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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 17:29 GMT
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the home for many ever-popular features, including your letters and :

  • MON: Si's riddle
  • TUES: Reading list
  • WEDS: Punorama
  • THURS: Caption comp
  • FRI: Friday Objective
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know this time last week


    10 THINGS
    10 on a bus, by Bryce Cooke

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

    1. Michael Jackson "freely admits" that he reads girlie magazines, his lawyer said in his trial.

    2. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathmetician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".

    3. Stella McCartney and Jean Paul Gaultier used Little Chef toilets on the way to Madonna's wedding in Scotland in 2001.

    4. Will Smith loves chess. He's currently studying the Sicilian opening with the Dragon variation.

    5. The Queen has never played dominoes, she told prisoners this week.

    6. She has also never been on a computer, she told Bill Gates as she awarded him an honorary knighthood.

    7. Sudan I probably got its name because of the interest in things relating to the Empire at the time it was discovered in the 19th Century. Other names include Congo reds and Congo browns.

    8. Sudan I is also known as 1-phenylazo-2-naphthalenol, a name the Sudanese government would prefer the British to use.

    9. One person in four has had their identity stolen or knows someone who has.

    10. The length of a man's fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, scientists have said.

    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

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


    Your objective for the afternoon...

    So the BBC has got to give up chasing the ratings. That's the message from the government, which plans to renew the corporation's charter and the licence fee, but wants to see an end to "copycat formats". Fame Academy, Ground Force and other programmes are thought to be in the firing line.

    So your objective for this particular Friday afternoon is to convert, using your skill and judgement, some popular BBC features into less popular BBC features. Windowbox Force, for example.

    The least attractive will be added to the running order here throughout Friday afternoon. (Entries now closed)

    (Contestants please note. The Friday Objective is nothing to do with the Friday Challenge, which has now left the BBC following persistent absenteeism. Any similarity is purely coincidental.)

    Your entries so far:

    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    Robb, Basingstoke, UK

    Ready, Steady, Wash-up;
    Men Behaving Reasonably Well;
    News at 03.25;
    Strictly Ballroom Cleaning;
    Adult Education College Challenge;
    Fame Pre-School;
    Breakfast with Noreen;
    Panorama (R)
    Stig, London, UK

    "Flame Academy". Smokers evaluate the nation's best lighters, with the least-liked one being extinguished live on air.
    Sarah, Reading, UK

    Nine O'Clock Newts
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    "Strictly Bathroom"
    Richard York, Wakefield, UK

    Fame Academy becomes Tame Academy. Casualty becomes Where's the Plasters. Eastenders becomes Ruislipers. Cracker becomes Slightly Scratched. The Bill becomes Prince William. The Antiques Roadshow becomes Sunday in B&Q.
    Kip, Norwich UK

    Panorama into Tunnel Vision
    Jen, London/Staffordshire

    The National Lottery Train Set.
    Caroline Brown, Rochester UK

    The Skylight at Night
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    Leaving rooms as they are.
    London's getting a bit warm.
    Helping a Little Old Lady across the Road - Watch.
    Maggie, South London

    Commentary from The Oval on the Fourth Test-Card.
    Kieran Boyle, Oxford, England

    Monarch of the back garden;
    Sarah, Maidstone, UK

    Reverse Gear
    Brian Ritchie, Oxford, UK

    My Dad the Opposition Spokesman on Rural Affairs
    S Jones, Wigan

    Slightly Fabulous
    Two Halves of Lager and a Packet of Peanuts
    Mark Gillies, London, UK

    Breakfast with Frosties
    John C, Oldham, UK

    Brian Saxby, Gateshead, UK

    First Year Medical Student Who
    Doug McKerracher, Swindon, UK

    (Entries now closed. No thanks to all.)


    After reading Many politicians sleep deprived, 1 March, I am left pondering this question: "Solicitors, HOW can they sleep at night?"

    Re: Philip Chillag's query about the difference between House arrest and Imprisonment (Monitor letters, 3 March), I think Martha Stewart may be best qualified to answer that as she leaves prison to enter house arrest at her "153-acre estate in Katonah".

    I am shocked by some of the comments in the story on hairdressers (More highlights than most, 3 March). I had no idea so many of your readers were intellectual snobs! John, Leicester and Dave, Swindon: does your work give you high levels of autonomy, creativity and job satisfaction? If not, who's the thick one?
    Sam Leader,
    Sydney, Australia

    A few weeks ago there was talk about the Monitor launching Da Vinci Watch - which aimed to look for signs of a grand conspiracy. I couldn't help noticing that until the final hour of voting in your Best Books poll, The Curious Incident of the Dog was in the lead, until DVC suddenly overtook it. Weird supernatural forces at work?
    Edward Higgins,

    I wonder if I could initiate a new game "Brent Watch" - the rules are simple. Readers are invited to highlight any stories on the BBC news website in which references to the Office or David Brent have been shamelessly shoe-horned. I'll start with MBAs must drop the machismo.
    Paul Gitsham,
    Manchester, UK

    I see that the Friday Challenge has been sacked. It may decide to go to the Unfair Dismisals Tribunal. Did it have three warnings first is what we want to know?
    Guildford, UK


    It's time for the winning entries to our caption competition.

    This week it's Prince Charles on tour Down Under, emerging from that great Australian institution, the 'dunny', while visiting Alice Springs.

    6. Norm Brown, Branxton, NSW
    "It's a real credit to the builders.The hole in the ground is absolutely circular".

    5. Jeff, UK
    The new Doctor Who is a surprise, but I don't think much of the Tardis.

    4. Chris Shaw, Fareham, England
    The Royal Wee.

    3. Aidan, Thaxted, UK
    "Cripes, it's organic in here!"

    2. Gavin, Cannes, France
    The expression "going for a Charles the Third" enters the cockney rhyming slang dictionary.

    1. Aidan, Thaxted, UK
    "Nothing beats a Royal Flush."


    4 March is the 140th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration as US president. He was to live another six weeks until he was assassinated.
    PAPER MONITOR: A new service, highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Burning issue from today's papers: Q: So the parties are scrapping over a woman's broken shoulder? Blimey, the election campaign really must have started.
    A: Really? Are you sure? It's not like any party leaders have been on chat shows yet. When that happens, we really know we're in business.


    Your article When walls have ears, 2 March, states: "It's unlikely that a suspect would be detained in his own home ... [instead] that means a detached property with CCTV on all sides and surveillance inside, as well as police officers stationed outside". So what, exactly, is the difference between this house arrest and imprisonment?
    Philip Chillag,
    Wigan, England

    How exactly do you put someone on a telephone-linked monitoring system when you've cut their phone off?

    How depressing that Clapham's pedestrian password system, which allowed people who lived locally to give station staff a codeword and avoid a badly lit road, has had to be abandoned (End of the line for passenger password, 2 March). Doubtless the system's abusers felt very clever with their "perfect crime". This is proof positive that no good deed goes unpunished.
    Kelly Mouser,
    Upminster, Essex

    With regard to catching the elusive fly-tippers ( The nightmare of fly-tipping, 2 March) can it really be THAT hard to track down the owner of an elephant carcass ?
    Jamie Hutchins,

    Equally not wishing to disrespect Dave from Swindon (Monitor letters, Wednesday) but since Stan Lee invented the idea of superheroes with everyday problems, such as the X-men, Spider-Man, the Hulk, etc., it would be fair to say that The Incredibles is based upon Stan Lee's work, not the other way around.

    Didn't Bill Gates get awarded his knighthood over a year ago (Knighthood for Microsoft's Gates, 2 March)? How come it's taken him so long to come and get it? Perhaps Buckingham Palace should have insisted he paid for an upgrade first?
    John Airey,
    Peterborough, UK

    "Brian is Brian is male," says Chris A, Houston, Texas (Monitor letters, Wednesday). Really? I shared a room at boarding school with a female Brian (who incidentally was affectionately known as Fred, by virtue of having such a manly name) and last saw her at my wedding a few months ago. Thanks for letting me know she's a closet man (EEK!). Of course, her birth certificate says Bryony.
    Lucy Jones,

    Why are you brushing under the carpet the fact that you got one question in the latin quiz wrong (Lingua Franca)? (Magazine's Most Popular, 1 March). Are you embarrassed? Should I contact Lord Hutton? ;-)
    Justin Rowles
    (Monitor note to Rowles: There was what could be construed as a mistake, we admit, but there was no cover up. And no, don't bother the noble Lord, he's retired.)

    After the report into the BBC funding (BBC governors to be scrapped, 2 March), can I propose the following slogan: "The Magazine Monitor, almost 17 times cheaper than TV".


    3 March is the 20th anniversary of the first ever transmission of Moonlighting.
    PAPER MONITOR: A new service, highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Today's burning issue from the papers - Q: So it's the biggest shake-up in the past 70 years of the BBC's history then is it?
    A: Yes, that's right. Ground Force is being made illegal.


    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.

    This week, the story that prisoners are to receive lessons in how to become stand-up comedians. The scheme, which will give the participants a chance at a well-known club on their release, is aimed at improving their "communication, powers of empathy, and humility".

    Submit your puns please, using the form below. The best will be published here on Thursday.


    Martin Price wasn't the only one to stand up and deliver Comic release, but he was the first. Likewise, there were lots of 'chokey' gags, including Getting Jokey In chokey from Andrew B in Leeds.

    Mike Hatfield in High Wycombe drew a chortle with Screws line is it anyway? and Nobody move, this is a stand-up was a good one-liner from Jason in Enfield, London. A couple of neat Shakespeare references such as The taming by the screws by Richard York in Wakefield, but even better was The comedy of terrors, from Singapore's Low Hian Cheng.

    Off the cuffs humor from Candace in New Jersey came close to being top of the bill, as did Bound and gagged? from London's Chrissy Mouse and I'm laughing inside, by Andrew, also in London.

    But one of our first - and in our opinion foremost - entries was from Dave Godfrey in Swindon, who came up with Canned laughter.


    RE: Defra champions pork pie cause, 1 March, which reports on the struggle of the Melton Mowbray pork pie makers to get legal protection for their product. At a restaurant last week I had New York Club Steak with Yorkshire Puddings, Brussels Sprouts, Garden Peas and Swede, followed by Red Liecester Cheese on crackers, with Irish Coffee. What was wrong you say - well, I never knew that coffee grew in Ireland.
    Peter Nixon,
    Middlesbrough, UK

    Re: Stan Lee to create new Superhero, 1 March. "Foreverman will focus on a character who has to face problems in everyday life as well as using his special powers to save the world." Furthermore, "Stan's idea was to create a concept not seen before...". I don't wish to disrespect the genius of Mr Lee, but has he not seen The Incredibles?
    Dave Godfrey,
    Swindon, UK

    Ralph, Cumbria writes of the equation RBQ = BA/2, to mean that Read the Bloody Question = Half the Bloody Answer. Having a GCSE in maths, I know that equation can also be expressed as 2(RBQ)=BA. Therefore, while undergoing a series of difficult written tests for a job interview yesterday, I simply read the questions twice, and left the exam room a good hour before my still-writing rivals, chuckling smugly as I did so. I'd like to thank you for your assistance in getting me this job, which I feel must surely now be mine.
    Pete N, MK, UK

    Re JC from Margate. The obvious answer to the question you pose is that the men are Paul, Fred and Brian, the women are Chris, Jan and Lee. The use of Paul and Fred could be construed as belonging to a Pauline and a Freda (Fredrica) but Brian is Brian is male. The other three names can be male or female. So, because JC deemed it of interest, the assumption is that one or more from Paul, Fred and Brian are not male so my guess is Chris and Lee are male and Paul and Fred are female.
    Chris A,
    Houston, Texas

    Why were you surprised at the popularity of your Latin Quiz? (Magazine's Most Popular, 1 March.) Hadn't you realised what a cultured and generally intellectually superior lot we Magazine readers are?
    Alex Swanson,
    Milton Keynes, UK

    Re: Paul Gitsham's question about where the Oscars were on UK television. They were on a new minority service called "Sky". It'll never catch on.

    Sounds like this Italian tanker ship (The real world of James Bond, 1 March) had an Oltarra motive?
    Andy Wilson,
    Lincoln, UK


    2 March is the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley's one and only visit to the UK (when a military plane refueled at Prestwick airport).
    PAPER MONITOR: A new service, highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Gold dust: From today's Daily Telegraph, a report of a meeting between the Queen and several guitar greats. Her Majesty didn't recognise Brian May, the paper says, and didn't know who Jimmy Page was either. It reports a pure gold dust moment:
    "Are you a guitarist too?" she asked of the Led Zeppelin megastar, as if addressing a member of the Ist Haywards Heath Scouts band. He nodded. Eric Clapton was taking no chances and, shaking the Queen firmly by the hand, introduced himself by name. "Have you been playing a long time?" the Queen asked, obviously none the wiser. "It must be 45 years now," replied a non-plussed blues giant. Next was Jeff Beck, like Clapton and Page a former Yardbird. Her Majesty was duly informed of the fact. "We're all from Surrey," added Clapton, grasping for some point of commonality. Luckily the Queen had heard of Surrey.


    Re: Arnold applauded for Oscar win, 28 February. Now there is a link asking to be clicked if ever there was.
    Paul Gitsham,
    Manchester UK

    PS while we're on the subject, I presume the 1.1bn people expected to watch the Oscars didn't include the British? I couldn't find it in any of the TV guides - what happened?

    Re: Meteor shower seen in South West, 28 February, in which you report "meteors seen falling from the sky". Extraordinary that. Falling from the sky eh? Who'd of thought.
    London, UK

    So Yes Minister got too close for comfort (How Yes Minister made it to the top, 25 February? I disagree: as a long-serving-middle-ranking civil servant, I always thought it was spot on.
    London UK

    Re last week's names debate. Once at the dinner table we were Chris, Jan, Lee, Paul, Fred and Brian. There were three men and three women. How about a competition to guess which were which, and how they paired up?
    Margate, UK


    Good things to read on other websites.

  • Footballers are not usually known for their writing skills, but then again Crystal Palace's Finish midfielder Aki Riihilahti does not appear to be your average footballer. His personal internet site records his rather philosophical views on football and life in general, tackling anything from why it's cool to be a weirdo to the English and their love of beautiful game. He could soon boast more fans than his club.

  • It turns out plumbers are among the most fulfilled workers in the country, so The Independent has followed one around for the day to see what makes their working life such a jolly one - probably presenting the bill at the end of a job. (Coming soon in The Magazine, why hairdressers are so happy.)

  • It seems menus are now the target for censors on one US campus.Spiked magazine says a rather rudely named sandwich is the latest target of the language cops at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

    Send your suggestions for next week's reading list by submitting them using the form on the right. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites, though.


    Most popular stories in the Magazine in February.

    1. It's strange, but by far the most popular story in the Magazine last month was our quiz, The truth about Latin, 3 February, which tested your knowledge of some of those Latin terms which are used everyday by people, many of whom are trying to demonstrate their wide knowledge of Latin.

    2. Next most read was the tale of the thirtysomething mother of two who confesses to taking cocaine several times a month - exactly the kind of person who might be targetted by the new Met Police chief who wants to tackle "dinner party drug takers". (Canapes and cocaine, 10 February.)

    3. Making an unusual appearance in these listings is 7 days 7 questions, which gains in popularity as every month goes by. It was the quiz dated 10 February which made the grade.

    4. In fourth place was writer David McCandless's account of Why I've given up broadband, 7 February.

    5. And fifth most popular was the tale of the Sun executives going to Merseyside to try to heal the rift between the paper and Liverpool ('Sorry' Sun tries to woo Scousers, 14 February).


    Today would have been David Niven's 95th birthday
    PAPER MONITOR: A new service, highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Gold dust: From Piers Morgan's diaries, extracts of which are published in the Daily Mail. Yesterday it was tales about Cherie, today it's Diana. And this is a moment as rare as gold dust:
    "How's your circulation?" she asked. Bloody rampant, I thought, as she nestled into her sofa, radiating a surprisingly high degree of sexual allure. "Oh very healthy, ma'am, thanks to you." She laughed, a tad insincerely.


    With all these skull and crossed bones' cropping up in the papers (Paper Monitor), does that mean the Sudan I contamination was perpetrated by pirates?
    Doug McKerracher,
    Swindon, UK

    I see that Madame Tussauds spent 10,000 separating the waxworks of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (10 things we didn't know this time last week, 26 February). Couldn't they have just thown a bucket of water over them?
    Geoff Harrison,

    Re Spectator sport, 25 February: Boris Johnson calls the Spectator the "mouse that roars". Leonard Wibberley's novel The Mouse that Roared, from where I presume Mr J stole his phrase, was a wonderful satire on the cold war mentality of the 1950s. (In 1959 it was made into a film starring Peter Sellers and David Kossoff - it's high time we saw this back on TV). I don't think the Spectator is in the same category.
    London UK

    On the subject of formulae, my wife was given an equation to help in University exams. RBQ = BA/2. (Read the Bloody Question = half the Bloody Answer)


    Every Monday, Si sets you a riddle to get your brain working.
    Drop Outs

    expert bay strayed staring backing shelves pound carted mainly parsing mister closest

    Submit your answer using the form below.

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

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

    The solution to last week's riddle was suggested by the title, Starting Out. The first words needed to be "anagrammed". Thus:

    how -> who
    tower -> wrote
    least -> tales
    u-boat -> about
    erects -> secret
    evens -> seven
    Who wrote tales about Secret Seven? Enid Blyton.

    The winner was Angela Clarke, Clapham.

    Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.


    28 February is the 14th anniversary of the ceasefire in the first Gulf War
    PAPER MONITOR: A new service, highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Burning issue of the day: Voice of an angel Charlotte Church punching her ex? Oooh! Girls punching!

    Great minds:
    How to represent, in big bold newspaper graphic-style, the somewhat dull threat from obscure chemicals? Simple. A smiling girl, a plate, a huge skull and crossbones (Sunday Times, left). Alternatively, a plate of curry, with the curry in the shape of... a skull and crossbones (Sunday Telegraph, right).

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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