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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

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


10 Portaloos by Jenna

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

1. The UK and Spain have the highest number of cocaine users in Europe.

2. Croydon has more CCTV cameras than New York.

3. A giveaway DVD in a newspaper costs as little as 16p to produce, including rights, materials and manufacture.

4. The price of every DVD disc includes a small royalty to Philips, which developed the format.

5. Wallace and Gromit live in Wigan. Until now, creator Nick Park has been cagey about where 62 West Wallaby Street is, but in their latest film an A-Z of Wigan can be glimpsed on the dashboard of Wallace's car.

6. Three-quarters of the salt in our diets comes from processed foods.

7. Noodles have been around for at least 4,000 years, following a find in China.

8. Smokers spend on average 91,832 on cigarettes during their lifetime.

9. Madonna doesn't let her children watch television, only movies.

10. Thirsty whalers in the 19th Century used to kill tortoises for their urine.

[Sources, where stories are not linked: 2: Croydon Advertiser, 7 October. 5: Wigan Observer, October. 8: Mirror, 8 October. 9: Harpers and Queen interview. 10: Times, 11 October.]

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

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
When setting the Caption Competition yesterday you made it clear that any entry that simply recycled tag lines from Little Britain would be rejected. (Caption Competition, 14 October). Yet here we are 24 hours later with a winning caption that has clearly slipped past your scrutineers. Do you actually read the entries or do you simply remove obscene entries and post the first out of the mailbox? In my office we believe that you don't read any of the entries but simply use ones that you in your office have already made up. The fact that none of my caption entries has ever made it to the glory board has in no way affected the impartiality of my observations.
Corsham, England

A very fitting caption won, but given the criterion "No catchphrases allowed", should it have?
D E,

Re Caption Competition. Magazine Monitor readers to Magazine Monitor: "But you said that the dull predictablity of using catchprases from the show would stifle the readers' creative originality." BBC News Magazine: "Yeah I Know."
Gareth Edwards,
Stoke on Trent, UK

Friday should be a time of looking forward to the weekend and de-stressing after a hard week. But instead, all I have is complaints. First of all, no more Friday objective apparently. Like a soap character who goes on a cruise and is never mentioned again, the Objective took a break last week and has now vanished altogether. Secondly, in the Caption Competition you said no catchphrases would be allowed - and yet the winning entry was entirely that (still funny though). And finally, the main headline -"Public urged to be calm over flu" followed by "EU holds bird flu crisis meeting." Nothing makes people panic like being told not to panic. (Oh, and the French test was too hard, but I think that might be my fault for not paying enough attention in class).

Could I point out - just to prove I'm a total geek - it is in fact Andy who says "Yeah, I know", not Lou?
Cambridge, UK

Times have changed (How smart are you? - French). Now kids need to know how to say they are an unemployed drug-addict.
John Wilson,

Is it too late to start a Christmas Decorations-watch? I'll go first and nominate Boots the Chemist in Telford who have gone all-out red and gold with just over 10 weeks to go until the big day...
Gareth Peate,
Oswestry, UK

Re Free DVDs. Maybe the Monitor can start a Friday DVD Watch of the weekend papers. That way all readers will have 24 hours to weigh up the relative merits of each before buying.
Rachel Fox,
London, England

Paper Monitor reports: "The Indie also helpful reveals full guestlist". I have tried again and again to read this in a way that makes sense, but it's no good.

Magazine Monitor since yesterday treated yours truly--the boho--to some great sense of humour and laughter.It has got me back to my wife.I will stop stealing chips from her.But how about when she is giving me training.Is it unfair for me to pick her chips? A feather in her cap.
A. Siddiq Tanko,

If nations are using natural disasters as a means to pursue more cordial relations with one another (Paper Monitor, Tuesday), surely that's a form of "global warming"?
John R,

One of the best examples of the use of Flexicons I have come across is in David Levitt's novel "The Body of Jonah Boyd". In the town in which the narrator lives many of the street names are made up of the front and back ends of different US states, such as Calibraska Avenue, Florizona Avenue, Oklakota Road, etc.
Philip Wright,
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Is it my imagination, or does the bald baby baboon bear more than a slight resemblance to Andrew Marr?
Michael Hall,
South Croydon, UK


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

A round-up of puns on Baroness Thatcher's birthday party:
"It's Thatcher's 80th (but the lady's not for turning up on time)" - Indie
"The Lady's all for turning 80" - Express
"Her Majesty meets the Horror Tories" - Mirror
And the weakest headline of the day: "The Iron curtsey" - Sun

(The Indie also helpful reveals full guestlist, including many lords and ladies and some surprises - Mr and Mrs Jeremy Clarkson, Mr and Mrs Hugh Scully, John Profumo, Terry Wogan, Sir Jimmy and Lady Young)

Last week, as Paper Monitor noted, you couldn't move for DVDs with the weekend papers. The Daily Star, making a rare appearance here, is upping the stakes. "Free Curry and Beer for every reader!" it offers today.

Over at Telegraph towers, spare a thought for the person being told off for the main front headline. Paper Monitor has tried again and again to read this headline in a way that makes sense, but it's no good. The only conclusion is that someone made a mistake. Hey - as regular readers will know - we all do it.


Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz came from the new MI6 recruitment website. One of its FAQs was why the boss was called 'C' - 52% of you wrongly said it stood for chief and 25% thought it too top secret to reveal. But 23% correctly said it stood for the boss's surname - Captain Sir Mansfield Smith Cumming. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, Lou and Andy meet, er, Andy and Lou. Well, actors David Walliams and Matt Lucas meet the waxwork doubles of their Little Britain characters Lou, a put-upon carer, and Andy, his wheelchair-bound charge.

6. Chris Roach, Manchester
A close call at the Kevin Keegan/Sven Goran Eriksson lookalike contest.

5. Brian Antell, Folkestone
Status Quo remain tight-lipped about the rumours of a UK tour.

4. J Bright, London UK's efficiency was beginning to seem a little too perfect.

3. Marc Gerrish, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancs, UK
"Our models were recycled from old Monty Python material. It was felt appropriate."

1=. Sam Holloway, Ely, UK
And I thought the BBC were aiming for fewer repeats...

1=. Martyn Jones, Swansea
Andy to Lou: "But you always said you wanted to meet yourself from another time and space continium.You always said that it would be the pinacle of our time on this earthly plane."
Lou: "Yeah, I know."


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

Professor Stephen Hawking may appear to have the answers to all those deep and meaningful questions about time, but there's one that surely has even him stumped - how come daytime TV host Richard Madeley never looks any older?

The thought clearly preoccupies the Daily Telegraph's Neil Tweedie, in a review of the Lucasian Professor of Theoretical Physics' appearance on yesterday's Richard and Judy show. Apparently, Prof Hawking had scheduled only one appearance on British TV to plug his new book - and this was it.

Responding to the Richard's question about the possibility of there being an afterlife, the prof told him this was just "wishful thing".

"That's depressing. I was hoping for a yes there," replied Richard. To which Tweedie quips: "He should be so worried with that portrait in the attic."

While the rest of the papers are falling over themselves to cover the launch of Apple's new iPod video, the Sun brings us news of another radical innovation in the MP3 world - the possibility of a music player being implanted in a woman's breasts.

Apparently, this is all down to some future gazing by the pointy heads at BT. The player would wirelessly beam the music to a pair of headphones.

Finally, it's Baroness Thatcher's 80th birthday. Cause for celebration in the Daily Mail, under the headline "The debt we owe her". Less charitable sentiments in the Daily Mirror, under the headline "The old witch".


In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked you what the average cost was of one hour of repeats on BBC One or BBC Two, a question which will vex BBC bosses less and less in the future. A whopping 39% of you mistakenly thought it was 4,000, edging out the correct answer, 13,000 (35%). Today's question is on the index now.


Letters logo
In your Who, What, Why? article about how newspapers can afford to give away free DVDs, 11 October, the spokesman for HMV says the cost of DVDs sold in shops reflects the "full costs of creating a film, distribution, marketing and selling it". According to this argument, Titanic must have cost more than a BILLION dollars to make, because that is what it made in the box office before going to DVD, and they still charged 19.99 for the disc.
K Feathers,
Swansea, UK

Alan, from London, commenting on the free DVDs story, (Monitor letters, Tuesday) raised a point which has been bothering me ever since: why exactly aren't there any Woolworths in central London?
Sue Lee,

Regarding the debate about the level of the BBC licence fee. I have been trying to equate it to my usage of the BBC News website and the equivalent of buying a daily paper. The numbers are close until I add in the cost of buying a few Suduko and crossword books. It really then falls flat when I have to go out and buy all those free DVDs at full price.
Jason S,
Southampton, UK

Re: Reason to be fearful?, 12 October: We're asked to look out for birds with flu - but how to tell? Do flu-ey birds line up at the chemist for Lemsip and tissues? And is it the flu or a heavy cold? So few people know the difference. Perhaps the easiest way to tell is the gender of the bird - flu if it's male, "just a cough" if female.

Some of us have to get through more than 6g of salt per day (How much is 6g?, 12 October) because we are active sportspeople. If we don't then cramp is the result.
John Airey,
Peterborough, UK

I must take my hat off to Nick Park. On a day that must have been soul destroying for all at Ardman Animations, he kept a perspective considering other events happening in the world ("'In light of other tragedies today it isn't a big deal" - Tuesday's Quote of the Day.)
Ian Bonham,

Re: Flexicon entries for earthquake diplomacy...Maybe not specifically for earthquakes, but offers of help during a general disaster (with or without strings): Calamassistance
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Calamnesty or calamnesia?
Giles Murchiston,


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 uniformed police officers who took time out from patrolling Nottingham's Goose Fair to have a go on the dodgems. About a dozen zoomed around on the bumper cars.

Great minds think alike (including the headline writers on the Sun). It's a fair cop, and variations such as Fayre cop, made up the bulk of the entries - contributors included Nicki, Croydon; Violette Cameron, Sarajevo; Bill, Halifax; Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts; Paul Harrison, Ivybridge, Devon; Hannah, London; Murf, Dunmow, England; Muhammad Isa, Watford and Tony Larcombe, Malvern, PA, US.

We also liked Cop Gear (Rebecca Payne, Cambridge), Fair Dodgers (Glenn J, UK; Tim G, London) and Panda-monium by Dave Regan, Southport.

Can I see your skiving licence? asked Nigel Macarthur, London. Alan C, Bracknell, had fun with Plod-gems, as did Norm Brown, Branxton, NSW, with A bumper bill of fair.

Sean Smith, Bucks, contributed Sargey Bargey, and Goosey Goosey Panda came in from Mel in Stuttgart, Germany, and David Dee in Maputo, Mozambique.

But roll up, roll up for PC whirled by Maggie, South London.


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

Paper Monitor usually concerns itself with what the newspapers themselves do or say, while it's happy to leave discussion of advertising to its colleague, Ad Breakdown. But today is a special case.

Yesterday, British Airways told advertising wizards Maurice and Charles Saatchi that it would not be renewing their contract, ending a relationship with them which goes back 23 years.

But in what could be a definition of chutzpah, M&CSaatchi have taken out a double page advert in today's Times with snapshots going back to the early 1980s. The first is a newspaper headline from 1982, saying "BA IS BLOODY AWFUL". Succeeding shots are from BA's memorable adverts, including the 1989 winking face made up of people walking across a desert, 1999's PJ O'Rourke saying how the Brits had shown the Americans a thing or two, and others, concluding with a newspaper headline from 2005 saying "BA becomes the world's most profitable airline".

The subtext is clear: BA was rubbish, but now owes its reputation and bottom line to its fantastic advertising. The pay-off line says: "Now taking new airline bookings. MCS@MCSAATCHI.COM"

It puts Paper Monitor in mind of a spurned lover putting on a cracking outfit and going out to show the world just what the ex is missing out on. Whatever it is, though, it's great spectator sport. And could give the Flexicon a new entry: Chutzpad.


In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 56% of you were correct in thinking Bill and Hillary Clinton celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Today's question is on the index now.


Letters logo

Interesting to learn that the Booker prize winning novel is called The Sea. It won't have escaped people's attention that many years ago Iris Murdoch won the prize with The Sea The Sea. Should any Magazine readers ever be tempted to write that first novel, might I suggest they call it The Sea The Sea The Sea.

In the article Strange fruit, M. Tucker encourages us to "buy straight from the farmer." Surely that's the problem, its the bent stuff we should be supporting.
James Glover
Edinburgh, UK

Re Free DVDs. For the first time ever I bought The Sun. Only when I looked at the coupon did I realise the catch. I had to present it at a "participating branch of Woolworths" the same day to claim the DVD! Well, if you work in Central London you're nowhere near a Woolworths - never mind a participating one. I extended my lunch hour in an attempt to get to the nearest branch of Woolworths, but guess what? The staff hadn't even heard of the offer never mind participating in it.
London UK

Sarah in London may not be aware of the stereotype behind the American Airlines ad she mentions. The airline is not trying to depict New Yorkers as an elite who, unlike us yokels, will only be satisfied by the best; they're showing New Yorkers as whiny, loudmouth complainers for whom nothing is ever good enough.

Earthquake diplomacy for the Flexicon: how about seis-nicety?


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

Fascinating piece in today's Times by foreign editor Bronwen Maddox, about what she terms "earthquake diplomacy", the notion that "the suffering caused by overwhelming natural disaster offers governments a chance to make a powerful gesture stripped of the history and troubles of the normal relations with each other".

Pakistan "yesterday finally said it would accept the offer of help from India, as a sign of thawing relations between the rivals," she writes.

Among the 90 countries that helped the US after Hurricane Katrina, she says, "there were some who are hardly the US's greatest friends".

"Cuba offered 1,100 doctors, surely a gesture of mischief. President Hugo Chavez, the Venezualan President, offered aid and soldiers while criticising President Bush for failing to protect the poor. Iran offered 20 million barrels of oil and unspecified aid through the Red Crescent agency should the US choose to lift sanctions (it didn't)."

Paper Monitor would now like to invite entries for the Flexicon conveying this concept of "earthquake diplomacy".


In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 43% of you thought Charles Dance was older than Chris Tarrant. 24% of you thought Tarrant was older than Dance. 33% of you were right in saying they were born on the same day and were both 59 yesterday. Today's question is on the index now.


Letters logo
What is the world coming to when the age-old practice of cheating at conkers (either by baking conkers, soaking them in vinegar, or even by decorating pebbles) is sidestepped? (Action to tackle conker cheats, 8 October). The organisers of the British Junior Conker Championship showed they just didn't get it, by supplying the conkers (and by supplying safety goggles to entrants) . Cheating and getting injured are just two of the joys of this season.
Tony Dilworth

Re: Ad Breakdown's report on the new Guinness advert (A step back in time, 7 October), and Dr Mike Goetz's letter about it in the Monitor on Friday, in which he deconstructs the evolutionary view of the advert. The advert is possibly the best piece of marketing I've ever seen. Congratulations Guinness.
Portsmouth, England

Would Giles Wilson please consider the value of ads that actually offend or put you off a product or service for a future issue of Ad Breakdown? A case in point is the current American Airlines ad, where they claim they fly however many thousands of New Yorkers across the Atlantic every year and if they can keep them happy they can keep anyone happy. To me this implies that American Airlines believes New Yorkers to be some kind of elite beings that have standards far above the rest of us peasants, especially us Luddites across the pond in the UK. Certainly puts me off flying with them anyway.
London, UK

Your story about ugly vegetables states that an hour in the garden burns 345 calories - half as much again as cycling. Great! No need to go down the gym any more, just sunbathe in the garden instead (or in bad weather have a nap on a garden lounger in the greenhouse.

To Edward Higgins, who in Thursday's Monitor Letters asks what to call words like "fauxhunt" and "flexicon"; Lewis Carroll in 'Through the Looking Glass' described words made by combining two words or parts of words to make a new meaning as "Portmanteau words".

Of Magazines and Monitors!Are u not art attackers? Launching thinly-veiled attacks?


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

Some choice cuts from today's papers.
The Mirror reports, on page three, "Charlotte [Church] has hair washed."
The Times catches up with the Segway personal transporter - "a pogo stick on wheels" - one of the Magazine's favourite gadgets, as far back as June 2003, and even May 2002 (which was technically before there even was a Magazine).
The Daily Mail reports on a new car which is designed to carry dogs instead of children and, in a separate development, a kettle you can text.
And the Guardian gives us this treat in its corrections and clarifications column: "A caption with the page 13 photograph of Lucy Mangan, which accompanied the G2 feature, A month in Tescoland, October 7, stated in error that she had used concentrated fabric conditioner on her hair. She had used hair conditioner." Gold dust.


Friday's was the closest Daily Mini-Quiz yet. We asked which, of four nationalities, had a survey found to be the most extrovert. A massive 8,000 of you answered, and came up with the same verdict as the original survey. 26.65% of you said Irish. 25.98% of you said English. 25.42% of you said Italian, while 21.95% of you said American. Monday's question, a birthday question special, is on the index now.

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