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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
The Magazine Monitor

SOME REGULAR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MAGAZINE MONITOR

Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the 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 THINGS WE DIDN'T KNOW THIS TIME LAST WEEK

10 THINGS
10 bowling balls by Nathan Jenkins

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

1. Britain is owed a total of £350,170 in unpaid parking fines run up by foreign diplomatic staff. Since they have diplomatic immunity, forcing them to pay can be tricky.

2. Some of Shakespeare's most famous lines changed from one performance of his plays to another. For instance Hamlet's famous line, "To be, or not to be, that is the question" had earlier been, "To be, or not to be, I there's the point".

3. Comic book football hero Roy of the Rovers is older than he looks. On Saturday he celebrates his 50th birthday.

4. Guga, the meat of a young gannet, is oily and tastes a bit like fish, a bit like fowl and is very salty. The hunting season for the birds is now underway in Lewis, where the dish is considered a delicacy and has a 500-year tradition.

5. Love at first sight may exist after all. People decide what kind of relationship they want within minutes of meeting, researchers at Ohio State University found.

6. Barbie is no longer the fashion doll little girls most want to own. Streetwise upstarts Bratz are now outselling the 44-year-old, who had been queen of dolls ever since sales were first monitored a decade ago.

7. Feeding children curries may protect them from cancer. Turmeric, the spice which turns dishes yellow, stops the growth of leukaemia cells and seems to protect against damage from cigarette smoke and some processed foods, scientists believe.

8. The position of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - now held by Alan Milburn - dates back to the 14th Century, when it was created for John of Gaunt.

9. Word of the week: Britalian. Chef Antonio Carluccio uses it to describe Italian-style food from UK supermarkets, which he says do not use the proper recipes.

10. Twenty years ago, seven out of every 10 pints drunk in the UK were ale. Now, thanks to the rise of lager, stout and cider, the number is just three.

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

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


THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE FRI 10 SEPT 1320BST

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

According to the organisers of the Small Wonders festival, being held this weekend in East Sussex, the short story is the "most satisfying and multi-faceted" kind of writing.

To prove them right, the Friday Challenge this week is no mean feat. We want you to write a short story. A very short story. Indeed. Maximum 70 words.

Each story must, in true short story style, have a beginning, a middle and an end. And a twist. The title of the story must be "1974".

And the reason for this particularly satisfying and multi-faceted challenge is that our sister publication, Ceefax, celebrates its 30th anniversary next week.

Winning entries, therefore, will not be published here today as usual. They will be published next Friday here in the Magazine and also on Ceefax, hence the enforced 70 word limit.

(Entries are now closed.)


GOING POSTAL DAY NINE FRI 10 SEPT 1230BST

Day nine of our test putting the Post Office to the test.
No news.

YOUR LETTERS FRI 10 SEPT 1230BST

Re: Experts brand Swindon 'soulless', 10 September. They needed an "expert" to tell us? Next - experts declare London to be hot and smelly and that you should avoid certain parts of Liverpool?
Doug McKerracher
Swindon, UK

Re: Noah's Ark plan from top Moon man, 8 September. I am confused. Could Dr Foing please explain the source of all those pretty craters on the Moon's surface and state whether their cause may in any way affect a fragile DNA store? Thanks.
Michael
Maidstone

Jon, London, says pizza delivery restaurants put stuff through his door every single day. Presumably not pizza though?
Brian Saxby
Gateshead, UK

So Michelangelo's David has poor posture (Perfect David a 'physical wreck', 8 September). If this is a true to life model then David was a monster - have you seen the size of his hands in proportion to rest of him?
Sarah D,
Didcot, England

CAPTION COMPETITION FRI 10 SEPT 1220BST


Winning entries in this week's caption competition.

This week, what is going through the mind of the champagne delivery man, ready and waiting at 11 Downing Street, the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

6. Colin Larcombe, Paris
"OK boss I understand, cash only."

5. Hugh McKinney, UK
Fears were rising in Westminster that a snap Budget was about to be called

4. Seb, Oxon, UK
"If I hold my nose and blow, maybe I can dislodge this thing from my ear."

3. Richard, UK
Waiting for Gordo

2. Calum Scott, UK
News of John Redwood's return reaches Downing Street.

1. Andy Fisher, UK
"Milburn you say... so I'll just take this lot back shall I?"


GOING POSTAL DAY EIGHT THURS 9 SEPT 10:30 BST

It's day eight of putting the post office to the test and things have well and truly gone south.

Mr Mystery, the sixth link in our chain of volunteers, is still waiting forlornly by his post box, looking for the as-yet missing Magazine postcard.

And it had all been going so smoothly. The first five volunteers in the chain saw the post office at its best, making next-day deliveries on time, as promised.

But Friday is always the best day of the working week, so maybe Mr Mystery's card will make it in time for the weekend.


PUNORAMA WEDS 8 SEPT 1250BST

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. Originality is what counts.

So set your phasers to pun on the story about the rail company which had two months worth of delays and then expressed its appreciation to its customers, sorry, passengers, by giving them a packet of mints with the word "Thanks" written on the outside.

Entries are now closed and here is the verdict of the judges.

Good work punsters. Hedley Russell kicks off with Lax trax pax tictax, while Andrew Payne suggests Mint Contrition.

Luke Bennett proposes Passengers Driven Menthol, while Jason S, warming to his theme, lobs in Super, Thank You, Don't Go Ballistic, But End Your Halitosis.

Simple wins the day, though. Neil D with Suck it and seeth.


YOUR LETTERS WEDS 8 SEPT 1045BST

Re Piling on the Prejudice, 6 September. If you think being fat is the "one remaining acceptable prejudice," then you should see how the world treats short people. The funny thing is, the fat people are the most cruel about it.
John Horton

A 24-hour advert channel?, 7 September. Lunatics? Asylum? Taken over?
Richard Alderton
Newcastle, UK

Even if I watch the Advert Channel, I will still end up in frustration. You'll be sitting there waching some good advert only for it to be interrupted by a film. Put the kettle on darling!
Matthew Kidd
Scotland

Re Going Postal. Why not place the UK postal system in the hands of Pizza delivery restaurants. They put stuff through my door every single day anyway.
Jon, London

Jeremy Schaffner complains about "the postal service in my home country, South Africa", then gives his address as "Jubail, Saudi Arabia". I think I might have spotted the problem.
David Dee
Maputo, Mozambique

GOING POSTAL DAY SEVEN WEDS 8 SEP 1030BST

Day seven of our experiment putting the post office to the test.

Mr Mystery
Oh dear. Mr Mystery, our sixth person in our chain of volunteers to see how well the Post Office is doing at next day delivery, still hasn't received our post card.

"I know I started moaning before it was even posted to me," he says, "but I run a small business and I've lost count of the times I've had headaches waiting for invoices and cheques to arrive after they've been posted."

Come on Thursday, our hopes are riding on you.


READING LIST TUES 7 SEPT 1630BST

Things worth reading on other websites.

  • We know where Bill Clinton is at the moment. But where's Al Gore? According to The New Yorker, he's in Tennessee eating eggs and making cash.

  • A week after the UK's first download charts, Salon magazine looks at the chances of success of MSN's new music site, and wonders if history - in a Gates v Jobs sense - will repeat itself.

  • Suffering from Olympic nostalgia yet? With so many countries taking part, says Time magazine, there are many different stories to dwell on. Such as Germany having its worst games since reunification, but celebrating the first woman to win medals over a 24-year span. And the Zorba the Greek theme playing 14,000 times.

    (You know by now that the BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)

    YOUR LETTERS TUES 7 SEPT 1600BST

    Re: Piling on the prejudice, 6 September, where you mention the offensivenes to overweight people of comments like "who ate all the pies" and "fat boy". That's to say nothing of the blatantly fattist graffiti all round the place, the most obvious example of which is "maximum load 12 persons". (Copyright Not the Nine O'Clock News, c. 1981)
    Zebedee Weaver
    Nottingham

    Re Going Postal. My wife is at the very final stage of sorting her mother's will which requires two forms to be signed by National Savings & Investments, Glasgow. Before posting NS&I said, send the forms by recorded delivery, just to be certain they arrive. We did, first class recorded delivery and....the Post Office lost the letter. I think Mr Mystery is spot on.
    Mark Baillie, Southampton, England

    Re Going Postal. Dear residents of the UK, check out the postal service in my home country, South Africa, then realise that you are living in a postal paradise. Quit griping.
    Jeremy Schaffner
    Jubail, Saudi Arabia

    In response to L.J, Southampton's criticism of the bull fighting caption, surely the fact it shows the bull has 'won' gives L.J. some satisfaction?
    Anon
    Maidenhead, England

    I'm glad to see that in testing Wikipedia's massively extensive knowledgebase (Dot.life: From Aaan to ZZTop, 6 September) you went directly for "porn".
    Alex Butler
    Gloucester, UK

    GOING POSTAL DAY SIX TUES 7 SEP 1145BST

    Day six of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

    Ah well. Perhaps it was all going too smoothly. Having had a clear run of five days when the Post Office fulfilled its aim of next day delivery, which took our postcard from London to Oxford to Falkirk to Suffolk to Cornwall and then to Portadown, it has failed to turn up at its appointed destination this morning.

    MIA [Posed by a model]
    To preserve the purity of the test, we won't tell you where it was due to be delivered. But the Magazine reader who volunteered to be next in the chain is not surprised. As we mentioned yesterday, he says he is so disillusioned with the Royal Mail that he now only uses private couriers to send things - at far greater cost.

    This morning he said: "Nothing arrived. Oh, except a parcel that was posted First Class on Wednesday last week."

    Still... better luck tomorrow. Fingers crossed.


    YOUR LETTERS MON 6 SEPT 1530BST

    Re: the request for a length of time between a jiffy and a while. The Bard frequently used Anon.
    Anon
    Brussels

    Was Neil Webber from Bristol in last week's Friday Challenge possibly alluding to the fact that Paula Radcliffe has to endorse fun size Snickers because she can't manage a whole marathon? Shame on you... ;o)
    Darren
    Croydon, UK

    Re last week's Caption Competition; so, the BBC feels that a photo of a poor creature being exploited in the name of "fun" is worthy of being used further for a caption competition. How is this for a caption: "offensive"?
    L.J,
    Southampton

    Re Historic footnote of the week, 4 September. Surely your ex-DG is now passť (The Times They Are A-Changing).
    Jel
    Belgium

    GOING POSTAL DAYS 4 AND 5 MON 6 SEPT 1215

    Simon Millard
    Days four and five of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

    Five down, and so far the Post Office has been true to its word of next day delivery. When we last heard of our postcard on Friday, it had safely reached Suffolk. Magazine reader Mark Langford then posted it on to the next person in our chain, Simon Millard, 421 miles away in Truro, Cornwall. Sure enough the card arrived on Saturday morning.

    Simon then posted the card to Robert McKinney - no mean challenge for the postal service, since Robert lives in Portadown, Co Armagh. Robert's expectations of receiving it were, to be honest, low.

    Robert McKinney with postman Tom
    But it turned up this morning at 1045BST - Robert was so surprised, he took a photograph of himself with postman Tom Bolger. "Our round doesn't have a regular postman, and Tom says he is doing this as overtime," he says.

    So after a successful weekend for the Royal Mail, the card is heading back across the Irish Sea today, to a man who says he has become so disillusioned with the Post Office that he now only sends things by private courier. Our postcard may be on a roll - so check back tomorrow to see how it gets on.

  • Some Magazine readers have said that the Post Office might be making a special effort to look out for our distinctive postcard. It's for this reason that each member of the chain is putting the card in an envelope.

    SI'S RIDDLE OF THE WEEK MON 6 SEPT 1030BST

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

    Student Days

    From the clues below can you match the students with the courses they will study and the universities they will attend?

    Philippa did not apply to Nottingham or to study Maths.
    The student on her way to Durham to read English is not Becky.
    Alison will be at York next term.
    Eleanor is the student accepted to read Geography, but not at Oxford.
    Becky changed her mind about studying History.

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from the correct entries was Sarah Bowman of Cambridgeshire. The answer, in true Olympic stylee, was Badminton, Cycling, Rowing, Marathon, Sailing, Boxing, Shot Put, Hockey, High Jump, Archery, Wrestling, Steeplechase, Discus, Javelin. (Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website, which has a puzzle-solving tutorial.)

    Name
    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your answer

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


    HOW DOES THE MAGAZINE MONITOR WORK?

    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.




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