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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 13:25 GMT
The Magazine Monitor


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

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


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

    10 THINGS
    10 Niagara binoculars by Alan Smith

    1. The Queen does a good Cockney accent.

    2. 30kg of plutonium is enough for seven nuclear bombs.

    3. Business post accounts for 85% of the Post Office's turnover.

    4. The oldest married couple on record are now Thomas and Elizabeth Morgan, from south Wales, whose graves have just been identified. Mr Morgan was 106 when he died, and his wife was 105. They both died in the 1890s.

    5. The UK tops a table for illegal downloads of TV programmes, according to a study. Episodes of shows such as Six Feet Under are downloaded within half an hour of their first broadcast on US television.

    6. Train commuters between London and Brighton will soon be able to use high speed Wi-Fi connections, even when their train is in a tunnel.

    7. One in six commuters who go into London each day uses that line.

    8. Lionesses like their males to be deep brunettes.

    9. It's possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.

    10. Google employees gave more than $207,000 to federal election candidates in last year's US elections - 98% of it to Democratic candidates.

    Submit anything you think should be in next week's list using the form on the right hand side of this page.


    Re: What can drivers do at the wheel?, 16 February. I've just seen a man making a call on a mobile phone in the driving seat of a car being towed by a breakdown truck. I have no idea whether this is illegal or not.
    Michael Hall,
    Eccles, UK

    Queen 'does great Cockney accent', 17 February. If this is true, perhaps we could ask her to give some lessons to Jamie Oliver. His awful "mockney" accent grates on my ears.
    Dougie Lawson,
    Basingstoke, UK

    Following my dud prediction that the election would be called this week, I offer you my resignation. I had already written a letter of resignation but was pursuaded from not sending it to the Palace. She'd have only accepted it.
    London UK

    Serial burglar caught on webcam, 16 February. How appropriate that the webcam burglar should be caught by a PC.
    P Anghelides,

    Re: The Day after Kyoto.. Is this geographical nimbyism I see before my eyes...? Grand Canyon, Niagara falls, Nile Gorge, Victoria Falls - all created by erosion. Should we cover them in concrete blocks to stop the process here as well? Or should you have bought a house somewhere else?
    Owain Williams,

    Re: Plutonium 'missing' at Sellafield (Missing plutonium 'just on paper', 17 February). I was wondering if they have any temporary members of staff named Marty McFly or Doc Brown?
    Birmingham, England


    The Friday Challenge is still AWOL.


    This week's caption competition was for a picture of a pigeon preparing to alight at a Tube station.

    According to the AFP photographer, the bird exited at Chiswick Park after getting on a stop earlier at Acton Town.

    The winning entries are:

    6. Nick McDonnell, Nottingham UK
    Oh no! I'll never figure out the rules of Mornington Cresent.

    5. Colin Morris, England
    I think you want Coo Gardens, mate.

    4. John Maloney, UK
    I've been stood up again. Now I'll never join the 'Mile Low Club'.

    3. FI, England
    Darn delays, I was an egg when I got on!!

    2. Simon White, England
    'Famous Last Words' - hurry up lads, I'll hold the doors

    1. Christian Cook, UK
    28 Days later: The pigeon's cut.


    18th February is the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of thrice-weekly BBC One chat show Wogan.


    Regarding the story - Plutonium 'missing' at Sellafield, 17 February. Have they tried looking down the back of the sofa?
    Gareth Edwards,
    Stoke on Trent, UK

    In Scariest spider 'really a crab', 15 February, you report that the Megarachne turns out not to be a spider but merely a meter-long scorpion. Well that's all right then. I thought it might be something nasty.
    Jon T

    Re: What can drivers do at the wheel?, 16 February, you describe what drivers are allowed to do with gadgets. Where do News and TV shows stand? Surely doing a "peice to camera" while driving along is pretty distracting - and whats more it's all on video?
    Phil Chivers,

    It seems that NB from Suffolk's informant was wrong about the election being called on Tuesday. Will NB, his informant and the current DG be tendering their resignations?
    Halesowen, ex Reigate

    General election on 17th March? Not a chance! St Patrick's Day is a holiday in Northern Ireland - and there is no way the government could get away with holding the election on a day when a disproportionate number of people who consider themselves Irish may be away on holiday. On the other hand, it would be fun to watch the furore if they tried.

    Re Graham from Cambridge's response to "Three-Year-Old passes MENSA test". He asked if there was going to be an article about the other two children in 100 who, statistically, should have passed the same test? I think he has just written it.
    Phil Mason,
    Macclesfield, Cheshire

    Re Wine 'can protect women's hearts', 16 February. Is it the red wine that you have in the evening that protects your heart or the aspirin that you take the following morning?
    Tony Smith,
    Wirral UK


    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    17 February is the fifth anniversary of Windows 2000 going on sale. Hoorahs all round.


    Avon Blake's 7
    "Can I interest you in a three-year-loan with 8% apr?"
    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.

    This week, the story that Avon, the beauty product company, is planning to diversify into financial services.

    Up to 20,000 new "Avon Ladies" could be recruited to help sell life insurance, motoring cover and credit cards.


    Stuart C, Wales, waded in early offering a jaundiced view of the financial world, with Beauty and the fleeced. Tim McMahon, also from Wales (Pennar to be precise) was the first of several to come up with Beauty is in the eye of the policy holder.

    Lipstick on your dollar is nice, Craig, from Beckenham, if you can overlook the currency question, although Candace from New Jersey, US, would probably appreciate it. Instead she came up with Debt ringers.

    Then there's the famous Avon door chime, which Hedley Russell, England, fashioned into Avon in ding-dong battle with banks and Pat McGarry, US, contorted into Ding-dong, Avon calling-in debts. Perhaps neater is Ker-ching. Avon Calling, by Steve Masters, England.

    Top effort of the week came from Charlie Cook, England, who adopted his finest Greta Garbo accent for Avon to have a loan.


    Re: Three-year-old passes Mensa test,14 February. Why is this newsworthy? As I understand it, IQ is corrected for age so being in the top 2% means that in every group of 100 children his age there are, on average, two with a similar IQ. Are there going to be an articles about these children as well?

    Re: Clergy face end to job for life', 15 February. I thought their job was about the after-life as well?
    Herts, UK

    Re: NB's letter (Monitor, Tuesday). My father works for the Office of the Deputy Prime minister and there's a very strong rumour that the election will be called on Thursday for a pre-Easter date. Remember, you ain't seen me, right ;)

    Why would Tony spend good money on a 17 March election when he's already prepared for an early May local election? Sunny day means high turn-out...
    Lucy Jones,

    Re: The mystery of the Limerick Bee. It could be in reference to a famous limerick, as follows:
    A certain young fellow named Bee-Bee
    Wished to wed a woman named Phoebe
    "But" he said "I must see
    what the clerical fee
    be before Phoebe be Phoebe Bee-Bee. Or maybe not

    (Monitor note to Batley: Not.)

    Steve from London had a leter in Friday's Monitor quoting Lear's limerick about the boring buzzing bee. A parody (possibly from GB Shaw) followed... There was an old man of St. Bees,
    Who was stung in the arm by a Wasp.
    When asked "Does it hurt?"
    He replied "No it doesn't;
    I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet.
    Is the so-called Limerick bee in fact this wasp?
    James, Stockport
    (Monitor note to James. Yes, this is the correct answer. Except that we think it was WS Gilbert who wrote it. But you become the first winner of the Limerick keyring, an occasional award for outstanding achievement.)

    Your correspondents make me smile more than any other thing in my life, with the possible exception of "The Simpsons" on TV. Thank you for being here!!!
    Curt Carpenter,
    Dallas, Tx


    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    Sonny Bono would have been 70 today.


    Our weekly guide to words behind the headlines, including new words, old words, old words in new contexts, ordinary words obscuring real meanings, and matters of linguistic interest.

    morganatic - a term used rarely. Very rarely. But when it's used (as it was last Thursday by several constitutional affairs commentators) it's the mot juste. It means a marriage between two people of different ranks, where the person from the lower rank has no claim on the title or possessions of their higher-ranking spouse

    NSFW - not suitable for work, relating to suspicious internet content (submitted by Alex, Nottingham, below)

    PEBKAC error - computer troubles defined by IT support as "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair", ie user error - (submitted by Mark McBride, Wirral, to Syntax Error, 9 February). Alternatively ERROR 17 - "the problem is 17 inches from the screen (submitted by Mac Wizard, Amsterdam)

    stained-glass ceiling - what women priests in the Church of England say they encounter by not being considered for higher positions in the church

    unscripted drama - US media parlance for Reality TV (submitted by Jamie Whyte, Manchester, UK)

    work chicken - a game in which a group of people at work see who can go the longest without actually doing anything of benefit to the company without getting caught, by for example submitting stuff to the Monitor (submitted by Bas, London


    When will Tony call the election? I have it on qualified authority that the UK general election may be called on 17 March. Tony Blair has until 15 February to call it if it's going to be on that day. I think if the country's optimism is going his way (thanks to Charles & Camilla, Ellen Macarthur et al) he'll do it sooner than later. Most pundits expect it will be in May but he'll catch the opposition on the hop if he calls a "snap" election. My source has been tipping off people but won't say how they know but their reputation is on the line if they get it wrong. Is it the worst kept secret in the media?

    Re: Similarity 'makes happy marriage'. They studied 291 newlyweds. How can the odd number be explained?

    Why all the buzz about the Lunchtime Limerick's symbol ... It's just the Beeb Bee, see?
    Charles Frean,
    Bedford, Massachusetts

    (Monitor note to Frean: No it isn't.)

    Clearly the mascot for the Lunchtime Limerick is what it is because of the rhyming pattern for a limerick: AABBA - An Angry Bee, Being Angry. Do I win a prize?
    Paul Taylor, Manchester, UK
    (Monitor note to Taylor: No you don't win a prize. Correct reason will be revealed tomorrow.)

    A friendly warning to anyone else who's considering looking up "bee limerick" on Google: The majority of Limericks on the net are most definitely NSFW...
    Nottingham, UK


    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    15 February is Simpsons-creator Matt Groening's 55th birthday. Or possibly his 51st, depending who you listen to.


    Allow the Monitor to show just how little you care.

    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.

    Your unromantic messages so far...

    Thnx for txt bnnykns. No, dnt thnk frgottn anything. Mttng bys 4 drnk after wk. Cu L8r. smoochi xx
    Stig, London, UK

    Ickle baby kitten wuvz her boy all a-muchness, but if he leaves his smelly sockies on the bedroom floor one more time her ickle baby claws are going to come out.
    Lucy, Manchester

    Does Flopsy-wopsy want to see her earsy-wearsy sticking out of a potsy-wotsy? No? Then stop humming that Angels song.
    Brian Ritchie, Oxford, UK

    Dearest, please remove gold inlay, upper right insisor, remove eye patch and sell parrot. Not playing any more. Untie me.
    Jane, Canada

    Your heart is full of warmth; But can you please do something about your feet?
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    Instead of yet another unwanted present labelled "for my little furry kitteny kitten", my little sugar toe, I really don't want to be whisked off to a restaurant for a romantic dinner that I'll end up paying for anyway, not that I want to eat the special "bunny vally dinner" that you lovingly have been trying to prepare for the past six hours either.Come on, bisci-boo, let's just sit down and watch 'enders. And while you at it, for once, try not to make any comments about the actresses.
    Lucy Flopsy Bunny Wunny, Bristol

    Dear little sugar plum, tonight is a special night... make a lovely dinner, put some beer in the fridge, set a table in the middle of the dining room and then... go to your mothers, I've got a few of the lads coming over for cards!
    Mal Walker, Adelaide, Australia

    If Snugglepuss marks his territory AROUND the loo again he'll find himself taking a romantic mini-break to Huntingdon research centre.
    Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock

    I know you love me baby, and do lots for me. Yes snookums, I love you to. You know I do. But Palace don't play Arsenal on tv every day y'know. Mwah!
    Ed, London

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    The kids have left home,
    Now why don't you ?
    Steve Pauline, Warrington, UK

    Does my ickle cuddy-bear not understand the words "Restraining order"?
    Kat, UK

    I want to make sure that you truly understand how I feel about you so I employed Alistair Campbell to compose my Valentine Message but he e-mailed it to the BBC by accident
    Sarah, Swindon

    You can tell everybody, this is your song. It may be quite simple but then, so are you.
    Dave Godfrey, Swindon

    If Andy Pandy gets sidetracked with Teddy to the pub on the way home tonight, then Looby Loo will run away with Spotty Dog :-p

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? You're bitter, cold, and dull, and grey: Far from a sunny May-Day fine. No, darling, you're my Valentine.
    Ickle Pookle-Wookle, UK

    What inspired this amourous rhyme? Two parts vodka, one part lime.
    Debora Marsh, Milton Keynes

    (That's enough miserable messages now, you killjoys.)


    Re: Fox elected as new leader of SSP, 13 February. Cunning... That's bound to upset the anti-hunting lobby.
    Stuart Kingston,
    Guildford, UK

    After refusing a biscuit at work and stating that for Lent I hag given up all types of goodies, my colleague innocently declared "For the love of God why".
    Rebecca Morgan,
    Sheffield UK

    Perhaps the "bee" logo for the lunchtime limerick is to signify five lines with a sting in the tail. The neck as a sixth line is obviously artistic licence.
    Ed Loach,
    Clacton, UK

    (Monitor note to Loach: No, you're getting colder.)


    Every Monday Si sets you a riddle to kick-start your brain.

    State of Change

    Solve this substitution cipher to find the 9-letter word that links the following terms:


    Submit your answers using the form below.

    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.

    The answer to last week's riddle was as follows: The initial letters of words spell out " largesse double you eye any". Which sounds like the spelling of Swine. The winner was Jane Young, from Guildford.


    A regular note of anniversaries that might otherwise be overlooked.

    14 February is the 605th anniversary of the murder of Richard II (possibly ordered by his cousin, later Henry IV.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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    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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