[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 17:34 GMT
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

  • Daily Mini-Quiz results
  • Paper Monitor
  • Your letters
  • Punorama (Weds)
  • Caption Comp (Thurs)
  • 10 things we didn't know (Sat)


10 Portaloos
10 Portaloos by Jenna

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

1. Tony Blair is a big fan of kung-fu film star Jackie Chan. His favourite movie is Rush Hour.

2. The Royal Mail uses 342 million rubber bands a year to bundle up letters. It has switched to using red bands so that they can be more easily seen when dropped.

3. Loo roll is the third biggest selling household commodity, with sales exceeding 11bn a year.

4. The average price of a Christmas card is 71p.

5. BBC props managers inject Germolene into Mars Bars in the EastEnders shop to stop them being eaten, says former star Sid Owen.

6. Guy Ritchie hates his wife's new album and prefers Irish folk music.

7. Binge drinking dates back at least to the 12th Century.

8. Actor Brian Forster (who played the second Chris Partridge in The Partridge Family), is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens. He was born on 14 April 1960, 101 years to the day that A Tale of Two Cities was published

9. Former Nazi scientists helped put the first man on the Moon and their legacy helped the development of the B-2 Stealth bomber and Cruise missiles.

10. The ability to ignore information makes for a better memory.

(Sources where not linked: 1 Evening Standard, 24/11; 2 Daily Telegraph 25/11; 3 Daily Mirror, 22/11; 5 Daily Mirror 24/11; 6 Observer Music Monthly 20/11; 8 Roland Rivron BBC Radio 2 and www.imdb.com.)

Thank you this week to Stephen Buxton, UK.

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.


Letters logo
Re: "30,000 women are sacked or forced out of their jobs because of pregnancy and 200,000 more face discrimination" statistics (Pregnant? You're fired!, 25 November). Any numbers to indicate interviewees at child-bearing age not being offered jobs even though have no intention of becoming pregnant? After several months of unsuccessful job hunting, I ceased to provide my birthdate and was offered a job within a week. Anyone else had interviews straying from discussing your suitability for the role to your parental intentions or had it assumed?
RG, Herts, UK

Rosanna from Norwich has totally missed the point about personal pensions (Monitor Letters, Thursday). The more people who don't save for a pension, the more trouble we're in because the infamous "black hole" only gets bigger. And if you save with a pension company, the date when you start to receive pension payments is fixed at a date of your choosing, not the Government's. Get saving!!!
Tim G,
London, UK

Surprise, surprise: a proposed windfarm in Devon has been rejected (Council reject windfarm plan, 25 November). I wish people would get off their high horses about nuclear energy (the only viable option we'll have left soon) if they'd prefer to not help save our natural resources just so as not spoil a pretty view.
Gemma Trinder, Southsea

Why do people keep slagging off Nottingham as a drinking city? I think it's fantastic. And did you know there are FIVE girls for every boy here? Mostly 80s though.
Basil Long,
Newark Notts

"Donne-moi une orange", I said to Mimi. "Mais oui, mon ange", she replied, giving me a long sought-after rhyme.
Bob, Paris, France

Hilarious captions today (Caption competition), well done team. But can anyone enlighten me as to what exactly IS behind that poor child's head?
Tim G, London, UK

Re: this week's quiz (7 days 7 questions, 25 November). Newton is cooler than Einstien because he contributed more to science? Since when has this been the acid test of cool?
Phil B-C, London

Re 7 days, 7 questions. Who'd have thought eh? Spending 44 days in a glass box without food,makes you lose weight and damages your liver! Perhaps that should be added to '10 things we didn't know a million years ago'!
Owen , Stevenage Herts UK

Not meaning to brag, but I managed to get 8/7 in today's quiz, even while getting two wrong, just wondering how many kudos this achievement translates into. (Screenshot available on request).
James, London

I've seen TV ads for mobile phones that you can watch TV on - but do you need a TV licence?
Ron, Bath

To Carol Williamson - no I am not frightened by the report that the British spend more on home fragrances than the GDP of Liberia. There are 57m people in the UK, and to spend 300m a year on something equates to an average of just over 5 per person. Hardly frightening. In fact, I'm struggling to think of anything that I spend less than 5 on a year.
Catherine, UK


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, two boys look on as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, plays a game of table tennis during a visit to a youth club. But what's being said?

6. Martyn James Fraser, Liverpool
"She must prefer cricket because I heard the headmaster say Camilla parker bowls."

5. Tim Sheppard, London
"Uh-oh - I think she's worked out what we were doing with the glue."

4. Glenn Dixon, UK
"Don't worry, this new headmistress won't suspect a thing. I've hid the cigarette in my hair. Wait... can you smell burning?"

3. Mark Wrighton, London
"It's not her fierce backhand that worries me, it's the fact that every time she beats someone, she keeps their scalp as a trophy."

2. Jon, Newcastle
"I'll give you 7:1 that she'll beat Henman."

1. David, Jerusalem
Try as they might, the boys couldn't quite get Camilla's exact expression.


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

There is a sombre tone in the papers today, as they pull out all the stops to commemorate the passing of George Best. Moody handsome portraits, tinged with tragedy and glory, with thoughtful retrospectives and tributes - all for a man who is, as Paper Monitor writes, still alive. The papers had obviously expected him to expire overnight and decided to run their obituaries today.

This leaves them with a slight problem should Best die during the course of today - what exactly do they publish tomorrow?

Elsewhere in the papers, Paper Monitor is pleased to welcome the great Rupert Murdoch to its cause. In an interview with the trade journal Press Gazette, he says he hates the DVD giveaway madness. "I personally hate this DVD craze," he says. "People throw away the paper."

(He also says the BBC resents him - but look, in that last paragraph we called him "great". That's Paper Monitor - bucking every trend.)

Finally a tale from the Daily Telegraph. "A man who slapped a passer-by with a wet fish was jailed for six months yesterday," it reports. Is this someone taking the advice of last week's Readers' Column, in which Lewis Graham wrote: "And if a trivial annoyance isn't worth trying to stop, then it isn't important enough to get annoyed about. Apply the frozen halibut test: if a personal stereo is too loud on the tube, is it bad enough to find a frozen halibut to use to persuade the miscreant to stop?"


In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which city has the most round-the-clock licences to serve alcohol? London, said 16%. Wrong. Manchester, said 31%. Nooooo! It's Brighton and Hove, which 53% answered correctly. Today's question is on the Magazine index today.


Letters logo
I don't think I'll bother saving for a pension. The retirement age is increasing to 67. Currently, I am 17. I expect the retirement age will increase so much that I'll die whilst working. So why should I bother saving? Live for today after all! (I'd like to thank the government for making me think such cheery thoughts of death and unhappy later years)
Norwich, UK

What is quite amusing about the article about older workers (, 23 November) is that all three of the "modern" inventions mentioned by Jeremy Myerson were about 30 years old by 1905. I'd thought the typewriter was invented sometime in the 1890s but when I checked I found the first practical one was invented in 1868 (started manufacture in 1873). The telephone was invented in 1876 with the first telephone exchange by the following year and the first exchange outside the US being built in London in 1879. The light bulb it is much fairer though to say "modern" as although there were some arc lamps being used in offices by 1877 and Joseph Swan demonstrated his carbon filament bulbs in 1878 it wasn't until 1903 that the filaments could be treated to not darken the inside of the bulbs (which made the bulbs dimmer as they got dirtier).
Southend on Sea

I had absolutely no idea that Madness's song Embarrassment was about a mixed race pregnancy (An embarrassment no more, 24 November). I guess Madness' attempt at irony was lost on me.
John Airey,
Peterborough, UK

You report that Britons will spend 300m on home fragrances and "smell neutralisers" this year. - more than the GDP of Liberia! Am I alone in finding this frightening?
Carol Williamson,

Re: Christmas television schedules (Paper Monitor, Thursday) ... TYPICAL! Repeats!

Candace's latest offering on the orange rhyming front (Your Letters, Wednesday) opens up the potential for a fantastic transatlantic slanging match, but this would doubtless be founded upon the 'you say tomato' principle. So, let's call the whole thing off, eh lads?
Neil Franklin,
Southampton, UK

Nothing rhymes with orange, huh?
Ivan Gorringe,
Preston, England

I get really annoyed at people looking over my shoulder while on the train tackling a particularly difficult Sudoku puzzle (Your Letters, Wednesday).
Stevenage Herts UK

Re: Police use Taser for first time, 24 November). Is it just me that sees a problem with firing large electrical voltages in a petrol station?
Kirk Northrop,
Manchester, England


African grey parrot
His is an African grey parrot
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 how Roman Abramovich's parrot has sparked an immigration row. The bird lives aboard the Russian billionaire's luxury yacht, which is due to dock in New Zealand next month. Officials initially refused the parrot entry for fear that it might carry diseases, but have since relented.

Nursing a sore throat is Poly mono by Stephen Buxton in Coventry, Psittacosis on the side of the bay by Kip in Norwich, and 'Flus a pretty boy then? (Matthew Miller, Tudhoe, UK; David JW, Leeds; Terry Casablanca, Vilnius, Lithuania).

Coughing and a bit under the weather is A bird with the deck hand is berthed too in the push by Candace, New Jersey, US, Polly-tical row by Neil Franklin in Southampton, and Squ-Auckland by Stephen C, WInchester.

No-really-it's-not-a-bad-cold is Warned 'flu over the crow's nest by Rowan Morgan-Odell in Shaftesbury, Roman's bird "Chelsea" New Zealand by Chris O'Connor, Independence, Virginia, US, and Define Poly-patriated by Simon Robinson, Birmingham ("to scrape the barrel of my LBQ keyring for the final time," he adds, for those following the charity auction).

And pulling a sickie is Polly, what a fracas! by Charles Frean in Bedford, Massachusetts.


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

Christmas has come early. Although it's only 24 November, and Advent hasn't even started yet, today's Sun and Mirror have the first of the season's TV guides.

Paper Monitor is particularly looking forward to the programme which will be shown at these times on these channels:

Christmas Eve
BBC One, 9pm: To be announced
BBC Two, 2.10pm, 2.55pm and 7.40pm: To be announced
Channel Four, 6.15pm: To be announced

Christmas Day
BBC One, 7.45pm, 9.15pm, 11.45pm: To be announced
BBC Two, 3.45pm, 7.50pm: To be announced
Channel Four, 2.40pm, 12.00am: To be announced

Boxing Day
BBC One, 8.30pm: To be announced
BBC Two, 9am, 5.55pm, 9pm: To be announced
ITV, 8pm: To be announced

Etc etc etc ad nauseam. Paper Monitor's tip: it might seem obvious, but don't plan your Christmas viewing until all the schedules have been announced.

PS. There is still disappointingly no sign of the Boris Johnson podcast.


In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked how much a 2,500-word undergraduate essay costs? You failed! Only 18% got the right answer, which is 239. Today's question is on the Magazine index today.


Letters logo

Re Sir Roy Strong's comment that, "[A]ny socks through which the flesh can be seen are definitely sexy" (Paper Monitor). Great! That means no more darning for me, then.
Brian Ritchie, Oxford, UK

The lights across Britain will not go out this winter "under any scenario whatsoever", Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson has insisted. I suddenly feel an unaccountable need for a stock of candles and a camping stove...
Valerie, Wigan, UK

Re Working over time - how will that change work? For Dr Philip Taylor, it means employers must create "a convivial workplace with jobs that people find satisfying". I look forward to the day.
Gareth, London

Rob Goforth asks how the authorities know that 80-90% of rapes go unreported (Monitor letters). By comparing rapes reported to the police to the number of women contacting rape crisis centres, and by looking at the annual British Crime Survey. As only 5% of defendants are convicted, it's not hard to see why victims, both female and male, are unreporting.
Sara, London, UK

Your Daily Mini-Quiz asks if an essay is 54, 128 or 239? I have just been offered, by spam e-mail, a degree (BA, BSc or MA) for just $125. I suspect the essay market is overpriced.
Mark Esdale, Bridge, Canterbury

Is there sudoku etiquette? On the train the man next to me missed some clear chances. I wracked my brain as to whether to point them out, and eventually decided to keep quiet. Then he made a mistake, and, after realising how much I hated discovering that I had made a mistake, I told him of the two 2s. Is there a new breed of "sudette" arising from the game's popularity? And is it bringing the public closer together?
Michael, London

Should be BLORENGE not Blorange (Monitor letters), and it's in SE Wales, just south of Abergavenny.
Andrew Ruddle, Weybridge, Surrey

Given the right pronunciation, surely blancmange rhymes with orange.
Candace, New Jersey, US


The charity auction of a Lunchtime Bonus Question keyring, with proceeds going to Children in Need, has finished. And it's kudos all round:

  • Put up for sale by former LBQ winner Simon Robinson;
  • Won by Magazine reader Lester Mak, who took the unusual step of bidding against himself to push the total ever higher;
  • And bidded for by others keen to support the good cause.

Lester writes: "Ten things my wallet didn't know last week. Kudos is worth 102. But the LBQ keyring is well worth it. Thanks Simon! Congratulations Pudsey and Children in Need!"

And Simon says: "I'd like to thank the Monitor for publicising the sale of my LBQ keyring on eBay, also everyone who bid or just showed an interest. It raised 102, which will be even more when gift aid tax is added."

Thanks indeed.


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

If Paper Monitor has one abiding complaint about the press, it's that there aren't enough articles about socks. The Daily Mail, bless it, has put matters right today.

"In the Fifties," writes Sir Roy Strong, "it was pretty avant to wear socks with a single decorative vertical ascending the leg over the ankle. Quite daring at the time. Then came the psychedelic Sixties and bright fluorescent colours for socks, which were fun, but by the mid-Seventies they'd sobered up again. And I don't think that at age 70, I'm quite right for the Disney bedizened socks I see for sale in railway station shops.

"One fall-back is silk," he amazingly continues, now about 600 words in to his 1,000-word piece. "They exude expense and any socks through which the flesh can be seen are definitely sexy."

Enough. Paper Monitor can take no more. Sir Roy, you are spoiling us. (Note to self: look up "bedizened".)

So let's cast an eye at our old pal the Daily Telegraph, now four days in to its editor-less status. And you'd still not know anything was up. Today it makes a great fuss of the world's greatest cartoonist, Matt Pritchett, and the world's greatest 92-year-old war reporter WF Deedes, both named in the UK journalism hall of fame. They write about how great the other is.

It makes great reading, but Paper Monitor can't quite brush aside its cynicism: this lavish praise would have nothing to do with a concerted attempt to retain the paper's most distinctive talent in times of turbulence, would it? Especially when at least one of the stars is the brother-in-law of the man who's just quit as editor?


In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which event topped a poll of 2005's most entertaining moment? No fooling you lot - 76% correctly answered that it was England's Ashes win. Just 11% said it was London being granted the 2012 Olympics, and 13% said Live 8. Today's question is on the Magazine index today.


Letters logo

May I congratulate the BBC marketing department on a very clever and subtle campaign. Producing a story about adverts (Could you feel sorry for an ad man?) to get everyone annoyed by adverts so they stop watching channels with adverts and return to the dear old Beeb. Genius!

Is there some sort of award for the most transparent lie of the week? If so, it must surely go to the 18-year-old boy quoted in the report about the Royal Variety Show (Comic asks if Queen is 'bovvered' ) who said he wanted to see Charlotte Church because she is "a good role model".
Mike Simpson,

The Metropolitan Police dropped the W from WPc because it wasn't PC. ...Eh?
Ben Paddon,
Luton, England

Apparently in Bring you Husband to Heel "stereotypes were being gently set up rather than endorsed." Please tell me you meant 'sent up' or else I'll worry that the BBC is part of some kind of matriarchal conspiracy.
Helen Bourne,
York, UK

Ok to finally stop this words that do or don't rhyme, orange rhymes with Blorange. The Blorange is a mountain in west Wales, where I'm from, and we all find it very funny when people say that nothing rhymes with orange, but people can't help being stupid.
John K,
Reading, UK

Interesting comments from KP about drinking. I wonder if this is the same KP who appeared in such a "happy" state when England won the Ashes!


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

It's 15 years to the day since Mrs Thatcher left Downing Street but the papers are more interested in the antics of her daughter, Carol Thatcher, currently a contestant in the new series of I'm a Celebrity...

Miss T apparently decided to answer a call of nature by her bedside in the wee (apologies, that's Paper Monitor's pun) hours. But she didn't bank on this small indiscretion being caught on one of the infra-red cameras. For those who missed this momentous event, the Daily Mail, reproduces a picture of Miss Thatcher unbuttoning her shorts.

"For even more jungle gossip and photos," it advises readers to visit the Mail website.

But what's this... flick back a few pages and the Mail tells how soap operas and reality TV are, according to a survey, responsible for falling standards on the box.

Bad language and sexual content are in the firing line, so, admittedly, there's no specific mention of secretly filming people going to the loo.

It falls to the Daily Telegraph to hold the standards banner proudly aloft, with this letter from Pippa Smith:

"SIR - The rise of an increasingly lewd Little Britain just about says it all about the decline of Great Britain."


In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked who did NOT appear by video-link at Mo Mowlam's memorial event. The answer, as only 26% of you identified, was Four Poofs and a Piano, who were at the service to introduce tributes with their trademark ditties. More than half of you thought it was Robbie Williams. Today's question is on the index today.


Letters logo
"The BBC Website became indispensable because of its high standards of accuracy and detail." Was that the full quote from Chaper nine? (Paper Monitor, Monday)
J Argles,

May I join the 50,000 other railway anoraks who have probably written to you by now to point out that the picture in David Cannadine's article A Bridge too high, 18 November, that purports to be of the "Forth Bridge built in the 1960s" is in fact the Forth railway bridge, completed in 1890, and not the Forth road bridge, opened in 1964! Shocking inaccuracy, Beeb - shame on you!
David Pickering,
Knowle, West Mids

In the interests of balance, please can we have the thoughts of very old people on the UN internet summit? (Young perspective on the net)

Whatever happened to WPC as the acronym for Women Police Constables? Everywhere on the BBC the sad incident of the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky is reported as the murder of a Pc.
Dan Ebdon,

How do they know that 80-90% of rapes go unreported?(Women 'get blame' for being raped, 21 November)
Rob Goforth,
Stockton-on-Tees, UK

You haven't quite got this almost imperceptible witticism idea right, have you? In Faces of the Week, you tell us that "Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has attracted more than her fair share of knockers since leaving those LA beaches." Benny Hill would have been proud of you.
Caroline Brown,
Rochester UK

Paper Monitor last week told us it had learned from Little Britain that "binge" rhymes with "orange". Every Mornington Crescent fan know that orange rhymes with "scringe" as well.
Baltimore, US

No, no, no. "Binge" does not rhyme with "orange". As everyone knows, a rhyme is only valid if they match from the last accented syllable. In the case of "orange", the syllable "or" is the accented syllable and not "range". For example "russet" rhymes with "gusset" but not with "basset". Of course there are ways round it, I believe it was Steven Sondheim who wrote:
To find a rhyme for silver
Or any "rhymeless" rhyme,
Requires only will, ver
Bosity and time.
George Rockingham,
Maidenhead, UK

Tom Lehrer wrote:
"Eating and orange
While making love
Makes for bizarre enj-
-Oyment thereof."
Doha, Qatar

I watched Little Britain for the first time last night and I learned that orange also goes with cringe.
Norwich UK

Will everyone stop using the phrase "no-brainer"? It's horrible.

What a delight to see, once again, an LBQ keyring gracing your pages and in such a good cause. The original competition was a social phenomenon, attracting enthusiasts from virtually every branch of chartered accountancy. As a time-waster it was almost unequalled, having been compared with an English player entering Wimbledon. Remarkably, though, employers never complained - indeed, some claimed it actually improved productivity, by keeping the participants away from the accounts. For those too young, or too senile, to remember, here is a taste. Happy days!
David Dee,

In May 2005 I found out from the BBC's "FAQ's about the election" page that in the old days, people used to get paid on Friday and the only day that they were sober was Thursday (as they had no money left, I'm assuming). I just love it that we're getting 24-hour drinking on 24th November, a Thursday.


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

It will have escaped most people's attention, but there's been big ructions at the Daily Telegraph, where the popular motorbike-riding editor Martin Newland walked out on Friday apparently in protest at the appointment of senior figures which he was not involved in.

But today's paper, which for years has reassured middle England that all's well with the world, is disappointingly a model of stability. Readers would have no idea anything had changed. Even squinting at headlines like "End this silly spat now" and "Not good enough, garcon" barely give a clue to what's really going on there.

Regular readers will remember the amusement over Sunday Telegraph editor Sarah Sands' letter to readers on its relaunch. This week she made the bold move of recording her own podcast (available here) introducing her paper. Bravo to her - though next week do try not to say "wonderful Tories" when you mean "wonderful stories".

Finally a postscript on the row between John Prescott and Sir Christopher Meyer, the former ambassador to Washington, whose book DC Confidential gave us all such fun a couple of weeks ago. Paper Monitor is taking the unprecedented step of actually reading the book, to glean anything the serialisations left out. How about this:

"The BBC News website became indispensable."

That's from chaper nine, page 67, in case anyone needs to check.


While Children in Need has raised more than 17m so far, the Magazine's little fund-raising effort continues apace. For any new readers, let us explain. We used to run a daily competition called the Lunchtime Bonus Question, a woefully unpopular and depressing venture in which a hardy band of competitors attempted to outdo each other by supplying wrong questions to a given answer. Each week the most wrong question won a keyring. Now one of the winners, Simon Robinson of Birmingham, has put his keyring up for sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to Children in Need.

At the time of writing, the going price is 50.01. The Monitor thinks this is a big of a bargain for an item which embodies such kudos, and hereby promises to sprinkle a little metaphorical gold-dust over the eventual winner. But time is running out for anyone who wants to up the ante. Bids are still being taken here .


In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked if it was true or false that a new wildlife park in Thailand was planning to have lion and elephant meat on offer in its restaurant. It was true, as 71% of you correctly identified. Today's question is on the index today.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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.


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific