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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 15:34 GMT 16:34 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 cherrypickers by Bryce Cooke

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

    1. Giant squid eat each other - especially during sex.

    2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold one copy every minute since its 1969 publication.
    More details

    3. Giant mice eating rare chicks on the South Atlantic's Gough Island are descended from the British house mouse, but since arriving on ships in the 19th Century, have doubled in size and become carnivorous.
    More details

    4. Birmingham was hit by a tornado in 1931, in the same area of the city damaged in the latest twister.
    More details

    5. First-born children are less creative but more stable, while last-born are more promiscuous, says US research.

    6. Cats are genetically unable to taste sweet things. While dogs adore chocolate, cats remain indifferent.

    7. Marilyn Manson's gift to his fiancée - a taxidermy fan - is two stuffed swans posed as if about to copulate.

    8. On average you would have to cycle non-stop for 96 years before being killed in a road accident.
    More details

    9. By law, rescued grey squirrels cannot be released into the wild.
    More details

    10. Racial prejudice is learnt; and everyone has an in-built inclination towards learning to fear people who appear different, says US research.

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

    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.


    Keeping tabs on stories past.

    Bigfoot article
    On Thursday, the Magazine reported on the enduring appeal of Sasquatch (In search of Bigfoot, 28 July). The DNA results are in on a tuft of hair found after a suspected Bigfoot sighting - 100% pure bison. And long-dead bison at that - geneticist David Coltman says the hair could have come from a stuffed animal.


    Letters logo
    As a middle-aged and bald man I object most strongly to the suggestion from the Advertising Standards Authority (Drinks adverts told 'no sexy men') that this makes me less 'sexy' and 'unattractive to women'. I can honestly say that both factors have increased my attractiveness to the opposite sex, and after many years of increased success with ladies since I shaved my head, I have in fact only last weekend just married my very beautiful 28-year-old girlfriend. It appears that the ASA is promoting far worse stereotypes than the advertising they are supposed to regulate!
    London, UK

    Re: Wireless hijacking under scrutiny, 28 July. Surely it is not fair to prosecute people for using unsecured wifi networks? Certainly I have on occasion found that the laptop I was using had automatically switched to someone else's network, simply because their signal was stronger, and they had left it open. If someone's wifi router is handing out IPs to passing devices, then they are "authorising" the access to their network by leaving it on that setting. Anyone using such a network cannot be guilty of "unauthorised access".
    Belfast, NI

    Re: Paper Monitor, Thursday, and Boris Johnson taking off his clothes for a dip in the river. I should imagine the "almost deserted meadow "quickly became the "panic-stricken deserted meadow"
    Derek Behan,
    Blackburn, Lancs

    Re the debate on pronunciation. A very posh nun at my school insisted that Lyons was Lions, Marseilles was Mah-sales. Her reasoning being that Paris is not Paree. I got her though - how do we pronounce Bordeaux? I asked innocently. Apparently we pronounce it: Get on with your work!
    Henley, Henley-on-Thames

    It's not a Bigfoot or a bison (In search of Bigfoot, 28 July.) As any three-year-old will tell you, it's clearly a Gruffalo.
    Lisa T,
    Cambridge, UK


    The Friday Objective will return next week.


    It's time for the caption competition.

    This week, Katharina Tomaschek, winner of the German Air Guitar Championships, performs Fields of Joy by Lenny Kravitz. But what's being said?

    6. JP Foster, Reading, UK
    "It's okay, I've found my contact lens."

    5. Jeremy Walton, UK
    "Hang on - what key are we in?"

    4. Dawn Ransome, Bury St Edmunds, UK
    The air apparent.

    3. Keith, Herts, UK
    Eine Kleine Naffmusik.

    2. Stig (with an Air Caption), London, UK
    "                               "

    1. Dave Humphreys, England
    Nonstrung Dork Technique.


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

    Much comment in today's papers about the IRA's historic declaration yesterday. But Paper Monitor can't take its eyes of this little story in the Belfast Telegraph about the latest campaign from the Ulster Unionist Party's Young Unionists.

    "The Young Unionists want to appeal to everyone in Northern Ireland to pick up the phone or text to keep Orlaith in the Big Brother house. We must support our local talent - she not be the sharpest tool in the shed and some of her actions have raised an eyebrow or two, but anything has to be better than Kemal. He is a two-faced, spiteful, arrogant, insecure wannabe cross-dresser, who started out being mildly amusing but is now supremely irritating."

    FRIDAY 29 JULY 0926BST

    In Thursday's mini-quiz, 52% of you said the most common age to become a grandparent in the UK was 54, and 21% said it was 59. Wrong. It's 49, which 27% of you got right. Another mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index.


    It's the height of summer, despite the rainy weather, so it's a special seaside theme for Punorama, our pun-writing competition. Here are the winning entries.

    Friendly neighbourhood
    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 beach hut in Northumberland has been put on the market for £200,000 - about £65,000 more than the cost of an average house. It's got three bedrooms and a fitted kitchen, and is described by an estate agent as having "as near a perfect location as you can get". There are a reported 30 buyers competing to buy it.

    Here is the judges' verdict.

    Plenty of scope for seaside/property jokes here, as you showed. Also Star Wars: Grabba the hut! (Tom Snelgrove, Abergavenny).

    Sands of Tyne, says Michael, Glasgow, Shingle occupant only says Helene Parry, South Wales expat washed ashore in Brentford Lock. Stephen Buxton, Coventry, ships in with She sells chalets by the sea shore , while Kate, Herts, laps at the shore with Three up, Two Dune.

    Jason Clarke, Halifax, contributes Home and Haway, which may irritate some readers (complaints please to J. Clarke, Halifax), and Claire, Ballyclare, apologises in advance for You been robb-in-sunned-cruise owed!

    She says: "It's a pun on Robinson Crusoe - not very good - just wrote it on my break." Back to work, Claire, back to work.

    But the winner, which will warm the hearts of fans of the LBQ everywhere, is old friend Candace, New Jersey, with Cop a cabana. If you don't get it, look it up.


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

    In the past day or so, nearly every paper has carried a review of the new play Who's the Daddy, which centres on the sexual shenanigans which went on last year at the Spectator magazine and included then Home Secretary David Blunkett.

    Editor Boris Johnson is presented, true to his self-caricature, as a bit of a duffer. But a quick look at today's Telegraph reveals more of the man than you might like.

    After reminding people what the summer of 1976 was like ("The village green became a dustbowl. The lambs bleated for moisture, their tongues rattling in their parched pink mouths. Sales of Right Guard and Tizer made scarcely credible strides..."), he says:

      "Ever since, I have loved swimming in rivers, and only the other day, after a long afternoon in Henley, I found myself in a beautiful riparian meadow. Since it was almost deserted I took off my clothes and swam for ages, tasting the sweet water of the Thames on my lips and watching the bugs skitter over the surface."

    Paper Monitor doesn't really know where to start, but how about "Almost deserted"?


    In Wednesday's Mini-Quiz, 42% of you thought it was the 75th anniversary of Bugs Bunny's big screen debut. Just 25% of you correctly answered that it was in fact the 65th. Ha ha. Today's mini-quiz is on the index now.


    Letters logo
    It should be perfectly obvious that A Very Hungry Caterpillar is an evil book. It manipulates young minds with its staunch Calvinism...avoid pleasure and you will ensure that one day your soul will rise and become an angel. The innocent caterpillar finds no satisfaction seeking more and more until, ultimately, once his body is racked with the pain of sin, his salvation and redemption is achieved by renouncing temptation and embracing the simple "green leaves" of spiritual enrichment. Only then does he become a better (subjective judgement) creature. Never let your children be so brainwashed - teach them to write across lined paper and read books backwards!
    Steve Buttercase, Cambridge, UK

    I found the Daily Express headline shocking (Paper Monitor, Wednesday). It should have read "Bombers are all sponging asylum seekers".
    Alan Addison,
    Newcastle, UK

    In years to come, historians will look at the front of the Daily Express and think "ahhh, the age of generalisations when nobody could spell"
    Imogen, London

    "Did Conan Doyle murder the editor of the Daily Express?" And if not, why not?
    Steve, Newcastle

    One kind of wonders if I'm in the wrong job if a bottle of melted ice water can be worth £42,500 (£42,500 bottle of water snatched, 26 July.) The only problem is being able to talk like the artist to sell the idea: "The concept is to take something as dangerous as that and to bring it immediately into somebody's presence." Can anyone explain this for me?

    Re: Punorama - With an estate agent who describes it "as near a perfect lcocation ans you can get", I surprised anyone wants to buy the place! Maybe your writer has decided to defer success as his spelling?
    Jordan Dias, London, UK
    (Monitor note to Dias: Nice)

    Kudos to Paul of Bristol for making the important Monitor Postcard/Mailwoman Horde connection (Monitor letters, Tuesday). If the card is found in the horde, the postal service may actually achieve 'deferred success' by its eventual delivery. Monitor: the Postcard story is _not_ going to go away!
    Anon, UK

    If the BBC is going to adopt local pronunciations, they should do so consistently (Monitor letters, Tuesday). New York, for example should be pronounced 'Noo Yawk' with a heavy American accent. New Orleans is 'Nawlins' with a southern American drawl. And of course, Liverpool and Newcastle should be enunciated with the full vigour of the local dialect. Imagine the faces of the newsreader as they switch from plummy 'BBC-speak' to an Australian accent when reporting news from Melbourne.
    California, US


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

    Remember all those classic headlines of yore which, in a single phrase, sum up an age?

    The Sun's "GOTCHA!", for instance, or the Guardian's "A liar and a cheat"?

    A new contender for the hall of fame comes in today's Daily Express, with "BOMBERS ARE ALL SPONGEING ASYLUM SEEKERS". [Historians of the future please note: you heard it here first.]

    Also inside is another great effort: "Did Conan Doyle murder the editor of the Daily Express?"


    In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 58% of you correctly answered that Italians were flocking to Acerra, near Naples, because of reports of a "walking" statue of the Virgin Mary. Wednesday's Mini-Quiz is on the index now.


    Letters logo
    With regard to the discussions about exam results being classed as 'deferred success' rather than failure (The art of failure, 25 July). I have briefly discussed the matter with my 16-year-old who suggested that all grades below average should be combined and reclassified as a "whatever" grade. This would be in keeping with the pupils' expectations.
    Whitley Bay, UK

    Lucy Williams asks why the BBC is pronouncing the country Niger as "Neejair" rather than "Nye-ger" (Monitor letters, Monday). It may be because the Anglicised version sounds a bit too close to saying "Niger" with two Gs.
    Doug McKerracher,
    Swindon, UK

    Perhaps with our new global society the BBC are gradually adopting local pronunciations? If so, listen out for, es-pan-ya, doytch-land and fronse any day now...
    Twyford (normally Clacton), UK

    Lucy Williams is right about the pronunciation of "Niger"; recall Gilbert's lines from the Mikado: "I like to see a tiger from the Congo or the Niger, And especially when lashing of its tail!"

    I'm not sure about the pronounciation of Niger, but I've noticed that Blair and Bush are both pronouncing ideology with a short "I" at the beginning - "Idd-deology". I always thought it was a long "I" - "Eye-deology. Have I been wrong all these years?
    Michael Hall,
    South Croydon, UK

    So the ancient phallus may also have been used for "knapping flints" (Ancient phallus unearthed in cave, 25 July). Hmm, I've never heard it called that before.
    Paul Gitsham,
    Manchester, UK

    Re: Postwoman hoarded tonnes of mail, 25 July. So is this what happened to the Monitor's postcard?

    I wish to complain about the coverage of the Very Hungry Caterpiller (Counting on the caterpillar, 26 July). I've only just started it, and you've given away the ending. Some warning of a spoiler would surely have been in order?
    Alan Richmond,
    Nottingham England


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

    We haven't heard much about the Queen's taste in TV since the revelation that she likes Kirsty's Home Videos. But the Mirror today steps into the breach with the stunning revelation that Her Majesty is an enormous fan of Doctor Who.

    She has, an unnamed source at the Palace reveals, requested DVDs of the programme to take on her summer hols to Balmoral. She is, apparently, a huge fan of Christopher Ecclestone and thinks he is one of the best doctors in spite of his decision to quit. She has, further apparently, been watching the show since it started in 1963.

    Tomorrow the Monitor will be able to exclusively reveal that the Monarch is also very partial to Si's Monday Riddle, Punorama and 7 days 7 questions, but she can't quite work out why there were eight questions in it last week.


    In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, inspite of the clue carelessly offered here yesterday, just 19% of you got the correct answer that Bertie Ahern has reportedly spent £115,000 on make-up since 1997. Tuesday's Mini-Quiz is on the index now.


    Letters logo
    I hope you don't mind me being a critick (and I'm trying not to be polemick about it), but the arsenick found in George III's hair would not have made him psychotick had he not had porphyria. As an aside, it's nice to see that Samuel Johnson is apparently now editing the Magazine Monitor.
    Calgary, Canada

    In relation to your 10 things article this week, the man responsible for creating the klingon language was Dr Marc Okrand. James Doohan was responsible for creating the intial sounds that were used during the first motion picture, which were not a full language but a series of random sounds!

    Is anyone else slightly concerned by Simon Butterfield's collection of empty loo rolls (10 things we didn't know, 23 July)? Is he a student?

    The news from Niger has been very depressing. Without wishing to trivialise what's going on, I wonder if anyone knows why BBC presenters are calling it "Neejair", instead of the completely English pronunciation "Nye-ger"?
    Lucy Williams,

    I see that the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, gave the idea of describing failure as deferred success "0 out of 10" (The art of failure, 25 July). That would be a C grade pass then.
    London, UK


    Keeping tabs on stories past.

    In April, the Magazine reported on the growing trend of cosmetics-manufacturers to appeal to men rather than women. Drawing a line under men's wrinkles reported that "sales of cosmetics and skincare aimed at men grew more than 40% between 1998 and 2003". The reason is now clear - the £1800 spent by Mr Blair on make-up - dwarfed by the sum spent by Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern (oops that's given away today's Daily Mini-Quiz).


    Every Monday Si sets a riddle to get your brain working.

    A Fresh Start

    Send your solutions using the form below.

    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, titled Crossoverlap, gave you a list of words:
    (7) expire and topic (5)
    (7) spray can and well-off (7)
    (5) regarding and tool (7)
    (6) country and add electrons to (6)
    (6) hunk and separate (7)
    (4) anxiety and steadfast (6)
    (9) chewy sweet and common sense (8)
    (6) breadth and interlace (7)

    The solution was that each line gave two overlapping words as follows: breaTHEme, aeroSOLvent, aboUTensil, natIONise, adonISolate, feARdent, bubbleGUMption, extENTwine.

    The overlaps spell THE SOLUTION IS ARGUMENT

    The winner is Katrina March, Bristol, though twisted kudos to Matthew Price of Newcastle Upon Tyne for saying: "I'm gonna start one if you don't make this the winning answer! (8)".


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

    Wondered what happened to Piano Man?

    Three months after the virtuoso pianist was found wandering, soaking wet, in Sheerness, Kent, his past still remains a mystery.

    The Mirror has the latest theory to explain his silence - his voice box may have been removed.

    It quotes staff at Littlebrook Hospital in Dartford who say they are trying to explore the possibility he either has no voice box or his vocal chords were damaged, possibly in an accident at sea which led to his predicament.

    One major obstacle is that permission is required before doctors can put a tube down his throat.


    Friday's daily mini-quiz asked why police in Dorset are going undercover on a naturist beach. Sixty-one percent of you got it right - it's to catch doggers. Another daily mini-quiz is on today's Magazine index

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