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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
The Magazine Monitor

Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, for the past 13 months the home for:

  • Results of the Daily Mini-Quiz
  • Paper Monitor
  • Your letters
  • Punorama (Wednesday)
  • Caption Competition (Thursday)
  • 10 things we didn't know (Saturday)


    10 THINGS
    10 beach huts by Michael Perris

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

    1. Fifty-seven Bic Biros are sold every second - amounting to 100 billion since 1950.

    2. Not only do the Spanish smoke more Gauloise cigarettes than the French (see last week's 10 things) they are the biggest cocaine users in the world, according to the UN.

    3. See You Jimmy - Russ Abbot's incomprehensible 80s comedy creation - was inspired by a David Bowie-style wig discarded when Bowie changed his image.

    4. Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter.
    More details

    5. George Bernard Shaw named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.

    6. Twenty-one stray animals are put down in the UK each day.
    More details

    7. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, this week voted the UK's favourite painting, shows the sun setting in the east.
    More details

    8. Paul McCartney's Beatles' classic Blackbird is a homage to the black civil rights movement - "bird", in this case, being a colloquial term for "woman".
    More details

    9. Saturn's rings are fluffy.
    More details

    10. Ninety-five percent of today's 500,000 racehorses descend from a single stallion - the Darley Arabian, born in 1700.

    If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it. Thanks this week to David Dee of Maputo, Mozambique.

    Add your comments to this story using the form below:

    Your e-mail address
    Your thing and where you saw it

    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
    I am very disappointed that you present online an item on rations for the survivors in the lighthearted way that you do (What's in emergency ration packs, 8 September). It's in bad taste and definitely no pun is intended. If you have contributors or journalists who have nothing better to do than do a taste test on the emergency rations then I have to say you need look again at what you are about. Watching the disaster unfold I have felt many things, anxiety, helplessness and anger above all. And then you turn it into a 'Blue Peter' style escapade.
    Sahail Chohan,

    I read in Ad Breakdown that Graham Gooch wears 'a "synthetic second skin" which is "non-surgically grafted" on to the head'. A contender for 10 Things We Didn't Know?

    I very rarely have the time to sit and ponder Si's Riddles but always enjoy reading the answers. However, as this was his last I thought I would give it a go. After a good few hours of thought and some consultation with friends I finally cracked it, I returned to post my answer to find it already published, dag nabbit! So instead I will take the time to explain to Mike Monk the intricacies of my calculation. Clue 7: this is the most important clue, the two words are both synonimous with fish, the verb and the noun. Back to clue 1:as a guardian quick crossword geek, I recognised that 7 probably refered to clue 7, again only and fish are synonyms of sole. Work this through for 2,3,4,5,and 6 and the answers are synonyms of both of the words in the clue. Finally the title Salmon of Doubt, is a Douglas Adams novel, and Si usually adds a twist in the end of the tale, therefore when read quickly the answers sound like the famous quotation from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and bid a farewell from Si; we will miss you!

    If Andrew from London wishes to use musical references to support the preferred pronunciation of "levee" then may I submit Led Zeppelin's "When the levee breaks" which uses the alternative pronunciation? Can anyone provide a third example to settle things?

    Reagarding today's mini-quiz. How do the Philosophy students really know that they are happy?
    Stephen Buxton,
    Coventry, UK

    Re: Thursday's Quote of the Day. May I be the first to suggest that Terry Waite invites "McFly" or the entire cast of "Big Brother" to open his next fete?
    Chris P Duke,


    The Guardian is about to ditch its broadsheet format and go "Berliner" - a smaller version, but not quite as small as a tabloid.

    Apple, too, has shrunk its latest iPod to a mere dot. And at the other end of the scale are super-sized chocolate bars and portions of French fries.

    Keeping in mind the BBC's taste and decency guidelines, what else could benefit from a resize?

    Send your suggestions using the form below. Here is a selection of our favourites:

    Bigger needles and smaller haystacks.
    dave godfrey, swindon

    The space alowd 4 phone txt msgs shld be bigr so more wrds can b spelld out propa and kids can lurn how 2 use English lang again :-)
    Gordon, Newcastle

    My paypacket, my waist, my overdraft, my age. In that order.
    Stig, London, UK

    The proportion of entirely nonsensical gibberish which is included when an individual, or indeed group, is intended to communicate with a straightforward and concise approach. This is, without doubt, an ever-increasing problem in the present society and is revealed in numerous situations. It is a predicament that must be addressed with great swiftness before the mentality of the nation is disturbed in such a manner that it cannot be restored to its initial form.
    Josh D, Leicestershire, UK

    Speaking of iPods... here's an ad for the iPod Flea. Now that's SMALL!
    Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts

    Steak sizes nearing a quarter of a cow could use a bit of a rethink.
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    With Australia in bat: I would make the boundaries longer, the wickets taller and the bat and ball smaller.
    Darren, Leicester

    Something to make longer: The little plastic cellophane tapes that protrude from the side of the packaging by no more than a dozen microns thus resulting in damaging the contents when you fail to open it properly. Failing that, fingernails that can grow at will, like Wolverine's in X-Men.
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    I'd like Hertfordshire shrunk by about 20% so my journey home is quicker.
    Lewis Graham, Stevenage, UK

    The Ashes Urn is always a disappointment. How about substituting more substantial for the Aussies to give us? Say the Sydney Opera House for instance.
    Kip, Norwich UK

    British football - amalgamate the best of the four national teams.
    Mike, UK


    This week, a Shih Tzu half-breed jumps out of a shopping trolley in a show to promote the International Pedigree Dog's Breeding Fair in Leipzig, Germany.

    6. Nick McDonnell, UK
    No, I said, "Beam ME up, Scottie!"

    5. Rowan Madsen, UK
    Hound of the basketfuls.

    4. Kate Lilley, Herts
    Paw Sprung Dog Technique

    3. Kieran Boyle, England

    2. Colin Nelson, MK, UK
    "I say, Watson, is that a leaping Spaniel?"
    "No, Shih Tzu, Sherlock."

    1. Tony Ashley, UK
    Supermarket 'Sweep'?


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

    Time for a distraction from the men in white. And the Independent obliges with a double-page spread on women in white. For not one but FOUR celebrity couples tie the knot this weekend.

    OK's chequebooks are out for Katie "Jordan" Price and Peter Andre, "the chav royal wedding" complete with Cinderella coach and burly ex-SAS guards.

    And model Jodie Price will have a "quintessential 'off-white' wedding" (whatever that is, but it sounds stylish) to her entrepreneur fiance in a 16th Century church in Sussex.

    Going for "the full God thing" will be GMTV's Kate Garraway and Peter Mandelson's ex-aide Derek Draper.

    And Tom Parker Bowles, son of Camilla, weds fashion writer Sara Buys in a celebration of... their love? Buys says in a world where one is judged on one's wallpaper, car etc, a wedding is revealing: "the thickness of your invitation card, the calligraphy on your place names... They are public affirmations of our all-round fabulousness."

    Paper Monitor cannot possibly comment. Cough (Bridezilla) cough.


    Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked, which degree course do students say they're most happy with? The answer was philosophy. Just over 32% of you were correct. Media studies, which 45% of you voted for, came last in the satisfaction league. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


    Newspapers logo

    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Paper Monitor is in denial today - cricket, what cricket?

    So there'll be no mention of headlines such as "COME URN ENGLAND" (Daily Mirror) or "FIGHT SAID FRED" (The Sun). No mention of how the Daily Mail and Daily Express have reproduced William Blake's words to Jerusalem or how they picture Mrs Freddie Flintoff in a mini-skirt with her fingers crossed. There'll be no acknowledgement of the head-to-head in the Guardian between cricket-loving Aussie prime minister John Howard and former British PM John Major, and the same goes for the Daily Telegraph's and the Times' articles on cricketers' wives, or the inevitable contrasts drawn between England footballers' dismal performance on Wednesday night and the high hopes directed towards their cricketing counterparts.

    Even the FT has its own unique take on the Ashes madness, highlighting how the craze for cricket this summer has put a premium on corporate hospitality boxes at the Oval.

    But Paper Monitor stands resolute - this is a cricket-free zone.


    In yesterday's Mini-Quiz, we asked if it was true or false that a new portrait depicted JK Rowling eating boiled eggs as these were all she could afford as a struggling writer. Fifty-five percent of you said true. But the eggs in fact represent her children. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


    Letters logo
    It's nice to see that Alex Gadsen (Punorama, 7 September) can improve his fitness and keep fit AT ONE AND THE SAME TIME. Who says men can't multitask?
    London, UK

    Richie, are you a man of verse
    Or can you think of nothing worse?
    You'd surely like, on this I'd wager,
    The rhyming efforts of John Major

    Maurice Day asks how to pronounce "levee" (Monitor letters, Tuesday). I think we should rely on Don McLean and where he drove his Chevy.

    Re: Roman Numerals On Clocks. For what it is worth, Big Ben has IV.
    Cape Town, Brightest Africa

    Please help - I was trying to play Ian Whitten's 'they'd never get away with that if the gender roles were reversed' game (Monitor Letters, Tuesday), and came across a recent paper towel advertisment in which big butch men in drag do domestic chores. Attempting to reverse the gender roles has caused a minor meltdown in my head!

    In The rules of advertising, part 2, 6 September, Sarah writes at number 6 that "If you have dyed red hair you are glamorous and sexy. If you have natural red hair then by all accounts you have a problem.". Could we perhaps have a poll on whether Sarah has dyed red hair, or natural red hair? My money's on natural.

    RE Si's final riddle...I realise I am an idiot but will somebody please release me from my mental agony & explain the answer to Si's last riddle. It's bad enough feeling a wally not working the answer out but when the answer is given to you and you're still no wiser....!!!!
    Mike Monk,


    Washing basket
    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 the inventor who has come up with a pedal-powered washing machine. Alex Gadsden, a keen cyclist, designed the machine in an attempt to improve his fitness while keeping fit.

    Taking an early lead is Scour de Pants by Nizar, San Jose, US, ahead of the Tour de Pants pack (among them Martin Price, UK; Philip, Aberdeen; Charlie Cook, Alderley Edge, England; Phil, Nimes; Gerard Krupa, Coventry; and Jonathan, Brighton).

    Tailing is Spin Cycle - the headline chosen by the Daily Express - with riders jostling for position including Kit Ballantyne, Dubai; Mike Monk, London; Andy Phillips, Swansea; Meagan Crump, Toronto; Pat McGarry, Springfield, IL; Caroline, Guildford; Jo, Preston; Helen, Ankara, Turkey; Ketan Mistry, Dublin; and Heeran, Cambridge.

    Coming up fast on the outside is Cyclean (Michelle Pickles, New York City), Reduce, reuse and re-Cycle (Fenella Oatley, Tall Timbers, Maryland USA) and Have bike, wool cycle (Pete, Stafford).

    The title of King of the Mountains is awarded to Super-calorific bike wash expels dodgy odours by James, Cape Town, Brightest Africa. Following close behind is Man cycles from ton o' grot to laundry's end by Maggie, South London.

    But the yellow winner's jersey goes to Kip of Norwich, who offers apologies to Freddie Mercury:
    I wash my whites by bicycle
    I want to wash them with my bike.


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

    It's a festival of cricket wherever you look in the papers today. But nothing tops this - a poem written by the former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, published in today's Times.

    "Hardly Wordsworth, I know," he tells the paper. "But it is a sentiment that many will share over the next five days. On the field will be some of the greatest talents in world cricket of whom, one day, old men, now small boys, will babble in awe."

    So let's hear it John...

      "Oh Lord, if I must die today
      Please make it after close of play.
      For this I know, if nothing more
      I will not go, without the score"

    Babble away.


    Calling all Monitor readers.

    We're not promising anything, but if you had the chance to ask the great Richie Benaud a question, what would it be?

    Let us know your question, using the form below, in the next couple of hours, and we'll see what we can do.

    Thanks to everyone - we've got our questions now.

    These are some you sent in which won't, however, be asked:

    Have you ever felt moved to write poetry?
    David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

    Thank you so much for a magnificent career - super effort, that. We'll miss you. But what will you be wearing for your last stint - cream, bone, ivory, white, off-white or beige?
    Rob Turville, Guernsey, Channel Islands

    Have you ever found cricket boring, whether playing or watching?
    Josh D, Leicestershire, UK

    It's my mum's 60th birthday in two weeks and we have no idea what to get her - any suggestions?
    Keith Gorman, Sittingbourne UK

    Nice try, though, chaps.


    Guest host Simon Singh really got you with yesterday's Mini-Quiz - 79% wrongly said that the number 4 was usually represented as IV on clocks with Roman numerals, and 2% thought it was VI. It's IIII - but nobody knows why this is the case - which 19% of you got right. Wednesday's question is on the Magazine index now.


    Letters logo
    Re: More rules of advertising, 6 September. I carried out a study of gender role portrayals for my MA Marketing thesis in 1999. I would suggest an interesting game the whole family can play. It's called "They'd never get away with that if the gender roles were reversed" and the rules are simple: as you watch, imagine the females in an advert are male and the males are female.
    Ian Whitten,

    Re: Simon Singh's Daily Mini-Quiz. (If you haven't done the quiz yet, look away now.) The answer says that "no-one is sure why" the numeral IIII is used on clocks instead of IV. It's all because of symmetry. 4 is horizontally opposite 8, and IIII (four characters) matches VIII rather nicely. Honestly, that's the answer.
    Lucy Jones,

    Perhaps 4 is represented with IIII on clocks because when the numerals are written around the clock facing inwards, the IV would actually look like VI and therefore be 6 and not 4.

    Re Dana's letter (Monitor letters, Monday): What on earth is 'Yellow Journalism'? And, on a technical note, it sounds like something you would practice, rather than become.

    I imagine Dana Stewart has lost at Cabbaging again, if 28 July is as good as she managed.
    Clacton, UK

    Apparently Intelligent Design (A question of creation, 15 August) isn't science, but Spirtualism (Science and the seance, 30 August) is?
    Philip Whitehead,
    Abingdon, UK

    I need Monitor readers' help with my hurricane pronunciation. Do I say levee as is lev-ee (to rhyme with flea) or lev-ay (to rhyme with sway)? There is no consensus among TV and radio commentators.
    Maurice Day,

    The Monitor is 13 months old? *Sniff* You're all growed up. Why didn't we have a birthday party celebrating all the best bits of the last year? Is it because you couldn't find enough best bits to make a feature? No! It can't be... too many... that's it. Happy (belated) birthday Monitor.


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

    OK Paper Monitor has resisted the temptation for several days. But there's only so much it can do. It has to give way to look at all the opportunities taken to use items of female underwear in headlines, accompanied by that faint sound of drooling mentioned last week. So here goes:

    Knickers untwisted (Guardian)
    Bra wars' deal gets EU off the hook (Telegraph)
    DD DAY (Mirror)
    Chinese textiles (FT)
    (Not sure about that last one though)


    How often does a dog go missing in the UK? Thirty-eight percent of you were correct in answering five minutes, in yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz - on the Click here to hear the programmes again.


    Letters logo
    I believe there is a solution to teenage binge drinking (Bad statistics and binges, 31 August): ban mixers and alcopops to under 21s. Kids these days have a sweet tooth before they even reach school-age, so it's no wonder they go for the sweet drinks at the pub - they're easy to drink and contain (relatively) a lot of alcohol. If they were only able to order beer or neat spirits at 18, I'm sure they'd find getting drunk a lot harder and a lot less satisfying.

    R.I.P Si's Riddle, Many a lunch time has been spent working out the answer and failing miserably. We all hope there will be something in its place soon. No Flowers.

    Your unresearched article on Bigfoot (In search of Bigfoot, 28 July) was assinine. You have become yellow journalism. The photo of the absurdly shaped footprint alone shows that your writer, his editor, and your entire staff lack the capacity for rational thought.
    Dana Stewart,
    Carlsbad/San Diego

    Last week in the Monitor, Sharky from Stafford asked if "Photoshop" was now a verb. The answer is no - read this to see why. Rather OTT guidelines if you ask me but there you are.
    Rob Goforth,
    Stockton on Tees, UK

    Re: Michael Hall's letter (Monitor letters, Friday). Personally, I'd prefer to see a Guardian-sized doughnut...
    Neil Golightly,
    Manchester, UK


    The answer to Si's Final Riddle.

    The final riddle was entitled The Salmon of Doubt, and gave you a list of clues, as follows:

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

    The answers to the clues are SOLE, LONG, HAND, TANKS, FOUR, ORDER, FISH or as the late Douglas Adams might have put it: So long and thanks for all the fish! In a rare example of generosity of spirit, everyone who got the answer right can claim to be the winner this week (though don't claim it unless you actually got it correct - you're only cheating yourselves).


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

    How better to spend Monday morning than appreciating a few gags. Mark Lawson, who signed off today on his long-running TV column ahead of the Guardian's redesign as a hamburger, relishes a few jokes in the successor programme to Only Fools and Horses.

    "[Writer John] Sullivan's premise is that Boycie suddenly sells up in Peckham and moves to Shropshire after learning that the Driscoll Brothers, who were sent to jail on his supergrass evidence, have been released and seek revenge. This sets up the culture-clash comedy that Sullivan does best. Where Del Boy was a working-class boy trying to come on like a yuppie, Boycie is a cockney trying to pass as a countryman: a bloke who used to be called "squire" through a tic of London speech now actually is one.

    "Sullivan has always been a good social historian - Only Fools and Horses encapsulated Thatcherism long before many journalists and dramatists noticed it happening - and, in The Green Green Grass, there's a similar sharpness in the explanation of how the Driscoll Brothers managed to get out of jail: 'A combination of bribery and human rights.' There's also a masterclass in classic feed-and-punch joke-writing. When Boycie's wife announces that she has been to a health spa, he comes back with: 'Were you there for treatment or an estimate?'"

    Lawson goes on to consider the attraction of Nighty Night, the ultra-dark comedy written by Julia Davis, and concludes: "The difficulty of imagining a 1970s edition of Radio Times with the plot summary, 'June has to kill Terry after he suggests bestiality', reveals how far comedy has gone."


    A resounding success in Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz - 59% answered the question "What's the average round-trip commute in England and Wales?" - correctly. It is 15 miles, or 24.2km according to new research. Monday's question is on the Magazine index now.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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    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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