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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Eggsclusive - the old ones are the best

Stuart Denman
By Stuart Denman
Newsnight website

Peter Barron is away this week.


    Never let it be said that Newsnight doesn't like a cheap laugh.

    There were puns by the half dozen in the Newsnight office
    At our morning meeting on Wednesday we were discussing our top story - the report by Europe's Food Safety Authority, leaked to Newsnight, on the levels of salmonella contamination in Europe's poultry stocks.

    The seriousness of the risk to egg imports to the UK, as reported by our science editor Susan Watts that evening, wasn't quite enough to stifle the giggles of a handful of producers hell-bent on producing the most eggscruciating puns.

    It was probably better to get them out in the open, but a trace of hilarity saw the day out as the programme's output editor, Simon Enright, couldn't resist closing the programme with a video of Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall. As Jeremy pointed out - not a good day for eggs.

    Artist's impression of the Aurora spyplane

    If we'd have thought about it, we might have brought the last few days together under the umbrella "food week".

    Liz MacKean's report last night on the use of trans-fats in our food had me hurrying into the kitchen to consult food labels only 24 hours after Susan Watts had sent me dashing to the fridge to check the source of my eggs.

    These are two of many strong stories we've had this week - check out our reports on spy planes and Malawi's tobacco growers, to name two of my favourites.

    Crackling Crick

    Michael Crick eating a slice of melon
    Michael's twisting a melon, man
    But the week has, unavoidably, been dominated by football. Our own nod to the goings on in Germany has been to have Michael Crick crackle across a 3G connection to the Newsnight studio every night, and the web team has been fielding comments about the quality.

    One viewer noticed Jeremy's obvious love of the game:

    "What an interesting contrast between Paxman's sneering tone on the football, and his overtly reverential reporting of yet another 'celebration' of some event involving the Queen."
    Malcolm Wright, Sheffield

    I can't think what you're talking about. In any case, we leave the football fanaticism to Mr Crick - last seen with his head in a melon - while Jeremy gets on with crowing about our podcast.

    I had to check the previous evening's script when I came in on Thursday to be sure that my ears hadn't deceived me:

    "You can catch it all again on our website, or if you're a really cool cat, daddy-o, download a podcast."

    His most glowing endorsement yet.

    Which icon winds you up?

    We've managed to coax Jeremy to the mic for yet another conversation with his pod-fans this week - and I'm sure even Bill Gates will be listening in.

    The Outlook paper clip
    Don't you just love him...?
    As I write, the programme's producers are working on an item about the man who has announced a re-ordering of his priorities to enable a two-year handover of his day-to-day responsibilities in the top job. And, no, I'm not talking about Tony Blair.

    In researching the item we've reminded ourselves that we have Gates and Microsoft to thank - or blame - for many of the icons and sounds that have become so familiar to us through our computer dependence.

    There's that revolving egg timer you have no choice but to watch nervously, waiting for it to either cease spinning and perform the task you asked of it, or just spin forever until you turn the computer off.

    There are the grey boxes that tell you all about exception errors and other technical euphemisms for "you've lost your work, mate".

    And who can forget the cheerful animated paper clip that would appear on your screen to enlighten you to the fact that you seem to be writing a letter? I can recall a plethora of witty e-mails taking the Microsoft out of that one.

    Back to eggs

    Enough from me - Peter should be back next week to talk editorial stuff.

    Before I go, I should mention that Radio 4, as part of Westminster Hour on Sunday night, is airing an interesting segment on how to survive an interview with Jeremy Paxman:

    "Steve Hewlett picks apart the Paxman interviewing technique and talks to the politicians who have survived a Paxo stuffing."

    If I were so inclined I might suggest that his technique is simply to make 'em crack and give them a good beating, which would bring us nicely back onto the subject of eggs. You can't make an omelette...

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