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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 16:34 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 pigs
10 pigs at Blackpool Pleasure Beach by Peter Bradshaw

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

1. In an effort to weigh as little as possible, ski jumpers are susceptible to anorexia.

2. Big Brother's Preston is the great-great-great-great grandson of 19th Century prime minister, Earl Grey - he of the fragrant tea.

3. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who is portrayed in the Bafta-winning film Capote, lives a reclusive life in Alabama and has written nothing but four articles since the book's release in 1960.

4. Ian Gardiner, who played Reginald Molehusband in the classic Public Information Film, was paid 10 for the job.

5. Kenny Everett did the strangulated cat voice in the Charley Says Public Information Films.

6. John Irving, the brother of Holocaust-denier historian David Irving, is chairman of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council.

7. The political cartoonist Gillray's real name was Carlo Khan.

8. Daniel Craig, the latest incarnation of 007, cannot drive manual cars - meaning Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5 has had to be converted to automatic.

9. Christopher Lee, a former Bond villain, is a distant cousin of 007 creator Ian Fleming.

10. Gwyneth Paltrow is a Two Ronnies fan.

[Sources, where stories are not linked - 1: Times, 20 Feb. 3: Daily Telegraph 20 Feb. 8: Daily Express, 22 Feb. 10: The Sun, 22 Feb.]

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

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.

Letters logo
Now I see where the idea for Red Bull adverts came from. Dave's fairy godmother is remarkably similar, wings and all.
Ben Simmonds,

The suggestion arises again that we ditch miles from road signs. Surely this is too good an opportunity to miss - why not replace it with standard units of Routemaster buses? I think the Monitor should lead this campaign.
Stephen Buxton,
Coventry, UK, thelbiq.co.uk

And I'd like Monitor readers to help convert well-known sayings to metric. For example, someone who when given a centimetre takes a kilometre is roughly half as bad again as someone who when given an inch takes a mile.
Ed Loach,
Clacton, UK

Re. Imogen's challenge to do worse (Monitor letters): A grizzly bear walks into a bar and says "Give me a vodka............... and coke."
"Why the big pause?" says the barman.
Angus Gafraidh,

Man walks into a bar with a girl strapped to his back. Barman says "Sorry mate, it's fancy dress tonight."
"I am in fancy dress" the man says, "I'm a tortoise & this is Michelle."
Dublin, Ireland

Three men walk into a bar. The fourth one ducked.
Chicago, US

I could tell Imogen about the brain which walked into a pub and asked for a pint, and the barman said "I'm not serving you; you're out of your skull". Similarly the nose was off its face, and the bent nail was hammered. I could go on; but surely by now Imogen is wishing she hadn't asked...

Re: Time out of mind - am I the first to venture "suprachiasmatic nucleus controls your motions"?
John Henry,
London, UK

Wouldn't the sentence "I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-And-Chips sign" have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?
21 ands - beat that.

(MM note: Very good, but best stop now)

Flexicon entry: If you are pleased with the outcome of a survey you are "statisfied". This could be stretched to "statisfaction" or even "statisfiction" - being pleased with the results of a pointless (or made-up) survey

I did not submit the Punorama entry you attribute to me ("With this ring of steel I thee wed") - I did submit "Til Dad us do part"; any chance of correcting the attribution?
Charles Frean,
Bedford, Massachusetts

(MM note: happy to - if all entries hadn't been consigned to great in-box in sky)

Thank goodness that the pig farmer accused of rearing unlicensed wild boar has been acquitted - it would be a sad day indeed if Mr Hogg was forced out of that business.
Craig Thomson, Livingston, Scotland

Re 03 Phone numbers to begin with 03 - what else would they begin with? Answers on a postcard please.
Pete, Warrington


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, George Clooney puts a brave face on things amid the downpour at his appearance at the Bafta ceremony. He didn't win.

6. R, Singapore
That went well.

5. Julianne Gannon, Herts, UK
"I wonder if there is a category for Best Looking Studmuffin?"

4. Stig, London
After the ceremony, George Clooney leaves following a short meeting with the judges.

3. James, Epsom, Surrey
George to himself: "You are STILL a neat guy, George. A really cool, neat guy......."

2. Andy Elms, Brizzle
"The tie, the tie, look into the tie. Don't look around the tie. When you awake you will put my picture on your website to gratuitously sex up the Caption Competition. 3... 2... 1..."

1. Peter Coggins, Worcester, UK
And the Windsor is.......


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

The world is surely shifting on its axis, for the Daily Telegraph has taken a swipe at Stephen Fry. And if the Daily Telegraph is not natural Fry habitat, then where, pray, is?

STEPHEN FRY IS TOO ENGLISH TO BE AN EXAMPLE OF ANYTHING trumpets its comment page. PM, something of a Fryophile - and a new fan of attention-grabbing-if-bewildering headlines - cannot resist.

For the only reason its columnist Tom Utley can think why the British have been judged the politest, best-educated and most boring people in the world in an international poll is that all 26,000 of those survey had watched Fry host the Baftas.

For him, Fry epitomises all that is tasteful and insipid about this nation's entire artistic output. Fry's flowery flattery while hosting the "Argos Oscars" (thank you, the Sun) proves that he is riddled with the English Disease (thank you, Brideshead Revisited), that "he dare not speak his true feelings because he is crippled by charm".

If only a starry-eyed American had instead taken the reins, Utley sighs, "somebody who could speak from the heart". His case broadens to encompass F Scott Fitzgerald v Anthony Powell, Jackson Pollock v David Hockney, Four Weddings... v the best of Hollywood.

Ouch. That's one in the eye for any luvvies still smarting that Brit flicks failed to bag the best Baftas. And for portly comedians with the initials Stephen Fry.


In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz we had a very interesting result. Out of 10,000 people taking part, only 46% knew that there were 5,280 feet in a mile. 25% thought there were 3,360 (which must have just been a guess), and 28% thought it was 1,760 (the number of yards in a mile). Stephen Buxton, of the www.thelbiq.co.uk website, has suggested another pointless poll, on the index now.


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 was the story of the bride, her groom and their highly-visible police armed escort. Punorama's colleague Paper Monitor highlighted the newspapers' headline efforts on Wednesday.

Capturing the wedding and weapons theme was Now let's have a nice shot of the whole family (Valerie Ganne, Penarth).

And you imagined how the ceremony might have continued inside the church when there were so many veiled threats (Angela H, Worthing).

With the words "Let him speak now or forever hold his piece" (Kip, Norwich) the marriage would have proceeded, until reaching "With this ring of steel I thee wed" (Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts).

There's only time to throw the bouquet to this week's top table winner Guns and roses (Lynn, London).


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

Today's Daily Express, front page. "DIANA: HOW SPY STARTED CAR DEATH CHASE". This on a day when there actually is a real Diana story (the conviction of photographers involved in the case).

Monitor Letter writer James from Edinburgh was quite right to point out the interview with the Express editor in Monday's Independent. But since you have to pay to read the Independent online, other readers might have missed the key lines from the interview. So here they are:

  • Diana stories appear on Mondays because Sunday is often a quiet day (though by this logic, every day must be a quiet day in Express towers)
  • Editor Peter Hill says: "My job is to sell the Daily Express. My job isn't anything else. My job is to produce newspapers that people want to read and I can tell you that people want to read about the Diana conspiracy because the figures tell me that they do, seriously tell me that they do. People are fascinated and people tell me that they are fascinated."
  • He adds: "When I talk to people, they are fascinated by these stories and the more we write them, the more they are turning out to be true." (Might he have mistaken people's fascination for amazement at the paper's fascination?)
  • The classic "Spies flashed laser beam at crash driver" edition (see Paper Monitor from 6 February) gave the paper a circulation boost of 9,000 or 30,000, depending which measure you use.
  • Hill himself believes "there are enough grounds to think [the stories] might turn out to be true". He says: "I don't know, but there are definitely so many things, so many strange coincidences, so many things have happened that shouldn't have happened that there are enough grounds to believe that something is wrong here. Very, very wrong."

Something that's also very very wrong is getting a female reporter to follow in Paris Hilton's footsteps and have a "Diana flick" haircut. But the Daily Mirror does it nevertheless.

Meanwhile, in other non-Diana news...

The Daily Telegraph's podcast mania goes another step towards madness. Now they're putting Matt's cartoon in too. PM has no idea how that is going to work.

Also, another all-you-need-to-know-in-a-headline headline: "Volunteers on the scent of Lionel Blair's collie."

And more self-pity-in-the-voice-of-a-guide-dog from David Blunkett's Sun column. Sadie the dog writes that she isn't too keen on being cremated when she goes to "the kennel in the sky".

"I hinted - by standing very still - that I would like to be enbalmed. But the bearded one was having none of it. 'There'll be no embalming round here,' he groaned. 'I've been well and truly stuffed enough already.'"

We're all groaning now, David.


In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked who had said "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry". Not quite as difficult as punctuating had had had had had had had had had had had (Wednesday letters), perhaps. And 79% of you got it right, that it was a rare sign of humility from Chris Moyles. Today's question is on the index now.


Letters logo
You say in What's the point of a tie? that ties don't give warmth. So why do people take them off when it's hot?
Rob Mullan,
Maidenhead, UK

Only five out of 10 on the pub quiz? I must be spending too long in the gym...

I have just completed the pub quiz, and would like to say how much I enjoyed the picture accompanying question eight.
Ipswich, Suffolk

Your pub quiz reminds me of that old joke: Shakespeare walks into a pub and orders a beer. The landlord says "Sorry I can't serve you." "Why?" says Shakespeare. "You're barred."
Can anyone else do worse?

Neil Golightly is so right (Monitor letters). The Sun has a nice clear formula for distinguishing 'good sexy' and 'bad sexy' (for brevity, I'm slightly paraphrasing their style guide):
Girl + girl = good sexy (always)
Girl + boy = good sexy (usually, unless girl ugly or noticeably older than boy)
Boy + boy = bad sexy, unless boy 1 = Sir Elton (this condition only applies since time of infamous 'Sorry, Elton' saga)
Boy who prefers other boys (even other cowboys) is just fine so long as boy expresses stronger preference for cup of tea.
Halifax, Canada

Reading about the floor collapsing beneath the Health and Safety meeting in Hyde reminded me of when I poked myself in the eye with one of the arms of my safety specs.
Kieran Boyle,
Oxford, England

I can go one better than Janet's sentence with lots of thats (Monitor letters) - with the right grammar even this could make sense: John where Fred had had had had had had had had had had had the teacher's approval.
Oxford, UK

To John Logan (Monitor letters) - the European football theme is not Zadok the Priest, but a 20th Century pastiche of the same. I always thought the last word was "Champions" as it was the Champions' League music, but for all I know it might just be a list of European foods eg: bratwurst, fish & chips, paella, escargots, lasagne. Any ideas?
Matt F,
York, UK

Diana story on the front page of the BBC news website? (Convictions for Diana paparazzi) For a moment I thought I'd visited dailyexpress.co.uk by mistake.

No word on what the FT had to say about the shotgun wedding?
H, Wellingborough

It's no great mystery about motorcyclists and a grass roof (Monitor letters). Off-road biking opportunities are rather scarce in London, as noisy trespassers are liable to be turfed out.
Muhammad Isa, Watford, UK

RE: Unphonetic alphabet (Monitor letters). The pronounciation of Archbishop Ndugane's surname is Nn-doo-gah-neh. That N is phonetic. The pronounciation you put forward is that used by those who don't speak venacular in South Africa. Thanks for playing.
Lavinia Mahlangu, Pretoria, South Africa

Is it really possible that two days have passed with a single comment about the wonderfully titled Fingerprint office may be probed story?
Scott, Bristol, UK


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 the bride, her groom and their armed escort. Punorama's colleague Paper Monitor has noted the professionals' efforts on this story, now it's your turn...

Send us your entries, using the form below. Our favourites will be published here on Thursday.

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

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


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

Paper Monitor has long been a fan of headlines which mean you don't have to read the article (see last Friday's Monitor for a prime example). But now PM has a new favourite - opinion columns with headlines crafted to grab the designated readership by the eyeballs.


And surely no Daily Telegraph reader could resist WHY 50-YEAR-OLD MEN HAVE THE BEST SEX. Columnist Alice Thomson is actually on about how Andy Murray's mum's approval of his girlfriend puts her in mind of men who remain tied to the apron strings well into their 30s.

But there's more, and it's pleasingly cryptic - BRIDGET JONES WOULDN'T LIKE SHARIA LAW, BUT IT MIGHT SOON BE MORE LIBERAL THAN BLAIR'S. Gold dust. Those subs know their business.

While on the subject of subs, how do they treat the story of the bride, her groom and their armed police escort after her father allegedly threatened to kill her should the wedding go ahead?

The shotgun wedding - Daily Express
Shotgun wedding - Sun
Defiant bride's machinegun wedding - Daily Telegraph
Shotgun wedding - Metro
Our machinegun wedding - Daily Mirror

Princess Diana crops up in the Mirror - yes, the Mirror - as Paris Hilton has had a haircut which is rather like a Lady Di bob. Nothing in the Express, but it's not a Monday.


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what should doctors remove to help prevent the spread of MRSA, and 56% of you correctly identified neckties - 28% of you wrongly said rings and 16% watches. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
I'm surprised at Paper Monitor missing the Indie's interview with the Express editor. It even discusses their Diana conspiracy series, which apparently is usually reserved for Mondays as Sundays are slow news days.
Edinburgh, UK

In your story How design can be good for health, there are the memorable words: "Such a stylish design inevitably means there are unintended consequences - in this case motorbike riders are said to be eyeing up the grass roof." I have thought abut this for the best part of a quiet afternoon and have no clue what this means.
Alan Beers,
Leicester, UK

Re Dave Richardson's nounal headline challenge - sorry, the ODT scores only 7 as "nails" is a transitive verb. Nice try though!
Morley Williams,
Cromwell, New Zealand

Here's another suggestion for the "Headlines made of nouns" competition: "Air-petrol mix 'Buncefield cause'"
Cheltenham, UK

Not nouns - but I was told of a way to use 'that' five times in a row in the same sentence - and it makes sense. A discussion between teachers marking an English essay - "Did you know that that that, that that girl wrote was correct?"
Janet Hayes,
Pontypool, Wales

I note that 'Sir' Ben Kingsley's web address is just plain old 'benkingsley.com'. Since 'sirbenkingsley.com' is still available, I'm surprised he hasn't bought it and insist on it being used!!

Keith Marshall suggests the need for a pointless letters section. What exactly does he think this is?

Is this letter pointless?
Guy Smith,
Guildford, UK

I notice that it has been two weeks and no-one has finished James Russell's anti-phonetic alphabet for Judy Cabbages. May I dedicate the following to Our Lady of Peebles: F - Fydd (veeth, as in Cymru Fydd)
N - Ndungane (as in Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, pron. Un-dun-gan-ee)
R - Rzeszow (zhe'shOOf, in Poland)
S - Sforzando (zzvor-SAND-oh)
U - Urquhart (permissible as Airk-hart)
V - Veldt ('feldt)
Y - Ypres (eeep)
My apologies in advance to Deborah R of Leeds.
Canary Wharf

The European football theme Susan is referring to is Handel's Zadoc the Priest. I've been going years thinking I was the only one who though it sounded like Lasange at the end.
John Logan,

Regarding the story Shop regrets hoodie humiliation - so it IS humiliating for Tesco to assume that a 58-year-old female teacher wearing a hood is a "nasty thug" but assuming this of all teenagers wearing similar hoodies, however, is totally acceptable I presume?!
C Woolger,
Crowborough, East Sussex

My nomination for 10 things we already knew this time last week: "Evidence points to a mixture of petrol and air which ignited being the cause of the Buncefield oil depot explosions".
London, UK

Re Tuesday's Paper Monitor, if the two lead characters of Brokeback Mountain had been female, the Sun would no doubt have been all too happy to endorse its awards.
Neil Golightly,
Manchester, UK


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

The Brokeback-lash begins here... well, on page eight of the Sun to be exact. Struck by all the critical praise for the film Brokeback Mountain, about two gay cowboys, which hoovered up a load of Baftas at the weekend, the Sun is clearly niggled about how the movie might play with a less arty crowd. Cue five builders from Bristol (and one token gay writer), who were invited by the paper to offer their own appraisals... and Barry Norman they ain't. "Watching two men having it off in a tent is not really what I go to the cinema to see," says one. "It made me cringe when they kept snogging," says another.

A complicated relationship of an entirely different nature gets mention in the Times, which highlights the strange case of the Irving twins. While historian David Irving was banged up for three years in Austria for publicly denying the Holocaust, he did recant his views in court. But Irving's twin brother John seems not to believe a word of his brother's about-face. What's more, John Irving is chairman of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council.

And while we're on the subject of sibling difficulties, the Mirror carries the remarkable tale of Johnny Rotten's lost sister. Janet Small, 51, was born in 1954 to Johnny's un-married mother Eileen, but given up for adoption. Eileen, who died in 1978, soon married and Rotten - real name Lydon - popped out a year later. Yet she never told anyone about her first daughter. Now Tesco manager Janet has traced her roots and discovered Lydon to be her estranged half-brother. The former Sex Pistol, however, doesn't want to know. And Janet confesses she was never a fan of the 70s punk band led by Rotten. "I used to think the Sex pistols were absolutely horrible."


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz celebrated one of the few British victories at Sunday's Bafta awards, in which last year's Pride and Prejudice won an award for its director, by asking who played Mr Darcy in the 1940 Hollywood adaptation of the novel. Forty-seven percent of you were correct, noting it was Laurence Olivier. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
I doubt Rachel Weisz, Tahndie Newton, Charlize Theron and Ms Zellweger would appreciate being called "ladies of the night".
Charlie B,
Truro, Cornwall

If a teenager's hearing is so much better than an adult's, as asserted in 10 Things..., item 6 says male Robins are the only birds to sing at night. Nightingales do as do Nightjars - the clue is in their names. You use G2 as an authoritative source!!! John Bowman
John Bowman,
Sarlat, France

At the bottom of Friday's pointless poll it said "No right answer - that's the point." If that's the point, then it has a point, so it can't be pointless, surely? Or am I missing something? Maybe we need a "pointless letters" section too...
Keith Marshall,
Whitstable, UK

Rob Foreman (letters, Friday) asked about headlines overloaded with nouns. My daily newspaper (the Otago Daily Times) today ran a sports headline of: "Hammer thrower nails Otago Masters weight pentathlon title". Anyone beat eight nouns?
Dave Richardson,
Dunedin, New Zealand

Re the article How design can be good for health, is Grassroots really "cited in a park". Or should that be sighted? Or maybe sited? Why not make it your Daily mini quiz question?
Mark G,
Maidenhead, UK

Does the photograph accompanying Monday's Daily Quiz count as a gratuitous Keira Knightly photo opportunity? If so, more please.
Dave Godfrey,

This is somewhat of a long shot but a few months ago, or possibly many months ago, someone wrote into the monitor with some lyrics they had made up to the theme tune to one of the European football competitions on tv (the one that seems to finish with the word lasagne). I remember finding the lyrics very entertaining but can't for the life of me remember what they were, so this is a plea to that person to send them in again and put me out of my misery!


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

Forget bird flu - warnings about which are splashed across the front of the Sun - where does your cod come from?

Guardian readers, who doubtless have a penchant for the fish seared and pan-fried with crushed potatoes, with an accompanying glass of sauvignon blanc, will be concerned to hear that hundreds of fish and chip shops, and a major frozen-fish brand, get their cod from alleged black market Russian suppliers.

Elsewhere, last night's Baftas put a spring in the step of picture editors. Most pictured ladies of the night are

  • Thandie Newton - "stunning in pink" says the Mail and "gorgeous" according to the Sun. The Mirror disagrees though... rubbishing her "overgrown corsage [that] looks like a cast-off from one of Jordan's bridesmaids";
  • Rachel Weisz - by common consensus "disappointed";
  • Charlize Theron - "every inch the Hollywood star," says the Mirror; and
  • Renee Zellweger, who makes the front of the Sun and the Mirror and is variously described as "sophisticated" and "slim again".

The Express meanwhile, gives its front page over to a different style icon altogether... a certain princess who died in 1997. "Diana's death: Panic as truth is revealed".


In a bumper week for pointless polls (aided, in no small way, by Valentine's Day), Friday's Magazine sought to crown things off with perhaps the most pointless poll of all. We asked - which of the following polls would you give most credence to?

  • Will smoking ban force pubs to close? (sponsor B&H)
  • Are trains death-traps? (Ryanair)
  • What really happened to Diana? (Daily Express)

By a whisker, you plumped for the Daily Express/Diana poll. Mention of which puts the Monitor in mind of what's on the front of today's Express. But more of that later, in Paper Monitor.

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