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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
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 Objective
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know this time last week


    10 THINGS
    10 green bottles by Tony Crowther

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

    1. There are an estimated 1,000 people in the UK in a persistent vegetative state.

    2. Train passengers in the UK waited a total of 11.5m minutes in 2004 for delayed services.

    3. Monkeys like porn.
    (More details from Current Biology, see internet links)

    4. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.

    5. Camilla Parker Bowles can't ski.

    6. Children in the UK get an average of 8.37 pocket money a week.

    7. As a boy, Jamie Oliver took packed lunches to school.

    8. In 1975, only 15% of people over 70 held a driving licence. In 2003 the figure was 45%.

    9. Half of asthmatic children are allergic to cats.

    10. The BBC, not the police, owns the copyright to Doctor Who-style police phone boxes.

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

    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.


    Your objective for the afternoon...

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been banned from the touchline for his football team's Champions League match against Bayern Munich.

    UEFA, the governing body, is going to assign a "minder" to watch Mourinho as he sits in the stands, to make sure he's not relaying instructions to his players.

    We have every faith in the Portuguese abiding by the rules of the ban, although he's admitted flouting similar punishments in the past.

    But your objective is to come up with ingenious ways he COULD communicate with his players during the match, either directly or via his coaching staff on the touchline.

    Details of the ban are yet to be confirmed but for the sake of the task, we'll assume the Chelsea boss is not allowed a mobile phone to speak to his coaching staff, and the UEFA official is not sat next to him.

    The warm-up's over, time to kick off the mission.

    Your suggestions:

    Mourinho coughs at the appropriate moment as the stand-in coach reads from a list of messages. sort of 'who wants to be a millionaire football coach'
    Stig, London, UK

    Mourinho likes to watch the match with his hand to his face, the index finger raised along his cheek. Therefore he will have a pressure-sensitive switch inside his cheek, attached to a miniature radio transmitter. Having taken a crash course in Morse code, he will tap out his instructions on his cheek, and these will be relayed to an assistant who can read Morse. The assistant will then type the instructions into the computer which controls the big electronic scoreboard. This will be programmed to display the messages in microsecond pulses, so that the message is only readable subliminally. So when you see the players taking a deep interest in the score, what they are really doing is getting the good word from the boss. (And to make sure minorities are catered for, some of the instructions will be in English!)
    Hedley Russell, Morecambe England

    The carefully timed initiation of Mexican waves could be used to comunicate important information, especialy as it wont require the players to give revealing glances at their manager. Of course, the problem occurs if someone else in the crowd should start a wave, at which point all manner of things could happen.
    James, Cambridge, UK

    I'd have though the best solution would be... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4396387.stm.
    Tom Hartland, Derby, UK

    He needs a mole, in the most literal sence of the word.
    Alex Evans, Manchester

    Disguised morse code: "Oggy oggy oggy oy oy oggy oy oy oggy oy oy oggy oggy o...h too late"
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK

    (Entries are now closed.)


    Re Brain chip reads man's thoughts, 31 March. Suppose for a second this man controls a prosthetic limb and makes it squeeze the trigger of a gun, thereby killing someone. Could it be proven that it was his "action"? Worse still, what if his prosthetic limb(s) go on the rampage while this man is having an active dream?

    As Dr Who is rather topical at the moment, does this mean we may be in for a Have I Got News For You situation with weekly guest Doctors, and if so isn't it time for a few suggestions? I think Billy Connolly would continue the trend of more Northerly characters, but it might have to be shown after the watershed.
    Herts, UK

    Why are all these IT people grumbling about helping out friends and family (Monitor letters, Thursday)? For minor ailments at my home, we phone up a doctor in the family for advice. As a teacher, I am willing to give any relevant advice to relatives or friends. What are friends for, anyway?

    Alex Swanson (Monitor letters, Thursday) needs to learn the meaning of "reduction" before accusing the BBC of bias. It has nothing to do with the quality, merely the quantity of something. Therefore a "reduction of services" needn't mean that a poorer service is rendered, just a smaller one. Perhaps he or she would like a complimentary copy of Johnson's dictionary?
    Graham Rochester,
    Washington, Tyne & Wear

    Ref Andy Hiller's limerick (The Lunchtime Limerick): the word "berk" was declared to be unparliamentary language by a previous speaker who was informed that it is rhyming slang, short for "Berkshire hunt". 'Nuff said.
    John S,

    In the E-cyclopedia you mention "pseunonymous" which jumped up from the page at me yesterday evening as I was reading P D James's novel The Skull Beneath the Skin, first published in 1982. She uses it instead of "nom de plume".
    London, UK

    Re: Unusual accidents. The worst thing that can happen is when the phone rings whilst you're ironing.
    Philip Lickley,

    Google, natch: http://www.google.co.uk/googlegulp/faq.html. (Language only suitable for 1 April)

    BBC not responsible for content of external sites.


    Friday means it's time to reveal the caption competition results.

    This week the Prince of Wales is on holiday in Klosters, eight days before his wedding, with sons Prince Harry and Prince William.

    The winners are:

    6. Chris Mead, Berkeley, California
    Dad, where will grandma be sitting at the wedding?

    5. Jane Farries, Calgary, Canada
    Hit 'Restart,' Harry - his mouth's stuck again.

    4. Nigel Greensitt, Salford UK
    More cheese Gromit?

    3. Gareth Williams, Netherlands
    Gottle of glaret, gottle of glaret

    2. Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK
    Last year, they had a lip-reader in the crowd but I won't be falling for that again.

    1. Chris Ballard, London
    God I hate posing for caption competition photos - I can't stand that BBC news website, I really can't.


    Friday is the 130th anniversary of the Times becoming the world's first paper to publish a daily weather chart
    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    How to tell a fake smile from a real one: Prince Charles' disparaging muttered asides about the press, during a photocall in Klosters, were accompanied by a none too convincing grin. But how to tell a real smile from a fake one? The Times steps in with some useful tips, courtesy of Professor Richard Wiseman, who just so happens to be conducting an experiment on the issue.

  • Charles' face is a "textbook example of how not to feign warmth and happiness," says Prof Wiseman.
  • While his mouth is curled, the rest of his face is impassive.
  • The biggest giveaway is the absence of crow's feet around his eyes.
  • "Cover up the lower part of the face and the upper part could almost be any expression," says the prof.


    Re: Technical support for the neighbourhood, 28 March.I too have worked in IT for many years, and there seems to be some general attitude that "computers are too hard", and an expectation that people like me should give them free support. How would you feel if your neighbour asked you to put petrol in their car for them, because "it's too hard to learn"? I wish Duncan well (Monitor letters, Wednesday) as it looks like he is getting paid for the work he puts in, unlike those of us who get drafted by our own families and friends.
    Mitch Miller,
    Portsmouth, UK

    Re An A to Z of Samuel Johnson, 30 March. May I suggest C should be for Criticism? "Sir, this manuscript is both good and original: unfortunately that which is good is not original, and that which is original is not good." I often use this to describe the 'music' of a well-known musical aristocrat.

    In the E-cyclopedia you say "Cuts - formerly a clearly defined concept in politics, ie. a reduction in budget leading to a reduction in services." Watch out, your bias is showing! The idea that cuts lead to poorer services is only held by left-wing people. Many of us believe that cuts in government spending need not lead to such reductions, and can in fact lead to better services, if applied to paper pushers who get in the way of the real service deliverers. So this was such "a clearly defined concept in politics" only if you are clearly on one side of the political divide.
    Alex Swanson,
    Milton Keynes, UK

    In addition to Sarah from Edinburgh, who wrote yesterday that she was injured by a boiling-soup-in-a-blender incident. I laughed heartily at a friend who burnt has stomach with an iron, until I did exactly the same thing. Lesson to all, don't lean forward wearing a slightly short top while ironing...)
    Edinburgh, UK

    In Wednesday's Paper Monitor, you say: "Guinea pigs cannot reach the shift keys." Oh, really? How come there's an exclamation mark, a colon and a question mark, then?
    Alexander Lewis Jones,
    Nottingham, UK

    To Chester, who in Wednesday's Monitor letters asked for some contradictory phrases - how about military intelligence, jumbo shrimp, creative destruction, compassionate conservatism, and cognitive dissonance?
    Tim Brookshaw,
    Chippenham, UK

    Microsoft Works?
    Daniel Milner,
    Bergen, Norway


    Thursday is the 150th anniversary of the death of Charlotte Bronte
    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    The Timez rap:
    Son, you may ask how we came to be this rich
    Well the simple truth is I became the clown's b****
    I could have spent years perfecting my beats
    But I was offered $5 to mention reconstituted meats

    The once fogeyish Times leader column marks McDonald's offer to pay rap artists to drop the words "Big Mac" in their songs.


    It's time for Punorama, our pun-writing competition.

    'El Juli'
    Spanish bullfighter 'El Juli' in action
    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 snippet that the UK's only matador, 55-year-old Frank Evans, born in Salford, is giving up the bullring because of injury.

    Judge's verdict.

    Variations on a theme include: "What's the matador? Bored of getting gored abroad" (Kat, Derby), and "Gored of the Rings!" (Richard York, Wakefield) . Nice work from Muhammad Isa, Watford with "I'm a bull-leaver", and "Sirloin, it's been good to know you" (Kip, Norwich).

    "No more bull shift" from Pete Makings, Nottingham, and "It was all a horn in my side admits Frank" (from Nigel, UK). "Frank Evans, it's over" says Chris, UK, and David Dee, Maputo Mozambique, says "O-lay-off!"

    The entry which is simultaneously best and worst comes from Bas, London, who by explaining his entry immediately undermines it - "Ole-P (as in OAP)". Almost hit greatness there, Bas. But not quite. (Entries are now closed thank you.)


    Re: Dot.life: Technical support for the neighbours, 28 March. Having been an IT professional for many years, I decided to go it alone and start my own one-man-band providing professional support to small businesses and home users, hoping that I could provide the kind of support normally only found in a large company, to home users having exactly the problems Paul Rubens spoke of. We're not all amateurs and students - some of us are highly skilled professionals who have decided the rat race isn't for us. I love meeting new customers and getting to know them and their computers. A good training course can teach you a lot, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so. Most people don't chose to go to a mechnics course so they can fix their car, because they know that a guy who's been doing it for years has a better knowledge of how it all works and fits together, and that's where the nice computer man comes in handy.
    Milton Keynes

    In the E-cyclopedia there is the entry: "Meegle, meegler - the act of Googling yourself; one who meegles", (E-cyclopedia, Tuesday). Isn't this what egosurfing is?
    London, UK

    Stig from London asks what label someone with a healthy obsession for unhealthy eating could be (Monitor letters, Tuesday). How about 'Biffa' (as in the bins)?

    First there was David Brent's "team individuality", now there's Charles Kennedy's "tough liberalism" (in Kennedy urges new crime solution, 29 March). Do Monitor readers have any other amusing self-contradictory phrases?
    Hastings, UK

    Re: 10 unusual accidents, 29 March. I burnt my arm at the weekend in a boiling-soup-in-blender mishap. Fortunately I didn't need hospitalisation, but I felt foolish.

    Is it just my PC, or is your little "whose birthday" window on the Monitor page now white text on a beige backgroung? I'm getting a headache, and it's your fault.
    Phil Lamb,

    Dude, what's with all the blue?
    John Henry,
    London, UK

    The Monitor has turned an unpleasant shade of blue. Is it unwell?
    David Dee,
    Maputo Mozambique

    Monitor note to Lamb, Henry and Dee: Monitor has no idea what you are talking about.


    Rolf Harris 75 on Wednesday. Eric Clapton is 60
    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Most interesting theory put forward by a guinea pig: The Telegraph's sometime columnist Mr Snuffles (aka Andrew Marr's pet guinea pig) suggests that the whole Howard Flight debacle has in fact been manufactured. "howard flight does not exist! yes, made-up person invented in labour dirty tricks dept for ho-ho joke to wind up tory leadership. ask yourself, reader, simple question: have you ever heard of howard flight before? no. second question, something about name strike you as odd?..." (Guinea pigs cannot reach the shift keys.)


    Our 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.

    cuts - formerly a clearly defined concept in politics, ie. a reduction in budget leading to a reduction in services. But now something of a moveable feast, since a poster from the Labour party accused the Tories of planning 35bn in cuts, only to accept that the figure refers to Conservative plans to spend less than Labour but still more than at present. Bit confusing.

    Meegle, meegler - the act of Googling yourself; one who meegles (see also w****r) (submitted by reader Anon, US)

    neets - the latest social sub-group (after yuppies, dinkies, nimbies etc). Refers to young people not in education, employment or training. According to the Daily Mail, "research reveals they are more likely to become or be single mothers, get involved in criminal activity and use drugs than those of a similar age who have continued with education or work after reaching 16". The Daily Star calls them "a new breed of superscroungers". Cue pictures of Vicky Pollard.

    pseunonymous - word used during recent high profile trial into the murders of Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis. Means that witnesses give evidence with their identities protected from the defendants and public

    As ever, suggestions for inclusion are welcome, via the form on the right hand side.


    I read the article on Technical support for the neighbours, 28 March.. I am a network engineer and I constantly get calls from people who haven't spoken to me in months sometimes years and I just sit and wait for them to bring up their computer problems. My family live in Wales and more than once they have called me for help when their computer acts up. I suggest that anyone who purchases a computer takes the time to attend a couple of basic classes. You really don't have to be a genuis to fix a computer.
    Omaha NE US

    If an othorexic ('I'm an orthorexic', 29 March) is someone who is suffering from an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, what describes a person who has a healthy obsession with unhealthy eating? Because I want a label too.
    London, UK

    Clive Gibson's point regarding over-priced popcorn is quite a popular, but short-sighted viewpoint (Monitor letters, Monday). Cinemas make very little from the cost of admission as distributors take anywhere between 40% to 70% of the ticket price. This forces the cinemas to raise revenue in the only other place they can - the concessions stand. The food may be over-priced but it pays for cinema! If he's that concerned about money he should do what most others do - sneak his own food in to the screen and thank the suckers in the concessions queue on his way in!
    Covent Garden

    In reply to Michael Hall (Monitor letters, Monday), what do we call it if the monitor wants us to keep an eye out for all references to the Swiss in the news?
    Colin Edwards,
    Exeter, UK


    Trombonist George Chisholm, a distinguished jazzman and regular with Brian Cant on Play Away, would have been 90 on Tuesday. He died in 1997
    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Great minds: Fleet Street's finest puns for the news that an academic symposium is to discuss the socio-cultural impact of The Smiths. The Times: "Academics of the world unite for a gig with the Smiths"; Scotsman: "Scholars of the world unite"; Telegraph: "Academics to study impact of this charming man Morrissey". The Monitor didn't really understand the Sun's headline - "The Smiths Institute" - until it realised it was an abbreviated version of that in free newspaper Metro - "A Smithsonian Institution". If only the collective brains of Punorama addicts had been available.


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

    Slugs and Snails

    The smell of lacquer on alder wood greets my nose and the rich aroma of many blossoms fills the air. The stench rises from the compost heap. I analyse each new scent and the fragrances weave an intricate pattern. I examine the stiff, red herring that happens to live round here. I hear the trickle of water, already languishing behind me. I vanish into the undergrowth as a creature passes. I'm on cloud nine, here in my element and reward myself for the standard of my observations. From the top of the garden, to the bottom, my senses are overwhelmed. Warding off all who would dare trespass, it is not a dull, gray Monday for me!

    Send your solutions 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 solution to last week's riddle was obtained by factorising years and discarding those which have less than three prime factors and those in which the prime factors are too far apart (to be physically possible!), which narrows the search down to about six plausible years. Adding factors for each of these cases, yields the solution 7,10 and 28.

    The winner was Alan Miller, Edinburgh, who writes: "Their ages are 28, 7, and 10. But the Daily Mail may argue that a 17-year-old mother is not a 'lady'."

    Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.


    It was interesting to learn, from 7 days 7 questions, that cinema popcorn has been added into the nation's "shopping basket" which is used to calculate the rate of inflation. I have long held that the price of cinema popcorn is one of the scandals of modern life. I went to the pictures on Friday; the prices of popcorn were 2.80, 3.80, 4.20 and 4.50. The mark-up must be enormous - have any other Magazine readers seen more expensive popcorn?
    Clive Gibson,

    In last week's Monitor, R J Tysoe said that his or her own website had "well over 1,000 pages". If this is true, how many pages does the BBC site have? And is there an equation to describe the relationship between the number of web pages a site has and the amount of window amnesia experienced by its visitors?

    In the story about the Queen's Maundy service visit: ( Police defend royal visit arrests, 24 March, you mention that 79 men and 79 women, all pensioners, each received 79p in silver coins from the Queen, to reflect her age on her next birthday. Were there no complains about the Queen's age not keeping up with inflation?
    Ed Loach,
    Clacton, UK

    After "Da Vinci Code-Watch" and "Ricky Gervais-Watch", are we going to get "Amarillo-Watch"? We've had directions to Amarillo, and the preacher from Amarillo. The Manchester Metrolink was full of Ulstermen after the match on Saturday evening singing "Is This The Tram To Amarillo?" Although the more accurate "Is This The Tram to Picadilly?" would also have fitted the tune.
    Michael Hall,
    Eccles, UK

    Suggestion for this week's limerick first line:
    There was a young man from Kyrgyzstan ... (just kidding).
    Charles Frean,
    Bedford, Massachusetts


    Michael Parkinson is 70 on Monday
    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Genius moment: Letter from Saturday's Guardian: "Surely as experienced journalists you should know that the story of BBC director general Mark Thompson biting a man is not a story. But, 'Man bites D-G'", that would be a story." Take a bow, Andrew Vincent, Cheltenham.

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