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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 17:46 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 penguins by Catherine Cooper

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

1. The Queen is the only over-75 not legally required to have a driver's licence. But, like others, she does have to fill out a form every three years declaring any medical conditions.

2. Architect Sir Christopher Wren was keen to test Newton's theory of gravity by "shooting of a bullet upwards at a certaine angle from the perpendicular round every way - thereby to see whether the bullets soe shot would all fall in a perfect circle".

3. Between 19,500 and 35,100 children are taking heroin, according to a government survey.

4. The mitten crab, imported in ships' holds from China, is on the verge of taking over some of the UK's major waterways.

5. Taxpayers have spent 78m on the Northern Ireland assembly since its suspension, according to Secretary of State Peter Hain.

6. A "lost world" exists in the Indonesian jungle that is home to dozens of hitherto unknown animal and plant species.

7. James Dean worked as a stunt tester on the game show Beat the Clock, testing the safety of the stunts that studio audience members would later perform.

8. Ronald Reagan was born the same day that Rolls Royce started using its famous "Spirit of Ecstasy" on car bonnets - 6 February 1911.

9. Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson hadn't met before posing nude together for the Vanity Fair cover, despite being close in age and in the same profession.

10. Whale meat caught under Japan's research programme ends up not only in high-end sushi but in dog food, school meals and as fast-food "whale bacon".

[Sources, where stories are not linked - 1: The Times, 8 Feb. 2: Guardian, 8 Feb. 3: Independent, 9 Feb. 4: Daily Telegraph, 8 Feb. 5: The Sun, 9 Feb. 7: IMDB. 9: Daily Mail, 8 Feb.]

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

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.


HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: apologies for the non-appearance of yesterday's letters. Here's a bumper crop to make up for it. MM

Newspapers logo
So your Express didn't arrive today (Paper Monitor)? Sounds like a conspiracy to me.
Joe, UK

Units of measure: the Radio 1 report on the invasion of the Chinese mitten crab claimed "they are as big as a 12 inch pizza". How big would that be then?
Glossop, Egerton/Bolton, UK

After reading about the scams people pull (How to stay off the suckers' list ), I have a query. There's the phrase "if it's too good to be true it most probably is". Now the quandary is - is it too good or is it true, because it most probably isn't either, so therefore it shouldn't be, meaning it isn't. For the solution to this dilemma please send 10 to...
pj, barcelona

Many thanks to Deborah R for telling us about Judy Cabbage's non-phonetic alphabet (Monitor Letters, Wednesday). I am glad that I'm not alone - with the aid of some friends, I tried to generate a complete non-phonetic alphabet, but am still stuck for F, N, R, S, U and V. So far:
A - Aubergine
B - Bdellium
C - Czar
D - Djibouti
E - Eye
G - Gnat
H - Honour
I - Igor
J - Juan
K - Know
L - Llanelli
M - Mnemonic
O - Oestrogen
P - Pneumatic
Q - Qi
T - Tchaikovsky
W - Write
X - Xylophone
Z - Zaragoza
James Russell, Birmingham

I loved the un-phonetic alphabet. Perhaps qing for q (which, as you all know now is pronounced 'ching').
Ian Rutt, Bristol, UK

Don't let Judy Cabbages see Eric Partridge's Comic Alphabet, which starts "A for 'orses, B for lamb" and finishes "Z for de dogtor".
Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK, thelbiq.co.uk

Water horror - scarier than Rolf Harris in trunks? Surely not.
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Re Margaret Thatcher: the Musical. I am reminded of the exchange between George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill.
Shaw: "Here are two tickets to the opening night. Bring a friend - if you have one."
Churchill: "Can't make the opening night. Will come to the second night - if you have one."
Alan, London, UK

Ok, it's slightly because I'm bitter at not having my entry in the top six but there is a time and a place for punning along the lines of "freeze a crowd" and "from Russia with gloves" (Caption comp) and that time and place is called Punorama on a Wednesday.
Andy M, Oxford, UK

Re names (Monitor Letters, Wednesday): I had a chemistry supervisor at Cambridge called A Bond. I wonder if non-chemists can appreciate how delightfully appropriate that is.
Mariam, Pakistan

I used to go to a GP's surgery where the Doctors were named: Watson, Hyde, Stiff and Grimm. There was one other doctor, but alas his name was perfectly normal and hence forgotten entirely.
Jon, Stoke, Staffs

BBC juxtaposition strikes again. Call to let doctors have work nap, with the related story " Mental skills 'worse after sleep'.
Andrew Munro, Glasgow, UK

So no mention of Diana in Thursday's Express (Paper Monitor)? That IS strange. However, I am amused at the thought of PM thumbing his - or her - way through with increasing anxiety.
Luke L, London, UK


Winning entries in the caption competition.

This week, a toddler plays amongst ranks of snowmen in one of Moscow's chic pedestrian shopping streets. But what's being said?

6. Philip, Nottingham
MI5 realised Britain's fake snowman transmitter may not have been unique...

5. Sean Smith, Bucks
Freeze a crowd

4. Speed, Armagh
Mr Frosty thought his chances of getting away with it were high when he saw the identity parade.

3. Graeme, Dundee
Little boy: "Are you those Arctic Monkeys everyone has been going on about?"

2. Dean Ward, Cambridge
Their plan of world domination failed because of a child with a hairdryer.

1. Chris, Witney
From Russia With Gloves


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Newspapers logo
The best picture of the day must surely be the Sun's modest snap of an heroically modest moment. It's a photo of the late Ron Greenwood, the former England manager who died on Thursday, taking home the FA Cup which his West Ham side had just won in the 1964 final.

Was he swigging champagne on the way round to a night club? Was he riding in a limousine or swaggering on an open-top bus? No, he was taking home the cup on the Tube, sitting quietly at the station, wearing a buttoned-up mac, a tie and a very neat parting. The cup is being carried in what looks like a big black bin bag. Instead of beefy security men and glamorous side-kicks, he's flanked by an elderly woman in a hat.

A different sort of tradesman appeared in two of the papers, casting light on their different world views. "Yes, we love Polish plumbers, but how many more does Britain need?" asks the Daily Mail.

Apart from being a satisfying example of a headline saving you the trouble of reading the story, it also shows the type of balancing act performed by the Mail's moral philosophy section. Speaking of which, the Littlejohn column goes straight to the point with "What next? Burkas for all? A ban on having a quiet drink?"

The other paper featuring the Polish plumbers - watch that phrase it's going to keep appearing - is the Independent. And it approaches the question from the perspective of French tradesmen fearing that they will be under-cut. "Unions force EU to water down its 'Polish plumber' legislation."

Anyone doubting that the online world is now firmly in the mainstream need only look at the Guardian. The story about Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, getting the spin doctor treatment appears on the front page. Even a year or so ago, Wikipedia would have belonged to the anorak sections, but is now matily described as Wiki.

The Daily Telegraph, which addresses the "web encyclopedia" Wikipedia story briefly on page 13, has its own response to a changing world (and the approaching St Valentine's). And that's to have a very prominent lonely hearts small ads page, "Kindred Spirits", appearing before the leader columns.

Finally, no sign of Paper Monitor's Daily Express today. Any loyal readers willing to help out with Diana-watch?


With apologies for the lack of Thursday letters, let's turn to Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz. 49% of you knew that Abu Hamza's MI5 codename was Damson, 32% thought it was Green Bananas, and 18% thought raspberry. As it's Friday, Stephen Buxton's Pointless Poll is on the index now.


Craig Cooper and Rebecca Duffy
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.

This week it's the story of bride Rebecca Duffy who met her groom Craig Cooper for the first time at their wedding.

The two strangers tied the knot after winning a Birmingham-based radio station's competition - seven years after a similar marriage lasted just 12 weeks.

Charge your glasses for I... who? (Mark Till, Southport, UK), Troth is Stranger than Fiction (Ian, London), Newlymets (Muhammad Isa, Watford) and Radio reception (Lynn, London).

We give you the happy couple Knot for long (Trina, UK) and Knot again! (Sue, London, UK).

Take your partners for Strangers in the white (Simon Meara, London), Another one cites no lust (Sarah Wakely, London, UK) and You're the one that I won (Stella Alvarez, Oop North).

Please be upstanding for My rigged daft freak wedding, by Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock, who also contributed Wedding guess.

And pray silence for the best man: Nice Day for a Trite Wedding (Luke L, London, UK).


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

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David Blunkett is again using the voice of his guide dog in his Sun column to show off.

"The bearded one took me to a couple of schools in his Sheffield constituency a few days ago. One was a primary where I loved being the centre of attention! The second was a high school where the boss amazed me by actually knowing who the pop group Arctic Monkeys are." Oh please.

The Guardian's technology supplement has some answers to readers' questions. One person asks how to make sure a hard drive is wiped of data before being disposed of. The paper suggests a number of programs that can be used, but then slips alarmingly into mad scientist mode:

"For more security," it says,"remove the hard drive and wipe it with a degaussing machine. For ultimate security, bathe the disk platters in hydrochloric or sulphuric acid until the magnetic coating is eaten away."

The Times asks, in a slightly OTT headline: "What hope for a lovely whale like Ming in a sea of political sharks?" Yeah, whatever. This week's Punorama is about a couple getting married, not about shoehorning marine analogies into political interviews.

No mention of Diana whatsoever in the Daily Express. Very odd.

There's a timely story in the Daily Telegraph about how cottage industries have been revived by internet auctions. The paper says about 68,000 people in Britain make at least a quarter of their annual income by selling goods on eBay.

Timely, because Paper Monitor's experiment to see if it could make cash out of stuff lying around the office has just come to fruition. Our auction of an old copy of the Financial Times (with a copy of the Daily Star thrown in) has just closed and succeeded in raising 12. (All proceeds to Children in Need.) That's well over a quarter of Paper Monitor's annual income.


In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what item had made its first appearance on haute couture catwalks. Was it legwarmers (44% of you)? Was it zips (19% of you)? Or was it beanies (35%)? It's zips - they are now allowed by the regulations. But let's hear it for legwarmers anyway, Magazine readers and Marc Jacobs on the same wavelength at last.


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I have the dubious honour of occasionally working with Judy Cabbages (Monitor Letters, Tuesday), albeit at the end of a phone line. We often have to spell words but instead of using the normal phonetic alphabet of alpha beta etc, she has the most un-phonetic alphabet. Ptarmigan for P, knight for K and the one that took the longest to decipher, cue for C. Luckily for me, she doesn't have a complete un-phonetic alphabet... yet.
Deborah R, Leeds

It's always impressive when you score less on a multiple choice quiz than if you'd guessed randomly - as I've just done with the James Dean quiz.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

I once knew an Anglo-Catholic Priest whose surname was Christmas, so he was Fr. Christmas. Great for impressing small children.
Susan Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

I used to go to an orthodontist called Mrs Payne. Her husband used to make the braces she fitted, which caused considerable discomfort, in the surgery's cellar.
Vicky Keers, Leeds

Not an appropriate name but, my grandfather (Arthur) was the first aid person where he worked. The signs on the shop floor read: "The first aid person for this factory is A Butcher".
Ian Butcher, UK

You are slipping. Nerd to networker was the perfect opportunity to shoehorn in a picture of Ricky Gervais as Brent.
Owain Williams, Munich

I bet I'm not the first to point out that having scoffed at the Daily Mail for their needn't-read-any-further chicken story (Paper Monitor), your site has done exactly the same (Husband eats 50-year-old chicken). A perceivable witticism perhaps?
Robin, Edinburgh


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's not often that the Independent has Page Three girls. But then it's not every day that A-list fillies du jour get their kit off. For Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley have done just that - in the best possible taste, of course - for Vanity Fair, and the paper has reprinted the result in all its lovingly air-brushed detail.

Abu Hamza's conviction on race hate charges is widely covered, but for the Sun that is all but eclipsed by his ex-wife claiming he cheated on her with a prostitute. The front page shrieks HOOK AND A HOOKER, and the story continues inside under the headline: HE HAD AN EYE FOR THE LADIES. For anyone who has been living under a rock, the controversial cleric has a hook for a hand and a missing eye.

The headline fun continues with the Daily Mail's contribution to the needn't-read-any-further genre: "My golden wedding feast, chicken that's 50 years old - best before 1957, but still pretty good in 2006."

The Mirror and Daily Star prove that great minds think alike (or perhaps it's the "seldom differ" version) with their punning headline BRITNEY STEERS about the singer driving with her baby on her lap. Which is bad, mmm-K?

A bit of a task to find the latest Diana instalment in the Daily Express, but there it is, tucked away on page 23: DIANA'S SHOES TO DANCE ON EBAY. Paper Monitor searched out this item to find that not one but two auctions for the teenage Diana's ballet slippers have been and gone, both attracting zero bids (unlike our Financial Times with bonus Daily Star). Perhaps the plug will help.


In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked what's the latest theory for the disappearance of sparrows in Britain - 57% correctly answered that it's too few insects for chicks, while 41% wrongly said mobile phone signals and a barely-there 2% said global warming. Today's question is on the Magazine index now.


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Re: Paper Monitor. It must be clear to everyone by now that either the Express has gone completely cuckoo, or that Chris Morris has taken over. Look out for headlines like 'Plastic surgeon arrested with stash of stolen mouths or 'Lord Mayor's pirouette in fire chief wife decapitation' tomorrow.
Neil Golightly,
Manchester, UK

You're playing with us aren't you? The two stories from today: Alien crash lands in the attic and How to stay off the suckers' list are just too juxtascomedic (flexicographically speaking)
London, UK

Do you think the people who murdered Diana with their laser guns will know anything about the Alien in a jar?
Lyndsey Jackson,
Manchester UK

I was on the cusp, but now I've been tipped over into believing that the chaps at the Express are now doing it deliberately and sniggering behind our backs at their elaborate double Diana bluff.
John Dobson,

From the article Hamza guilty of inciting murder, it would seem that the cleric had stockpiled "...guns capable of firing blanks and tents..." What awesome weapons, camping will never be the same again.
Robert B-P,

Someone working at the Planetarium with the surname Moon: I used to have an optician called Mr Strain - unfortunately his first name wasn't Ian...

When I was at school, our vicar was called Mr. Parsons. Do I win?
London, UK

When I worked at University of New South Wales, the head of one part of the medicine faculty was called Professor Best, and the deputy head was called Dr Goodenough.

Last night I dreamt I met Judy Cabbages. What can this mean?

May I nominate "[t]he military is a dangerous environment" from the article Death on the Battlefield for 10 Things We Already Knew?
Maesteg, South Wales

Neil of Southampton wanted to know what the missing Stones' lyric was (Monitor Letters, Monday). I'd tell him, except I fear I might get censored. But come now, Neil... I'm sure you'll figure it out.
Nigel, Edmonton,


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ever have a day when your job feels like it's just too easy? Paper Monitor's got that feeling today. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Here we go:

Daily Express, front page: "DIANA INQUIRY CHIEF'S LAPTOP SECRETS STOLEN - Thieves raid Lord Stevens' office but only HIS computers are taken.... A source close to the Diana enquiry said: 'It is too much of a coincidence. As far as we are concerned, MI6 spies could well be responsible for this raid."

What to make of this latest installment of the Diana files? Could this be the mad ramblings of a conspiracy theorist? Or could it be the crying aloud in the wilderness of a lone voice who the rest of society refuses to take seriously? Who really knows?

Paper Monitor, firmly breaking its New Year Resolution, can only fall back on mild sarcasm, by reflecting that presumably these MI6 spies broke in using their laser guns.


In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz (which more than 10,000 of you took part in), 62% correctly said it would have been Ronald Reagan's 95th birthday yesterday. 33% incorrectly said it would have been his 100th, while 4% very incorrectly said it would have been his 105th. Today's question is on the index now.


Letters logo
Can I be probably not the first pedant to point out re Egg thrown at Kelly outside court that, given that the dictionary definition of the verb 'to pelt' is 'strike repeatedly', reporting that 'Ruth Kelly was pelted with an egg' is unlikely, given that after a single strike, an egg has usually just about had its chips.
Jon Dalladay,

I think the Daily Express must be getting desperate in its headline "Diana Death: Spies flashed laser beam at crash driver" (Paper Monitor, Monday). This "new" theory was the storyline in an edition of Spooks shown on TV last year.

Not being a Rolling Stones expert, I'm trying to work out what the censored 'You, You make a dead man c***' in 'Start Me Up' could be (Stones' Super Bowl songs censored). "Clap" perhaps?
Neil Franklin,
Southampton, UK

Re Paper Monitor's headlines:"Bungle docs cut WRONG testicle off", I would like to wish Bungle all the best for a swift recovery from his traumatic surgery, and hope that George, Zippy et al will be sympathetic about such a mishap.
Woking, UK

On Friday, Ted from Telford was puzzled as to why his gym requests people lock empty lockers. Here is a possible answer. Assume that there are ten lockers. Five are empty. The other five each contain goods worth 5. Assume also that the thief has time to break open only one locker. If the empty lockers are open, the thief knows which lockers contains valuables, and opens one. Average expected loot: 5. But if all the lockers are locked, he has a 50% chance of getting away with 5, and a 50% chance of getting nothing. Average expected loot: 2.50 The thief therefore has twice the incentive to break into a locker if empty lockers are left open.

Is 'phonetic' anti-autological as it isn't spelt the way it sounds?
Rich Lewis,
Coventry, UK

Re: my previous comment, I obviously meant heterological not anti-autological. Opps.
Rich Lewis,
Coventry, UK

Someone working at the Planetarium with the surname Moon (10 things we didn't know)? I can beat that. My food technologies teacher is called Mrs. Eatwell.
Carl S,


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

Oh friends. Paper Monitor can barely concentrate on the analysis of MRSA which is offered to us by FREYA, 18, Nottingham, today's Page 3 girl ("Freya is horrified by the MRSA scandal. She said: 'The NHS spends a fortune on pen-pushing executives. They would be better off swapping their computers for a mop and bucket,'" in case you're interested).

Is our attention being grabbed by the story elsewhere in the Sun of medical mishaps, including: "Bungle docs cut WRONG testicle off", "Holes drilled in WRONG side of head" and "Circumcision was done on WRONG kid"? No.

Is it Gordon Brown's amazing pledge, given to the Mirror in an amazing scoop: "I will renew New Labour... and Britain"? No.

Is it Anne Diamond's stomach stapling, reported widely? No.

It's our old friends at the Daily Express, who have, quite frankly, outdone themselves on today's front page.

"DIANA DEATH: Spies flash laser beam at crash driver.... Princess Diana was assassinated by British spies using a laser gun, says a new witness."

Amazing, if true. And almost as amazing in its own way if it's not true. Paper Monitor is just worried that, with this most compelling and believable of accounts, the Express might find it hard to run any future story about Diana because they will pale by comparison. Have they, in an unfortunate turn of phrase Paper Monitor is already regretting, killed the golden goose?


In Friday's Pointless Poll we asked which musical collaboration (post Madonna/Gorillaz) you would most like to see. The winner was Aerosmith and Dido. The loser was Billy Joel and Crazy Frog. Interesting. But ultimately pointless.

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