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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
The Magazine Monitor


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

  • MON: Si's riddle
  • WEDS: Punorama
  • THURS: Caption comp
  • FRI: Friday Objective
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know

    10 things we didn't know this time last week

    10 tumble dryers by Ian Currah
    Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

    1. C3PO and R2D2 do not speak to each other off-camera because the actors don't get on.

    2. Driving at 159mph - reached by the police driver cleared of speeding - it would take nearly a third of a mile to stop.
    More details

    3. Disposable nappies account for 2.5% of annual household waste.

    4. Archbishop Desmond Tutu watches Footballers' Wives.

    5. A booming market for soya beans for cattle feed is the main driver of rainforest destruction.
    More details

    6. Ann Widdecombe decorated her ministerial office in the 1990s with two posters - a foetus in an anti-abortion message, and Garfield the Cat's "The Diet Starts... Tomorrow".

    7. Pope John Paul II performed an exorcism in 2000 on a teenager, according to the Archbishop of Loreto, the Most Rev Gianni Danzi.

    8. Alex Best, former wife of George, never liked football.

    9. A holiday for a family of four to Disney World in Florida, with all the travel and consumption involved, releases 2,415,000g of carbon dioxide.
    More details

    10. Jonathan Dimbleby proposed to Bel Mooney in a Wimpy.

    Thanks to Ian Currah.

    Got any news facts for 10 things? Send them using the form below. Or if you see any pictures of 10 things, send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk with "10 things" in the subject line.

    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.


    Reading all about these "anti-social thugs" in hoodies & caps, and Asbos being dished out left and right made me wonder. I have a neighbour who keeps herself to herself. She never speaks to anyone, her house is quiet at all times, and she rarely goes out at all. Surely this is real anti-social behaviour and should be dealt with in the harshest way possible?
    West Yorkshire

    Re Formula Won: To Rob, Sheffield - I'd suggest that the formula, as well as showing a "x" instead of an "=", is also missing a set of brackets. It should read "M x (O + Bh (H+R)) = S". This would still mean that you could keep a resolution that you have no motivation for, of course, but that is perfectly possible. I, for instance, have no motivation to keep the resolution that my partner made on my behalf to keep my spending on clothes down. However, since he shredded all my credit cards, it is very likely that I will be forced to keep it...
    Wigan, UK

    Re Britain's rock map is redrawn- I hope the BBC won't be using this one to display the weather on.

    Re your story re-dressing the 4x4 debate, how about balancing it out with a link to 4x4prejudice.com a site which attempts to dispel many of the rumours surrounding the 4x4=evil debate.
    Christian B,
    Truro, UK

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

    Re US 'could win over Muslim world'. Hmmm, respect, a bit of humility, listening... sounds like a radical plan, but it's just crazy enough to work. And if it's successful with the Muslim world, perhaps the US government will try this approach with other countries as well...
    Vancouver, Canada

    Re: 7 days quiz. I thought I'd stayed up on election night for all the exciting results... MP Robert Kilroy Silk (veritas)....? Shurely shome mistake!

    The quiz has been amended. Apologies. I am currently reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for the first time and am truly amazed by Douglas Adams' accidental, yet uncanny, foresight. Originally thought up in the 70's, it not only has the researchers for the Guide in the book send their reports back to the publishers via something called the "SubEthaNet" (remarkably like the internet), it also mentions a "race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings", whose favourite passtime is "Brockian Ultra Cricket" described as "a curious game which involved suddenly hitting people for no readily apparent reason and then running away." So those who claimed "Happy Slapping" originated in south London are wrong: it originated on the other side of the galaxy!
    David, Maesteg,
    South Wales

    What or who are mukluks was the question. Rabbit skinned boots worn by Rooneys girlfriend was the answer. Actually mukluks were originally Seal Skin or Bear Skin which was (is) expertly crafted in Alaska, by Alaskan Native Craftsmen (Inuit et al). The rabbit skin is a recent change to the original idea to accommodate those that desire the look without having to walk around in fishy-smelling footware
    C. A., Anchorage,

    Given the London Eye's recent eviction notice, let's hope the makers of the updated Monopoly board haven't fixed it to its spot too firmly...
    John Russell,
    London, UK

    At five past eight tonight, it will be 20:05 20.05.2005 - one good reason for not being American!

    Come on Monitor! Natch is a word, not a phrase.
    Cat, London,


    Old Kent Road, Park Lane, Fleet Street - just some of the iconic addresses on the much-loved Monopoly board game.

    But to mark its 70th anniversary the game's makers are bringing out a special edition which updates the old London destinations to reflect the capital's radically changed property market. They will include the London Eye and Covent Garden, Notting Hill and Soho. What's more, the prices will also get a slightly more contemporary edge, so Canary Wharf will be 3.5m and The City 4m (although even that's a steal for these prime locations).

    All of which begs the question, what if other much loved board games were to move with the times? How might a modern-day Cluedo look? What if they were to update Mouse Trap? Or give a 21st Century sheen to Scrabble?

    Your objective this week is to tell us how you might envisage these old favourites with a modern twist. Here are you ideas:

    Slakes & Bladders: Exciting new game that puts even more fun into binge-drinking. Sliding down a slake earns the right to drink a corresponding number of pints in one go. Successfully climbing all the bladders grants the winner a visit to the toilet. Players are disqualified if they fail to down all their slakes, make an unearned trip to the toilet, or wet themselves.
    john macdonald, uae

    Happy Families 2005, featuring: Mr and Mr Closet, Mrs Isolated the widow in the tower block, the Chavs and their six children, Mr and Mrs Blair and their charming sons, Mr X the police informant...
    Norbert, UK

    Not a board game but a playground game. We used to call it "war", but nowadays children call it "Bringing democracy" to the year threes. It does involve collateral damage, which normally means the ginger haired, spec-wearing kid with the snotty philtrum gets it.
    John Thompson, UK

    Alcopop Rummy (the traditional suits replaced with fluorescent colours)
    Saffron Garey, UK

    Operation: players take it in turns to remove patients from the waiting list without alerting Michael Howard
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK, thelbq.co.uk

    21st Century Scrabble would have to reflect on the current speaking trends, so there would be fewer "T" tiles (and no words ending in T allowed), words such as "natch", "inni(t)" and "hoodie" included, and the reference for checking words is not the regular dictionary but any word that sounds correct.
    Matt H, London

    Scrbbl n txtspk: wtht vwls
    Matt Folwell, UK

    Snakes and Ladders - with Prozac and Viagra in place of the ladders, and - er - other substances where the snakes used to be, man.
    Maggie, uk

    21st Century Cluedo where one of the possible solutions would be "Dr Burberry-Check with the Tazer in the Home Cinema".
    Sander, London

    Maybe the "Chance" or "Community Chest" cards in Monopoly could be updated to contain a number of "ASBO Cards", which prevent players from landing on or purchasing certain properties. Also the car playing peice ought to be replaced by a 4x4, and the "Free Parking" replaced with "Congestion Charge"
    Graeme Dixon, Surrey, UK

    C.S.I. cludeo anyone... DNA samples, fingerprints and you always get the bad guy first time even when there's no real way you could have got the evidence.
    Natasha, UK

    "Operation" where you've got to see how many surgical implements you can leave in the patient without them noticing.
    Graham, UK

    "Cosmetic Surgery" based on the old favourite "Operation". Instead of just removing bones you have to perform implants, liposuction, botox injections...
    Nigel, UK

    'Guess Who'
    "Is it a man or a woman?"
    "I can't really tell"
    "Are they fat?"
    "You can't say that"
    "Ok, are they blonde?"
    "Yes.. erm... no.. well sort of"
    "Are they black?"
    "Depends what you mean by black"
    "Are they Asian?"
    "I don't know really, what do you mean by Asian"
    "Are they of Indian culture?"
    "What's to say they are not of British culture?"
    "I give up."
    Helen Russell, UK


    Before the Monitor went on election duty, you may remember that we were charting all those instances of UK journalists using the vile phrase "natch". We thought that was an end to it, so it gives us no satisfaction whatever to discover that the Wild Man of Journalism, Rod Liddle, has now fallen prey. And in such spectacular style! He writes in this week's Spectator magazine:

    "We have not reached the stage, over here, where there are coloured bracelets available to be worn by kids who wish to show their very real opposition to the act of bullying. They have that in the USA, natch, so I daresay it will be with us very soon."

    Oh Rod, what have you done? You've joined the ranks of those who use an unnecessary Americanism - not that the Monitor has anything whatsoever against Americans (or the free market, big business, religion or British institutions). And at the same time you've shown you knew nothing of the quite well-known blue anti-bullying bracelets, launched last November. To avoid future embarrassment, please refer to Do you know your awareness bracelets. And please don't say natch again.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages
    "Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked," said Bob Dylan many moons ago. A glance at the front page of today's Sun reveals that so must former presidents of Middle Eastern states - well almost. The paper splashes "world exclusive shots" of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in his prison cell, including a front page picture of him in his underpants. It goes on to draw comparisons between Saddam's former life of luxury and the humble conditions in which he now lives as a prisoner awaiting trail. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Geneva Convention's rules for keeping prisoners of war will no doubt be horrified at this spectacle.


    In yesterday's Daily News Question on the Magazine index, 69% of you answered incorrectly that the Who's Pete Townshend was 65 on Thursday. He was 60. Today's question is on the index.


    It's time for the caption competition. Here are the winning entries.

    This week it's the Queen with Cree Chief Alphonse Bird in Regina, Canada, during her eight-day state visit to Saskatchewan and Alberta.

    6. Robert Agasucci, London, UK
    PETA's 25th anniversary celebration got off to a bad start.

    5. Stuart Young, London, UK
    Charlie Falconer's attempt to modernise the Lord Chancellor's dress had gone seriously wrong.

    4. Bill, Halifax
    Celebrity Love Island still fails to attract the viewers.

    3. Mal Wilkinson, Heesle, East Yorkshire
    Speed dating in Saskatchewan gets off to a shaky start.

    2. Joe, Sheffield, UK
    "One can get oneself clean, one can have a good meal, one can do whatever one feels..."

    1. Jon, Toronto, Canada
    And suddenly the Queen remembered that Camilla had complained how she had nothing to wear for Ascot this year.


    Kudos to WebUser magazine, which in its current issue correctly identifies the Paper Monitor as one of the "hidden gems" of the BBC website. This comes a few weeks after the Monitor itself was described in the Sunday Times as a "gem of interactivity". A theme seems to be emerging.


    I would love to be able to sit down round the table for a family dinner every evening (Table Manners, 18 May)! Perhaps Tony Blair would like to buy me a house with a dining room in order to achieve this, or even a kitchen or living space big enough to fit a dining table in! Until then, I'm afraid it's the sofa and terrorising the neighbours afterwards for us...
    Rebecca Bond,
    Hastings, E.Sx

    Re: Piano Man, the film...shame it's already been done, 18 May. Perhaps I should also remind you of the opening of Jane Campion's The Piano, in which a mute woman turns up on a distant beach with her piano.
    Colin Edwards,
    Exeter, UK

    Re: Water vole slide 'can be halted', 18 May. This seems to be plain cruel. I hope scientists are leaving dear Ratty with his swing and roundabout.
    Andy Bowes,
    Harrogate, UK

    Re: Formula Won, in which you invited analysis of the formula that stated Wednesday was the ideal day to make resolutions. Aside from the fact that a formula needs an equals sign (I am assuming the final "x" is meant to read "=" as "s" is meant to be the final result), there seems to be a major error in the calculation. If there is zero opportunity, or zero motivation to keep a resolution, logic tells us it simply will not be kept. However, if we believe this calculation, there is still a chance of us succeeding in keeping a resolution we have no desire or opportunity to keep if it is a sunny bank holiday. May I suggest S = (MxO)x(1+Bh(H+R)) as a more appropriate model? I have assumed, of course, that Bh is a scaling factor based on the inverse of the time until the bank holiday, rather than a simple proportional multiple of the time to go.
    Sheffield, UK

    "M x O + Bh (H+R) x S" - equals what? That's just a number. They might as well tell us the answer is 42...
    Stuart Moore,
    Cambridge, UK


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages
    Apart from the revelation that the dog who plays Lucky in the "More Than" TV commercials has died (write your own joke), today's Mirror is getting worked up about how rubbish Celebrity Love Island (CLI) is. Star TV reviewer Jim Shelley goes for it with both barrels, much in the style of George Galloway, deploying bold, capitals, sarcasm and invective.

    "CLI could, at a stretch, have been palatable for a week" he writes. "But FIVE weeks. NINETY minutes a night. TWO-AND-A-HALF hours for the first episode. It's suicide. I've seen shorter Steven Spielberg movies. They spent 2million on the set, 150,000 for Kelly Brook, 100,000 for Abi Titmuss. Meanwhile it's said Paul Danan negotiated a price through his own agent - Thomas Cook. Even the theme tune is rubbish."


    In yesterday's Daily News Question on the Magazine index, 81% of you answered correctly that a Bristol toilet block had sold for 35,000, not 12,700. Today's question is on the index.


    Dr Parv Sains with "Sister Mary"
    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, your puns for the introduction of a "robo-doc" at a London hospital are invited. The robot which moves, Dalek-like between patients' beds and links the patient with a consultant via a video screen, is being tested at St Mary's Hospital.

    Costing 50,000, the doctor using it in tests said that it would allow him to speak to his patients in three or four different hospitals at once, all within an hour.

    Here is the verdict of the judges.

    Signs are good on the Punorama ward, with several patients previously thought to be terminal now showing indications of rallying.

    Stephen Buxton, from Coventry (and thelbq.co.uk) goes in for a bit of politics with Examine rates! Examine rates!, with Philip Chillag of Wigan riffs on the theme: Extermedicate.

    Old hand Brian Saxby of Gateshead staggers up the ward, clutching his stomach, with The doctor will PC you now. While Chris Field, US, lets out a ghastly groan with Tell me where it hertz.

    Terry Adlam, Slough, is nearly there with Nurse, the LED screens!, while Tim Francis-Wright of Boston is nearly discharged with Physician, wheel thyself.

    Craig from Beckenham is next in line for a bedbath with Robot wards, while Sue from London has a nice bunch of chrysanthemums with Oooh, automatron!

    But the winner of the visit from the campaigning politician is Jill B, from Detroit, with Bedside spanner.


    So a 3G advert is set to break new ground, 18 May? Well, if it reaches my brand spanking new 3G phone it certainly will break new ground. With lousy 3G reception, poor download speeds, and laughable video calls I am totally underwhelmed by the 3G experience.
    Tina McPhail,
    Glagow, UK

    To Matthew in manchester (Monitor letters, Tuesday), who says his long-lost friends can keep in touch with him via his blog. How will they know where to look? Apart from running a search on internet under your name I can't see how they'd find your blog. You need to advertise your confidence-boosting blog in local papers. Maybe do a leaflet drop in your local area?

    Can one get the same perspective as on the new 3-D BBC weather forecast by standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower?
    Jason S,
    Southampton, UK

    In Galloway claims Iraq oil victory, it says: "Lying to Congress can result in a year in prison in the US." Please can we have an equivalent law about lying to Parliament? It would have been fantastic to see Michael Howard take his election campaign claims against Tony Blair to court.
    Stuart Moore,
    Cambridge, UK

    Re: 'Respect' key for Blair's third term, 17 May. Thankfully George Galloway is in the US, so he'll have missed that one.
    Ben Hill,
    Cardiff, Wales

    Re: Quote of the Day, Wednesday. Who else thiks Freddie Star has left it way too late?


    Earlier in the year, the Monitor launched Formula Won - a regular update on unlikely formulas which make it into the news.

    You know the type of thing - a formula for finding how likely it is to be sunny on your birthday, a formula for how likely it is your toast will fall butter-side down, a formula for calculating if the same film will be shown on both outward and return flights.

    So now here comes another entry. Today, 18 May, is the ideal time of year to make and keep a resolution. (It's come from Cardiff University's Cliff Arnall, who earlier in the year published the formula showing 24 January was the most depressing day.)

    This formula is based on the principles that resolutions stand a better chance when it's sunny and when the "feelgood" factor is on the increase - ie early summer near Bank Holidays.

    So it claims that M x O + Bh (H+R) x S, where M is motivation, O is opportunity, Bh for proximity to a bank holiday, H is for the increasing hours of daylight, R for reflection time, and S for success.

    Mathematically-minded Monitor readers are, as usual, invited to inspect the algebra and submit their thoughts, using the form on the right.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages
    Two nice lines from the papers about George Galloway's remarkable appearance before US Senators. The Guardian's Oliver Burkeman adapts one of Mr Galloway's own phrases, which the committee heard had been famously said by the MP to Saddam Hussein. "Whatever else you made of him," Burkeman writes, "when it came to delivering sustained barrages of political invective, you had to salute his indefatigability."

    Christopher Hitchens, who also had an encounter with Mr Galloway yesterday, writes in the Mirror: "[O]n spotting your own correspondent, Mr Galloway shouted that he was a 'drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay and useful idiot', some of which was unfair."


    In yesterday's Daily News Question on the Magazine index, 46% of you thought it was women, rather than men or teenagers, who spent most on slimming and gym membership. In fact, the survey found that it was teenagers. Today's question can be found on the index.


    In your first Weblog Watch, 16 May, you asked if blogs had got anything to say. My blog is abosolute rubbish, I have to admit. The photos are pretty and I can change the colour of the fonts I use, but that's about it. The only advantage running the blog has is that all of the people I once knew but now don't see can check up on how I am, and realise that they are infinitely more successful than I. My blog is an online confidence boost for friends lost, and I'm happy to render the service.
    Manchester, UK

    Re: R.I.P. Weather symbols, 16 May. As the BBC had to buy the software for its new weather forecast from New Zealand, are we sure the shafts of light are not from Sauron's Fish Eye?

    So the Daily News Quiz (17 May) tells us that teenagers spend the most on gyms and dieting. I think you'll find that the parents actually spend the most, not their offspring.
    Ann C,
    Orpington, UK

    In Monday's comments What should be in the Queen's Speech?, it appears Ben Drake has inadvertently contradicted himself: "Free nursing and personal care for all elderly people in need, no means testing." How does he intend to discover if they truly are in need without means testing of a sort?

    Earlier today the Monitor went walkabout, leaving only this note: Page Not Found. So I tried, but BBC reception said they didn't have anyone there called Not Found and were therefore unable to page him. What am I to do?
    Jeremy, London
    Note to Jeremy: Apologies for technical problems earlier today.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    Today's amazing revelation, thanks to the Sun, are the TV tastes of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Asked what he likes to watch at his home in South Africa, the 73-year-old said: "Footballers' Wives. I like that. And Corolation Street. [sic]"

    Meanwhile, there's more insight for the Monitor about what it, as part of the BBC, likes and dislikes (seeing as it doesn't know its own mind). Yesterday, you will remember, a Daily Mail columnist gave a long list of the BBC's likes (Palestinians, Irish republicanism, drugs and a "host of social issues") and dislikes (America, the free market, big business and religion). Today, thanks to a Telegraph letter-writer things are becoming even clearer. "For all its xenophobic hatred of America," writes Mike Gilding of Huntingdon, "it is ironic that the BBC political cabal most resembles Creationist Christians. Both have backed themselves into ideological corners (anti-market and anti-evolution respectively) that are rendered progressively more ridiculous by events. Both react by trying to rewrite the evidence. The BBC is now in the state that the Ulster Defence Regiment reached. The solution should be the same."

    Woah! Too many positions on religion and Northern Ireland! Any more will cause a short circuit somewhere inside the Monitor.


    In yesterday's Daily Question on the Magazine index, 62% of you correctly identified that it was George Lucas, not Jamie Oliver, who said "Dad goes bad". Today's question can be found on the index.


    Please, please, please can you stop using the picture of an injection being given in close up! (Universities getting Mumps advice, 16 May). It makes me shiver. Surely you could find a less explicit picture that would deliver the same message?

    In the Piano Man story (Fantastic response to Piano Man, 16 May) it is claimed that the music written by the mystery man was "genuine". As opposed to that nasty, fake music currently doing the rounds presumably?
    Simon Ellis,
    Stirling, Scotland

    Sharon Stone says single women can "have it all", Back to basis for Sharon Stone, 16 May). Well yes, of course. But a few million dollars in the bank to pay for child care and other incidentals, does take the edge of some of the problems most would face.
    Herts UK

    Re last week's riddle, someone who comes from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll can hardly afford to complain about a riddle that goes: Wjf hnfction mv jlpblly tzht!

    Re: Monday's Paper Monitor: I suppose the BBC won't be positive about Glazer, an American, exploiting the free-market to purchase a British Institution which has become big business, then.
    S Murray,
    Chester, UK

    What's "almost" imperceptible about these Sudoku witticisms?(Monitor letters, Friday


    Each Monday, Magazine reader Si gives you a riddle to puzzle over. It's a tricky one this week. And it's not inspired by anything Japanese.

    Carry It On?

    Just down past the gasworks, by the meat factory door, wonders how you manage to feed the baby? You just ain't seen nothin' yet. Any love, I've forgotten, every name in my life, but I better run away - there must be some blame. Here's where it all ends and tonite's the night, I'm gonna prove it to you. Do I have to?

    Send your solution 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.

    Last week's riddle

    This was entitled "Degrading", and read: "Welcome back uo uhe yfekly tjddle. Wjf hnfction mv jlpblly tzht. Ylh gswzgs ox juwvxru. Dkqp lvtj!"

    The solution was that the original text should read: "Welcome back to the weekly riddle. The election is finally over. The answer is corrupt. Well done!"

    The encoding works as follows: The first pair of words are in plain text, the second pair have their first letters incremented by one, the third pair have their first letters incremented by two and their second letters by one, the fourth pair have their first letters incremented by three, their second letters by two and their third letters by one and so on.

    The winner was Sasha Rathbone, Edinburgh, who writes: "This is the first riddle I have ever solved. Must be because I've just finished my degree."

    Wrong answer from P, Epsom, with: "Here's a solution you can make yourselves : get a big tub of 'juwvxru' and crush. Stir into warm water and there you have it...Primary School Food Tech all over again. (A suitably random answer to a suitably random riddle)"

    And this from Stewart Meyer, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll: "The answer is corrupt. You may think the same applies to the election. I couldn't possibly comment..."

    Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.


    PAPER MONITOR: A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages

    The Monitor often scratches its chin, wondering about the world. What should it think about Uzbekistan, for instance. What's the best way to stop anti-social behaviour? Is it cruel to torture a Dalek?

    But now Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail has provided a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to what the BBC thinks about everything, which the Monitor intends to keep for easy reference. "With a very few honorable exceptions, the BBC views every issue through the prism of left-wing, secular, anti-Western thinking... It has a knee-jerk antipathy to America, the free market, big business, religion, British institutions, the Conservative party and Israel; it supports the human rights culture, the Palestinians, Irish republicanism, European integration, multiculturalism and a liberal attitude towards drugs and a host of social issues." Phew. The Monitor had no idea, but will find this list very useful in future.


    In Friday's Daily Question on the Magazine index, 65.7% of you answered incorrectly that Project Hampstead was Woody Allen's new film. It was part of Malcolm Glazer's Manchester United takeover deal. Today's question can be found on the index.

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