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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 17:55 GMT
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

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


10 logs by Bryce Cooke

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

1. Tony Blair's gran was a graffiti vandal.

2. Emperor penguins can hold their breath for 20 minutes underwater.

3. Web users make their judgements about websites within a twentieth of a second of first seeing it.

4. There are more pupils on the sex offenders' register than teachers.

5. The northern bottle-nosed whale in the Thames is the first sighting of the species in the river since records began in 1913.

6. Members of an isolated tribe in the Amazonian rainforest can understand geometry as well as American schoolchildren

7. Researchers studying shoppers' baskets found people who bought wine also tended to buy poultry, cooking oil and low-fat cheese. Beer buyers, on the other hand, tended to buy chips, pork, butter, margarine, and sausages.

8. The late former prime minister, Sir Edward Heath, had a personal fortune of 5.4m. He left most of the money to a charity which will conserve his 18th Century home, Arundells, next to Salisbury Cathedral.

9. There are more than 150,000 computer viruses in the world.

10. Seventy percent of 11-15-year-olds do not picture scientists as "normal young and attractive men and women", a poll has suggested.

[Sources where stories not linked: 2: BBC Two's Natural World, 15 January. 6: Times, 20 January.]

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

Add your comments to this story using the form below:

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Letters logo
In arguing for an adult certificate for the film of The Da Vinci Code, Opus Dei spokesman Marc Carroggio said: "Any adult can distinguish reality from fiction. But you cannot expect a child to make proper judgements." Oh the irony! As Richard Dawkins has argued, this is as good a reason as any for preventing religious indoctrination of children.
Brian Ritchie,
Oxford, UK

Thanks to the article on Pete Tong and the demise of vinyl records, I'm left wondering what else makes you an "old". A dislike of town centres at night seems a good start.
Colin, Thatcham

I don't know whether vinyl is dead (Is Pete Tong Pete Tong, 20 January), but it has clearly been coughing up blood for some time. In 1995 I was working in a charity shop in Stoke. When some LPs came into the shop, one of the teenager work placement girls exclaimed with surprise, "Wow, look! They're the old-fashioned sort - the big black ones!"
Mike Simpson,
Leicester, UK

Interesting to read Ray Lashley's ratings for different degrees. In contemporary circles, it's a Damien (Hirst) First and a Dave (Normal) 2.1. Students get very imaginative when they're avoiding revision.
Lucy Jones, Manchester

The only possible euphemism for a first is a Geoff (Hurst).
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

For a 2:1, what about a Don (Juan)?
Charlie, Cambridge, UK

Don't forget an Attila (the Hun).
Paul Stuart, Oxford, UK

Very exciting today to hear a BBC correspondent reporting on the presence of a whale in the Thames. We are told this is the first such sighting "since records began" around 80 years ago. Can't help wondering about the keeping of records for things that have never happened, but which might happen one day. This could employ an awful lot of people.

It's nice to see BBC have obviously pulled in a wildlife expert to conclude that 'The whale is believed to have travelled upstream'. So, it's not from Oxford then?
Jonny H, Bristol, UK

At the bottom of the story entitled "Whale spotted in central London", there is the following appeal; Do you have any pictures or moving footage of the whale? Moving footage? Are you hoping it will adopt some orphaned ducklings? Now that would be a story.
Phil, Guisborough, England

Picture-less Caption Competition: "It's all right Mr Kennedy, it really was a whale."
Kieran Boyle, Oxford, England


Letters logo
Re: the hamster sent through the post. I have found it is possible to dispense with envelopes altogether. My friends and I once devoted a whole week of school in testing the Post Office to its limits. The apogee of these tests was when we posted a leek on which was affixed a postage stamp and written, in biro, my home address. Within two days a card had arrived at my home, saying that my 'Leek!' had arrived at my distribution office but required an additional 1.16 for postage. We never went to collect it, in fear of the questions of the staff....
Tom Ellison,
Southampton, England

Perhaps the Monitor could resurrect the whole 'testing of the postal system' game again but this time with increasingly odd unwrapped items? By the way, better not to send homemade bread in a bag. My girlfriend tried that, but it unfortunately coincided with the anthrax scare, and I got a note detailing that my postal item had been incinerated due to it leaking 'suspicious crumbs'.
Daniel Ernst,
Manchester, UK

On Wednesday, Kieran Boyle's letter asked if "posting a hamster" was a euphemism for chatroom deception. He's missed the obvious one: the hamster will be added to the degree classification system.
A Richard (the Third)
A Desmond (tutu)
A Mercury one (to one)
A Hamster (First Class)
Ray Lashley,

You report:"The report found that MPs with constituencies far from Westminster tended to claim more expenses due to the cost of travelling to and from London." (Galloway tops vote expense list, 18 January). Yet another nomination for "10 things we already knew"?
London, UK

Re: Single people in money trouble: "Nearly three-quarters of people aged 25 to 24 admitted they did not even know what their financial situation was." Counting wouldn't appear to be the strong point of the article's author either.
Nicola Judd,
Brisbane, Australia


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, Harrison Ford shares a laugh with a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (back to camera) during the Golden Globes Awards, watched by actress Virginia Madsen and screenwriter Diana Ossana. But what's being said?

6. Dom, Bournemouth
"I'm tellin' ya. Do Star Wars Episode Seven. It'll be great..."

5. Nick McDonnell, Nottingham, UK
"Dammit, Obiwan, we left you for dead."

4. Nathan Lyon, Stirling, Scotland
"Maybe if we... hngh... no... how about... hnnnggghhh!!!... nope... sorry Mr. Ford *pant* you're definitely stuck. I'll try and find some white spirit."

3. Stella Alvarez, Teesside, UK
"Ahah, pinching spoons again!"

2. Natasha, Sheffield
"My God Calista, the surgery went well then."

1. Candace, New Jersey, US
"I assure you, sir, the fashion police are not to be trifled with."


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

The sketch-writers have ample opportunity to take a crack at politicians; today the TV reviewers get their chance thanks to Channel 4's "comedy documentary" about the PM's youthful ambitions to be a guitar god.

And Tony Blair: Rock Star prompts fine examples of the reviewers' craft: "The PM's salad days lightly dressed in oil with a little vinegar. And very tasty too," writes the mighty Nancy Banks-Smith in the Guardian.

Although amused by the programme's Y-front-clad long-locked Blair, what most catches their fancy are the recollections of those who knew him at the time.

The Independent: "To some he was cool, rebellious and charismatic; to others, a smiley prat. Not much change there, then."

The Daily Telegraph: "Most [were] happy to grab their 15 seconds of TV fame while being oh-so-superior about 'Tony's' more blatant desire to be in the public eye."

The Guardian: "[The quotes] ring bells, sometimes alarm bells... 'If he had decided on a different career path, he could have started his own church quite easily'."

The Times: "Pupils at his public school remembered him as 'cool' and a rebel who was caned - by a master not drugs, you understand."

PS: The Telegraph's headline writers have come up with a gem for those too pressed to read actual articles: "I'd been blind for 25 years. I had a heart attack, woke up, and could see. I said to my husband: You've got older."


With an apology for the non-appearance of your letters on Thursday, and a promise to give a double helping today, we are proud to annouce that a bumper 15,000 of you took part in yesterday's Daily Mini-Picture Quiz.

38% of you thought this beard belonged to Peter Sellers. 35% thought (correctly) Rolf Harris. And 25% thought Ian Hislop. Hislop says the Rolf look is exactly the one he's hoping to avoid with his new beard. Today's picture question is on the index now.


The parrot gave the game away
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 this week is how Ziggy the parrot started to chirp "I love you Gary" in the presence of owner Chris and his live-in girlfriend, Suzy. She soon cracked under the strain and confessed that she'd been having an affair.

We asked you to match the headline writers' efforts (Tuesday's Paper Monitor) - and just one, Maggie of South London, was big enough to admit that it was quite a task. Her offering - Pollywood gossip beaked - seedcret is out came with the adendum "sorry - that is truly awful". We like your honesty, ma'am.

Among the more original of the Monty Python-esque entries was Pining for the fraud from Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock, and He's wresting from Candace, New Jersey, US.

There were some fine musical offerings - Getting Ziggy with it (Martina, Germany), I don't want to squawk about it (James Thatcher, London), Squawkin' 'bout her assignation (Barrie Young, Burnham On Crouch, Essex), Crowing the seeds of love (Vicki Powell, Manchester; Andy, Epsom), and Polly put the pressure on (Helen, London).

There was nothing bird-brained about Polly watch a fracas (Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts), Macawt in the act (Stephen Buxton, Coventry, thelbiq.co.uk), Gary on squawking (Hedley Russell, Morecambe) and Chirpy chirpy cheat cheat (Alan Scrase, Bristol; Cliff, Leicester; Anna Lilley, Herts).

Best of the bunch is Polly-gamous from Pat McGarry, Springfield, IL US. Give this man a job, Fleet St.


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press. [Contains mild sarcasm]

Great news, folks. While David Blunkett is spending his spare time on education reforms (writing a very serious column in the Guardian), he's still got capacity to keep his Sun column up.

It's some week since Paper Monitor kept tabs on how his journalistic efforts - and particularly his bid to adopt the persona of his dog - were going. But, it's good to report, they are as cringe-making as ever.

"The bearded one has been suggesting I join the Celebrity Big Brother house so I can sink my teeth into an MP. George Shalloway, I think he's called. The boss says he's been behaving like a cat. Or did he say prat?"

Ahh yes, PG Wodehouse will never truly be dead while Blunkett is still writing.

Elsewhere, a headline worthy of a rejected Punorama entry. The Times, reporting on government rethink on cannabis: "Clarke decides that cannabis penalties are high enough." Ho ho ho.


In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked if it was true or false that towing away cars could be a breach of the Human Rights Act. It was true, said three quarters of you, and it seems you were right. Thursday's Daily Mini-Picture Quiz is on the index now.


Re What can't you send through the post - I once posted a cactus in nothing more than a standard brown envelope (with correct postage). The result: cactus arrived at its destination on time but with blood on the envelope and an accompanying letter outlining potential cactus-related injuries.

Is it just me, or does "posting a hamster" sound like a euphemism for chatroom deception?
Kieran Boyle,
Oxford, England

Re What can't you send through the post - is it leeches or leaches? I think you should decide. And I think the public need to know (or do I meen nead to no).

(Monitor note: We are duly chastened and will try harder.)

Satirical photo-cropping (Are Lords out of order on terror?)? Look at the picture of Our Glorious Leader holding the manifesto, and note the second line.
Neil Golightly,
Manchester, UK

On Have Your Say index today, I saw "Are burials too expensive?" next to "Should we incinerate more waste?" I went all Daily Mail about the second until I read more closely...
Lucy Jones,

Re Actor Shatner sells kidney stone - when to refer to the selling of body parts, surely you mean the final front ear?
Egham, Surrey

Why is it that all letters published about internet shopping on Tuesday refer to the authors' "friends" - is there some stigma around admitting one uses internet grocery services oneself?

Paper Monitor's New Year Resolution to avoid (all but mild) sarcasm didn't last very long, did it?
Sarah, Bedford


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

It's outrageous, the perverts allowed to teach in our scho... look, posho schoolgirl cleaning ladies in the Express! And what's that, a snap of them in uniform bending over brooms? In short skirts - better and better. And it's even their own classroom they're cleaning (shame it's a grammar, not a public school, but still, job's a good 'un).

And while we're on the subject of frocks, the stars have come out, buffed and gleaming, for the start of the awards ceremony season.

The Daily Mail plays the annual game of "where have Catherine Zeta Jones's wrinkles gone?", while the Independent and the tabloids rate the frocks at the Golden Globes.

Belle du jour Scarlett Johansson has ditched her customary 50s starlet look for a Madonna-esque flick and a red dress that looks like "Pamela Anderson's Baywatch swimsuit with a skirt attached", sniffs the Indie.

Nor does Kate Beckinsale in Dior fare any better: "[She] makes even this most auspicious of French fashion houses look cheap as the proverbial chips. Maybe it's the St Tropez tan." But for the tabloids, she's a "golden gown" winner.

And the Daily Telegraph, quelle surprise, has Keira Knightley in a low-cut dress on its front page. Not that she won anything mind. But doesn't she look lovely...


Yesterday we asked what St Bart's hospital in Kent had banned, fearing the introduction of germs? Honestly, people, keep up - 46% of you wrongly said flowers, and 41% reckoned it was fruit baskets. But it was "get well soon" cards, which have since been allowed back. Wednesday's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Re Tuesday's Paper Monitor - I see the Daily Telegraph took this story to its heart, even producing an editorial on the back of it. Unfortunately, it consistently refers to Mr Taylor's wayward girlfriend Suzy as Sally.
Maurice Day,

So is Chris (today's Paper Monitor) suffering a double dose of bird flew?
Fareham UK

The latest Jim Carrey vee-hickle contains "one use of strong language". I am mildly tempted to go along and cheer when it pops up. I am also considering taking bets on what that one use might be - any takers? Perhaps anyone who actually goes could let me know? Doesn't seem worth the 8.80 it costs at my local to satisfy a mild curiosity!

Susan Thomas reports Nanny McPhee's "mild themes". Do I trump her with an Australian R rating (restricted to 18+) awarded to Me And You And Everyone We Know for "High level themes"?
Bryn Ford,
Sydney, Australia

I've seen film trailers which mention that they contain Fantasy Violence. I know we're a lot more liberal nowadays but surely that sort of film should be kept out of cinemas and restricted to little shops with whitewashed windows.
Swindon, UK

Re Susan Thomas's letter -'Mild Themes' means 'No Plot'.
London, UK

Re: David Shepherd's letter, Monday. Adrian Mole also said, after reading Pride and Prejudice, "It's very old-fashioned. I think Jane Austen should write something more modern." Perhaps that might be more effective than glossy covers!

Further to Anna, in Bristol's, comments in Monday's letters, a friend of mine once placed an order with a well-known supermarket over the Internet for home delivery. She wanted some lemon squash, only for it to be substituted by lemon Flash kitchen cleaner.
Simon Meara,

My friend ordered chocolate via internet shopping, and the supermarket went to the nearest available thing on the list (alphabetically) and sent a chicken.

Re King Kong in Swedish. I'd love to know what they did in Estonia, as in Estonian "king" is the word for "shoe"!
Darren McCormac,

Can I nominate "London 'place to be at a price'" for '10 things we knew this time last week'?
Essex, UK

In "Pluto mission ready for lift-off", we are informed by a NASA official that "what we know about Pluto today could fit on the back of a postage stamp," and that "the textbooks will be rewritten after this mission..." Is it just me, or that really weird? Ah well, maybe the spokesperson was talking about a book of stamps. Or something.
Edmonton, Canada

Hooray! we now have a new size comparison "Pluto mission ready for lift-off", but what I want to know is: pub upright? or concert grand?
C Falconer,
London, UK

Re Sir Anthony Hopkins' comments at the Golden Globes, I may be wrong, but I think Sir Anthony Hopkins was quoting an apocryphal story about the filming of The Ten Commandments. The story goes that just after the large group of extras had performed the full three-minute parting of the Red Sea perfectly at the first cut, the primary cameraman yelled out "ready when you are, Mr DeMille!"

Whilst Mike Newell looks for evidence to back up his "bungs" claim, was it wise of your football headline to announce "Charlton complete Bent transfer"?
Martin Jordan,


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

Who is Gary and where is Ziggy?

Perhaps, more than any other, these are the questions to which Fleet Street's finest will be committed to solving in the course of Tuesday.

Gary is the missing link in the unlikely love quadrangle, reported by many of today's papers, between Chris Taylor, his (now ex-) girlfriend Suzy Collins, said mystery man and Ziggy the parrot.

Some background: Ziggy had long been a pet and faithful friend to owner Chris, who'd named him after David Bowie's 70s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. (Chris had even taught Ziggy to reproduce the Bowie lyric "Put on your red shoes and dance the blues".)

Then, all of a sudden, Ziggy, an African grey, began chirping things like "Hiya Gary" in the presence of owner Chris and his live-in girlfriend, Suzy. Before long, Suzy cracked under the strain and confessed all to Chris - she had secretly been having an affair with Gary.

At which point cuckolded Chris not only had to ditch Suzy, but Ziggy too, because "I couldn't get him to stop saying that bloody name".

And so to the headlines:

The parrot sings - the Daily Telegraph
Polly Spiller - the Sun
Stool-pigeon parrot - the Daily Mail
Pillow Squawk - the Daily Mirror
So who's a silly love cheat then - the Daily Express
Ziggy, the parrot who said too much - the Times
Who's a pity boy then? - the Financial Times

Ok, the last one's not real.


So breasts are the most common body part for cosmetic surgery. But, asked Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, what is the second most popular? The answer: eyelids. Only 18% of you got that right, most opting for the nose, and then the stomach. Tuesday's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
Re Jon Keen's letter about "Puppet sex" - would that be no strings attached?
Mark Till,
Southport, UK

Re 'Convenience? It's inconvenient'. Once we ordered low fat cream crackers from an internet shopping company and were given custard creams! So much for the diet!

The film, Nanny McPhee, carries the warning "Mild Themes". Please explain.
Susan Thomas,
Brisbane, Australia

Re Imogen's letter about boarding trains - on Bangkok's sky train, boarding passengers are now instructed to wait to the side of the doors to board so that those exiting use the centre. They still have many people waiting in the centre, however, with the resultant rugby scrum when the doors open.
Bangkok, Thailand

Re Robert Day's letter, the Swedish word for King is actually Kung, so the film would have been known as Kung Kong which is fine - but they seem to refer to it as "King Kong" just like everybody else. Was Kong supposed to be a King anyway?
Bristol, UK

You mention in 10 Thingsthat less than 10% of land in the UK is owned by home owners. The rest is presumably owned by land owners.

Re the article on the 'stardust capsule', which stated: "Comets are thought to be cosmic "time capsules", containing material unchanged since the formation of the Sun and planets. [an error occurred while processing this directive]." Some error! What were the Sun and planets meant to be like before someone messed up?
N. Ireland

"Toenail service to elderly cut". With headlines like these from the BBC News website (Mid Wales), who needs Punorama.
Susan Thomas,
Brisbane, Australia

Re Elaine's letter, I have been using for a long time. I find it makes a much more realistic tongue than p. :
Joel Horne,

"Pride4 and Prejudice" (today's Paper Monitor). Did I miss the first three? Or is this just a misquoted dingbat, to whit "Pride comes before a four"...?
Martin Ruck,
Oxford, UK

Re Paper Monitor - Adrian Mole moved the Jane Austen novels to the romantic fiction section when he worked in the local library. Is he behind this latest plan?
David Sheppard,
Romford, UK

Re Paper Monitor - are we to infer that the Andres enjoy a stable relationship?
Candace ,
New Jersey, US


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

The talk, in some quarters at least, is of "vulgarisation". And that's before we even get to the extracts from Jordan's updated autobiography.

The Daily Telegraph brings news of how the literary world has been split in two by efforts to re-brand Jane Austen in the "chick lit" mould... what better excuse for a picture of the Telegraph's favourite filly of the moment, Keira Knightley (who starred in a recent Hollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice)?

It seems Austen's six novels are to be repackaged in Danielle Steel and Barbara Cartland style, with glossy, pastel covers designed to appeal to women who are put off by the idea of reading a 19th Century writer.

While one Austen biographer welcomes the move, another, David Gildon, denounces it as "vulgarisation". "I hope they are not trying to reduce them to the level of a Barbara Cartland," he says.

Let's hope he doesn't stumble across the serialisation in the Sun of Jordan's updated biography, in which we learn that Jordan and husband Peter Andre enjoy sex, a lot.

Paper Monitor is no prude, but wishes to be tasteful in relating such matters at this time of the morning. So suffice it to say, one shouldn't be alarmed if the hay starts flying from the barn door when Mr and Mrs Andre are "mucking out the horses".

And when organising her business diary, one can only hope that Jordan's manager doesn't get the red and black pens mixed up.


In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which motto of the US was originally translated from Latin. As most of you (51%) knew, it's "One out of many", which was the original motto in 1776, later replaced by "In God we trust". Asked the same question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, television presenter Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen guessed it was the latter and missed out on a 1m prize for his chosen charity. Today's question is on the index today.

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