[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 15:54 GMT 16:54 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 this time last week


    10 THINGS
    10 poppy seed pods
    10 poppy seed pods by Ed Heaver

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

    1. The Vatican values many of its irreplaceable artworks, by the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael, at 1 euro (69p) a piece, according to the Times.

    2. Roald Dahl wanted Spike Milligan to play Willy Wonka in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene Wilder got the part.

    3. It takes less energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country, because of the artificial heat needed, according to a report by Defra.

    4. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's home number is listed by directory inquiries.

    5. The site of London's proposed Olympic Park once housed a nuclear reactor.
    More details

    6. The famous bunkers at St Andrews golf course were initially formed by grazing sheep.

    7. The Duchess of Cornwall loves Little Britain.
    More details

    8. Whales used to have legs.
    More details

    9. Householders were told to recycle chop bones during World War II, as they could be used to make two rounds of ammunition.
    More details

    10. Parrots can learn to understand the concept of zero.

    If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it. Thanks this week to Candace in New Jersey, US.

    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.


    Why is Camilla, Duches of Cornwall, still referred to as Camilla Parker-Bowles when that was her married name to her previous hushand? Why not her current title or her original maiden name?
    Sarah, Aberdeen

    One swallow doesn't make a summer, so does one question make a Mini-Quiz? I'm just about to have my mini-banquet, one sausage roll. (Which is also one swallow).
    Kieran Boyle, Oxford, England

    Sophie from London may enjoy this website which campaigns against the misuse of the word 'literally'.
    Morgan Wolf, Winchester.com

    In response to Sumbal Naseer: You really don't have to apologise - sympathise by all means, but the actions of the terrorists last Thursday are not the fault of ordinary Muslims, in the same way that the actions of far right 'patriotic' extremists in this country are not the fault of ordinary British people.
    Eleanor, London

    Re Jel, Brussels letter. How inconsiderate of the bombers not to phone or leave a suicide note so that London Underground's log could be correct. If he read the log he would see that irrespective of the cause the emergency services were called pretty quickly. Also to find out within half an hour that there were three separate bombings is quite good, bearing in mind the various rumours that were flying around at the time.
    Mark Stephens, Bricket Wood, England

    Moving food 'harms environment' says a link on the News front page. Argh! - There's something moving at the back of my fridge ...
    QJ, Stafford, UK

    Re Jeff's email on the 12th - the number of times it occurs must mean that 'less' is now official BBC-speak for 'fewer'. Today in the Magazine's 'Walking towards a better life' Denise Winterman talks about 'less cars'. Am I just being pedantic, or does it jar in other people's consciousness as well?
    Joe Grey, Folkestone


    Predicting the British weather can be a precarious business, especially in summer.

    Good of St Swithin, then, to afford us a degree of certainty on this, his patron day.

    According to the superstition named after the ninth-century bishop, the weather today will last for 40 days, so the warm and dry weather enjoyed by most of the UK bodes well for the six weeks.

    Don't pack the umbrella...
    There has been a surprising rate of success with this theory, particularly in the dry summers of 1983, 1989, 1990 and 1995, when about 38 days of the 40 were dry. Meteorologists credit this accuracy to the jet stream, the 200 mph wind miles above the Earth, which tends to settle for the next few weeks.

    The success of other weather superstitions is not so well known. If cows are lying down, for example, then rain follows, apparently, because they sense the moisture in the air.

    In keeping with the spirit of St Swithin, this week's task is to come up with an original and unlikely way of predicting the weather, with a short explanation why it could work. Use the form below.

    The best entries have been posted here.

    You can tell if it's going to be muggy by the degree to which individual pages of your morning newspaper cling together at the corners where the little grippy perforations are. Muggy atmosphere causes the minute paper fibres to curl, imparting a "Velcro"-like tenacity, whereas a crisp, dry atmosphere keeps the fibres straight and the pages more easily separable.
    Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts

    Before you hang your washing out, check your plants. Plants need more water when they have wind and sunshine - so the more water they need, the dryer your clothes will get. You can actually check this out scientifically with flowers in vases, seeing how much water they use on overcast, rainy, sunny and windy days. As plants use more water when it's sunny and windy, and your clothes dry quicker when it's sunny and windy I think this is a winner.
    Caryn, Sussex

    The probability of rain over a given weekend is directly proportional to the number of barbecues you are having or attending that weekend. If the weekend is a Bank Holiday, the probability rises close to certainty.
    Chris Stocks, Chesham, UK

    Open a bottle of sun lotion. If the bottle is full, the entire summer will be a washout. If the bottle is empty, the weather will be incredibly hot and sunny until another bottle is bought, when it will return to rainy.
    S Murray, Chester, UK

    If your cat starts to moult excessively, warm weather is on the way (honest, it's true - my black cat Lucy is better than Michael Fish!)
    Donna Marshall, Seaford

    For a short-term weather forecast, I find my cat's distance from the catflap is a reliable indicator. Sound asleep in the sunny patch at the bottom of the garden = good weather all day; dozing on the path half way down the garden = sunny until lunchtime; napping on the patio = take an umbrella. My theory is that her whiskers expand and contract depending on how much moisture is in the air (a bit like seaweed). For those of you in Wigan in the near future, by the way, she's currently asleep under the bed - so bring some heavy-duty waterproofs.
    Valerie, Wigan, UK

    Particularly relevant during the Summer holidays: Red sky at night
    The local school's alight.
    Jon Braybrook, Fleet, Hants

    Weather predicting in Wales: If it rains on a Monday, there's a good chance it will rain for the next seven years. (This theory has yet to be disproved.)
    Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock

    "When the aurora borealis or astralis is seen, the subsequent weather, will be likely, extreme."
    The associated magnetic radiation from sunspot activity (also producing the aurora borealis, and australis,) produces pressure waves according to The Leicester University model. These pressure waves interact with the jet stream leading to large climate changes.
    Simon, London

    If small children are uncommonly fidgety in the evening then it will be windy within 24 hours.
    amy, Cambridge, UK

    Increasing sales/use of painkillers mean a high pressure system is on the way - the higher pressure squeezes one's sinuses, causing headaches and migraines
    George Warwick, Halifax

    If it has been sunny all week whilst in the office, it will likely rain at the weekend, exactly heaviest where you planned that picnic.
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    Take the last 4 letters of the country you're in. If they are 'L','A','N' and 'D' then it is going to rain. Note that this doesn't work in Wales.
    Charlie Cook, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

    As soon as your outward flight takes off you can bet the next week or two are going to be glorious back home. Never fails for me.
    Maggie, South London uk

    When you remember to take your umbrella with you, it probably won't rain.
    I have no idea why this works, but experience shows that it does. I recently bought an expensive umbrella and have hardly had to use it when I have it with me, it only rains when I leave it at home.
    R J Tysoe, London, UK

    If, on the first day of the England/Australia test match, England are doing well, the remaining days of the test will be wet and rainy. This is caused by cricket fans staying in and making more cups of tea, the steam from boiling kettles all over the UK creates a increases the amount of water in the air until it reaches saturation and falls as rain.
    Christian B, Truro, UK


    It's time for the caption competition results.

    This week's picture shows rock star campaigners Bob Geldof and Bono with French President Jacques Chirac at the G8 summit in Scotland.

    6. Robert, Wiltshire
    He doesn't like Mondays!

    5. Joe Lister, Luxembourg
    "You grab Bush, I'll wait for you in the kitchen" Bono's plan B for eradicating world poverty was all go.

    4. Tom, Portsmouth, UK
    Jacques' Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman joke had fallen on stony ground.

    3. Adele Opie, Bradford, England
    Bono: "Seriously, his daughter is called Peaches, now leave it, he's getting very tetchy."

    2. Mark Hawkins, East Sussex
    "U2, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Pah! who are zeese people? You will need Plastique Bertrand or Johnny Hallyday to make ze World take notice"

    1. Mark Turner, Kilkenny, Ireland
    Bono to Jacques: If you do "walky round the garden like a teddy bear" you'll get a smile out of him.


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

    Just about all the papers lead with a CCTV image of Hasib Hussain taken at Luton station at 0720 on the morning of the blasts. Hussain was responsible for blowing up the number 30 bus and police are trying to piece together the last hour or so of his life. The Daily Mail, however, leads with the first picture of the fourth and most recently named bomber, Lindsay Jamal.

    The Times looks at religious fundamentalism of another hue, after the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for the capture of Warren Jeffs - the leader of America's biggest polygamist sect.

    Jeffs, who is reputed to have 70 wives, is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - one of several splinter churches that broke away from the mainstream Mormons when they banned multiple wives in the late 1800s.

    Reporter Chris Ayres says the episode could spell the end for America's long-tolerated polygamist sects. Jeffs' church, which dominates Colorado City, is accused of forcing teenage girls to marry elders and of driving young men away from their homes to thin out the male population.


    Friday's daily mini-quiz asked which Hollywood actor was not due to star in the new television comedy by Ricky Gervais, Extras. There was no fooling you, with 66% correctly choosing Johnny Depp, who once appeared on The Fast Show. Ben Stiller and Samuel L Jackson do have roles in the BBC2 series. Another daily mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index


    Letters logo
    I would like to extend my apologies to the people of UK for the cruel act of barbarism by Muslim Pakistanis. I want to tell them that Islam is a religion of peace and God hates those who has no respect and regard for humanity. The kind of Islam these terrorists or so-called freedom fighters are preaching is absolute rubbish and is not supported by the people of Pakistan. We are all nations of interest and our fight should be within ourselves and within our country and that is to fight corruption and poverty.
    Sumbal Naseer,
    Peshawar, Pakistan

    The saddest thing about this log is that it took half an hour before LT realised there was anything else wrong other than their own jerry-built system. Fortunately this time three out of the four incidents were virtually on the doorstep of major emergency hospitals or the BMA. Next time we may not be so lucky. If heavyweight medical care is delivered inside the "golden hour" after a serious injury occurs, the probability of long-term recovery is much greater. We can ill afford to lose than much time next time.

    Re: Paper Monitor. I was moved by both the words spoken and passion displayed by Marie Fatayi-Williams (watch the speech here) in grieving for her son. Such obvious passion is rare to see in Britain. Not so in Iraq, where we were regularly shown mothers mourning beside the crater of a misdirected bomb. Maybe we should be translating their words of grief. We may be surprised by their eloquence.

    Re: Robert Goforth, Middlesbrough, UK ...and?

    (Thanks to everyone who pointed out that Robert's letter was, inadvertently, published twice. Curiously, there was no mention of "another BBC repeat". Disappointing - Ed.)

    As we seem to be "watching" everything else could we start a literally-watch? People seem to use "literally" quite randomly, with odd results. I'll start us off: in a BBC interview Peter Hain mentioned "literally hundreds of millions of poor countries in Africa". I guess the world isn't getting smaller after all!
    London, UK

    My goodness, Robert Winder is a real Scrooge, isn't he? What on earth is wrong with a book involving an idealised version of reality? It's hardly unusual (everybody from Emily Bronte to George Orwell has done the same), and surely one of the reasons for reading is to escape reality for a bit. May I suggest he buy a full-size copy of a newspaper so he can read about yobs and simultaneously block his view of the Harry Potter Books? That way we can all read what we want.
    Sophie W,
    London, UK


    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, there have been several sightings of a big cat on the loose near the football stadium of Leeds United. After members of the public contacted the club, security manager Jeff Stoyles went out to have a look and saw something in the distance.

    "From where I was standing it looked like a very large domestic cat but as I got closer it growled and leapt away to the far side of the car park. It frightened the life out of me," he said.

    Here is the verdict of the judges.

    We kick off with Dave Taylor in Leeds and Brian Saxby in Gateshead, who both scored with Elland Roared. Equally simple but effective was Football Cub from Stella Alvarez in Teesside.

    Neil in Aberystwyth came up with Furball hooligan and Martin Ellison from Leyland in the UK submitted Cat dogs Leeds.

    Clever thinking in Parking Oce-lot by Michael in Glasgow and Big Game returns to Elland Road from Kieran Boyle in Oxford.

    And Police search new leads by Jel in Brussels earned a chuckle. Sunderland Black Cat spotted in Leeds, by Ketan Mistry in Dublin, requires a little football knowledge.

    The judges enjoyed And he brought him down just outside the litter box by Jason S in Southampton, also Leeds manager gets big kitty for new players, by Gordon in Whitley Bay, UK.

    But the winner is Owen in the UK for his red-top style headline Stoyles boils at cat flap.


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

    Excitement is mounting among Harry Potter fans as the countdown continues to midnight on Friday, when the stampede begins for the sixth JK Rowling book.

    The papers are jostling for fresh angles on Pottermania and the Mirror has chosen a new tack with a picture gallery of the homes Rowling has occupied since birth.

    Her life story begins in a "modest Muggle bungalow" near Bristol and is brought up-to-date at a 1m Victorian mansion in Perthshire, with eight homes in between.

    The relevance? These are, according to the paper's headline, "The homes that inspired Hogwarts".

    Not an excuse to have a snoop at the humble beginnings of a millionairess, then.


    Wednesday's daily mini-quiz asked why did a Danish pizzeria owner refuse to serve French and Germans? Only 40% of you got it right, it was because of the Iraq war, not because they don't tip enough (43%). Another daily mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index


    Letters logo

    Re: In pictures: One day on. You have police outside Westminster with guns, as if this is an unusual thing. They always carry big machine guns round here. It's in case the tourists get out of hand and try to push into the queue to go and look round.
    Helen, London

    Re: Tube log shows initial confusion. "Further information came in quickly, including smoke and passengers self de-training". Self de-training? What's wrong with "getting off the train"? Excuse me, I must self de-internet now.
    Tom Calvert, Hamstreet, UK

    I was interested to read about the injunction to prevent revelations of the new Harry Potter book prior to its release Court order prevents Potter leak . Could this possibly be used prior to the next book to stop JK Rowling doing the same? Yes, I would like to know that a main character is going to die, but I would like to find that bit out for myself... by READING THE BOOK.
    Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK


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

    Many will have been moved by Marie Fatayi-Williams's impassioned lament for her son Anthony, feared dead in the bus blast last Thursday.

    And in the Guardian, Colonel Tim Collins, who himself made an historic speech on the eve of the Iraq War, says her words will go down as one of the great speeches of this century.

    "Her words are a mixture of stirring rhetoric, heartfelt appeal and a stateswoman-like vision... Her appeal is a simple one - where is my son? If he has been killed, then why? Who has gained?" writes Col Collins.

    "This kind of speech is normally the preserve of the great orators, statesmen and playwrights... But always such addresses are crafted for effect and consciously intended to sway and influence."

    Hers, by comparison, was an unrehearsed cri de coeur for innocent blood lost, in language which "echoes verses of the Bible as well as from the Koran. It has raw passion as well as heart-rending pathos".

    As well as giving voice to the grief of many, her words are important on another level, he says.

    "I have long urged soldiers in conflict zones to keep communicating with the population in order to be seen as people - it is easier to kill uniforms than it is to kill people.

    "On July 7 the suicide bombers attacked icons of a society that they hated more than they loved life, the red London bus and the tube. Marie's speech has stressed the real victims' identities. They are all of us."


    The Magazine's Daily Mini-Quiz asked of you yesterday: the Vatican is back in profit, how much did it make last year? Fifty-four percent of you were correct in saying 3.1m. Today's new Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index


    Letters logo
    Re 10 things we didn't know Don't think Bob Geldof quite made the week without swearing on TV. He certainly did swear at Edinburgh Live 8! Nice try though Bob. Better luck next time!
    Kevin Geoghegan, Larbert, Scotland

    My congratulations to the Berkshire sub-Editor who managed to slip the article Women bishops have 'vast support' past his/her editor with that picture.
    Mark G, Maidenhead, UK

    Re Monday's quote of the day "...eirenic...stoic...ataraxic", obviously Boris Johnson was aiming for a higher valence by avoiding the use of adjectives ending in -ous.
    Candace, New Jersey, US

    Hurricane season set to be stormy...and?
    Robert Goforth, Middlesbrough, UK

    The front page of BBC news contains the following headline - "BBC governors want less repeats". With what are they going to replace them? Grammar lessons?
    Jeff, Halesowen


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

    Fans of Roald Dahl's children's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will perhaps be eagerly awaiting the release of the remake of the 1971 film of the book.

    But the Independent strikes a sceptical note, summoning a list of recent remakes - Alfie, the Manchurian Candidate, War of the World - that appeared to be little more than second-rate money spinners. It notes that Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka in the original film, accused the new producers of money grabbing.

    The keepers of Dahl's estate are, however, confident that the new version, which reunites the Edward Scissorhands combo of director Tim Burton and leading lad Johnny Depp (who plays Willy Wonka), will surpass the original film which has become something of a Christmas classic on British screens, a la Wizard of Oz.

    And the vastly superior budget - 50m to 80m - has helped bring some of the more magical elements of Dahl's imagination to life. So, for example, the sets included a 192,000 gallon river of special-effect melted chocolate and 40 squirrels who were specially trained for weeks to crack walnuts and place them on a conveyor belt.


    Monday's daily mini-quiz asked what's the new world record for the longest kiss? Sixty-six percent of you were correct, guessing it was 31 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds. Another daily mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index.


    Technical gremlins have been at work today, making it impossible to update your letters in Monday's Magazine Monitor. Apologies.


    Alex Jerrett and Philip Woods
    Interview time: Alex Jerrett (left) and Philip Woods

    In March the Magazine carried the story of a new online game, based on the currency trading markets, which was offering the best student players the chance of a job in the City of London.

    The three top players were guaranteed an interview at a top financial institution.

    After several weeks of intense competition between 7,000 players, the three winners have been announced. They are Ozan Sakar from the London School of Economics, Alex Jerrett from University of Bath, and Philip Woods from the University of Oxford.

    The three now have the chance to join the graduate training scheme and start their financial careers.


    Tricky Order

    The following number plates should lead you to another:

    P232 TAN
    H323 TRL
    X162 NOL
    A126 WMP
    B261 HBA
    R25 HTI
    N201 SLA
    LN51 UFS
    K35 IPD
    F315 AEU
    W13 EEE

    Send your solutions using the form below.

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your answer

    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 Spelling It Out and ran as follows.

    Whilst in uniform I often remember,
    That fateful day last November.
    He asked me "Switch or Delta?"
    His voice did echo as I felt the
    Stare of this Romeo.
    In his Ford Sierra I must go.
    We'd do the tango cheek to cheek -
    To Oscar's charms my will was weak.
    Then Oscar spoiled my fantasy,
    "Switch or Delta?" he asked me.

    This puzzle features one word from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet per line: uniform, november, delta, echo, romeo, sierra, tango, oscar, oscar, delta spelling UNDERSTOOD.

    UPDATE: 12 JULY 1935 BST - The winner of last week's riddle was Matt Roberts, Exeter, UK.


    Newspapers logo

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

    Stoicism, defiance and resilience are watchwords in many of today's papers, as they assess the convergence in the past few days of the bomb attacks on London and celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

    The Times reports a speech by the Queen to mark the 1945 anniversary. "It does not surprise me that during the present difficult days for London, people took to the example set by those of resilience, humour and sustained courage, often under conditions of great deprivation."

    Readers of the Daily Mirror are told there has been a "rekindling of the wartime spirit which refused to give in to Hitler and has now decided that the bombings on the London Underground must bring us closer together."

    Jemima Lewis in the Independent is almost alone in questioning such sentiments. "We are all heroes now, just by virtue of commuting into work. Israelis and Palestinians do it all the time, in much more frightening circumstances... We are so infatuated with the national myth of stoicism that we only see and admire it in ourselves."


    Friday's daily mini-quiz asked how the Canadian version of the new Harry Potter book would differ from the one in the US. Sixty-nine percent of you got the right answer - it will be made from recycled paper. Another daily mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your comment

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific