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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 16:06 GMT 17:06 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 cranes by Mark Langford

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

1. One euro cent coins cost more to make than their face value, due to the rocketing price of copper.

2. Forget The Scream. There are currently 491 missing Picassos, 342 missing Miros and 152 missing Rembrandts, according to the Art Loss Register.

3. The sale of methylated spirits was, until earlier this year, prohibited on Sunday under Section 26 of the Revenue Act 1889.

4. A "jiffy" is 10 milliseconds in computer science terms.

5. It's 10 years since the world's first internet café opened - Cyberia, in London's Whitfield Street.

6. The procedure for impeaching a public official in the UK was last used in 1806, when an attempt was made to remove Viscount Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty.

7. The "tiffin carriers" of Bombay, who deliver home-cooked lunches to office workers, are so good at delivering to the right person on time that Forbes Magazine has given them an accuracy and precision rating of 99.99% - one error per 10,000 deliveries.

8. The 1900 and 1904 Games were low-key events, coinciding with the World's Fair in their respective cities. So low-key, in fact, that some athletes were left unaware that they had just competed in the Olympics.

9. Margaret Roberts (later Thatcher) helped invent the chemical process that produces Mr Whippy ice cream.

10. The pollution given off by cigarettes is 10 times greater than that in diesel car exhaust, an Italian study has found.

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

Your e-mail address

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


Your Friday challenge, should you choose to accept it ...

The final bank holiday of the summer is upon us. The TUC says Britons deserve additional days off, and we couldn't agree more. But when? And why?

A survey has shown that many favour a Monday in late October as the best time for a new day off. Others suggestions include New Year's Eve, St George's Day, St Andrew's Day, and St David's Day.

But is there a holiday we're missing? Like, say, LBQ Participants Day, in which the entire nation skips work - presumably to celebrate the Magazine's lunchtime bonus question - which in reality would be devoted to sleeping late and then drinking coffee in a sun patch at the dining room table?

You get the idea. Your suggestions, please, including occasion and date. A selection of the best will be published here throughout Friday.

Here they are:

II would favour a national Sports Day sometime in July. I'm not sure though whether I'd like to see the country participating in sport to create a leaner, fitter society, or if I just want to laugh at middle aged men in shorts and sandals running egg and spoon races.
Ray Lashley, Bristol UK

Let's make everyday a bank holiday, except for those few wet weeks in August when it wouldn't hurt to go into the office.
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke, UK

nternational Talk Like a Pirate Day is on September 19th. I reckon it be a fine arrrrrr-dea, me beauties.
Ibbi, Nottingham, uk

National No Roadworks Day. To replace any current Bank Holiday.
Dave Godfrey, Swindon

'Rip-off Britain' day to celebrate continually being conned and having to pay overinflated prices for everything. June 31st is recommended
Jeremy , Munich, Germany

We should have a day off at the beginning of April to celebrate the end of the tax year and no taxes should be paid on that day. It could be called "Tax Free Day".
Jim Highton, UK

The second Friday in December. Then people won't have to call in sick after the office Christmas party.
Liz, UK

Not a firefighter, airline baggage handler or tube worker? Let's have a Strikers' Day where the rest of us can go to the movies or shopping and pretend that we are officially protesting about our pay and conditions.
Sophie Sanderson, UK

Australia Day, January 25. Britain invented Australia, why not down a couple of Fosters and celebrate with us?
Brendan, UK - originally from Perth, Australia

I would gladly accept the invitation to celebrate National Hangover Day. Heck, make it International.
Scott Richardson, US


Re: A brief history of Timekeeping, 26 August, tells us that, "At the National Physical Laboratory, scientists are working on a clock that is so accurate that it will lose only one second in the remaining lifetime of the universe." Could they please tell their colleagues how long this will be? It's been bugging them for literally ages.
Ray Lashley,
Bristol, UK

Re Wednesday's Monitor letters: Improved GCSE results proven to be a direct result of C4 programme How Clean Is Your House.

Your article on Australians complaining about having to pass an English test (Do they speak English in Australia?, 25 August) misspells "fossick" by missing the c. Bit ironic, that. And I've double-checked this in the Collins Concise Dictionary (Fourth Ed, 1999), which backs me up.
Jack Elder

Re Ad Breakdown: For the love of the car adverts, 26 August, in which you report about the new VW slogan. Oh dear. One of the refreshing aspects of the "people's car" was the lack of a tacky ad line. Now they've got one - and oh dear, it doesn't quite roll off the tongue does it? "Vorsprung Durch Technik" has a nice rhythm to it, in syllables a neat 2-1-2. "Aus liebe zum Automobil", however, is a not-so-rhythmic 1-2-1-4. It just sounds clumsy. At least "zum" sounds a bit like "zoom". In Europe we like to think of our American cousins as brash and slightly tacky. Not in this case - give me "Drivers Wanted." anyday.

UPDATE Fri 27 Aug 1210BST

Keeping tabs on stories past.

Letters written by some of those detained in Guantanamo Bay have been incorporated into a play which has opened on Broadway, as this story from Radio 4's Today programme reports. One of the British detainees involved is Moazzam Begg, whose letters first appeared in this Magazine story, Letters home from Guantanamo Bay way back in July 2003.


Winning entries in this week's caption competition, now part of the Magazine Monitor.

This week, an intense-looking Russian diver competes during the springboard event at the Olympics.

6. Dave Williams, Prudhoe, UK
Book? ..no Film....sounds like...

5. Andy Brown, UK
Workplace injury that's not your fault? Claims Direct could help.

4. Nick Gill, UK
If we didn't use the Cyrillic alphabet, doing YMCA would be so much easier...

3. Simon, UK
It's not hitting the water that worries me - it's the thought that John Prescott may pull me out.

2.Philip Whiting, Manchester
So you're going to put the background in afterwards?

1. Keith Mills, Dublin
What do you mean "they're still filling the pool"?


So Clean houses may trigger asthma, and Messy homes lead to messy minds, both 26 August. Quite a choice then.
Faith Kilford

Messy homes cause messy minds, do they? I find that those who have and prioritise tidy desks (to take an example) generally just don't have enough things to think about and enough work to do.
Mark Hymers
Newcastle upon Tyne

Record rainfall is reported in August, 26 August, at just 120ml? That's just about half a cupful. I think we call that a drought.

Re: Your rail commuter's champ story, Alone with the yobs, 25 August. This is the ultimate them and us comment. Is the BBC only going to cater for the bland character-free mindless grey shoe brigade? I am ex-public school so I guess I should be the perfect target for these "yobs" and yet I relish taking the train down late on a Friday night. It's fun. You meet people. And graffiti? Surely this is a symptom of youth trapped in a world of the grey and mundane. Grey industrial sprawl SHOULD be scribbled on. At least it gives me something interesting to look at instead of commuters faces.

PUNORAMA Weds 25 Aug 1110BST

It's time for Punorama, the Magazine's famous 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. Originality is what counts.

So set your phasers to pun on the story about Truro cathedral which is using a miniature airship equipped with a digital camera to get a good view of the 90ft-high windows after some masonry fell off the building.

Entries now closed. Here is the report of the judges.

Some nice punmeistry this week, kicking off with Laurence from London who suggests: "Church uses Micro-ships Windows Explorer to check for Defragmented masonry". De Nada, UK, works even harder to produce SuperCameraFragileWindowExplorationDiocese.

Most other entrants choose to go more simply, though, including Ray Gray (Dirigible cine), Phil B-C (I spire) and Jason S (Chapel crumble).

James, Scotland, is nearly there with Lead Zeppelin, but the winner of this week's round is Roy, Finland, with Zeppelin shoots Rolling Stones.

YOUR LETTERS Weds 25 Aug 1100BST

In yesterday's Monitor, Stephen Buxton wrote: "Apparently Farnham has disappeared" after being told that there "was no Farnham in Hampshire". He'll probably be glad to know I think I've found it - hiding in Surrey.
Ed, Clacton

So directory inquiries couldn't find Farnham in Hampshire? I'm not surprised. But they could have offered Farnham (Surrey), Farnham (Dorset), Farnham (Suffolk), Farnham (Essex), or Farnham (North Yorkshire). To say nothing of Farnham Common (Bucks), or Farnham Moor (Northumberland).
Rod Findlay, Newcastle

Re: Let's get Vizical, 23 August. I still laugh at the issue where Viz announced that they were online at last and instructed you to send your letters in the usual way, but address them to "internet department" on the envelope.
William Lawson

Jo Twist writes "Few would have thought that when Crick and Watson discovered DNA, it would help in making a tool to fight spam." in 'DNA analysis' spots e-mail spam, 25 August. Few would have thought this in 1953 as at that time developing biological warfare agents against luncheon meat would have seemed ridiculous.
Mark Garner

YOUR LETTERS Tues 24 Aug 1030BST

If Millions are missing GP appointments (24 August), why do I end up waiting for the doctor? If there is such a problem with people not turning up, surely the doctor would be sat there twiddling her thumbs waiting for me?
Arnold Powis

Re: Students' drink bill nears £1bn, 22 August. Should have waited for Happy Hour.

Regarding 118 Inquiries (Monitor Letter, 23 August). The other week I wanted a telephone number of my cousin who lives in Farnham, near Guildford. I had the street name and house number, the town and even the post code, but was told that there "was no Farnham in Hampshire". Apparently Farnham has disappeared.
Stephen Buxton
Coventry, UK

READING LIST Tues 24 Aug 1045BST

Things worth reading on other websites.

  • What does research into increasing men's sexual stamina mean for "heterosexual women, lazy men and employers hoping their staff will turn up on time"? The Daily Telegraph has a few delicately put thoughts.

  • So is it pushy parents that make a great Olympic champ? Not necessarily, but one's parents can be more influential than you might think, as the National Geographic reports.

  • Amazing photographs of pre-revolution Russia, recreated in full colour on the Library of Congress's Empire That Was Russia (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 23 Aug 1300BST

    I see there is to be an inquiry into how well the new directory inquiry services are working (Probe into 118 inquiry service, 23 August). Recently I rang one of the new companies, seeking the number for Cathay Pacific at Heathrow. The operator said to me: "Sorry sir, I can't find that number. But I have got the number for Café Italia or Café Nero."
    Edward Higgins

    Re Unwritten rules of the road, 18 August. Motoring psychologist Conrad King says: "Consciously or unconsciously drivers are joining a ring road, not a linear road." Surely being conscious is the first rule?
    Herne Bay

    Re: How can it rain fish?, 20 August, where you mention a diver being dropped from the sky in the film Magnolia. If I remember rightly the diver had been scooped up when a plane used for fire-fighting collected water from a lake - he ended up in a tree when the plane dumped its cargo on a forest fire. I am sure you will rest easier knowing that.

    Re: McDonald's serves up film blitz, 20 August. You report that McDonald's has taken out newspaper ads in the UK. Super size ads, I assume?


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

    Constituents of the Cabinet

    These five members of the cabinet should lead you to another. Can you tell me who and why?

    Rt Hon Charles Clarke
    Rt Hon Alistair Darling
    Rt Hon Geoff Hoon
    Rt Hon Paul Murphy
    Rt Hon Dr John Reid

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from the correct entries, was Judy Hallam. The answer was Candace 130, Chris 117, Kieran 65, Tim 91. (Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website, which has a puzzle-solving tutorial.)

    Your e-mail address

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


    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
    Your e-mail address
    Your comment

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


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