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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

  • Results of the Daily Mini-Quiz
  • Paper Monitor
  • Your letters
  • Punorama (Weds)
  • Caption Comp (Thurs)
  • 10 things we didn't know (Sat)


10 butterfly eggs by Peter Rettenberger

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

1. The herb rocket (aka roquette, arugula and rucola) was widely grown in English kitchen gardens in the 1600s.

2. Former Labour MP Oona King's aunt is agony aunt Miriam Stoppard.

3. Britain produces 700 regional cheeses, more even than France.

4. More people died working in slave-labour on the Nazi's V2 rockets than were killed by them in attacks.

5. Camberwick Green's creator Gordon Murray destroyed the original models in a bonfire after the last transmission.

6. Dame Helen Mirren loves snorkelling.

7. Bob Dylan first visited Britain - in 1962 - to take part in a BBC play.

8. Inmates at the Buchenwald concentration camp staged a version of the Agatha Christie play now known as And Then There Were None.

9. Since the 1970s, the number of strong hurricanes around the world has doubled.

10. Sensitive hacking equipment could tell what words are being typed on a keyboard by analysing the unique sounds made by each key.

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

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

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


Letters logo
I can't help feeling the articles on food and winning are linked by a degree of national self-confidence (The novelty of winning and A taste for gastro-tourism.) All of a sudden, the UK isn't inferior: it can win things and be proud in what it produces. Real ale is growing in popularity, local cheese and other produce is becoming available too. My local branch of a supermarket chain even sells a sheep's-milk cheese, made locally, in only five local stores as that's all the farm can make. Cornwall even makes a sparkling wine that won against competition from Champagne. Let us enjoy the fruits of the UK, fresh and in season. Pardon me I have some cob-nuts and Cox's apples to enjoy!
Lewis Graham,
Stevenage, UK

I'd like to thank the petrol panic purchasers for their efforts earlier this week. Not only do I now have a very quiet service station to buy fuel in, I'm also paying 4p a litre less for the privilege!
Ross Milne,

Am I the only one to notice that one day after the picture of GW Bush's "I need a bathroom break" note the next headline is "Bush vows biggest relief effort". Are the two connected?
Burnley, UK

Would someone please analyse President Bush's handwriting please? He seems to mix capitals and lowercase - surely that must mean something...
London, UK

To Jane Verne, who objected to a definition being added to the word "crapulent". I got 16/20 for the English test, passed a GCSE in English at B grade and an A level at C grade and I didn't know what it meant until I read the Monitor.

Lucy "Quiz Novice" Jones contributed a poser for us (Monitor letters, Thursday) . Perhaps Si's Riddle was also one of her favourite things? (Reign dropsy roses hand whisk schism kittens). Go Lucy!
Stelio Passaris,
Southampton, UK

Re: Ever been to Preston, Britney...Wigan Spiers?

Whatever happened to the Lunchtime Bonus Question?


The Ashes urn and the UEFA Champions League trophy
A tale of two trophies
The Ashes urn is an unlikely trophy when compared to some of its striking counterparts in other sports. It's 10cm tall and understated in appearance, but its symbolism is hugely evocative.

Kept at Lord's cricket ground, it was made in 1882 when England were beaten by Australia at The Oval. The bails were set on fire and the ashes placed inside.

A notice appeared in The Times saying: "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket, which died at The Oval on 29th August, 1882, deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. RIP."

Your objective is to devise a trophy with equally weighty significance, for some other achievement. Marks will be added for originality, symbolism and sentimentality.

The best entries are:

A portable toilet to be won by Britain's best long-distance runner. In memory of Paula Radcliffe's historic pause in the London Marathon, Vladimir, Leeds

a silver-plated thermos of cold tea to be awarded to the fans who stand and watch our footballers week in week out and learn to live with 40 years of hurt
pj, Barcelona

A plaque showing a dial with an arrow pointed to "E" rather than the "F", and it can be awarded to the car manufacturer for the most fuel inefficient car of the year. It can be awarded at the annual award ceremony "The Emptys"
Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK,

The packet of Smash for the Egg and Spoon race in countryside schools where new potatoes are used thanks to kids dropping their "eggs" too much.
Malcolm owen, Swansea, UK

A large urn containing the melted remains of every single Crazy Frog CD, to be given to the winner of the Advancement Of Music Award.
Brian Ritchie, Oxford, UK

A miniature porcelain loo, engraved with the occasion and date, to be presented to George Bush for knowing it was time to go ...
Maggie, South London

Greatest finger buffet organiser of all time. A trophy honouring a 'print is dead' theme, perhaps a mini Gutenberg printing press with cobwebs on it and a flashy brass plate for each honouree. First honouree is the Monitor with its online Magazine, second is the Guardian with their Berliner Hamburger format as a step in the process.
Candace, New Jersey, US

The prize would be the Millennium Dome covered in aluminium foil with gigantic pieces of cheese and pineapple stuck on the protruding supports.
AndyG, UK

A key ring. To emphasise the ability to 'unlock the solution to' a particularly difficult and challenging conundrum, for example, the much lamented BBC Magazine's LBQ....
Stig, London, UK

The Preston Award. A lucite block containing a map of Preston, Lancs. To be presented to the celebrity who names their child after the place they have least connection with.
dave godfrey, swindon, uk

A small coffin containing two squashed empty lager cans , in remembrance of the demise of Australian Cricket, unlamented by millions of cricket fans everywhere, RIP...
Andrew nicholson, UK


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff - with baby daughter Holly - Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan celebrate their Ashes win atop a double-decker bus. But what's being said?

6. S Smith, Buckingham, UK
Freddie: "Bring the little urn you said?!"

5. Hugh McCallion, Manchester
"Unbelievable. He's nicked my cup again."

4. Julian Gibbs, Croydon
Pietersen: "Don't drop her."
Flintoff: "You're a fine one to talk."

3. Helen, York
Busted reunite with a new fourth member on keyboard.

2. Dan Pryor, Bournemouth
Holly: "Lightweights."

1. Tony Doyle, Wilmslow, UK
Ashes to Ashes, rusk to rusk...


Newspapers logo
On Tabloid Street, the only tale is about allegations made about Kate Moss by the Mirror yesterday (if you don't know what they are, you really don't need to know). The Sun, seemingly with a straight face, follows up the story today, billing its front page "World Exclusive". But the Mirror again has the best line, having put its claims to the model in New York. Her response (reported here with the same discretion used by the paper): "F*** OFF! F*** OFF! F*** OFF! F*** OFF! JUST F*** OFF!"

Meanwhile, on what was formerly known as Broadsheet Street, there's a different level of vocabulary. Messrs George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens staged a heated debate with each other, also in New York, and here are some of their choice insults for each other. Monitor readers are encouraged to incorporate some of these into their workplace banter.

"Sinister piffle"
"A jester at the court of the Bourbon Bushes"
"A butterfly" who has "turned back into a slug"
"Vile and cheap guttersnipe"
"You did write like an angel. You're now working for the Devil and damn you."
"You are covered with stuff you like to smear on others."
"How far has this neo-con rot seeped into your soul?"
"You have fallen out of the gutter into the sewer."
"The pit of exculpation that you have attempted to dig will swallow you up."
This is "masochism offered to you by a sadist".

This has all given Paper Monitor an idea for the Friday Objective.


In yesterday's Mini-Quiz, we asked what Apple Martin, Gwyneth and Chris's 16-month-old daughter, meant by "agua... chop chop... hummy". Translation: "water... helicopter... hummus", which 56% of you got right. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


Letters logo
I note that your new feature Who, What, Why? promises to answer some of the questions "behind the headlines". Similarly, One Day in Afghanistan had the BBC going "behind the headlines" in that country. What does this frequently used phrase actually mean? Do you intend to go "in front of the headlines" at any point?
Tom Calvert,
Hamstreet, UK

Dave Godfrey asks if anyone can step into Si's shoes. I offer this: What do the following have in common?
Rule (5)
An oedema (6)
Popular chocolates (5)
Mixing tool (4,5)
Division, breach (6)
Cat's offspring (7)
Lucy "Quiz Novice" Jones,

Jane Verne wrote (Monitor Letters, Wednesday) that she was annoyed that Paper Monitor linked to a definition of "crapulent". Could you ask her not to use long words like "dictionary"? Thanks.
Herbert G,
Leeds, England

Could Jane Verne's war of words be likened to a dispute between Crapulents and Monitors (apologies to William Shakespeare).
New Jersey, US

It appears the editors of The Magazine Monitor have made a discovery: the hyperlink...
Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)

Re: What will newspapers look like in 20 years. More importantly, what will the Paper Monitor look like in 20 years? Hopefully it won't fall by the wayside as with so many other beloved features before their time.

Thanks for the warm-up English quiz. Took me back to my last year at primary school. Now when are you publishing the real one?
Darren Farr,
Billericay, England


Richard Whiteley with co-presenter Carol Vorderman
Richard Whiteley's death left the post vacant
It's time for Punorama.

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.

The story for this week is the battle to be the new host of the Channel 4 gameshow Countdown. Noel Edmonds is a late entrant in the race, the main rival to favourite Des Lynam.

You have all clearly watched too much daytime TV, with variations on Countdown Conundrum sent in by too many to list here. Then there was R U 1 4 C 4 T V by Stephen C, Winchester, UK.

Another popular choice was No L in Countdown (Stuart Jenkinson, Bradford; Johnny Fitzgerald, Coventry; Vin Miles, Acton, London; Andy W, London).

Plays on the rivals' names came in the form of Lynam Up by Joel Wilkinson, Beaconsfield and Tim McMahon, Pennar, Wales; Lin'em up, who know'll more in the countdown by Violette Cameron, Sarajevo, Bosnia; and No-el chance for Edmonds as Des Lyn-am's up for the job by Daniel Gray, Melton Mowbray.

And the show's co-presenter inspired Vorder-Line(ham) by Nigel Macarthur and More Than Vords by Chrissy Mouse, both of London.

Only the original host is good enough for Neil McRobie, Edinburgh, who contributed Noel body Des it better than Whileley.

Pick of the bunch was Barter son and goalie host by Chris Field, US.


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Remember our old friend Bridget Jones? As far as Paper Monitor is concerned, it was always her take on news events which was the strength of the column, well before the whole twisted love story/big pant inadequacy/senseless girlish drunkenness came to the fore.

And now Bridget's back in the Independent, she's back on form.

"Had just been phone-obsessing with Jude re: England cricket team winning the Ashes. Having previously dismissed cricket as entirely asexual game played - apart from Imran Khan - by dull men in scratchy white flannels, we were both startled and aroused by pert, hungover youths in sunglasses, triumphantly waving their little urn of Ashes on open-topped bus, realising too late what we had been missing. 'It's a bit of a weird prize, though. I mean, ieuw, morbid - whose ashes are in there?' asked Jude. I thought it was the ashes of WC Fields or WC Grace, but Jude - believing him to be the author of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - went to check it out on Google."

Welcome back indeed, Bridget.


Too much TV, rather than too little exercise or too much junk food, is most likely to make children obese - a fact 49% of you guessed correctly in yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Newspapers logo
I see today's Daily Quiz is about the link between watching too much TV as a child and later problems with obesity. A lot of similar studies have appeared in the last few years, but I still fail to understand how anyone can claim a "direct link" between the two. I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years watching TV and reading books, two activities which for the purpose of these studies are identical: they are sedentary and provide great snacking opportunities. So where are all the studies linking reading with obesity? (I'm sure you'd be too polite to ask, but no, I'm not overweight, allthough I'm also 33.)
Lien Gyles
Matlock (via Belgium)

I wish the media would stop refering to "panic buying" of petrol. Yesterday, I went to fill up my car, waited in a long queue listening to the radio, calmly filled up, paid and left. At no time whatsoever did I or any of the other customers panic.

Dave Godfrey asks if no-one is going to step into the gap left by the departure of Si. I might have a go. I think to complement Paper Monitor, readers ought to contribute a Culture Monitor, with similarly waspish observations on other matters of culture (middle-brow or otherwise). I'd like to start by reviewing the television programme Death of Celebrity (Channel 4, Sunday), in which Piers Morgan laid into various well-known figures and thereby increased (slightly) the celebrity quotient of one P. Morgan. Any other takers?

In Monday's Paper Monitor, you refer to the Guardian's decision to ditch Doonesbury "without so much as a by-your-leave" Seems like they got the idea from the Magazine. For example: Planet Tabloid, Si's Riddle to name but a few.
Brian Gunn,
Muscat, Oman

Surely we, as the public, get to decide which household items are the most useless, as we are the people who (don't) use them? It seems to me then, that the Magazine could easily be a force to be reckoned with in sociology circles?
Ben Hill, Cardiff, Wales

Why did you link the word "crapulent" in today's Paper Monitor to a dictionary definition? Do you think we don't kow what it means? How patronising (see also: condescending).
Jane Verne,
London, UK

Do NOT underestimate the power of the Paper Monitor -- even in jest!!!
Curt Carpenter,


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Following yesterday's crop of Ashes puns, the Sun and the Mirror outdo themselves today.

Both have the same picture of a crapulent Andrew Flintoff. Both have the same headline ("Off his Fred"). And both have the same painful pun ("And hasn't he urned it" - Mirror, "You've urn-ed it" - Sun).

And yet there is one startling difference between the two.

In the Mirror's picture, Freddie's eyes look a bit red, as if he'd been out drinking all night. In the Sun's they are extremely red, as if he'd been rubbing chilli powder into his eyes all night. Ahh the wonders of Adobe® Photoshop® software.


Quake ye editors at the power of Paper Monitor. The world's greatest cartoon strip, Doonesbury, which the new Hamburger Guardian recklessly axed on Monday (the demise of which Paper Monitor was the first to highlight) will return to the paper on Friday.


In yesterday's Mini-Quiz, guest host Simon Singh asked how many people do you need in a group to have a 50% chance of a shared birthday? The correct answer was 23, which 41% of you got right; 35% said 183 and 24% said 93. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


Letters logo
Today's mini-quiz suggests a sandwich-toaster is the world's most useless household gadget. Has the man never received an electric belly-button brush? At least our sarnie-burner saves us having to dismantle the Dualit.

May I suggest a possible solution to the bic/wheelbarrow dilemma. Did a misapprehension occur along these lines: BBC researcher: "What inspired the bic?" Bic employee (strong French accent): "Ze answer iz eazeee, we were inspired by a real biro."

Re: Monday's Picture of the day - how long did it take the average Monitor reader to spot the beer glass? Unfortunately it took me a good minute or two...
Lester Mak,
London, UK


Newspapers logo
Cricket headlines:

Urncredible - the Daily Mirror
Urnbelievable - the Sun
Oval the Moon - the Daily Mirror
Fantashtic - the Sun
Pieter Pans 'Em - the Sun
They think it's all Oval.. it is now! - Daily Mirror and the Sun
KP sends the nation nuts - Daily Express
Haircut 100 - the Guardian (think Kevin Pietersen)
They're ours! - Daily Mail
Yabba Dabba done it - Daily Star
Cricket's coming home - the Times
A glorious end to England's summer - the Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile, one of the many casualties of the Guardian's Year Zero-style redesign, Pass Notes, has been snapped up by the Times.

In place of quotes of the day, on the inside front page of its Times2 supplement, the paper is running Pass Notes on The Ashes, which includes this beautifully crafted line:

"It's all about the symbolism: one guardian loses a national institution, and it passes to another more suited to the times."

Fleet Street watchers with a good memory may recall the Guardian itself poached the format from the short-lived Sunday Correspondent.


Just 20% of you guessed correctly in yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz that a sandwich toaster is the most useless household gadget - more so than a foot spa or electric carving knife - according to research by insurers Esure. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index and set by Simon Singh, whose series A Further Five Numbers is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesdays at 0930. Orclick here to hear to programme at any time.


Re Monday's Quote of the Day (right). Impartial? I've been praying all summer and now he tells me!
Stig, London, UK

Re Monday's Paper Monitor. Come on, Monitor! How can you not understand why a wheelbarrow inspired a Biro? Have you never pushed a wheelbarrow through a puddle and seen the lovely pattern the front tyre makes up the garden path? No? You need to get yer wellies on, Duckie.

Letters logo
To my amazement while enjoying the recent DVD release of Bewitched, Darrin (who my parents say they named me after) and a new neighbour used "natch"; this is from 1966! Does this mean I win the cabbaging on "natch"?
Darrin Stephens,
Stoke-on-Trent, England

Last week, Maurice Day asked how to pronounce "levee". He had two solutions suggested - one from Don McLean and one from Led Zeppelin. Bob Dylan's "Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)" seems to settle matters 2-1.
Simon Allum,

Is nobody going to attempt to fill the breach left by Si? Or am I going to have to go through each week without my brain being teased?
Dave Godfrey,

Surely a strong contender for Tuesday's Quote of the Day ?!"We've got two people making the cheese. If we get another one, where will we park the car?" (from Cheese to make big stink on movie, 12 September)


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

For obsessives like Paper Monitor, there's only one story in town today, and that's the Guardian, now in its new, smaller, Hamburger format. Some people will like it, others won't. But the one thing that can be said for certainty about the new design is that it's certainly smaller.

(Too small, it seems, for the world's greatest cartoon, Doonesbury, which it has inexplicably dropped without so much as a by-your-leave.)

The one thing Paper Monitor really loves about these occasions is the way papers suddenly start speaking about themselves, because you know how very carefully they have chosen their words. So the new format has "the convenience of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet".

When you ponder it for a few moments, "sensibility" seems like a very strange word indeed.

But topping that, Hamburger editor Alan Rusbridger says he hopes the new smaller paper might appeal to any new readers "who found the old broadsheet paper forbidding or inconvenient". Come now, Mr Rusbridger, wasn't it the Guardian's forbiddingness and inconvenience that we all loved so much?

Still, good luck all round. And good luck to the competition, which must have wanted to pull out all the stops to come up with good stories on the Guardian's big day, but instead came up with "World's last chance to save great apes" (Independent), "Drug firms face trial over NHS fraud" (Times) and "Motorists face three days of fuel demo misery" (Telegraph).


Welcome to a new week in the Monitor. On Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 65% of you thought that the Bic Biro must have been inspired, from all the possible garden implements, by a hosepipe. In fact the correct answer was wheelbarrow, but no, the Monitor doesn't understand it either. Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the index now.

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