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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 16:00 GMT 17:00 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 pencils by Gary Eason

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

    1. Tim Henman has a tennis court at his new home in Oxfordshire which he has never used.

    2. Leylandii can grow up to a metre a year.
    More details

    3. Edward Heath's government in 1971 considered introducing a hi-tech congestion charge for London, papers released this week revealed.
    More details

    4. Only 36% of the world's newspapers are tabloid.

    5. Mayors of 130-odd US cities, representing 10% of the population, have so far pledged to do what the Bush administration will not - cut emissions to Kyoto protocol standards.

    6. Parking wardens walk about 15 miles a day.
    More details

    7. The scene in Desperate Housewives in which Bree makes the bed before taking her husband to hospital with a heart attack is exactly what happened to the parents of the writer, Marc Cherry.

    8. Scientists making informed guesses about what aliens look like envisage flying sky-whales as big as planes and giant carnivorous tadpoles. Their imaginings will be screened on the National Geographic Channel later this year.

    9. Lord Snowdon doesn't like photographs in the house.

    10. It's been five years since an artist working with paint alone has been nominated for the Turner Prize.
    More details

    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.


    I was interested to read the comments about the super sniffer dogs used to hunt down Abigail Witchall's attacker. The comment that "the springer is specifically trained to sniff out human blood" sent me off in a different direction though.... Is this why Jerry Springer has been given his own show by "the other channel"?
    Chris A, Pinner,

    Re "French and Dutch vote has created a negative snowball". Is a negative snowball the same as a ball of fire?

    A few more things we still don't know...
    Who put the Bomp in the Bomp-de-Bomp-de-Bomp?
    Who placed the Dip in the Dip-de-Dip-de-Dip?
    And just who is responsible for putting the Ram in the Ram-a-lama-Ding-Dong?
    dave godfrey,
    swindon, uk

    There is a mistake in your article Learn Euro referendum speak. The Czech for "yes" is "Ano" (not "Ani".) which is routinely shortened to "no". This is the only time you can be certain that when a lady says "no" she means "yes"!
    London UK

    I don't understand the reason for the article "New (020) 3 numbers for Londoners". Surely it doesn't matter what digits a phone number contains? As long as the dialling code doesn't change then it really doesn't matter. There are a lot of people who quote the London dialling code wrongly as 0207 or 0208 - even some quite big companies get it wrong.
    Gordon Brown,
    St Neots

    Thank you SO much for the Pink Panther hint Stephen and Colin - I now have the cartoon theme tune stuck in my head. Here he is, the Pink Panther, the rinky-dink panther...
    London, UK

    An article about Spielberg's ground-breaking film, Jaws, and no mention of John Williams' score? In my opinion, it's one of the more significant factors in the film's success. You only have to mention the word 'shark' before someone starts humming the theme music!
    Matt Sears,

    Is it that you are spending so much time on your "Going Postal" feature that you can't deliver your own letters on time?


    Oil painting by Turner-nominated Gillian Carnegie
    Oil painting by Turner-nominated Gillian Carnegie
    Sit yourself down... have a cup of sweet tea... we've got some disturbing news.

    The Turner Prize judges, those arch advocates of pioneering conceptual art, have short-listed an artist who paints still-lifes and landscapes in oils. Gulp!

    What's so avant-garde about that then? Well that's for you to tell us.

    Get your critics' caps on and tell us, briefly, in your finest Brian Sewell-esque curator-speak, why oil paintings of flowers and fields are just the most cutting-edge form of art one could possibly hope to find. The vanguard of the vanguard if you like.

    The best of the bunch will be posted below.

    Carnegie's winsomly monomedia image presents the viewer with an erzatz critique-manque of the socio-aesthic norms that have, in this post-normative zeitgeist, become a self-reflexive prepost-narrative hodge-podge of strident self-promotion and pseudo-primitivism in what passes for progressive neologism in the melee that is modern post-modern culture.
    Anthony, UK

    An oil painting of a vase of flowers is a brilliant subversion of the paradigm of verisimilitude. Oils, renowned for their durability and permanence, are used to portray flowers that in reality last for weeks, if not days. To further reify the dialetic we see, the artist embodies this abstract concept in a painting of a very concrete object.
    Tim Francis-Wright, US

    Flowers in oils represent the absurd paradox of life, wherein pictures become shocking by the undercutting the ultra-shocking. Flowers would not normally survive in oil, and this image is a sad reminder of the harsh falseness of an unreal reality.
    S Murray, Chester, UK

    It's actually counter-impressionism at its finest, a bold definitization of obscured reality brought about by a rediscovered strength of vision in the twilight of post modernist upheaval.
    Candace, New Jersey, US


    Our ongoing interactive test of Royal Mail's next-day delivery.

    DAY TWO: So far so good. Ben Robson posted the card from Loughborough yesterday and Rachel Jones picked it up from her doormat in Wirral this morning, at about 11.30.

    Rachel Jones
    Conclusive proof: Rachel with the postcard
    "Our post tends to arrive between 11.00 and 11.30," says Rachel. "It's alright I suppose. The postman took a couple of days off this week - ok, I'm being sarcastic. But we didn't get any post for two days and then loads the next day."

    She's now going to pop the card back into the post, with a first class stamp, addressed to the next volunteer in the chain. His, or her, identity is a state secret for now - don't want the Royal Mail pulling out all the stops especially for us.

    The Monitor is looking forward to a well-earned weekend break - but catch up with Going Postal on Monday, by when the postcard should be on to its fourth link in the chain.


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

    Just about all the papers take a collective gasp at the decision by Turner Prize judges to include, wait for it... an artist who produces oil paintings in its shortlist for this year's award. Elsewhere, there's plenty of speculation about the line-up for Bob Geldof's forthcoming Live 8 gigs. Will they or won't they - since Paper Monitor first carried the news of the Daily Mirror's "exclusive" that the Spice Girls were going to reform for the show, there's been lots of public umming and erring. Today's Sun carries the news that Coldplay's Chris Martin is intervening, putting his weight behind a Spice reformation. The Mirror though has moved on to other things - namely a campaign to allow Status Quo - who kicked off the original Live Aid in 1985 with Rockin All over the World - on to the Live 8 bill. Paper Monitor can reveal the real reason this is not going to happen - the editor will doubtless have his mind on other things that day.

    But before Live 8, we've got to get through Wimbledon, and you know what that means... could this be Tim Henman's year? In a pre-emptive move against his critics, Tiger Tim shows a moodier, darker side in an interview with the Sun. "There's nothing nice about me when I'm playing a match. In fact I'd say I'm pretty unpleasant," says Henman, seeking to put to rest the theory that he feels sorry for his opponents. "It's unarmed combat, kill or be killed, beat the other guy up before he does it to you." And in comments that are unlikely to sweeten the crowds on Henman Hill, he confesses: "Everyone assumes I want to win for Britain and for the fans. But the truth is that I want to win for me, I'm out there playing for myself."

    You'll never watch Persil adverts in the same light again.


    In yesterday's Daily Question, only 21% guessed correctly that Wayne's World star Dana Carvey was celebrating his 50th birthday. Another question is on today's Magazine index.


    It's time for the caption competition.

    This week, a man dressed in an ape suit attends the launch of "My mate's a primate", a campaign aimed at saving monkeys and other primates from extinction. But what's being said as he waits for the auditorium to fill?

    6. Tony H, UK
    "As stag nights go..." thought John, "this one certainly lacks atmosphere."

    5. Mal Wilkinson, Hessle, East Yorkshire
    Gorrila in the midst.

    4. Kieran Walker, England
    "Well we told him it was black tie. He just turned up in a monkey suit."

    3. Ian, Bristol
    Bubbles takes a moment to compose his thoughts before testifying.

    2. Andy, Japan
    The annual meeting of the endangered species conference was never well-attended.

    1. Christian Cook, UK
    The Yeti sat patiently. As ever, Lord Lucan and Elvis were late.


    I have no complaints about the mail deliveries. I think it is amazing that a letter posted in say, Cumbria or N. Yorks. can be delivered next day in London, or places further south.
    Thomas Lowry,

    I guess What we still don't know, 2 June, is, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, the known unknowns.
    Glasgow UK

    Regarding the annoying Crazy Frog, regular Monitor readers should be immune to the effect though, remember the advice that Colin, Belfast gave in January about humming the Pink Panther theme? It really does work! I am praying though that Crazy Frog does not decide to do a tribute to Henry Mancini...
    Stephen Buxton,
    Coventry, UK

    Re: Ad Breakdown: Calm down dear, it's just a mouse that's got your job, 26 May. The sad thing is that in 10 years' time everyone will remember Michael Winner for these truly awful ads and not for his contributions to film and television.
    Paul Jones,

    Re Matt, Netherlands, Monitor letters, Wednesday. i am glad that in moving overseas you havent lost the british penchant for dry wit and sarcasm heres some more ammo for you i am a weekend binge drinker and i own 17 baseball caps but hey i work for one biggest fund managers in the world so i must be doing something right! luv em ps will there be anymore updates the asbo watch?


    Our ongoing interactive test of Royal Mail's next-day delivery.

    DAY ONE: Our postcard left the Magazine's west London headquarters yesterday at lunchtime, and was duly delivered this morning to student Ben Robson in Loughborough.

    "It arrived about 11 o'clock - that's about normal for us here. On the odd occasions things seem to take a bit longer, but generally we have a good service," he says.

    Ben is now going to put the postcard in an envelope and post it on, first class, to the next volunteer in our chain.

    Obviously we're not going to say who the next person is or where they live, since that might create the impression of giving Royal Mail an unfair advantage. Come back to the Monitor tomorrow to find out how it's got on.


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

    Charity, poverty, history... pah, says the Daily Mail, which zones in on the most taxing question surrounding next month's Live 8 concert. "Live Aged! [H]ow has time treated the original Live Aid stars?"

    The paper produces one of its trademark picture galleries contrasting snaps of stars from the original Live Aid concert in 1985, with their present day mugshots. Some of the accompanying captions work better than others. Judge for yourself...

    • "Francis Rossi couldn't maintain the Status Quo"
    • "Madonna [brunette in 85, blonde today], you've found new material, girl, like the hair"
    • "A not-quite-so-new romantic: Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley"
    • "Mark Knopfler looks as though he's been in Dire Straits"

    Suffice it to say, Nik Kershaw and Midge Ure have gone bald; Bob Geldof and Adam Ant have gone grey, Bono no longer sports a mullet and Paul Young looks like someone else entirely (Brian Wilson, in fact). Tina Turner hardly looks like she's aged a day... which clears the way for an inevitable "Simply the Best" pun.

    As for George Michael... readers would be better feasting their eyes on page three of the Daily Mirror, which snaps the pop star on a "pre-dawn trawl" around north London for ice cream. He bought three tubs of Haagen-Dazs. Now that's what Paper Monitor calls a scoop.

    THURSDAY 2 JUNE 2005

    In Wednesday's Daily News Question, most of you thought that 74% of the world's newspapers were tabloid. In fact, according to World Press Trends, just 36% are. Thursday's question is on the Magazine index now.


    It's the return of Going Postal, your chance to join in an experiment to put the Post Office to the test.

    Last year Magazine readers took part in an exercise to test the Royal Mail's deliveries, after it had failed to meet a range of targets including the number of letters delivered next day.

    Now the Royal Mail is reporting that its service has dramatically improved over the past year - as well as a marked improvement in its profitability.

    So now is the time for us to repeat the experiment - and we need your help.

    We are going to post a letter from our headquarters in Television Centre, Wood Lane. This will be addressed to one reader who has volunteered, who will take a photograph of him or herself with the postcard and then post it on to another volunteer who, all being well, will receive it the next morning and do the same, etc. Here on the Magazine Monitor we will keep a daily track of where the item is.

    We need volunteers from every part of the UK. There are a number of criteria you will need to meet to make the experiment work properly. If you are interested in taking part, please read the criteria and use the entry form.

    Last time, by the way, the postcard had a successful run of five days in a row with next day delivery, but on the sixth day it got lost. We think it must have been delivered to the wrong address. So six is our goal this time round.


    PM James Callahan's 1977 task force wasn't exactly "secret" (31 May). I can remember one of my college lecturers telling us this story in 1982 at the time of the Argentine invasion. I'm fairly sure this was also mentioned in the media when Mrs Thatcher's government first proposed the removal of HMS Endurance from the area - the event that convinced the Argentines that the Falklands were up for grabs.
    Kelly Mouser,
    Upminster, Essex

    With items such as "natch watch", "Ricky Gervais Watch" and the "Big Brother Watch" suggested today, is it about time the monitor launched a service "Pointless Watches Suggested by-Bored Office Workers Desperate to Get Published on Monitor Watch"? And if so, can I be the first to nominate my own entry?
    Sir Kulari Zonin,

    My thought on the 360 degree tour of the BBC News website newsroom was that it's probably the only office in the country where you don't get into trouble for having the BBC website constantly open on your screen!
    Dom M,
    London, UK

    Re: Monitor's note to Adam O about quoting initial letters in square brackets. Well, [w]hat on earth is [t]his obscure editorial [r]ule?
    Phil B-C,

    To rather dully expand on the subject, it's simple. All the replaced letters in the original report were lower case, ie came in the middle of sentences. As they start sentences in the Monitor's extracts, they have be squared up into capitals.
    Alan Simpson

    With regard to em's post - I never would have guessed.
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)


    Tornado in Ely
    A tornado moves through Ely
    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 a series of tornadoes struck deepest East Anglia on Bank Holiday Monday. The twisters were up to 30ft wide, with winds at the centre up to 80mph.

    Here is the punning forecast, issued at 1237 BST on Thursday 2 June.

    Breeze a jolly good feller (Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK) cyclonic initially, moving to occasionally moderate. Funnel Vision (Louise, Congleton, UK) and Twister Act (Jennifer, Glasgow), variable, rain later.

    Ely windy (Christopher Taylor, Burnley, England) overshadowing Storm Force Fen (Martin Johnson, London).

    Fair with fog patches, Essex whirls (Tim G, London, UK) and Batten down the thatches (Craig, Beckenham).

    Mainly good, Let's Twist a Fen (Keith, Herts), A Fen-der bender (Kip, Norwich, UK) and Ips-whoosh, by Mariam, Pakistan.

    And that is the punning forecast.


    Most popular stories in the Magazine in May.

    1. Top of the pile, unusually, was last Friday's 7 days 7 questions.

    2. Next up was The big sleep, 5 May. It was about a New York fireman who woke up after having spent 10 years in a coma. That this story was so popular on election day may have been testament to people's feelings after a long campaign.

    3. Robbed by the Ripper on 10 May was a harrowing article about what life was like for the children who grew up without a mother after she was killed by Peter Sutcliffe.

    4. Fourth most popular was A step-by-step guide to charisma, 26 May, which looked at whether you could fool someone into thinking you had a charisma.

    5. And in fifth place was What we don't know about the world, 11 May, which attempted to set out how little about our natural environment we actually know. For example, there are about 15-20,000 species of animals being discovered every year.


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

    Much fun and games in the papers with the announcement of the Live 8 concerts and the unveiling of Deep Throat. But the choicest prose comes from the reports of the new French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.

    The Independent's John Lichfield reports:
    A year ago, M. de Villepin published Le Requin et La Mouette (the shark and the seagull), a poetic hymn of praise to the social and political models offered to the world by France and the European Union. The 'seagull' symbolises the subtle and tolerant values and methods of Europe and, especially, France, compared with the 'shark', the United States.

    'The seagull,' M. de Villepin writes, 'is intoxicated by the sky. She turns, carried by the winds, with undulating wing, uttering from time to time her agonising peal of laughter. She watches, soars, comes closer, climbs, descends, turns suddenly. The straight line is rarely her course. She listens to the world.'

    Meanwhile, in Crazy Frog news, the Sun's cartoon speculates on his chances of appearing at Live 8. "Who the **** invited him?" Geldof asks Elton John.


    In Tuesday's Daily News Question, 52% of you correctly identified that Clint Eastwood was 75. Wednesday's question is on the index now.


    The Crazy Frog is the first ringtone to enter the singles chart? It's also the first to be a Face of the Week, far more of a triumph!
    S Murray,
    Chester, UK

    Come on - you don't have to be an avid reader of "Hello" magazine to have known months ago that Paris Hilton's new boyfriend is also called Paris (10 thing we didn't know this time last week. In fact, she was dating him when her mobile got nicked months ago- or perhaps you are saving that particular piece of hot news for next week's entries. Get with the programme, BBC!
    Moscow, Russia

    Re: the 360 degree tour of the BBC News website newsroom (From the editor's desktop, 27 May. Am I the only one who tried to spin the newsroom as fast as possible?
    Dave Taylor,
    Leeds, UK

    In the Paper Monitor's article about the Daily Mirror's view on Big Brother, you quote the paper as saying "[T]he Daily Mirror", [T]his - you could argue", "[G]ladiatorial cauldron" and "[I]t will be a hit." Is there some obscure editorial rule about quoting first letters that I don't know about at work here?
    Adam O,

    (Monitor note to O: Yes there is.)

    Please can Monitor readers police the next 11 weeks' worth of news output with a Big Brother Watch. I propose launching this by highlighting an article with no connection to the Channel 4 reality TV series whatsoever: Family start 'future house' study, 31 May, in which a family live in a "specially designed", "hi-tech home" complete with futuristic features such as; bathrooms, showers, TVs, telephones and windows as well as a shower that blasts out steam.
    Andrew R,
    Bracknell, UK

    i have decided to take it personally that the beeb has never posted one of my letters on the site despite the fact i am a loyal magazine reader but then mayube its becos i alweays the same thing UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE GIVE ME SOMETHING NEW TO READ OTR MIGHT HAVE TO DO SOME WORK!!!!! cheers luv em ps i am one of the hoody generation if you fancy picking on me!

    With regards to my previous post - bah. It's still only football.
    Ben Paddon,
    Luton, England


    Each week, Si sets you a riddle to get your brain working.


    The following characters should lead you to another...

    Senator Bail Organa, C-3PO, Captain Antilles, Captain Typho, Terr Taneel, Queen of Alderaan, Tion Medon, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Padmé, R2-D2, Sly Moore

    Send your solution using the form below. Answer and winner 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

    The title of last week's riddle was A Phony Message?. The text read: "Win rang tie smog, Balk Of?".

    The solution was that the message should have read "Who sang the song, Call Me?". The 'phony' message is made up of alternative words from predictive texting. The answer Si was intending was Blondie, but after the Eurovision Song Contest, Feminnem (representing Bosnia & Herzegovina) would be an equally valid alternative.

    The winner, chosen at random from the correct entries, was Angelique of Durham.

    Kudos to Paul Barber, London, who answered: "Almodge," Jeff Vagg, London, who answered "2566343".

    Extra helping of Kudos to Alex Bunting, Ash Vale, UK, who wrote: "In addition to artists such as Blondie, quite a few others have done so including: Twiztid, 2 Live Crew, Amanda, Aretha Franklin, Beverly Craven, Billie Piper, Bonnie Tyler, Deborah Cox, Deee-Lite, Diamond Head, Frank Sinatra, Golden Earring, Labyrinth, Lil' Kim, Nu Flavor, Ringo Starr, The Rembrandts, The Sweet, Throwing Muses, Tiffany, Tricky, Too Short, Blondie Gangsta Blac, Cadaveria, Tweet, 50 Cent, The 69 Eyes, Fabolous, UFO, Nancy Sinatra, Cadet,TQ,A nna Vissi, G-Unit, Kevin Lyttle and Sarah Connor."

    Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.


    A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
    Today's front pages
    The Sun today offers two items not to be missed: one is a fried egg which allegedly looks like the Queen. And another is the Crazy Frog's take on the French referendum.

    Hitchens brothers
    Brothers in arms: Christopher, left and Peter, right.
    Meanwhile, the Guardian has reunited Christopher Hitchens (the man George Galloway called a drink-soaked popinjay) with his brother Peter Hitchens. The pair hadn't spoken since a joke about Stalinism which Christopher told, just after 11 September. In an on-stage conversation between the two, the paper gets them talking and gets Christopher to re-tell the joke.

    The bad news for Paper Monitor readers is that it's complicated and not particularly funny. Click on Internet links to read it for yourself. What is funny, though, is this interruption in the event:

    Female audience member: Excuse me. I'm not usually awkward at all, but I'm sitting here and we're asked not to smoke. And I don't like being in a room where smoking is going on.

    Christopher Hitchens (smoking heavily): Well, you don't have to stay, do you darling? I'm working here and I'm your guest. OK. This is what I like.

    Ian Katz (Guardian features editor): Would you just stub that one out?

    Hitchens: No. I cleared it with the festival a long time ago. They let me do it. If anyone doesn't like it, they can kiss my ass.

    (Woman walks out)


    In Monday's Daily News Question on the Magazine index, 42% of you answered correctly that , according to a US study, 29 is the best age to make a career-changing choice. Tuesday question is on the index now.


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

    The sixth series of Big Brother, which kicked off on Friday, is guaranteed to fuel acres of tabloid coverage over the coming 11 weeks, and the Daily Mirror will be no exception. But the Mirror has long wrestled with itself over what tone to strike with the Channel 4 reality show. Some years ago, when it was trying to remould itself into something more weighty, it christened itself the "ANTI-Big Brother paper".

    "[T]he Daily Mirror is determined not to be sucked into the appalling PR machine that surrounds this addictive nonsense," the paper declared following the launch of 2002's BB. The self-interrogation goes on, although one wouldn't have guessed it from today's front page which pronounces this "The Summer of Bruv", alongside a picture of one of the current contestant's, Makosi, in an overly-stretched bikini top.

    Inside, TV critic Jim Shelley (for whom BB translates as bread and butter) and one-time anti-BB correspondent Kevin O'Sullivan set out their "for" and "against" stalls. Shelly pushes the point that despite its many pale imitations, Big Brother is "the daddy of reality TV" before reaching for that trusted crutch used in all high-brow defences of the genre - it's a fascinating sociological exercise. "People watching is one of the most natural human instincts going: it's gossip writ large... [T]his - you could argue - is the youth of Britain under a microscope."

    O'Sullivan, meanwhile, lumps put-down upon put-down to build his case. "Festival of vulgarity... [G]ladiatorial cauldron of cruelty... [viewers] like Roman emperors giving the thumbs down... [I]t will be a hit. But so would a live TV execution".

    MONDAY 30 MAY 2005

    Friday's Daily News Question asked whether it was true or false that Brad Pitt is designing a restaurant in Hove, Sussex - 64% of you answer correctly, that he is. Today's question is on the Magazine front page.

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