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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the home for many ever-popular features, including your letters and :

  • MON: Si's riddle
  • WEDS: Punorama
  • THURS: Caption comp
  • FRI: Friday Objective
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know this time last week


    10 THINGS
    10 penguins by Nikos Christidis

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

    1. One in 18 people has a third nipple.

    2. More than 100 tons of ripe tomatoes are splattered about in Spain's Tomatina Festival.

    3. The crumbed batter around fish fingers is cooked so quickly the fish inside stays frozen. In all, preparation and packaging takes just 35 minutes.

    4. The Spanish smoke more Gauloise cigarettes than the French.

    5. Michael Sheard, who played Grange Hill's terrifying deputy head Mr Bronson and who died this week, also appeared in the Empire Strikes Back (he played Admiral Ozzel) and in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (he played Hitler).

    6. The section of coast around Cleethorpes has the highest concentration of caravans in Europe.

    7. George Clooney's father was a television news anchor.

    8. China makes about 40% of the world's socks.

    9. And it has around 24,000 coal mines - more than 3,000 miners have been killed this year alone, in fires, floods and other work-related accidents.

    10. Road signs in an Austrian village - whose seven-letter name begins with "F" and ends in "ing" - are now encased in theft-proof concrete to stop tourists stealing them.

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

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your pun

    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
    Re: Paper Monitor's report on the new size for the Guardian newspaper. In the same way that a Frankfurter is a type of sausage, as well as the term for someone from Frankfurt, and a Hamburger is the beef pattie, as well as a person from Hamburg, a Berliner is also a type of doughnut. I'd be delighted to see a doughnut-sized Guardian in the shops.
    Michael Hall,
    Croydon, UK

    You report that it is the 126th anniversary of the Blackpool illuminations and this year they are celebrating the 125th anniversary of the invention of the light bulb. Am I missing something here?
    Glenn J,

    Given that question seven in your 7 days 7 questions quiz has an option to be "nearly true", I'd like to enquire as to what the BBC's policy is on the law of the excluded middle. What circumstances would qualify anything as "nearly true"? Will the BBC publish stories that are "nearly true"? I am wondering if you have unwittingly given away a secret journalistic code.
    Jane Verne,
    London, UK

    How about a crackdown watch? I just clicked on to the BBC news home page and the main item was "Crackdown in fearful New Orleans" and the latest news was "Ministers order drug ad crackdown". A quick search reveals seven "crackdown" articles in the last seven days, six with "crackdown" in the title. Surely what we need is a crackdown on the proliferation of the word "crackdown".
    Claire Steel,
    Watford, UK

    In the interests of promoting even greater interaction between readers of this page, I'd like to ask Robin from Edinburgh (Monitor Letters, Thursday if he is - as I suspect - my brother who celebrated his 42nd birthday this week.

    Is Photoshop now a verb? (Paper Monitor, 1 September)

    Thanks for all your kind words about my riddles. Unfortunately the past 50 riddles have drained my inspiration as well as my sanity. It was a case of either quitting while I was behind or launching a lavish new range of Si Doku puzzles...
    London, UK


    CES generic
    The shape of the digital living room is undecided
    It must have looked like the ultimate bargain - a 28" TV with built in DVD player for 49p.

    Unfortunately the 10,000 customers who snapped up the offer on the Argos website won't get their sets after it was revealed there had been a mistake in pricing.

    They will at least get a refund. But what good is 49p, really?

    Send your suggestions on the best way to spend 49p, using the form below. The best will be posted here during the afternoon.

    At the price I'm being charged for my internet connection, 49p will buy me just enough internet time to post th....
    Glenn J, UK

    A copy of British Homing World, Britain's premier Pigeon Periodical. You can't get any better information about our avian friends without hiring an ornathologist.
    Jonathan Whiteley, UK

    Making me happy. So if all 10,000 of you could please send your useless 49p to me at the following address...
    Sarah, London

    A down payment on the claim fee for the "European Lottery" that I've won, according to this e-mail I have here.
    Malcolm Owen, Swansea, UK

    I thought it such a good offer that I ordered 715. With my refund from that I can afford the full price TV.
    Ian, Bristol

    A can of worms to feed the office hedgehog.
    Evert-Jan Dijkman, Holland

    0.00202598 Gold Ounces. Not much use, but definitely cooler than 49p.
    Neil, Aberystwyth

    A damp cloth for cleaning your old telly, cos you ain't getting a new one for 49p.
    Michael Miller, UK

    The temptation is impossible to resist... "The BBC News site costs around 50p from every 126.50 licence fee" - from the editor's column.
    Dave Mason, Owen Toon


    It's time for the caption competition.

    This week, a reveller takes a breather at La Tomatina Festival in Valencia, Spain, an annual event where thousands crowd the streets to pelt each other with more than 100 tons of ripe tomatoes.

    6. Tim Francis-Wright, Boston, US
    You say tomato, I say Bacchanalia.

    5. Sue Lee, Twickenham, UK
    The vegan remake of Reservoir Dogs was proving to be a messy affair.

    4. Chris Field, US
    The Grime of the Ancient Marinara.

    3. Christian Cook, UK
    "All I said was, 'technically it's a fruit'."

    2. P Anghelides, Southampton, UK
    Decorators start work on Damien Hirst's new manor house.

    1. Lorraine Jones, London
    Now all I need is a dash of vodka and a celery stick.


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

    Paper Monitor has a confession to make - it had no idea that Fats Domino was still alive, even before the unpleasant scare his family had when they thought he had died in the New Orleans flooding.

    But putting that to one side, it's intrigued by an article in the Guardian reporting that from 12 September the paper is converting into a new size which it calls "Berliner" but which Paper Monitor is childishly going to insist on calling "Hamburger".

    According to the paper's editor, the Hamburger format "combines the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet". Sounds great - even though Paper Monitor is still looking for any "almost imperceptible witticisms" in the Sudoku, having not yet found any.

    On a sad note, the same article also announces the end of the paper's science supplement Life, which is to be replaced with a technology section. When he launched Life in 2003, the editor wrote an article saying: "We hope to do something similar for the understanding and general culture of science in this country as the New York Times has done - and continues to do - in America. It's a big ambition. But then, it's an important subject." Ah well, nice try.


    Another day where you were more wrong than right. We asked what proportion of people had a third nipple. Almost two-thirds of you said one in 180; and 9% said one in eight. The correct answer was one in 18, which 28% of you got right. A new Daily Mini-Quiz is on today's Magazine index.


    Newspapers logo
    Long live the silly season (Let's hear it for the silly season, 31 August.) I really do worry for the collective sanity of the nation when people complain that the papers aren't always filled with death, doom and downright dispair. Thank God the proud tradition of "And Finally..." is alive and well!
    James Paterson,
    Manchester, UK

    To Tam Do and Charlene; an office hedgehog is the traditional mascot of a British Office. Typically, a hedgehog is captured on the commute to work and is enslaved in the office. They are usually employed in transporting messages (carried on post-it notes on their spines) or marshmallows.
    Mark G,
    Maidenhead, UK

    To the people trying to work out Simon Singh's Daily Mini-Quiz, published on Wednesday and discussed in the Monitor letters, it is not simply a multiplication of yesterday's money. Simon Singh does not give a penny on the second day to make it up to 2p, he gives an entirely separate 2p to his Mother, and an entirely separate 4p on 3 September.
    P.S. Happy Birthday Mrs Singh!
    Ben Hill,
    Cardiff, Wales

    Following on from my letter yesterday in which I questioned the answer to the Mini-Quiz. I realised what a fool I had been late last night and had been hoping you wouldn't print my letter. Never mind, it's just as well I am a writer and not an accountant.
    Seonaid Strachan-Bennett,
    Whitehill, Hampshire

    Seonaid Strachan-Bennett: is that a tricky name?

    Perhaps you could ask Mr Singh if he would like to set a weekly puzzle on this site? What on earth could we call it though?
    Neil Golightly,
    Manchester, UK

    I like the fact that not only are most of Wednesday's letters complaining about the Monitor or the Magazine in some way, but also that you don't actually answer any of the complaints. Could almost be a new game - answering the letter pages. Here's my suggestions: The "office hedgehog" was a joke. The spines of the hedgehog would clear up the dirt between the keys. Don't argue about the maths - Simon Singh is smarter than you. Juliet Bravo was a BBC police series in the early 80's, so yes, you are showing your age. Si's riddle has had to stop due to Si being eaten by the office hedgehog. No, nobody cabbages anymore - they are too busy complaining.

    Re: Thursdays Mini Quiz. According to research carried out in our office today, when asked if they have a third nipple 1 in 3 people will refuse to answer, 1 in 6 will slap you accross the face and 1 in 12 will report you to the boss for harassment.
    Gareth Edwards,
    Stoke on Trent


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Newspapers logo
    Damien Hirst has a new home, notes the Daily Telegraph. But no minimal modern house for the conceptual artist renowned for pickling cows and sharks. He has brought a tumbledown stately home in Gloucestershire, and plans to restore it as a museum to hold his personal art collection.

    "[It] is aptly festooned with numerous gargoyles and grotesques... [including] monkeys playing lutes and banging drums and a gentleman with a severe Victorian moustache, incongruously dressed in a loincloth."

    Madonna is among those to have viewed the property, but was "perhaps put off by the bizarre and often sinister architecture". Scarier still is some of the decor, including a pink bathroom suite complete with round bath.

    Meanwhile the Mirror joins in the fun on Euan Blair's new facial hair. It Photoshops notable 'taches onto the PM's eldest and asks readers to pick a favourite. A Poirot perhaps, or maybe a Dali or Des (Lynam, that is)? "Better still, he could make a date with a razor."


    More wrongs than rights in yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz, by mathematician Simon Singh, who set this poser: it's mum's birthday tomorrow. If I promise to give her 1p, and double it every day, how much will I have given her by the end of September? Thirty-six percent of you were correct, choosing nearly 11m. The exact answer is 10,737,418.23. A new Daily Mini-Quiz is on today's Magazine index.


    Letters logo
    Further to the article about hard-to-pronounce names (20 more of your tricky names, 26 August), what about mis-spellings? My surname is spelt phonetically: Sar-gent. Nice and easy, yes? Apparently not. Over the years I have had: Sargeant, Sergeant, Sergent, Sergant, Sargant, Sargaent, Sergaent, Seargent, Seargant, Seargeant, Seargaent, Saergant, Saergent, Saergeant, and Saergaent. I've also had all of the above spelt with a 'j' instead of the 'g' too. Then there was the school teacher who insisted on calling me Harry...
    Howard Sargent,
    London, UK

    I'd like to hear the answer to Tam Do's question too. English is my first language and I've never heard of an office hedgehog either.
    Calgary, Canada

    Frank in Coventry asks what Bank Holidays should be called if the banks are open. Call them what they used to be called - Quarter days.
    Exeter, UK

    Bank holidays should be called Office Holidays, as they are the only places that seem shut.
    Mark Sims, Guildford, UK

    You report: "A collection of pottery by Pablo Picasso will go under the hammer in London later this year." (Picasso pottery to be auctioned, 31 August.) It's what he would have wanted.
    Martin, Stevenage

    I am sure that the answer to Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz is wrong. I keep coming up with half of the figure you say is the correct answer. Do I keep miscounting the number of times I have multiplied by two or has someone at the BBC forgotten that there are only 30 days in September and not 31?
    Seonaid Strachan-Bennett,
    Whitehill, Hampshire

    Monitor note to Seonaid: No-one's forgotten that, no.

    I would like to take issue with you on the mini quiz for Wednesday. I assume you're giving your mum the first 1p on her birthday, 1st september, if so the total amount on the 30th will be 2 to the power 29 plus 1. A value of 5,368,709.13 closer to 5 million rather than your 11 million. You got her all excited but she will now have to continue her job as a Dinner Lady as she cannot affort to retire on a meager 5 million!
    Nigel Greensitt,
    Walkden, UK

    Am I showing my age when I look at Tuesday's Mini-Quiz and go "Juliet Bravo? Who's she?"

    Re Si's final riddle. Stop changing things! You have to tell us why? You did the same thing with Planet Tabloid a while back - you are so annoying!
    Brian Gunn,
    Muscat, Oman

    Interesting to read in Paper Monitor about Sudoku. Reminds me of a game we used to play - I think it was called cabbaging. Does anyone still know anyone who still plays that game?
    Edward Higgins,


    Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister at the Office of the Deputy PM, poses with a hedge
    New laws aim to tackle high hedges
    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 that the man behind Mr Bean is at war with his neighbours over his 40ft leylandii hedge. Director Paul Weiland has said he will trim the trees surrounding his Wiltshire mansion, but only if his neighbours foot the bill.

    For some, the protagonist's name - and its similarity to the tree at the heart of the dispute - inspired their pun: Weilandii was the offering from Stephen C, Winchester, UK, Candy Spillard, York, UK, and Mike Monk, London. And Nigel Macarthur, London, England, contributed Slaylandii.

    For others it was his profession, with Privet showing of Director's Cut from Kate, Herts, and Hack and the Bean stalks from Jim Grocock, Lichfield. Cinematic inspiration too, for Hedge of Darkness (Mark, London, Kieran Boyle, Oxford, England and Norman Dawes, Bury St Edmunds, UK).

    Three variations on an old favourite tickled our fancy - Bean's Mean Pines (Neil, Aberystwyth), Bean's means fines (John Thompson, Liverpool, UK) and Bean's Mean Heights (Chris, Cambridge).

    We also liked Hedging your betes (Candace, New Jersey, US). But for erudition above and beyond, come on down Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK, thelbq.co.uk:
    Cry Hedgerow, and let shear the shrubs of border: Julyandii Caesar!


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

    While the Daily Mail makes unkind but not unfair comments about Euan Blair's new facial hair ("'He was sporting some sort of strange goatee thing that was half there and half not,' observed an onlooker. 'It looked very odd.'), the Times is pursuing the Sudoku wars by introducing a new version of the puzzle.

    Tetsuya Nishio, Sudoku puzzlemaster described by the paper as "a bespectacled fiend from the darkest suburbs of Tokyo", promises: "Britain has not had the puzzles for long enough to become fully used to their complexities".

    Yes. That must be the problem. So to tackle it, he has invented Samunamupure, which translates as "sum number place", but which the Times has decided to translate as "Killer Su Doku". Paper Monitor, however, has decided to translate it as Somnambupure, on account of the way people who spend their lives doing Sudoku often look as if they are sleepwalking.


    In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 63% of you correctly said it had been 25 years since the first episode of Juliet Bravo was broadcast. Overseas readers are excused for not knowing what we are talking about. Today's question, kindly supplied by Simon Singh, presenter of A Further Five Numbers on Radio 4 (and who featured in this article last week) is on the index now.


    Letters logo
    RE: How to set up a Moon base, 26 August. As a "proud owner" of plots on not only the Moon and Mars, but Mercury as well (all done in good fun as part of fund-raising drives for organisations), it seems to me that, had the step-by-step approach been applied to US history we would still be waiting for California to become a state. Cost-effective resource discovery and collection of oxygen, titanium, nickel, platinum, iron, or alumina, should be more of a criteria than technically trying to find the most efficient process or site. Nothing stopped the development of California when someone at Sutter's Mill uttered the simple word, 'gold', and America jumped to to the far coast seemingly overnight. We know how as a society to get to the Moon. We should prioritise things, first and foremost to find how to stay on the Moon as quickly as possible. One post-Apollo period was quite enough.
    Dave Huntsman,
    Bay Village, Ohio US

    Now that banks (well OK, a bank) have decided to open on bank holidays, maybe it's time we found a new name for them. Perhaps Magazine readers might like to make some suggestions
    Frank McAree,

    Philip, Brussels wrote in The Magazine Monitor last week: "Wrap sellotape sticky-side up around the office hedgehog. Then let it run over the keyboard." (The Friday Objective, 26 August.) Question: (My mother tongue is Vietnamese) I thought a "hedgehog" was an animal. Therefore, I am asking, what is an office hedgehog?
    Tam DO,

    There seems to be a decided similarity between Charles Frean of LBQ infamy and Lord Birt. Should we start a Lord Birt lookalike watch?
    New Jersey, US

    "The final Si's riddle..." Final? Last ever? Have I missed something ?
    Whitley Bay, UK


    The Salmon of Doubt

    1. Only 7
    2. Far pine
    3. Clap worker
    4. 7 vehicles?
    5. Pro number?
    6. Arrange command
    7. Aquatic angle

    Send your solutions using the form below. the answer will be published next Monday as is customary.

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

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

    Last week's riddle, titled Word Pyramid III, gave you a passage of text with missing words:

    "Down by the tracks, Fred the ? looked up at a ? whilst sat upon a ?. As the ? went by, he sat just ?. Bill the ? fluttered down and started nattering about geometry and home-decorating - he was fascinated with ? and ?. Unfortunately he had forgotten about the 23:02. As Bill got a good ?, Fred's screams were ?.


    The winner was Caroline Hithersay, UK. Twisted kudos to Steve Reszetniak who maintains SITAR is as good an answer as STAIR, and Colin, Swansea, who says that Fred could also have been a TAR, adding that it is more likely the starling would have a conversation with a rat. Very HMS Pinafore.


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

    A choice moment from unlikely quarters - bare breasts... but not from the usual suspects. These are in the Daily Telegraph of all places, which has a colourful report about the ceremony at which the King of Swaziland chooses a new bride (to add to the 12 he's already got). In reading the report, though, Paper Monitor can't help wondering if it can hear the faint sound of drooling?

    "Portly and beaming, King Mswati III of Swaziland basked in the adoration of 50,000 topless virgins yesterday when the flower of his country's girlhood paraded before him, vying to become his new queen. Legions of half-naked teenage girls danced, twirled and pounded the earth outside the royal kraal, proclaiming their willingness to become the 13th wife of the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa."

    But you can't fault the paper for knowing its market, helpfully adding that the king is "a former pupil of Sherborne School in Dorset".


    In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 48% of you correctly answered that the institution which was going against tradition to open its doors on a Bank Holiday was Lloyds TSB. 38% of you said it was the Stock Exchange and 13% said the Houses of Parliament.


    Newspapers logo
    A certain frozen meal is causing a stampede at Tesco stores across the country, reported the Daily Mail.

    For every 1.95 customers spend on Birds Eye Roast Beef Dinners, they receive 150 Clubcard points. The points are worth 1.50 in store or four times that amount if redeemed against Eurostar tickets, hotels around Europe and Air Miles.

    One man claims to have bought enough to take a three-week holiday to New Zealand, says the paper. Another spent 6,596 on 10,148 meals, but that has given him points equal to 20,296 worth of Clubcard deals.

    The Daily Mirror meanwhile reported a fight between Robbie Williams and Chris Evans at a star-studded golf event in Wales.

    There were no fisticuffs, just a battle of ego as the two bid for a Masters flag belonging to Tiger Woods and two tickets for the next Masters tournament.

    Evans was the victor in the bidding war, if you can call being 40,000 out of pocket for a flag and tickets winning.


    In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 69% of you correctly answered that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas did drive a Skoda. They borrowed it from her mum to drive to a Newport golf course. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine's index now.


    The final Si's Riddle will appear here on Tuesday.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    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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