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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 17:57 GMT
The Magazine Monitor

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 Challenge
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know...

    10 THINGS WE DIDN'T KNOW THIS TIME LAST WEEK

    10 books, by Bryce Cook
    10 books, by Bryce Cook
    Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

    1. One in 10 Europeans is allegedly conceived in an Ikea bed.

    2. Syndrome of the week: lovesickness, according to psychologist Frank Tallis, who says it should be taken seriously as a medical condition.

    3. He may have a drug problem, but singer Pete Doherty - aka Kate Moss's beau - boasts an impressive 11 A* GCSEs and four A-Levels.

    4. Until the 1940s rhubarb was a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten.

    5. Camilla Parker Bowles' great-grandmother was Prince Charles's great-great-grandfather's mistress - a fact she is said to have reminded the prince of when they first met in 1970.

    6. Prince Charles will break with an 80-year tradition by giving Camilla Parker Bowles a wedding ring fashioned from Cornish gold, instead of the nugget of Welsh gold that has provided rings for all royal brides and grooms since 1923.

    7. There's a British Potato Council, a tax-payer funded organisation which extols the virtues of the Great British spud.

    8. Admirers who give each other flowers for Valentine's Day are taking part in ritual that can be traced back 5,000 years.

    9. John Major wrote a letter to the Queen tendering his resignation as prime minister after Black Wednesday in 1992, but never delivered it.

    10. Ellen MacArthur is only the second person to have sailed a multi-hull boat non-stop around the world.

    THE SHNOOKUMS CHALLENGE 12 FEBRUARY 1430GMT

    Allow the Monitor to show your loved one how little you care.

    Monday is St Valentine's Day, and as a special public service, Monitor readers are invited, via the patois of "shnookums", "flopsy wopsy", "Cuddly-wuddly-bear" etc, to inform their loved one just how indifferent and jaded they are becoming with the whole thing. Finally get it all off your chest by telling your "honeybun cherrylips" what it is that's been irritating you these past few months. The most colourful will be published in the Monitor on Monday. Use the form on the right hand side of this page.

    THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE 11 FEBRUARY 1430GMT

    The Friday Challenge has gone missing and will return next week.

    YOUR LETTERS FRIDAY 12:17 GMT

    Re: Owain Williams' comment: 'God is dead' is half the point of Easter, but crucially *only* half....
    Dan Holt,
    Cambridge

    The answer to those who don't understand the significance of the "limerick bee", is surely a homage to Edward Lear, who wrote:
    There was an Old Man in a tree,
    Who was horribly bored by a bee.
    When they said, 'Does it buzz?'
    He replied, 'Yes, it does
    It's a regular brute of a bee!'
    The purpose of the lunchtime limerick is presumably the avoidance of horrible boredom.
    Steve,
    London

    (Monitor note to Steve: Close but no cigar.)

    Overheard recently - if Ellen MacArthur is so good at sailing, why does she still need the stabilisers on?
    Tim Gerrish,
    Helston

    In response to Ian Pearce, Northampton (Monitor letters, 9 February). I wholeheartedly agree that eating at ones desk is disgusting but maybe he could offer an alternative for those of us without the facilities/income to eat our sandwiches elsewhere? I cannot afford to go out for lunch everyday, and my office hasn't got a designated 'eat your lunch here' spot. Any suggestions?
    Alex,
    London

    Further to the Charles to marry Camilla story. If Andrew Parker-Bowles is a "former Silver-Stick-In-Waiting", does this mean that he never got to be a Silver Stick? Life has dealt him some cruel blows!
    Graham,
    Leeds


    BY THE WAY FRIDAY 11 February 1025GMT

    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    11 February is the 355th anniversary of the death of Rene Descartes. He thought, therefore he was.


    CAPTION COMPETITION THURS 10 FEBRUARY 1230GMT


    Thursday means it's time for the caption competition.

    This week it's Conservative leader Michael Howard seeing the sharp end of policing on a drugs raid in Middlesbrough.

    This week's winning entries:

    6. Matt, Sevenoaks, Kent
    Now we know what Gordon Brown keeps in his red despatch box.

    5. Stuart Moore, Cambridge, UK
    Michael wonders if his wife will realise the catflap was a DIY job.

    4. Jonathan Bushell, Reading, UK
    "You fools. I said Number 10 not Number 31."

    3. Steve Kjaer, Bristol
    The Tories resolve to takle crime hard after the party leader falls victim to a particularly vicious case of "Knockdown Ginger".

    2. Diana, Hayes, Middlesex
    "I'm sure there is something wrong with this riot shield they have given me."

    1. John Fitzgerald, Wallingford, UK
    Heeeeeeeeere's Howie!

    YOUR LETTERS THURSDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1145GMT

    Considering the article (Prince Charles to marry Camilla, 10th February) mentions that 38% just don't care, why wasn't it an option on the Vote? Personally I think the option of "Abolish Monarchy" should have been included.
    Tom Hartland,
    Derby, UK

    Re: Fines for 'droopy drawers' backed, 9 February, in which you report a law which would ban visible underpants. Superman better watch it.
    Dave Williams,
    Prudhoe, Northumberland

    I think I have come up with a solution to the whole Easter problem. Move it to 25th August (always the same date). This is the date of the death of Friedrich Nietzsche who declared "God is Dead" which is also half the point of Easter.....
    Owain Williams,
    Slough

    Re: E-cyclopedia, Monitor, Tuesday. If alco-TV is post-pub TV, is alcopop the kind of music you wouldn't listen to when sober?
    Matt Folwell,
    Cambridge

    Re: the mystery of the bee on the Lunchtime Limerick. It could be a bee, but it does look a bit waspish. Is this the reason?
    Edward Higgins,
    Plumstead
    (Monitor note to Higgins: No)

    DA VINCI-WATCH THURSDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1145GMT

    Looking for signs - however trivial - of a conspiracy.

    It's been announced that Dolly the Sheep's creator has been given permission to clone human embryos for stem cell research. He is from the Roslin Institute. Could it be the Da Vinci Code is involved here and they are really trying to create from DNA the body of Christ from items contained within the Holy Grail?
    Scott McFarlane,
    Aberdeen

    Re: Underground search for 'God particle', 4 February. Hmmmm, sounds a bit like Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. That guy obviously has a lot of insider knowledge.
    Jane,
    Northampton

    BY THE WAY THURSDAY 10 FEBRUARY 1100GMT

    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    10 February is the 400th anniversary of the world premiere of The Merchant of Venice.

    PUNORAMA WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 1445 GMT

    Prozac sketch
    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.

    So get your puns primed for the story about a GP who is prescribing art lessons instead of Prozac for patients with stress and depression.

    "It's not that they are not ill, it's just that they can't be helped with medicines," said Dr Simon Opher. "Tapping into the creative process helps people relax and boosts their self-esteem."

    Good work as ever punners (and sorry about the random picture of a traffic jam - now replaced).

    Kicking things off is a beautiful tabloid-style pun from Brian Ritchie, Oxford, with Easel cheer you up. Along similar lines was Blue period easel-y remedied, by Madmarce, UK. Manet depressive by Mal Walker, Australia is as effective as it is simple.

    TG, from Northern Ireland was the first of several to offer Art for heart's sake and Angela Barlow was first among equals with Depressionism.

    Others that brought cheer to the Monitor include:

    • Pop art, not pills, by Kieran Boyle, England
    • There's still life after Prozac, by Norm Brown, Oz
    • Depression drawing to an end, by Robin Watson, UK
    • Art lessons lessen stress stress doctors by Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts

    And finally Ian Gilmore, Cardiff, who eschewed Prozac in favour of a lesser known anti-depressive medicine, with Seroxart. Perhaps one that's more suitable for the trade press Ian.

    YOUR LETTERS 9 FEBRUARY 1300GMT

    It made me proud to be British when I read your article about Pancake Day and Easter (Pancake Day already?, 8 February). Who else but that venerable body ,the House of Commons could come up with such a brilliantly nonsensical way of fixing an eternally complicated problem. I am now considering celebrating a second easter on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April, or is that going to be too complicated? I know I'll just pick a random day in March or April instead.
    PJ,
    Barcelona

    I must object to your observation that "Easter will continue to drift from year to year". Working out when Easter falls is indeed complicated, but it means that the feast always falls neither late nor early, but at exactly the right time.
    Benedict Coffin,
    London

    Why does "the most important season in the Christian church hop around the calendar more than an Easter bunny?", as you say in your article on Tuesday. Surely this important season in the Christian church hops around the calendar EXACTLY as much as the Easter Bunny?
    Tom Lee,
    Guernsey

    Re: The Unlikely Volunteers, 8 February, in which you report that aid organisations need accountants. Why do I have a feeling there's a lost Monty Python episode with this in there somewhere?
    Ben,
    San Antonio, TX

    Nice idea about establishing a points system to deport people who already live in the UK (Monitor Letters, Monday). May I be first to nominate some criteria? LOSE one point if you eat at your desk. It's disgusting. GAIN one point if you are creative in making up nicknames for your work colleagues - this is the kind of industry that made Britain great.
    Ian Pearce,
    Northampton

    While Ellen McArthur fully deserves all the accolades for her daring sprint round the globe, the idea of someone being a 'Dame' at 28 years of age is frankly odd. Like teenagers singing the blues. Dame is naturally prefixed by 'old', and is better suited to a more venerable generation. Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that 'Dame Ellen' is an anagram of 'enamelled'?
    Steve,
    London

    BY THE WAY WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 1050GMT

    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    9 February is the 22nd anniversary of the hunt starting for Shergar.


    E-CYCLOPEDIA TUESDAY 8 FEBRUARY 1240GMT

    The guide to the words behind the headlines.

    For anyone wondering what the e-cyclopedia is, just check this Monitor entry from a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for your suggestions since then. Here's our current crop of new words, old words, old words in new contexts, ordinary words obscuring real meanings, and matters of linguistic interest.

    alco-TV - aka post-pub TV, the kind of programmes that you wouldn't watch when sober but after a few seem more attractive

    companion animals - aka pets - at least how they are referred to several times in the Animal Welfare Bill

    dinner party drugs - the new Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair's target. He says middle class drug-takers shouldn't think they are beyond the law

    happy buses - London's bendy buses, so-called because the driver-only buses, which have three entrances, are beloved of fare dodgers

    improvised explosive devices - US military vernacular for homemade bombs killing US soldiers in Iraq (cited in Wired News. BBC not responsible for external sites.)

    tactical unwind - the theory that Liberal Democrats supporters who voted tactically for Labour in the last two general elections - in constituencies where Labour had a small majority over the Tories - could revert to voting Lib Dem, and thus up to two dozen currently Labour seats going Conservative. As reported in a briefing by Liam Fox to fellow Tory MPs.

    Send any suitable entries to the Monitor, using the form on the right hand side of this page. Thank you.

    YOUR LETTERS TUESDAY 8 FEBRUARY 1220GMT

    Gillian Barber asks "Why use a bee"
    As a symbol for Limericks? Well, gee
    Rhyme with wit and you'll bring
    To your subject a sting!
    That's the point of the thing, now d'you see?
    Charles Frean
    Bedford, Massachusetts

    (Monitor note to Frean: Nice try, but not quite right.)

    Si's riddle sounds very much like some of the surreal nonsense one finds at the end of Spam e-mails.
    James,
    Cambridge

    Re:Sales fail to boost High Street, 8 February. "In the three-months to January, like-for-like sales showed a growth rate of -0.1%" ...or as most normal people would say, a reduction?
    Phil,
    Nimes, France

    BY THE WAY TUESDAY 8 FEBRUARY 0845GMT

    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    8 February is John Grisham's 50th birthday.


    YOUR LETTERS MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 1230GMT

    Re: Can naked roads kills speed, 31 January. The road leading to my house is by default a naked road. It's unadopted by the council, which means poor lighting, no speed limits, no pavements and no gritting in winter. There were road humps, but these have been torn up by drivers. Motorists see the lack of markings and behave as if the road is their playground, sometimes speeding up to 60mph and slaloming as if they're on an obstacle course.
    Kate Griffin
    Oxford

    I notice with interest Charles Clarke's prososals to adopt an Australian-style "points" system for allowing immigrants in to the UK ( Clarke to unveil immigration plan, 6 February). Surely there is scope for an enterprising broadcaster to establish a reality TV show where existing British employees *lose* points based on their lack of skills and judgement, the end result naturally being deportation to Australia.
    Edward Higgins,
    Plumstead

    Re: Hostile dog stops mail delivery, 4 February. So Royal Mail has sent a letter asking residents of Manor Crescent to collect their post because the postmen will no longer deliver. I would have thought a phone call might be more sensible?
    Annabel,
    Paris, France

    Re: 10 Things, item 9: Naturally visitors overstay. Is there any way to leave "Austalia"?
    Pat Forgette,
    US

    It was obvious why the logo for the Lunchtime Bonus Question was a funky knife and fork. But why, pray, is the symbol for the Lunchtime Limerick an angry bee?
    Gillian Barber,
    UK

    As I recall, the money paid for grey squirrels was handed over on receipt of the tail alone (10 things, 5 February). As some people were cutting the tail from the animal and letting it go still alive, the system was eventually stopped.
    John S,
    Maidstone UK

    Re Michael Hall's rugby team, our University sailing team once had "Veni, vermini, vomuii" (I came, I got ratted, I threw up)
    Tom,
    Aberystwyth, Wales

    YOUR RIDDLE MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 1200GMT

    Every Monday, Si sets a riddle to get your brain working.

    Pig-Headed

    Long ago, respected gentlemen envisioned such suggestive enterprises. Doubtless one understood, by law, even yearning over undesirable entities yielded expected and natural yardsticks.

    Send your solution, using the form below.

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

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


    The answer to last week's riddle was ANT, GNAT, ANGST, AGENTS, STRANGE, ANGRIEST, STREAMING, NIGHTMARES.

    The winner was Sam McDonald of Cheadle. But there's special mention to one M Scudamore, of London, who suggested the next sentence could have read: "They devoted themselves to TIMESHARING in the Mediterranean.

    BY THE WAY MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 945GMT

    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    7 February is the 305th anniversary of the birth of the man we have to thank for contour lines on maps (French mapman Phillippe Buache).




  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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