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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
The Magazine Monitor
Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the home for many ever-popular features, including your letters and :

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


    10 THINGS
    10 ducks by Laura-Ann Wells

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

    1. Black hyacinths have been developed and are now available to ordinary gardeners.
    More details

    2. Paris Hilton's new boyfriend is also called Paris.

    3. Every French voter has been sent a 191-page document on the EU constitution ahead of the upcoming referendum. It contains 448 clauses, protocols and annexes.

    4. And half have read at least an extract, with one in 10 ploughing through the whole thing.

    5. Sir David Frost's middle name is Paradine.

    6. Thom Yorke, Radiohead's angst-ridden singer, likes Dudley Moore's film Arthur.

    7. For security reasons, early editions of the new Coldplay album were titled Album, by The Fir Trees.

    8. Liverpool has 42 cranes redeveloping the city centre.

    9. A quarter of the world's clematis come from one Guernsey nursery, where production will top 4.5m plants this year alone.

    10. Gladys Knight and Rudolph Giuliani were born on the same day - 28 May 1944.

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

    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.


    Another Bank Holiday, another getaway drama.

    Expect more of the usual headlines about traffic jams, packed check-in desks and travel headaches.

    Traffic jams
    One reason to say at home?
    But we're not all packing our bags. A new survey suggests most people prefer to stay at home and potter around the house.

    A YouGov poll of 2,000 people, commissioned by MSN, suggests nearly three-quarters (74%) of the country will stay at home this Bank Holiday. More than half will do household chores and 21% are intent on simply watching the telly.

    Over half feel this will be a waste of the holiday. But should they?

    Staying in could be frowned on as unadventurous, but your Friday challenge is to plan the Bank Holiday of a lifetime that does not require leaving the house.

    Normal BBC Producer Guidelines on taste and decency apply.

    Here is a selection of your ideas:

    Spend the time devising the most fiendishly clever letter ever received by the BBC News Magazine. One so brilliant that, even in a thousand years, people will say: THAT was a letter to the Magazine!
    Curt Carpenter, Dallas, Tx, USA

    The Bank Holiday is an excellent chance to solve Si's riddle without having to look out for one's boss.
    Tim Francis-Wright, Boston, US

    Arrange five chairs - two in front, three behind - in a small cupboard. Put the family on these chairs then fill the rest of the cupboard with various buckets, spades and swimming gear. Sit in the cupboard for three hours and argue. Then exit the cupboard and fill your clothes with sand and soak your shoes, socks and the bottom of your trousers. Get back in the cupboard, wait three hours then come out again. You could go to the seaside instead but you will find this is much the same and saves on petrol.
    Matt Ferguson, York, UK

    My idea of a Bank Holiday of a lifetime at home - not sitting in front of a computer for a change.
    Mark, Guildford, UK

    Big Brother has started, and E4 is on Freeview...need I say more!
    Ruthie, London

    Order two tonnes of sand and a hosepipe for home delivery to your back garden from B&Q (had to have done that last week).... No airport queues, no passports, security checks, no bag packing - just sit out on your own beach. For added value get out the BBQ and invite your friends around.
    Mike, UK

    Start off with a spot of co-steering, around the edge of the living room. Then experience the thrills and spills of a Bank Holiday traffic jam by inviting your friends round and getting them to walk up and down the stairs in a continuous loop. When you have finally battled your way past them haul the ironing board onto the roof for a round of extreme ironing. Make the descent a moment to remember! Leap from the roof clutching a bed sheet over your head for the rush of parachuting. Then, to top off the day, rather than heading to casualty with your fractured ankle, lie on the kitchen table while your kids scream and spray tomato ketchup across the floor.
    Jeff, Halesowen, UK

    Fix a dish from each of several countries matched with wine and beer to do a world tour, complete with appropriate music and whatever impromptu costume can be thrown together out of the wardrobe. With the neighbours away, feel free to turn up the volume and take the party out onto the lawn.
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    I challenge anyone to spend the entire weekend watching TV avoiding any references to Big Brother or Celebrity Love Island. For those that want a harder challenge, this must be done whilst only watching the five main channels.
    Andrew, Hove


    This week, models Ali (left) and Amelia joined the stars, the royals and the garden enthusiasts who flock to the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London. But what's being said?

    6. Helen Heap, UK
    Wash and grow.

    5. Christian Cook, UK
    "We're going to San Francisco. Yes, we have been before many times. Why do you ask?"

    4. Martin Scolding, Brighton, UK
    "Does my buddleia look big in this?"

    3. Sue, Loughborough, UK
    Even Charlie agreed she had gone too far with the water nymphs.

    2. Michael Brown, United Kingdom
    "According to the programme they're going to start deadheading at 3 o'clock - I think we should be going..."

    1. David Hazel, UK
    "Is this the way to Amaryllis?"


    Re: Calm down, dear, it's just a mouse that has got your job, 27 May. You have to hand it to Winner, love or hate the ads they managed to seep into our culture to the point where their merits are now being debated on the BBC website. Sometimes the most irritaing ads are the best - I still believe that Shake and Vac puts the freshness back and that you can't get better than a Kwik Fit Fitter.
    Jason (a secret lemonade drinker),
    London, UK

    Although I like the Daily News Question on the Magazine index, I have one major problem with it. If i should come back to the Magazine again, as I regularly do, then I have to vote again to see the ongoing results. Surely this affects the final result?

    (Monitor note to Tony: Good question. Although it appears that you have voted a second time, your vote is only counted once. Unless you've also got a postal vote.)

    If Tom Lee wins an award for spotting the best sentence (Monitor letters, Thursday), may I have one for spotting the most pretentious paragraph? From the Chris Martin profile: "Martin's songs, characterised by minimalist, impressionistic rock tunes, resonating with shades of Kraftwerk and U2 and lyrics tinged with wistful thoughts of romance and darkened by existentialist angst, often veer inexorably towards the melancholic."
    London, UK

    Martin in Scarborough - speak for yourself! I'm a Computer Science student and Magazine regular, which pretty firmly places me in the nerd arena!
    Kirk Northrop,

    Yesterday Ben Paddon wrote that maybe it ws just him, but he failed to see how a footballing quote ("The final is over! It's AC Milan 3, Liverpool 0", Alan Green) could be suitable for Quote of the Day on the Magazine. Could you let Ben Paddon know that yes, it was probably just him?
    Catherine O,
    Maidenhead, UK

    I think Alan Green is to be congratulated. His Quote of the Day has done for football what many years ago Michael Fish did for weather forecasting.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages
    The Sun's star columnist today is none other than Boris Johnson. Just a few months after having to apologise to the people of Liverpool for foul calumnies, he writes about his excitement during Wednesday night's football match in terms which make the Paper Monitor wonder if anyone's actually told Boris that Michael Howard is stepping down as leader.

    "It was the biggest turnaround from disaster since Apollo 13. It was the biggest rescue job since Dunkirk. It was the biggest comeback since Michael Howard became Tory leader in 2003; it was the most amazing against-the-odds event since the Battle of Marathon. It was epic. It was biblical."

    (Incidentally you might ask yourself why Johnson is writing in the Sun. The answer is in tiny letters at the bottom of the page... "Littlejohn is away". What it doesn't say, but might have done, is: "Littlejohn has left the Sun and is joining the Daily Mail.")

    FRIDAY 27 MAY 2005

    In yesterday's Daily News Question, 57% of you correctly answered that an ID card would cost an estimated 97 in 2008. Today's question is on the index.


    Maybe it's just me, but I fail to see how a Football Result is deserving of "Quote of the Day" status, regardless of who played who or what the score is.
    Ben Paddon,
    Luton, England

    In your story about Lord Tebbit urging Michael Howard to step down early (Tebbit backing early Howard exit, 26 May), you say that when asked who he would support to replace Mr Howard, "Lord Tebbit joked that he had had himself cloned". Could you just reassure your readers on what grounds you are certain this was only a joke? Thank you.
    David Clifford,
    Cambridge, UK

    The article about The Jesus Diet, 22 May, has unveiled yet another religious mystery. How can a story published by a reputable news organisation discussing Jesus's diet avoid using the word 'kosher'?
    Halesowen, UK

    Can I have the award for spotting the best sentence in an article on the news website? This, from Pizza rage lands US woman in jail, 26 May, is marvellous."A police spokeswoman said the octogenarian scratched, kicked and bit the hand of the officer who did not feed her, after her repeated calls provoked a police response."
    Tom Lee,

    Just wanted to say how moving I found One Life: To Courtney, with love.
    Jess P - James,

    Re Harri's definition of a nerd as someone who, rather than gets their online shopping delivered, has a letter published on the BBC website (Monitor Letters, Wednesday). Ooh, I say! Sounds like handbag stuff to me! We, the Magazine regulars, are not nerds but bored office workers.

    There I was, happily playing through the game Halfwit vs. Hydra (in Only a pawn in its game, when I got to Black's 18th move. Which rook? (At least I'm not a nerd.)
    Ray Lashley,
    Bristol, UK


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

    Time to dust off your platform trainers and Union Jack miniskirts, those original Wannabes, The Spice Girls, are reforming for a one-off concert this summer, according to the Daily Mirror. The paper gives over its entire two-page 3am column to the exclusive (although today's Sun also claims the story as its own).

    The quintet, who burst on the pop scene in 1996, are burying their myriad hatchets to perform at Live Aid II this summer, a benefit concert for Africa.

    The official announcement is still some days off, according to the 3am Girls, who themselves have been mocked up as Spice Girls look-alikes for the occasion. They, however, are blessed with a "highly-placed source" who says "all the parties have signed on the dotted line". To mark the reunion there's a helpful refresher of those spicy sobriquets - Sporty, Posh, Ginger, Scary and Baby - a run-down of their rather lacklustre post-Spice solo efforts; and a reminder of that oh-so-edgy Spice philosophy - Geri: "Margaret Thatcher was the first Spice Girl"; Geri again: "When Mel B got her tongue pierced, she wanted to know what it felt like to snog, so she practised on us; and Mel C: "I have no intention of ever working with the girls again."


    In yesterday's Daily News Question, 54% of you were right in thinking a former cupboard in west London is being rented for 135 a week. Today's Daily News Question is on the Magazine index now.


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

    The rules are straightforward - we choose a story which has been in the news, and invite you to create an original punning headline for it.

    This week, the story that the actor playing Darth Vader in the new Star Wars film, Hayden Christensen, is considering quitting Hollywood because he finds it "uninteresting", and is considering studying to become an architect instead.

    Here is the verdict of the judges.

    Anakin Skyscraper was as common as a Stormtrooper on the Death Star (Rich in Horsham, Dave Godfrey in Swindon, Ian in Bristol). And just as short and sweet was Star Walls from Marion Raine in Durham and Draught Vader by James Castle in Welwyn Garden City.

    The force of the judging panel was with From Dark Prince to Blue Prints by Jason S in Southampton, The Ground Force is strong in him by Stu in Hants and Bored to Death Star by Charlie in Brussels.

    Worth a Luke is Architect blamed as Empire crumbles, by Ketan Mistry in Dublin, So Long, Frank Lloyd Light Saber, by Steven Alexander in Watford and The Return of the Gaudi by Kieran Boyle in Oxford.

    Going Solo in the runner-up spot is Balance restored as Vader moves from Dark Side to South Facing by Iain in London.

    But Punorama's own Jedi knight this week is Graham Valentine in Richmond, who submitted Christensen goes back to the drawing, bored.


    I'm not a nerd, but I find getting stuff from Tesco easy peasy (Monitor letters, Tuesday). Getting stuff delivered to a different address from that on the credit card is getting harder, but I have done it. Buying from eBay without getting ripped off, thats hard, but I managed it. Nah, a true nerd is someone who gets a letter published on the BBC website.
    Harri Markkus,
    London, UK

    Re: Cataract op gorilla gives birth, 24 May. Is this a breakthrough in reproductive technology or an immaculataractate conception?
    Brisbane, Australia

    I'm amused to read that the top nudist beach in Britain is 'Studland Beach' in Dorset
    Mal Walker,
    Adelaide, Australia

    As western religion seems increasingly eager to move with the times, our daily Jesus Diet should consist of eight pints of lager and a doner kebab.

    In the story BBC staff strike over job cuts, 23 May, the only "Related BBC link" is, in fact, the BBC. How very Zen.
    David Glover,
    Oxford, UK

    In Men at Marks, 24 May, you quote its boss, Stuart Rose, as saying: "Menswear held up well." Belts or elastic waistbands?
    S Murray,
    Chester, UK

    After looking at the recent, unflattering pictures of Saddam, I suspect that he buys his underpants in M&S.
    Chris B,


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    Today's front pages
    As the Magazine reported yesterday, M&S is still troubled. What we didn't include, however, was a cheesy pun on women's underwear. But that's why we have the Paper Monitor, bringing you:

    "Poor performance of M&S knickers knocks millions off the bottom line" (Times)

    "M&S profits hit by drop in knickers" (Evening Standard)

    "M&S sales are pants" (Sun)

    "M&S is pants" (Mirror)

    "Knickers are off as M&S profits fall" (Mail)

    "Knickers pull down profits at M&S" (Express)

    "Rose insists M&S is on track despite a 19% drop in profits" (Financial Times)

    (Not sure about the last one, though.)


    In yesterday's Daily News Question, 62% of you thought teenage boys looked in a mirror 33 times a day on average, according to a survey for Sneak magazine. In fact the actual figure was 10 times a day. Today's Daily News Question is on the Magazine index now.


    Re: The world's most unlikely internet nerd, 23 May, who has trouble getting things delivered which he has ordered online. Don't we all? My British credit cards are all on my Belgian address, and most UK internet sites won't deliver outside the UK or to an address which isn't that on the card. I hereby propose a definition of a nerd as someone who gets Tesco to deliver.

    Does the "What would Jesus eat?" diet (Americans look to Jesus for diet, 23 May) include a 40-day fast?

    One thing that is worrying about the Today programme being off air because of industrial action is that I remember reading that the failure to broadcast the programme was used as an indication to nuclear submarines that Britain was under attack.
    David Williams,

    OK, whoever scheduled the strike - why couldn't you have done it during the election? Some people have no sense of timing!
    London, UK

    Re: 'Sarcasm' brain areas discovered, 23 May. Yeah, right.
    P Anghelides,


    Every week Magazine reader Si sets a riddle for you to puzzle over. A Phony Message?

    Win rang tie smog, Balk Of?

    Send your solution using the form below. Winners and the correct answer will be published next week.

    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 was entitled "Carry It On?", and read as follows:

    "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?"

    The solution was that the text is made up of fragments of lyrics from the following songs:
    Rat Trap/Boom Town Rats
    Lady Madonna/Beatles
    You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet/Bachman-Turner Overdrive
    Losing Things/Beautiful South
    Eyes/Bee Gees
    Sleeping With The Light On/Busted
    If That's What It Takes/Bon Jovi

    Taking the next word from each song gives the phrase "the rest is still unwritten i break", which is from Unwritten/Natasha Bedingfield, the next word of which (and answer to this riddle) is Tradition - which links back to the title.

    Difficult enough for you?

    Well it was too tough for Katy Moon, Uxbridge, who only (!) got as far as Natasha Bedingfield. Andrew R from Bracknell thought it was Do I Have To Say The Words? by Bryan Adams. Neil from Newcastle suggested it was Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up. And Neil Golightly from Manchester says: "This is why I always leave the pop music round to others in the pub quiz."

    But Hannah from Oxford was just one of those who got to "tradition" and is this week's winner.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

    As they say on some of our commercial rivals, welcome back after the break. And here's a verdict on industrial action at the BBC from three Fleet Street figures.

    Gillian Reynolds in the Daily Telegraph says hearing Kenneth Clarke talk about Dizzy Gillespie at 6.30am instead of the Today programme was "like walking into your kitchen and finding the table full of smoking ashtrays and half-dead glasses of ale".

    Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail writes that not hearing the regular programmes made him feel "as I did on those all too rare occasions at school when a teacher was taken ill and we were given an unexpected free period".

    And Joe Joseph in the Times writes that trying to report on a strike by one's own news teams was "the biggest irony". "Paradoxes don't get much more circular," he says. "It's like trying to bite your own teeth."

    TUESDAY MAY 24 0936BST

    In the Daily News Question, 55% of you correctly answered that The Shining was celebrating its 25th anniversary rather than its 35th. Today's question is on the Magazine index.

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