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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the new 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 cows by Tabitha Chivers, 11

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

1. Guests at the Queen's coronation in 1953 pilfered toilet paper from Westminster Abbey. "It was found early on Coronation Day, that much of the lavatory paper had been removed, and in future it will be necessary to take steps to prevent this," newly released official records say.

2. A tribe living in a remote part of Brazil's Amazon rainforest has no words for numbers beyond two. The Piraha use "one" to mean one or roughly one, two means two, while any larger number is just "many".

3. The day after the atomic bomb exploded on Hiroshima, the banks re-opened. They had one customer. (As recorded in John Reader's new book Cities.)

4. After wasps have stung, they can release a chemical to alert other wasps to come and help.

If you're in the UK, you can see 10 Things at the weekend on Ceefax, page 129 and also on cable, satellite and Freeview
5. Up to 65% of children with a father in jail get imprisoned themselves, according to Home Office figures.

6. Phrase-turner extraordinaire Clive James says he originated the terms "underwhelmed" and "young fogey", but is yet to receive the recognition he deserves. He also says he's particularly proud of his description of the Conan the Barbarian-era Arnold Schwarzenegger as "a brown condom full of walnuts".

7. George Clooney listens to The Archers online, according to model Lisa Snowden who says she introduced him to it.

8. Word of the week -Yngling, the boating class at which Team GB won gold in Athens. It was invented by Jan Herman Linge, who said: "The initial idea was to design and build a small keelboat for my son, Øyvin, who at that time was 14 days old. Hence the name 'Yngling,' which means youngster!"

9. Matt Damon's uncle wants to become the oldest man to swim the Channel and will make an attempt next week.

10. There is a hepatitis E - it's a waterborne, incurable disease, and is becoming an increasing problem among refugees from Darfur, according to aid agencies.

Thanks this week to David Brearley, Chris May, and Candace Sleeman. If you see something that should be included, let us know using the form.

Your e-mail address

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


The Friday Challenge, should you choose to accept it

Suddenly synchronised diving doesn't seem like a strange thing to do. No, following Team GB's fantastic performance in the sport, it seems heroic and brave, as well as technically challenging.

But it's in the UK's national interests to be on the lookout for the next synchronised activity for us to take on the world at. The tasks themselves need not be taxing, as the demonstration of synchronised stretching by the England cricket team (right) illustrates.

So here are the best of your suggestions for what we should synchronise to artistic and sporting effect. (Entries are now closed.)

I would like to see the kitchen Synchronised.
Luke A, UK

Synchronised bus-driving (in which buses all turn up at once).
Candy Spillard, UK

I would like to synchronise the time I am supposed to start work with the time I actually arrive.
A Middleton, Scotland

Ssyynncchhrroonniisseedd wwrriittiinng.g.
(oops only a 5.7 for that effort)
Steve and Shane, Exeter

This might be stretching things, but how about synchronised traffic lights?
Louis Brandt, Leicester

Sinkronised speling?
Willie Brown, UK

We're already getting close to synchronised A Level results.
Kip, Norwich

How about syncronised result protesting?
David K, UK

Synchronised turning up for meetings?

How about synchronised office work? Two or more people typing at precisely the same rate, punctuated by coordinated yawning, stretching, and occasional filing?
Sarah B, UK

Synchronised finding of a ringing mobile phone.
Peter, UK

Synchronised ice sculpture.
Liz, UK

Atomic Kitten could try synchronised singing?
Chrissy Mouse, London, UK

YOUR LETTERS Fri 20 Aug 1245 BST

Have the many experts looking at ways to make the Diana fountain safe considered a simple technique used by OAPs for years? Rubber mats in the bath have saved many a broken hip in the bathroom. Is there any reason why several hundred of these could not be placed in the fountain? At less than £5 a mat, the solution is both cheap and practical.
Daniel Waller

Re: The world's largest pile of gold still shines, 19 August. "The vault is locked manually, using large circular wheels". Circular wheels? What will they think of next!

Re: Fans get to grips with wax Brad, 18 August. Are visitors allowed to grope the Jennifer Aniston waxwork too?


It's time again for the caption competition. Nothing's changed, except it's now part of the Magazine Monitor.

This week, Tony and Cherie holidaying in Italy with bandanna-sporting, open-shirted Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. Winning entries below:

6. Kieran Boyle, England
Cherie: "Tony, I think I've left the gas on."

5. Chris Ballard, UK
Rod, Jane and Freddy mingle with fans before their long-awaited comeback gig

4. Howard M, Finland
Slight confusion as Mr Silvio Berlusconi turns up for meeting with representatives of ER

3. David Dee, Mozambique
Cherie: "What all the TV channels?"
Tony: "Yup, let's go for it."

2. Ellie, UK
Berlusconi: "You told me ALL British holiday makers wore knotted hankies."

1. Luke A, York
Cherie could feel the hand of history, but it wasn't on her shoulder

YOUR LETTERS Weds 18 Aug 1530BST

Re: Pay-as-you-drive car cover tested. The article says "Progressive Insurance, the USA's fourth largest car insurer, has already piloted a pay-as-you-drive scheme across the Atlantic". Is this only available then to amphibious vehicles?
Gideon, Reigate

Re: Unwritten rules of the motorway, says Mr. King: "On the famed German Autobahn... divers are faster but more considerate." - Synchronised swimming maybe?
David, UK

Re: Unwritten rules of the motorway, in which psychologist Conrad King reckons on the German Autobahns motorists drive faster but are more considerate. Tell that to the half-wit in his Audi this morning and all his equally "considerate" mates in their big, fast cars that hang around two yards behind me flashing lights because I have the audacity to overtake a lorry, causing them to slow down to from 100mph for a few seconds.
Frank, Saarland, Germany

In Punorama, shouldn't that be "set your PHRASERS to pun"?
Tom, London


It's the long-awaited return of Punorama, the Magazine's famous pun-writing competition.

It's been away for 18 months, but Punorama is now back. 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 armed robbers who fled empty handed from a West Midlands wholesalers, after cramming their holdalls so full of coins that they were too heavy to lift.

Best puns:

Robbers kilo-ver in bungled raid
Tim, London

The Great Strain Robbery.
ron , stafford

In-coin-petent Robbers get Short Changed.
Doug, Swindon, UK

The heist of embarrassment
RD, Liverpool

No ran-sack
Jason S, Southampton, UK

Weigh weigh we're the clunkies.
vicky, East London

It's too heavy, he's my robber
Andrew Culley, Grantham

Wasn't mint to be
Philip, Washington, DC

Smash and drag
Candy Spillard, York, UK

Change as good as arrest
Roy, Helsinki

They had a coin-ing plan...
Ibbi, Nottingham

Thieves coppered
Julie, London

Cash and don't carry
Neil D, London

Cash uncarry.
John Thompson, Southport, UK

Cops and plodders
Evan, UK/Dubai

Excess blaggage
Alan Shaw, London UK

Thieves fail to get a-weigh with it
Dave Katz, london


Billy Bragg to re-write Sir Cecil Spring-Rice's original version:

I vow to thee my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
Yesterday we asked you to re-write the words of the now controversial hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, to get there before Billy Bragg does. Bragg is to unveil his new version of the hymn, which one bishop has criticised as being heretical, at the Labour Party conference next month.

Here are five of the best entries, each with something to commend them.

First up is Jo Penkin, a pom in Australia, who fully embraces the multi-cultural and produces a secular anthem:

I embrace the way of life I love, the freedoms that I know,
See the beauty and diversity that lets our nation grow:
For our children and our culture, For the peace we strive to last,
The thoughts of our future, The land that is our past,
Let us all unite in friendship and faith in our beliefs,
That our country is for us to share and all to live in peace.

Frances, UK, writes a version which addresses Bishop Stephen Lowe's concern about unquestioning loyalty to a country.

I vow to thee my country, all kindred folk above,
Though fractured, mazed, imperfect, the service of my love:
The love with heart to question, the love that bears the pain,
That lays upon the altar the tearstain with the gain;
The love that is not blinded, the love that knows the price,
The love that makes unbidden a chosen sacrifice.

Not everyone's versions would be appropriate to sing in church, though. Ann sees a different model of modern values:

I vow to be a consumer, all purchases I love -
I believe the latest gadgetry was sent from high above.
I will buy, but ask no questions, I will buy without a test
As long as placed upon the counter is the dearest or the best.
Even if I can't afford it I will gladly pay the price
If the model is the latest or makes my house look nice.

Catherine O of Maidenhead goes somewhat further:

I vow to thee my country, to be a rampant thug,
To shave my head and tattoo a George Cross on my mug.
I'll reject the Euro blindly, unless for buying beer,
In a Calais supermarché or Euro football year,
I will fight them on the beaches, whoever "they" may be.
And when I'm back I will deny it all on the TV.

And final word goes to Sam Leader, another expat in Australia, who reveals an unpleasant side:

We despair of you, our country, our weather-battered Isle,
Where cafes serve up dodgy food, from staff who never smile;
Where Richard Madeley's famous (Such a shame he's not been lamped)
And we're intrigued by an article called 'Ant and Dec get clamped.'
Our sports teams, they may languish, behind the Poles and Swiss,
But English pride's so mighty we're blind to all of this

Thanks to everyone who took part, and to those who weren't published.

YOUR LETTERS Tues 17 Aug 1200BST

To go one better than Shruti Dev, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York is the only place in the world where a train can drive under a boat sailing under a car driving under a bicycle riding under an aeroplane.
John Airey

READING LIST Tues 17 Aug 1150BST

Things worth reading on other websites.

  • How much does the UK spend on space research, compared with the US or even France? Comedy science writer Timandra Harkness writes in Spiked Online that it's less than you might think.

  • Why do people not behave like the rational consumers of hardcore economic theory? Newsweek investigates Mind Reading

  • Page after page of Americans pouring out their thanks to Tony Blair for his support during the war. Hundreds of messages, which the site, Thankyoutony.com, promises are printed out, bound into volumes of 250 messages each and delivered to Downing Street every week.

    (Send your suggestions for the Reading List using the form on the right of the page. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)

    YOUR LETTERS Mon 16 Aug 1630BST

    Re: today's Dot.life, Searching for new ways to search. Anyone who types nothing but the word "prince" into a search engine deserves to get 17.5 million matches. Adding more information would narrow the search down somewhat.
    Henrietta Turnbull
    Sidcup Kent

    UPDATE Mon 16 Aug 1215BST

    Keeping tabs on stories past

    Remember Edward Genochio, who in March told The Magazine of his plan to cycle by himself from Exeter to Shanghai? (On a slow bike to China, 2 March) He's now 10,000 miles into his mammoth jaunt, but calamity has struck - a Mongolian horseman took a shine to his bike, which was padlocked to his tent, and so rode off with both.

    YOUR LETTERS Mon 16 Aug 1210BST

    Re 10 things we didn't know this time last week, 14 August, you seem to have missed out that the Boston University Bridge (on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts) is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.
    Shruti Dev
    Norwich, UK


    Each week LBQ giant Si is going to pose a riddle for you to puzzle over. The answer, and winner, will be revealed next Monday. Enter using the form below.

    A total nightmare

    Candace, Chris, Kieran and Tim were all competing in the Magazine's Lunchtime Bonus Question. Chris was kind enough to keep a running total of how many entries they each had published.

    When Kieran reached Candace's 8th week total, Tim was 8 behind Chris.

    The week Chris was 6 behind Candace happened 12 weeks after Kieran was a similar distance behind Tim.

    The week Candace reached Chris and Tim's combined 20th week total, Kieran had had 40 entries published.

    After 40 weeks, Chris was 20 ahead of Tim.

    Assuming they were published at a constant rate, how many questions did each have published during the 52 week year?

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from the correct entries, was Michael Pearson. The answer was SCHOLES.

    Your e-mail address

    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 bbc.co.uk/magazine.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


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