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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 18:20 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)


Candy sticks
10 candy sticks by Bryce Cooke

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

1. Magnetic North is not fixed, but in fact is drifting at such a speed away from northern Canada it could be in Siberia in 50 years.

2. The Body Shop is banned from China where cosmetics have to be tested on animals, says Dame Anita Roddick.

3. Paul McCartney's animal rights activism was inspired by his watching Bambi.

4. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".

5. A sound can travel for 200 miles if it is loud enough.

6. Aslan is the Turkish for lion. (apt, given that the White Witch in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tempts Edmund to dark side with the offer of Turkish delight).

7. One in 16.66 Britons (6% of the population) is homosexual according to new government figures.

8. Each tank at the Buncefield oil depot housed 700,000 gallons of fuel, enough to take a bus to the Moon and back 12 times.

9. People can train their bodies to heat up, helping them survive longer in icy water.

10. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia that is compiled and updated by volunteers and has frequently had its accuracy called into question, is about as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica, according to a study by Nature.

(Sources where link not given: 2, Daily Telegraph 12/12/05; 4, Daily Telegraph 15/12/05; 6, Observer magazine 11/12/05; 7, Daily Telegraph 12/12/05; 8, The Times, 13/12/05; 9, The Independent 16/12/05.)

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:

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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.


Letters logo
(Operational note from Monitor HQ: Apologies for the fact letters were not published on Thursday. This was due to other commitments. Here is a bumper crop.)

Orlando Bloom named after an American city? Do you not think that perhaps it was the name Orlando that preceded the settlement of the Floridian city?
Martin Hollywood,
St Samson-sur-Rance, France

Erol Fehim measures his toothpaste use by the size of a slug, I can't see that going down well with toothpaste companies' copywriters. Besides, slugs should only be used to measure booze.

I hope Darren Farr's criticism of Sean Connery's Russian accent isn't based on the movie "The Hunt For Red October", in which he actually played a Lithuanian. Since Lithuania is a small country next to the larger one from which the language originated, speaking English in a Scottish accent is arguably not a bad substitute for speaking Russian in a Lithuanian one. Am I too late to enter for this year's Pedantry Award?
Alex Swanson,
Milton Keynes, UK

Hugh Grant was British in Mickey Blue Eyes wasn't he? His American accent was meant to be bad.

Oh, come on. Michael Caine's "American accent" is easily the worst I've heard. Hugh Laurie (House) is one of the best.
Paul W,
San Diego (ex-Brit)

I can't believe how many people are ragging on Mr Hugh Laurie for doing a bad American accent. My wife (American) would not believe me when I said he was British - had to show her a "Fry & Laurie" clip (from PBS in the States) to prove it. I say, Bladder, I'm as cross as a hot-cross bun at Banbury cross!
Paul W,
San Diego (ex-Brit)

My nomination for worst American accent by a Brit is Julie Andrews - she has that mid-Atlantic thing. When you have been over here a while you do it a little bit just to be understood; Dudley Moore had a similar affectation. I've even caught myself doing it to a small extent. I suspect the English 'T' is too subtle for the American ear. And yet they pronounce 'T' as 'D', even though I've never med an American who will admid to id.
Mark Scott,
Brit in the USA

Re: bad American accents by English actors. Those old enough to know better might remember Michael Crawford's truly remarkable effort in Condorman (1981).
Phil Emery,
Manchester, UK

It's not exactly British, but the best accent ever attempted by an American actor has to be Brad Pitt's gipsy in Snatch. Hilariously accurate, even though (or precisely because?) it is complete gobbledygook.
London, UK

The worst cockney accent ever by an American was Bette Davis in 'Of Human Bondage.' She deserved the Oscar for the acting but the accent was at best mangled Australian, at worst, something from outer space.
Nick Jay,
Harlow Essex

How can we not mention Vicky from EastEnders' appalling American accent, which miraculously wore off within two months of living in the Square and became good ol' cocernay again.

Re: Sean Connery's Scottish accents. Darren commented that he couldn't wait to hear Sean Connery play an alien. He nearly did. He was in line to play Spock's Vulcan half-brother Sybok in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier"...
Mark Bailey,
Didcot, UK

Perhaps the reason Jason Clarke of Halifax thinks that "Brad Pitt's German accent in 7 years in Tibet must also rank as one of the most appalling efforts at an accent in screen history" is that his character was actually Austrian. As my Austrian wife constantly reminds me, the two accents are as different as English and American, even when speaking another language!
Tony Hernandez,
London, UK

Re. Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins: iconic as DVD's performance undoubtedly is, I don't think he's being accorded his proper historical significance here. I would contend that Dick is nothing less than the Father of the Modern Mockney. Without Dick Van Dyke, there would simply be no Jamie Oliver (etc.). Think on.
Barry Gregory,

Re dodgy English accents, have we all forgotten Keanu Reeves in Dracula?

Re Tools unlock secrets of early man: it's now thought that humans reached the UK 700,000 years ago, so it only took 80,000 years to reach here from Europe. Clearly there weren't as many bank holidays or baggage-handler strikes back then.
Brian Ritchie,
Oxford, UK (visiting Madrid, hence heartfelt relevance)

Once again the perennial story about people Christmas shopping in the USA. Once again the story neglects to mention that if the goods exceed £145 in value, then VAT must be paid on them upon entry to the UK.
Kelly Mouser,
Upminster, Essex

Ralph in Cumbria, I would have to say piping hot is when you go to eat it and you burn your tongue whilst doing so.

While we're on the subject of weights and measure, how big is a pinch of salt then? And does this vary depending on whether or not you are 'fat-fingered'?
James Dawkins,

Well Mark, in rural London, in my hub of the universe - north coast of Ireland - you can have all the ITV channels from my Freeview box if you swap me Ch 5 and BBC radios 1,2,3 and 4 from yours. Why DO the BBC insist on promoting a digital service which, on anecdotal evidence, proves to be such a reception let down?

Re: Piping Hot. Apparently it's the temperature required to bake a wafer, according to Michael Quinion's World Wide Words. Now if only Chaucer could elaborate on how wide the wafer is, perhaps in plank thickness or skin-of -your-teeth, then we'd have a good idea of a piping hot temperature.
Steven Bush,
Nottingham, UK

Re: Measurements Has any one got any suggestions for the following? 1. A unit of time that represents how long it takes to log on to see the letters. 2. A measurement for the disappointment when letters are not there yet. 3. A measurement for the joy when the letters do appear. 4. A measurement for the pure genius contained.
Edward Edenzor,

In Hospitals fail cleanliness checks, you have no idea how happy it made me to find that the chair of the British Medical Association's occupational health committee is one Dr Paul Grime...
Sue Lee,

Maybe it's just me (famous last words), but I can't see any connection between the article "Amazon puts web up for rent" and the picture BBC News have decided to associate with it. Any suggestions...?
Ben Paddon,
Luton, England

Re the drunk story - sales of aspirin have soared as people prepare for hangovers? Isn't it JUST possible that this is the season for colds and flu? Gargling an aspirin is the best way to cure a sore throat (mother's remedy number 12).

Re Surgeons to search for first UK face transplant recipient - congratulations, a whole new field of medical oxymoron is born.

Who says we are not a multicultural and tolerant society... driving down a local shopping street last night I saw a sign reading "Halal Turkey¿ Order now for Christmas"! If that's not multicultural I don't know what is.

Re Sleigh list "Especially Jingle Bells. It arouses aggressive feelings". Haven't been able to remove the JB ditty since reading the article. Wanted to express my thanks for making my lunch time hell without even leaving the office. MAKE IT STOP!
Herts, UK

Re UK sees biggest moon for 18 years the effect is attributed to the fact its orbit has "brought it closer to Earth" and it is " "higher in the sky than usual". Don't the two seem contradictory?
Maurice Day,


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, a wannabe Santa suffers a set-back while attending a day-long course at a Santa training school in Somerset, England.

6. Geoff Harrison, Alsager
"What! No time off at Christmas?"

5. Anthony, UK
"Working with kids!? No one said anything about working with kids. Arrrgh!"

4. Jan Potter, San Diego, US
"Dasher, Dancer, Cubit - no, Cupid - um..."

3. John Gallacher, Guildford, England
26 December - job centre.

2. Martyn James Fraser, Liverpool
"I used to be leader of the Liberal Democrats and now look at me."

1. Dave Appleby, Manchester
Q1: "If the A1 is blocked at Hatfield and there are roadworks on the A10 at Hertford, which route is quickest to visit everybody nice, bearing in mind statutory rest breaks for Beasts of Burden (Road Traffic Act (1998) Revision iii (para 4 (Subsection 1b)))?
Show your working.


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

After David Blunkett's efforts yesterday to ghost-write his Sun column in the voice of his dog, Paper Monitor has got a taste for columnists and their pets. Today it's Tracey Emin - pictured with cat Docket - in the Independent.

Say what you will about Blunkett's pooch, but at least it was intelligible. While Emin does us the courtesy of writing in a human rather than feline voice, frankly, the latter might have made more sense.

She starts with a confession: that much of what she wrote in last Friday's Indy was untrue - conveniently excusing her deception as "artistic licence". She then launches into what appears to be, although it's not entirely clear, an anecdote about lying in a bath, sipping champagne while recovering from a ski injury.

Emin calls up some mates, turns up the CD player and proceeds into a fantasy in which a bellboy takes her to bed.

"Give me something. Or shall I give you the truth?" she then asks of the reader.

Eh? So have this week's utterances all been imagined as well?

Anyone hoping for an insight into the creative thoughts of an angst-ridden conceptual artist, might, at least, glean something from this musing:

"I closed my eyes and wondered how tiny and hot I must be, compared to all these giant cold mountains that surrounded me."


Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked: how much more does the government spend on someone in Scotland than in England? Forty-seven per cent of you got it right - it's £1,406, because spending per head in England is £5,940, compared with £7,346 in Scotland. A new Daily Mini-Quiz is on today's Magazine index.


EastEnders Christmas
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 Christmas lunch with all the trimmings can fuel family tensions - nutritionists say the traditional feast makes diners' blood sugar levels soar, leaving them irritable and snappy.

Loading on the festive puns is Seasons Eatings Drives Us Christmas Crackers by Andy Smith, Cirencester, UK, Ding-dong verily on (sugar) high, who's angry on excesses? suggested by Brian Ritchie in Madrid, O Come All Ye Hateful from Ellie Rhys, Dublin, and Mistletoe and whine by Ruairi Darrall, edinburgh.

While taking a more medical stance is Irritable Fowl Syndrome by Gearoid O'Muimeachain and Mathew Speed, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Running with the food theme is Stuffing, you want stuffing?! from Simon Rooke, Nottingham and Christmas dinner is a real slap-up meal by Angela Barlow , Liverpool.

And it's a supercalafragilisticexpialladocious thumbs up for James from Cape Town with Super calorific binge brings extra stress for hyperglycaemic relations Murray Milne in Hong Kong with Superdiabeticfestivecrackers and Super Calorific Explosive Roasted from Richard D in Faversham. Bravo.


Cor blimey! The Dick Van Dyke Challenge, to mark the respected actor's 80th birthday this week, was met with gusto by chimney sweeps from across the world.

The rather odd Cockney accent that Van Dyke employed in Mary Poppins stands alone in cinematic history (Wikipedia says it is "still often cited as the worst attempt at a British accent by an American actor"). So as a tribute, we invited your impersonations.

Have a listen to this selection, which starts with a wonderful effort from John Billam, complete with whistles.

The other entries featured here include Stuart Muswell from London, Simon White from Nottingham, Kieran Kelly from London, Tim Pearce from Canterbury and Rob Mortell from Glastonbury.

Thanks to everyone who took part.


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

Harsh words for Charles Kennedy from the Sun today. "Charles Kennedy has always been a waste of political space," it says in its opinion column. "The Sun has never found much to say about him - except to remark from time to time what a worthless article he was." Next to it, a headline: "Chatshow Charlie gets a visit from the Men in Grey Sandals."

Meanwhile, cartoonist Matt in the Telegraph has two tanker drivers chatting, with one saying: "I was only 12 feet from the Liberal Democrat revolt but I didn't hear a thing."

Ouch all round.

Also in the Sun today, it's the day for David Blunkett's column. It's even more embarrassing than before. He's started writing in the voice of his guide dog. Read this - right to the end, if you can: "Last week, my 'master' told you how I rolled in fox dung and the poor chap had to bathe me with six buckets of soapy water. Frankly I prefer the smell of old Reynard to Fairy Liquid any day. So I'll tell my own tails - oops! tales - from now on. This week the bearded one took me for another Sunday walk" - sorry, even Paper Monitor can't make it to the end. With these jokes, Mr Blunkett, you are spoiling us.


Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked: which US state has the most inmates on death row? Sixty-six percent of you said Texas, but it's actually California. Texas is second and Flordia third. A new Daily Mini-Quiz is on today's Magazine index.


Letters logo
The feature on how to give away vast sums of money (How to give away £51m, 14 December) contained two misconceptions. Brewster's Millions has been filmed by Hollywood no fewer than seven times so Montgomery Brewster actually has a very clear claim to "classic character" status. Also, a very large number of the 180,000 charities in the UK are organisations which have charitable status for tax reasons but do not solicit or accept donations; the number of "worthy causes" is considerably smaller. If anyone cares to give me £51 million I promise to stop being so pedantic.
Mike Simpson,
Leicester, UK

Is Anita Roddick going to Gift-Aid that?
Ben Hill,
Cardiff, Wales

I'm sorry to hear that the ITV New Channel is closing down before I had a chance to watch it. My Freeview box is unable to receive it, or indeed any of the other ITV digital channels. I was tempted to think that this could account for their poor viewing figures, but I don't suppose the reception in the little rural backwater in which I live makes much difference. Perhaps some of you have heard of it? It's called London.
London, UK

Martin Barker asked for "the worst attempt at an American accent by a British actor" (Monitor Letters, Monday, 14 December). Easy - Sir Sean Connery. US character - Scottish accent. English character - Scottish accent. Russian character - Scottish accent etc etc. Can't wait for him to play an alien.
Darren Farr,
Billericay, England

I saw an episode of the sitcom Still Standing when in America. It stars Mark Addy (from The Full Monty) who seems to be playing a character who's from somewhere between Chicago and Sheffield. Appalling accent. I'm surprised the US audiences have swallowed it, but it must be popular as its still going after three series.
Chris G,

I remember hearing at the time of the release of Mary Poppins that Dick Van Dyke had done a completely "spot on" cockney but that the American movie guys panicked, thinking the US audiences would not understand, and that, despite his protests, he had to mid Atlantic it. Whatever - it is a great film, and he is a wonderful talent.
Andrea J,
Bath England

I think Dick Van Dyke has a very close challenger in worst English accent in a film. Anyone who has seen the remake of Ocean's 11 or Ocean's 12 will recall the murdering of an English by Don Cheadle. Brad Pitt's German accent in 7 years in Tibet must also rank as one of the most appalling efforts at an accent in screen history.
Jason Clarke,

I can think of some British actors guilty of dreadful American accents: Ewan McGregor in Black Hawk Down (the one bad apple in an otherwise good barrell), Orlando Bloom in Elizabethtown (you would think that someone named after an American city would have done better than this abomination), Clive Owen in Sin City (I'm being slightly pernickety here), Hugh Laurie in telly programme House (words can't describe how cringeworthy he is), but the winner is...Ralph Fiennes in ALL his American-set films: Quiz Show, Strange Days, Maid in Manhattan...I could go on. Ralph - stick to the brooding English dandies & leave the American thing alone.
Jill Black,

My nomination for worst American accent by a British actor is Hugh Grant in Mickey Blue Eyes; for best, Hugh Laurie in House.
New Jersey, US

Loved the How Smart are You quizzes (End of Term medley, 14 December). Our team did them every Wednesday for a laugh. Make sure the New Year has more of such things.
Sonya Bhonsle,

Monitor note to all: Suggestions for future quizzes welcomed.

The dog ate my Monitor.... I'm fed up of reading "Apologies" and "Sorry" for this & that! Fulfil your potential & buck up your ideas Monitor, you could do better! ;=)

Weights and Measures: I use an amount of toothpaste somewhere between a baked bean and an averagely sized slug. Is this excessive?
Erol Fehim,

Re. Measurements, etc: Exactly how hot is piping hot?


Apologies for the delay. In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz we asked the age of the world's youngest published author. A quarter of you wrongly said six, and 33% said five. The title belonged to a four-year-old girl from Washington whose book How The World Began was published in 1964. A new question is on the Magazine index now.


Apologies for non-appearance of daily mini-quiz results, and today's new question. Blame technical difficulties. We'll rectify this when the rubber bands on the quiz building machine are replaced.


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

Pictures of Joanne Lees fill the front pages now a conviction in the backpacker murder mystery has been secured - Bradley Murdoch has been found guilty of killing her boyfriend Peter Falconio. But is that enough for some papers to put their doubts about her to rest? Not a bit of it.

Metro carries a factbox weighing the case for and against Murdoch, with five facts against him, and four "doubts about Miss Lees" (largely down to her refusal to break into photogenic floods of tears).

And this headline from the Express - "Joanne: Now tell us the full truth". Despite appearances, that's not a challenge to Miss Lees, oh no - it's her appeal to Murdoch to reveal where the body is.

The Daily Mail runs a "compelling dossier" of the inconsistencies in the case against Murdoch. Readers wishing to go into these in greater detail need only wait until Monday, when the paper's man in Darwin publishes the first of a glut of books on the case.

"[His] speedy work attracted the ire of the trial judge, who said he could 'only wonder' at the degree of its analysis," sniffs the Guardian in a sidebar about this mini publishing boom.

And is that lovely ladies in lingerie in the Express? Why yes, but only in the interests of public service. With just 11 shopping days to go, the paper runs a "shy guy's guide to Christmas lingerie - how to shop without embarrassment". Paper Monitor cannot possibly recount its advice here, having been reduced to a blushing wreck by the mention of stick-on tassels in the first paragraph.


Letters logo
Perhaps you missed this correction from Saturday's Guardian, 'The paintings by Caravaggio in the Cesari chapel of the Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome were named as the Conversion of Saul and Accident in a Blacksmith's Shop (Readers' guide to Rome, page 8, Travel, December 3). They are the Crucifixion of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul (sometimes referred to as Saul), which was described by a contemporary of the painter as looking like an accident in a blacksmith's shop.'
Saffron Garey,
Farnborough, Hants

To mark the occasion of Dick Van Dyke's 80th, perhaps we should also add 'Happy Birthday!' to the invitation to imitate his Cockney accent. Imperfect Cockney accent, no doubt. But I would still rate him as one of the finest comedy actors ever to have appeared on the large or small screen, and a fine dramatic actor as well. And in reference to the quotation '...the worst attempt at a British accent by an American actor', would anyone be interested in offering some suggestions as to 'the worst attempt at an American accent by a British actor'? Do any names spring to mind?
Martin Barker,
Lima, Peru

Thanks for the Dick Van Dyke article. I finally feel vindicated. I am a Brit living in the USA and nobody here believes me that Dick's accent was terrible. They all thought it sounded like a real cockney. Having said that I've been asked on multiple occasions by americans whether I am an Australian, a Swede, a German or a Russian. I rest my case ma'lud.
Gillian Lee,
St Cloud MN USA

Dick-Van-Dyke renouned for his 'Mockerney Cockerney'. Was he the original DVD? Cor Blimey Mawy Boppins.!!!!
Colin Bartlett,

My two children are presently into Mary Poppins and as a result I am subjected to Dick Van Dyke's legendary cockney accent. As I have watched this performance again and again I can't help but think that Dick Van Dyke sounds like he's copying the voice of Stan Laurel, but with cockney phrases thrown in. I wonder if he mistakenly used Stan as inspiration for an English accent.
Dave Turner,

As I am unable to phone from work to leave my impersonation of Dick doing Bert, and not being flash enough to have an MP3, here's my tribute in writing: "Ow, it's a jolly 'oliday wiv Mary, Mary makes yer 'eart seem light"
London, UK

Vicky Wretham (Monitor Letters, Monday) needn't worry. Tesco claim their bags are biodegradable and judging from the examples in my house, those suspended from her local trees will crumble to dust by the end of the week.
Andrew Collyer,
Rainham, Kent

Surely it's not just me would like to know more about the four-year old author mentioned in the quiz! OK I can Google it but still...
Lucy Larwood,

In response to James E question regarding the important of personality in the choice of Sports Personality of the year, it¿s important to remember Princess Anne won the award in 1971.
John P,
Cambridge, UK

About rewording Halton Borough Council's notice (Monitor Letters, Monday) - it's easy! How about: windy scenic path.
Josh D,
Leicestershire, UK

Re measurements etc: When and why did the pea become the standard unit of measurement for the correct amount of toothpaste?
Sheldon Price,


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

It's take your pick time today with the Guardian trumpeting "Five years of Bush" and the Indie proclaiming "1,000 days of war". This indicates that someone on both papers has been assiduously counting days on the calendar, and reaching two separate conclusions. Paper Monitor suspects both will be slapping their foreheads and going 'D'oh!' this morning for not spotting this unique double-header.

There's also a beautifully random correction in the Guardian. It says: "The 1999 Tony Christie hit written by Jarvis Cocker was Walk Like a Panther, and not Fly Like an Eagle, as we had it..." (Incidentally, did any readers ever actually write to the Guardian to ask for a print-out of the weather page from 30 November? Paper Monitor forgot.)

Meanwhile the Sun has done some trend-spotting of its own. "Forget shoes or handbags, this season's must-have accessory for female celebs is a lesbian lover. Girl-on-girl action is all the rage with more and more A-list ladies grabbing a girlfriend." Cue picture spread. But one mustn't criticise - it's Christmas, and you've got to let them have their dream.

Even stranger goings on at the Express, where for some reason there is no mention whatever of Princess Diana. Paper Monitor will, naturally, be writing to the editor to complain, if it remembers. The paper does, however, have Slade's Dave Hill talking about Christmas hits, which is nearly as good.


In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, which asked what is "raait", 70% of you correctly identified that it was a new multi-ethnic English dialect. 20% said it was a new anti-obesity drug, and 10% said a new video games console. Many thanks for being so neat in your answers.


Letters logo
Re Pack it in, 8 December: All the trees near my local Tesco are festooned with plastic carrier bags that have blown into them. Isn't it time UK supermarkets follow the example set by some of our more enlightened European neighbours and started to charge for plastic bags?
Vicky Wretham,
Basingstoke, UK

Sorry to pee on the flexicographical bonfire (Flexicon, 12 December), but there already are PC terms for fat-fingeredness: when traders get their numbers jumbled it's called a transposition error; when they mistype, it's, well, mistyping. However, the emotion one feels when the dimensions of one's digits are criticised is indubitably indigitnation.

I note with amusement your report of the "fat-fingered" being blamed for mistyping, but the fault does not lie with those of us with large extremities, but the ever-dwindling size of keyboards and gadgets. I'm fed up of picking up a lovely looking mobile phone or other gadget, only to find that the keypad is so small that when I attempt to use it I end up pressing four keys at once. Who designs these things: elves?
London, UK

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it surprising that the Buncefiled oil depot employed only 16 people.
London, UK

Regarding Halton Borough Council's notice which you think could do with some re-wording (Nine things that make no sense, 12 December). Other than showing it on a diagram, exactly how to you plan to re-word it?
Andy Elms,

Moving sideways from recent discussion on the Routemaster bus, I note from Halton Borough Council's public notice that a picture is now worth 629 words. I feel this is undervalued. Recommend BUY.

I was left confused and disappointed over the weekend while watching a rather interesting wildlife program all about Cornwall. In this, the chap described the size of the wonderful basking sharks as the length of a bus - but neglected to say whether this was a bendy bus, a double-decker bus, or a standard single bus. Could he not have told it in terms of football pitches? Can anyone help to clarify the situation as now I have no idea how big a basking shark really is?
J Squires,

We already have measures for distance, area and volume so what a relief to finally find a measure of speed: The speed at which finger nails grow that is: (Geologists witness 'ocean birth', 8 December).

Like many Monitor readers I supect, I've been intrigued by your analysis of Diana coverage in the Express. So I just had to laugh out loud when I saw the headline this morning (as reported in Paper Monitor). I wonder if the Express are now in on the joke, and might be seeing how far they can go with it before they get thoroughly rumbled?

How much weight is put on the personality aspect of the Sports Personality of the year award?
James E,

I have just had my most entertaining morning at work EVER. As I have been off for the last three weeks for paternity leave, I have had no work to avoid doing, hence no need for the Monitor. Returning this morning, I have just had to catch up on three weeks' worth of Monitors, in doing so attracting several odd looks from colleagues as I giggled away to myself at intervals. Thank you Monitor for cushioning the blow of my return to the daily grind. God bless you.
David, Maesteg,
South Wales


Last week we asked for your suggestions for the Flexicon, our flexible lexicon, for the rather insultingly termed phenomenon "fat fingers". We thought it a bit unPC, and asked any flexicographers if they could do better.

Neil Franklin suggests "digitally corpulent", which still sounds a touch too judgemental for our liking. "Digitally challenged, says Brian Ritchie, Oxford, which is better. Sally, London, suggests "digitslexia" which isn't quite there. Queen of the LBQ, Candace of New Jersey, suggests "phalangerer" for one who has fat fingers, which just captures the essence of going somewhere you shouldn't. And Kip, Norwich, is novel with "character assassination".

But the word to enter the Flexicon as a non-judgemental term for having "fat fingers" which leads to incorrect typing is supplied by Simon, from Stirling: "thumbsy".


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a day for headline-writers to sum up in the most dramatic and (Americanism coming up) impactful manner possible the Hemel Hempstead blaze, paying particular attention to the Armageddon-like qualities of the photographs.

Toxic cloud fear as oil blaze rages - Guardian
'It's like a vision of doomsday' - Telegraph
'I just thought... It's the end of the world' - Mirror
Opec is confident oil will stay above $50 - FT
DIANA'S DEATH: POISON EXPERT CALLED IN - Express (Paper Monitor kids you not)


Last Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked: are there more Davids or women in the new shadow cabinet? Sixty-four percent of you answered correctly that it's Davids. There are five, compared to four women. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

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