove the LBQ for six weeks should exiled to ITV.
James Bosson, UK

People who overtake on the inside should be forced to drive at 60moh in the middle lane of the motorway so we can all do it to them
Richard Warr, Stevenage, UK

Litter bugs should be given orange vests and made to pick up trash for a day.
Candace, New Jersey, US

(Entries now closed)


Interesting comment at the end of this story Students: Young Ones or Rich Kids? (30 September) from a reader who discusses how students aren't very good at managing their budgets. A reader called Rob Grant. Made-up name, or man who's been waiting a long time to have his say?
Edward Higgins, Plumstead

I always said four-year-old kids (Child art prodigy Wows New York, 29 September) could produce better modern art than most of the rubbish shown in galleries
Neil Hume, NJ, USA (ex UK)

I can't believe that it's only been two weeks since the LBQ was taken off the "air", and we still have another month before it's back!! I enjoy trying my hand with Si's riddle, but roll on October!
Dave K, Epsom, Surrey


It's the Magazine's caption competition. Here are the top captions for this picture of Gordon Brown preparing for his big speech.

6. Paul Lawes, London
Chancellor of The Ears-checker

5. Graham Tebby, Cambridge UK
"...and then I just throw this switch to reactivate him."

4. Matthew Standen, London, UK
"With this disguise Mr Blair, you are guaranteed to stay in office."

3. Steve, London
'ear Prudence

2. Andrew Wade, Devon UK
This ear plug should block out that rabble on the right

1. Neil, UK
"And I would've gotten away with frightening Blair out of power if it wasn't for you pesky kids."


The most popular stories in the Magazine in September.

1. In first place was the The war against hats, 22 September, a collection of the inventive uses of anti-social behaviour orders such banning hat wearing, ringing doorbells and using mops.

2. Next up was A rock and a hard place, 8 September, a profile of Pitcairn Island which is now in the grip of a controversial trial.

3. In the number three spot, appropriately enough, was Page Three - the naked truth 14 September, which revealed what a 32GG model thought about her trade.

4. The story about what it's like Growing up gay in Jamaica, 15 September, where homophobic song lyrics are just one of the things to contend with, was fourth most popular.

5. And fifth was Body of deceit, 2 September, an expose of the growing trend of using steroids - not for athletic achievement, but simply to look good.

YOUR LETTERS Thurs 30 Sept 1000BST

For all those people who signed a disclaimer if they wanted their burger medium rare or rare ( Burger served with legal warning, Wednesday) surely insanity is more of a worry than food poisoning? £12 for a burger?
Helen, Brighton, UK

In Barcelona clubbers get chipped (Wednesday) your reporter has a chip implanted in his arm in order to buy drinks in an exclusive club. The club can't be that exclusive otherwise the drinks would cost an arm AND a leg !
Phil Mason, Macclesfield, UK

After a week or so of no Lunchtime Bonus Question I only now realise what it did for me. After reading the terrifying stories around the world I could go to the LBQ and quickly divert my attention. Now I sit and worry for the rest of the day about the world. While some may say this is a good thing, I hope I am not a nervous wreck by the time the LBQ returns.
Jason S, Southampton, UK


In celebrating the various facts on the success of eBay ( 10 things about eBay, 28 September) it was interesting to discover that a football shirt is sold every five minutes. Ironically this is also the frequency that clubs change their club design, hence the market in second-hand shirts.
Chris Ford, Bristol, UK

Tim Miller's 28 September letter regarding the BBC's responsibility for the content of external websites - touché (well, almost!) There's a difference in the meaning of "responsible" as "accountable for" versus "providing a stimulus for". I think the BBC is using the word in the former sense, whereas Tim Miller's tongue-in-cheek(?) web page uses it in the latter sense. Is this then an exercise in semantics rather than in philosophy?
Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts

In The dogs are let out, 28 September, Dave Reece says that the hounds "are living animals, they are making decisions regarding those hounds..." And what are foxes?
Kate, Leeds


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 the Scarborough man suffering from tooth ache who pulled out his own teeth with a pair of rusty pliers because, he claims, he couldn't find an NHS dentist. His anaesthetic? Half a bottle of vodka.

There were plenty of Absolut-ly fantastic efforts, including Absolut jerk and Absolut agony, from Jason S in the UK and and Tim Gomersall of London. Mark, also of the UK, suggested Booze wooze helps man lose chews. Well done.

Also amusing was Molar wrench, from Kieran Boyle of Oxford, Gnasher smasher from Richard Peer of England and UK Keith's Red pull.

But the big honour this week has to go to the simple but effective Fangs for nothing, which comes via Andy of Bexleyheath.

(Entries are now closed.)


In Six months without my mobile by Jennifer Quinn, 27 September, you report that 50 million and 75% of adults in the UK have access to a mobile phone. Mathematically therefore a higher percentage of kids than adults have them. As I suspected: mobiles are toys.
S. Kaba

Henrietta Turnbull asks what will stop people who want a King Size chocolate bar from simply buying two normal sized bars, (Monitor letters, Monday). Shame will stop them. Am I the only one who thinks that eating a King Size bar is seen as "acceptable", but plonking two bars on the counter looks plain greedy?
Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)

"What's the problem with fast cars and loose women?" (Monitor letters, Monday)? They rattle.
Alexander Lewis Jones
Nottingham, UK

Re: your Reading List. Can I suggest, as an exercise in philosophy, this page? I'll be interested to see what you'll put in brackets after my name.
Tim Miller, London, UK
(The BBC is not, repeat, is not responsible for the content of external websites).


Good things to read on other websites.

  • Remember the oath of Asterix and Obelix? From the Nasa site, an explanation of why the exclamation "By Toutatis!" might be staging a comeback.

  • From the New Yorker's "Shouts and murmurs" page, an, ahem, serious look at decorum during the upcoming presidential debates. A taste: "Candidates shall not point rotating index fingers at their own temples to imply that opponent is mentally deranged. Candidates shall at no time insert fingers in their own throats to signify urge to vomit. Candidates shall under no circumstances insert fingers into opponent's throat." Good to know.

  • And still stateside, the Washington Post's series Young and Gay in Real America tells the compelling story of Michael Shackleford, a 17-year-old from rural Oklahoma who is trying to come to terms with his sexuality. "I wake up and I try so hard to look at a girl. I tell myself I'm gonna be different. It doesn't work." Reporter Anne Hull spent a year on the story; registration is required.

  • Ever wonder how you're going to reach payday? Why not spend the time entering your income into the Global Rich List site which will tell you just where you rank. (Hint: There are probably several billion people poorer than you.)

    (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites. If you spot something elsewhere which you want to nominate for inclusion here, send us the URL using the form on the right hand side of this page.)


    Keeping tabs on stories past

    The UK's first 3D web-based church, the Church of Fools, was launched amid much media sensation in May (including our Magazine lead story In cyberspace can anyone hear you pray?.

    After a few weeks spent fighting off (in a holy, non-violent way) people who were intent on disrupting proceedings, the church has now shut.

    But the faithful can relax - the building is not yet being converted into a luxury flat development. The organisers are just seeking funding for a re-write of the software which would help keep out troublemakers more easily. Read more of the reasoning at the church's own site: Church of Fools. (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external web churches.)


    Re: King size chocolate bars face axe, 27 September. I know about national obesity problems, but what is going to stop a chocaholic buying two average sized bars?
    Henrietta Turnbull
    Sidcup, Kent

    I see Ad Breakdown covered Sid the Slug's TV health campaign (23 September). I'm with him on the salt thing, but what's the problem with fast cars and loose women?

    Re: The war against hats, 22 September. I had always assumed that people wearing the word "gap" on their heads were being ironic.
    Anne R
    Fareham, UK

    Don't give up on your postcard just yet (Going Postal, Magazine Monitor 21 September.) We have just received a letter from the UK posted on 24 August, taking a total of 28 days. In 1994 we received a parcel from the UK which contained a Waterford Crystal vase. It came via Burlington, Australia, and arrived intact only to be knocked over and broken from the mantelpiece.
    Elaine Sutherland,
    Burlington Canada

    David's request for songs which might be played on the world's smallest guitar strong. He might consider XTC's "Into the atom age", They might be Giants' "Particle man", The Darling Buds' "Tiny machine" or anything from Hawkwind's "Quark: Strangeness and Charm" album.
    Exeter, UK


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

    What am I?

    Look for me in water, seek me in the sand
    Leading every animal, through each allotted land

    Seek me as the moon does wane and as the sun declines
    Find me at the break of night, within planets I do shine

    I'm not found in everyone, so search within yourself
    I'm always found in wisdom, but never sought through wealth

    I'm always found in questions: Who? What? Why? When? Where?
    Though missing in responses: Them, This, Since, Then, There

    Seek me at the end of life: the start of eternity
    Within this fledgling universe, I am counted doubly free

    Look for me in words and just when you start reading
    Find me in morality and within good-breeding!

    Find me in extremes of standings, stops and starts
    Never found in whole, but often known in parts

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from the correct entries, was Ross Tanner of London. The answer was James Bond, but other too-clever-by-half suggestions were: "They appear in works of GLEN FAMINI based on the exploits of BOS AND JEM. My name is Brown. Norm Brown," from Norm Brown of Branxton, New South Wales; "Damen Jobs", from Rosslynne, Reading, and "Jon Sembad", from Rachel Shaw, London. Andrew Walker, also Reading, says: "You could also stretch it to include Viv Dandine." (Si is a regular contributor to the Puzzletome website.)

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

    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