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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 11:18 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 things by Andrew Hawksworth*

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

1. Cats can catch bird flu.

2. There is a road called Psycho Path in Traverse City, Michigan, US.

3. Elspeth Campbell, wife of new Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies, wrote her thesis on Coronation Street.

4. And her father (Major General Roy Urquhart) was portrayed by Sean Connery in the film a Bridge Too Far.

5. Stephen King doesn't own a mobile phone.

6. US Secret Service sniffer dogs are put up in five-star hotels during overseas presidential visits.

7. Alexei Sayle won an International Emmy for comedy, but no one told him. The first he knew was when he saw Channel 4 News, which showed Benny Hill collecting Alexei's award on his behalf.

8. Flushing a toilet costs, on average, 1.5p.

9. The name Swarfega, the hand-cleaning product, is derived from "swarf" which is the name for greasy grit in a wheel axle and "ega", which suggested it would work quickly.

10. Anna Nicole Smith's real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall.

Attributes: 2 - Daily Telegraph, 28 Feb; 9 - the Independent, 28 Feb; 5 - Guardian, 25 Feb; 7 - Chain Reaction, Radio 4, 1 March; 10 - Slate.com, Feb 28

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, Coventry, UK, and Neil Golightly, Manchester, UK.

* Andrew Hawksworth writes "I was experimenting with my macro lens when I realised I didn't know the name of the 'things' around the perimeter of coins, 10 of which are shown here on a 2005 penny, so these truly are '10 things'."

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Letters logo
My God if alcoholism, bisexuality and prostitution make for a 'dull leadership contest' I'd like to see the Sun's definition of an interesting one. It'd probably feature Governator Schwarzenegger alongside Samantha Fox in some action-romance to save the world. Interestingly enough the campaign managed to make front page news on Wikipedia.

I am currently an English teacher in Japan and I must admit that I laughed, albeit unprofessionally, at students talking about recent elections in Japan.
Tokyo, Japan

Lighten-up Monitor readers! I thought Mac's "Blitish Airways" cartoon was hilarious. I'm half-Japanese and am not offended by it at all. My mum still pronounces her 'r' like a 'w' even though she's been in England for 20 years. I'm always poking fun at her for it!
James Westcott,
London, UK

So Amazon is moving part of its operations to Slough ("Irish language skills lure Amazon") and you haven't included a picture or David Brent in the article? Come on Monitor, I know it's nearly the weekend but that's no excuse to miss a perfect Brentwatch moment!
Michael Farlet,
Cheltenham, UK

A three legged dog walks into a pub. "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw.", he says. Over to you, Clive.
Angus Gafraidh,
London UK

Talking about surnames (Wednesday letters) whatever happened to Blenkinsopp and Fortescue-Smythe
BC Gunn,

Plagiarism! Sarchasm is a very old neologism (Thursday letters). It's all over the internet. An omniologism? Probably not.

I cannot for the life of me believe that nobody remembers the grandaddy of anti smoking health campaigns, the 'Nic-o-teen' v Superman adverts. Put me off smoking until I was old enough to know better!

Kev asked on Thursday if any Monitor readers knew whether it was more environmentally friendly to use a hand drier or paper towels. I use paper towels then dry them out under the hot-air blower. Then I put them in the bin.
Colin Main,
Berkhamsted, UK

I suggest you use a wind farm, ie blow on your hands until they are dry.

Paper Towel Monitor?
Lucy Dunn,


It's time for the caption competition result.

Conservative leader David Cameron was snapped at an athletics track in West London. What's the caption?

6. Matt H, London
All those Wednesday afternoons of training have helped DC get clear of the field in the "hand gesturing" event

5. Nick McDonnell, Nottingham
Okay, I've reached Number 10. Now what?

4. Mark Gittins, Nottingham
The opportunity to have his photograph taken outside number 10 turned out to be a disappointment for David.

3. Graham Parsons, Frome
Running joke?

2. Glenn Dixon, UK
David Cameron comes in tenth place at the Annual Air Accordion Contest.

1. Kip, Norwich
David Cameron gets in some practice for the 100-metres side-step.


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

How important are political stories to newspapers? There has been much talk about readers being turned off by stories from within the "Westminster bubble" - and the coverage of the Liberal Democrat leadership victory of Sir Menzies Campbell highlights this uncertainty perfectly.

The Daily Telegraph was alone in dutifully putting a full news story on its front page. After all, this was the election of the leader of the third biggest party, surely a significant development.

The Guardian seemed to want to have it both ways. Yes, it's important. But is it interesting? And the result was a sketch in the quirky Column Five, on the front page, but with tongue in cheek.

The Times managed to squeeze 20 words on the front page to mark the occasion - a piece that in its entirety, including headline, was shorter than the letter E on the "Eat out today for £5", also on the front page.

If Sir Menzies was getting worried about his victory going unrecognised, he might have reached for the Independent. Plenty of words on pages 4 and 5, but not quite important enough to get in the paper before other big issues, like fizzy drink sales and the Oscars.

But it gets worse, much worse, for the Lib Dem leadership ticker-tape parade. The Daily Express gave it 55 words on page six, under the heading: Oh dear it's Ming. And the Sun squeezed on a short piece on page 2, with the subsequent observation that this was the "dullest leadership contest in history".

Perhaps the sketch in the Times gave the game away, with the observation that everyone knew the result already. "The Lib Dems have always leaked like mad and yesterday this was certainly the case."

So everyone in the know, already knew. Does this mean it really all is a private parlour game?


Marking World Book Day, Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which novel with a sad ending most readers would like to change to a happy ending. Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbevilles was correctly identified by 40%, followed by 33% for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and 27% for the English Patient.


Letters logo
Pip Jasper wonders about the reality of Carruthers. Well, Googling Carruthers give an estimate of 2.64 million pages, and the first 10 include a number of companies, plus individual Carrutherses, including an actor, a philosophy professor, a guitar maker and last but not least, a doctor couple who apparently discovered the cosmetic use of Botox. Maybe they're all from the creative Carruthers.
Edmonton, Canada

Re Pip Jasper's letter yesterday; my best friend at school's surname was Carruthers, and she came from a whole family of them... She was nothing like the stereotype the name conjures though.
Jennie Rigg,
Brighouse, UK

I can assure Pip Jasper (Letters, Wed. 1 March) that the name "Simpkins" is very much alive and well - especially when my own family's surname is incorrectly spelled, which is more often than not...
Gareth Simkins,

According to UCL's fantastic surname profiler, there were 5545 Carruthers in the UK in 1998. That's 149 Carruthers for every million people. So now you know!
Rob Stanton,
Cambs, UK

To Edward who wanted an explanation of broadband. I would suggest the difference between a toilet u-bend and a underground sewage pipe. The latter being able to transport a lot more filth and vulgarity at a higher speed.

Re Adam's letter about the Daily Mail's 'Blitish Airways' cartoon: while of course I'm not condoning the cartoon (which is dreadful), it's true that native speakers of Japanese find it very difficult to tell the difference between the 'l' and 'r' speech sounds. One of my Japanese friends is in the habit of ending her emails with 'from your clazy friend, Aki'.

The Daily Mail's cartoon doesn't make sense... The Japanese can't pronounce the letter 'l', not 'r'. They can't pronounce 'v's either. Yet they still have Seven Eleven stores all over the place...

Technically, the Japanese have neither 'r' nor 'l', but have a sound somewhat in between. The usual depiction in the Latin alphabet (Romanji) is with an 'r', which is where we get the term 'engrish' from, for strange translations such as 'all your base are belong to us'.
Egham, Surrey

Ah, but Karate comes from Okinawa, not mainland Japan...
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Another flexicon entry: The lack of understanding when someone is taking the mick out of you - sarchasm.
Ben Hill,

Regarding your Billions Lost to Tax Avoidance article surely the point is that nothing illegal has happened. Is it not therefore "Billions less tax paid than planned due to poorly drafted laws. Which doesn't have the same ring to it I guess.
James Snowsill,
Woodford, UK

Regarding 16 year olds not knowing who they would vote for - this issue is not restricted to 16-18 year olds. Interesting tale when I spent a evening in Manchester. Charles Clarke was on 'walkabout' flanked by a police constable on either side (1 Male - 1 Female - Very PC!!). On remarking to the bar(person) that Charles Clarke was outside... the conversation followed: "Who's He?"
"He's the Home Secretary"
"He took over from David Blunkett"
"Aaahh... David Blunkett"

Do any Monitor readers know whether it is more environmentally friendly to use a hand dryer or paper towels?


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 Vivienne Westwood's latest collection at Paris Fashion Week, which included this rather charming hood.

Her designs were said to depict innocent young girls dressed as Greek goddesses adorned with pagan symbols to ward off evil.

This punster continued with Westwood's own classical theme with Haute as Hades and Hit or myth? (Candace, New Jersey, US).

Of course, hoodies featured in many of the week's entries; Hoodie Couture (Nick W, London) and Hoodie you think you are? (Phil Probets, Norfolk) and of course It's Vivienne Westhood (too many of you to name individually).

Does my head look big in this? (Stig, London), Model Sacked (Nathan Lyon, Stirling, Scotland, Cover Girl (Lynn, London) and Head bag and glad rags (Darren, Leicester) deserved a twirl.

While Poise in the Hood (Valérie Falconer, Llandough, Wales), Scarf face (Tim Francis-Wright, Boston, US), Cowl Britannia (Helene Parry, South Wales) and Little weird striding hood (Joanna, Bedford) reveal their own influences.

But this week's Olympian pun just had to be: Goodness Grecians Greek Gods' Attire! (Gearoid O'Muimeachain, London).


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

Paper Monitor likes to think of itself as health conscious but in today's papers it has come across possibly the strangest fitness video yet made.

The Times says the US Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice, has invited cameras into her departmental gym to record how she squeezes fitness training into her busy schedule. The three-part series is being broadcast on NBC. Is she training to get in the running for president we wonder?

Parents are often told by the papers how much their children will cost them over a lifetime. Only the other week the latest estimate of raising a child from birth to age 18 was put at £43,056. Now it's the turn of dog owners.

The Sun says owning a Great Dane is the most expensive at £32,810, while a Jack Russell is far cheaper, costing £18, 052. Maybe owning a hamster is far more sensible than having children or dogs - financially of course.

Continuing on the subject of money, the multi-millionaire Mick Jagger got a good deal while on holiday in Mexico. According to the Daily Mail the singer paid 20 Mexican pesos - about a pound - to have his spirit cleansed by a shaman. Now that is value for money.


Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked how many branches does McDonald's have in the UK. Two-thirds of you were correct in opting for the highest of the three options we gave you - it's 1,250 (although there will be slightly fewer as it is to shut 25 of them). Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo
I am quite puzzled as to how the Da Vinci judge will be able to read the books by taking time off work. Surely he'll be twice as quick if he travels to and from the court by tube. He can read his own copy plus that of the person next to him. The flexicon for this genre of speed reading is of course "speading".

Re: question 10 of the 'Monsters of the deep' quiz. I find it disconcerting when things are shown next to routemaster buses but with differing magnifications. You're messing about with my grip on reality! The size of a routemaster bus is an absolute!
Andy M,
Oxford, UK

Re: Neil's letter about teenagers voting. I'm 19 and have voted for the last two years and I've always known not only who I was voting for, but also who I wasn't voting for!
Eva B,

If politics became more like Big Brother, people would know more about it.
Phil B-C,

Re: The Daily Mail's "Blitish Airways" cartoon (Paper Monitor, Wednesday) Japanese natives have no problem with the letter 'r' at all. Karate, anyone?
London, UK

The cartoon is certainly dated - the caption would nowadays be " **@#* it Carruthers......"
Shaun Wragg,

Carruthers? Is anyone actually called Carruthers, or is it one of those great names, like Simpkins, which only appears in cartoons or sitcoms from the 1970s?
Pip Jasper

To Edward who wanted an explanation of Broadband. May I suggest a suitable analogy: if a telephone line was a conversation, broadband is the body language. Or does this just confuse the matter?
Lancashire, UK

Re: Andy Hewitt's letter. If Lent is 46 days long but you get 6 sundays off, doesn't that make it 40 days?

Your guide to useful German football phrases misses a vital one out: Elfmeterschießen - penalty shootout
Neil Golightly,
Manchester, UK

Just out of interest, what, exactly, does "Taking care of business Magazine-style" entail?

Anyone else is bored by the Magazine's current obsession with public information films? Just ... move on already.
Ali K, Edinburgh


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

Today's great minds moment, on the search at a Kent farm for the stolen money from last week's depot raid. Sun: Crops and robbers. Daily Star: Crops and robbers. Daily Mirror: Copse and robbers.

If, like Paper Monitor and underlings, you're a keen observer of the work of cartoonists, today is a day to celebrate the best and the very worst of the art.

The best, once again, comes from Matt in the Daily Telegraph. (Click here if you want to see the cartoon, read on if you don't.) Couple look out of window at their cat which is cowering from a sneezing sparrow. "Another bird is tormenting our cat."

The worst comes from the Daily Mail's Mac, whose cartoon could have come straight from the 1970s. Two businessmen walking towards a jumbo jet hold a newspaper reporting on the sale of Pilkington Glass to a Japanese firm. The caption is: "Dammit Carruthers! Who will the Japanese get their hands on next?" The sign on the jumbo says Blitish Airways.

Monitor readers are invited to count the ways in which this cartoon is dated and/or offensive. (The cartoon seems not to have made it to the Daily Mail website.)

But on a lighter note, fans of Da Vinci Watch, a longstanding obsession of the Monitor, should spare a thought for the High Court judge in the case into whether the Dan Brown book plagiarised another work. The judge has had to adjourn the case for the rest of the week, the Times reports, so that he can read the books again. Poor chap.


In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which British city had the greatest concentration of curry houses. 52% thought Bradford. But you were wrong. The 25% who said Leicester, award youselves a nice selection of pickles on a rotating dish stand. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the index now.


Letters logo
Give 16-year-olds the vote? OMG! (as our child would say) The quote from the teen in today's Paper Monitor concisely explains why they should NOT get the vote - "he's the only politician I know" - they just see it as a game on Big Brother. Things are bad enough with people voting for a particular party "because my dad did" without adding many more clueless voters. What we should be considering is RAISING the voting age - say to 25 - so that people know what real life is like and what affect politics actually has on them. /rant

Nice joke about a bear in Friday's letters. Reminds me that I called my dog Pinter because he has very long paws.... es. (A joke perhaps better on the ear than the eye?)
Clive Gibson,

My elderly mother, who is not really aware of what the internet is, asked me at the weekend "What is broadband?" I had no idea how to explain it to her. I simply said: "You wouldn't want to know."
Edward Higgins,

Another word for the Flexicon, this time from today's Daily Telegraph. Columnist Lesley Thomas says that Tessa Jowell's wearing of Ugg boots and a leather gilet makes her "faux-hemian".
Lucy Dunn,

I notice that the 'colossal squid' shown in Super squid surfaces in Antarctic, April 2004, has quite a small head, yet when it appears again in Giant squid grabs London audience' (28 February), its head has become enormous. Has all the media attention been taking effect, I wonder?
Sue Lee,

Thanks for your graphic illustrating the size of the giant squid in relation to public transport. Should now use a giant squid as another unit of measurement? How many giant squids make a up a football pitch - or Wales?
James Dawkins,

Re:Paper Monitor. The Sun and the Mirror used identical puns yesterday as well, both describing George Michael as a "Careless Spliffer".
Mark Gillies,
London, UK

Not to risk the wrath of Paper Monitor, especially given the lapsed new year's resolution regarding sarcasm, but Paper Monitor has underlings? What do they do, turn the pages?

Why, when talking about Lent, does everyone seem to think it lasts 40 days (Going without, 28 February)? Check your calendars, people, it's 46 days, and by Christian doctrine you're actually allowed to 'cheat' on the six Sundays of Lent! That should make things a little easier...
Andy Hewitt,
London, UK

I'm giving up Paper Monitor for Lent. If I should weaken and write to you, please help me in my struggles by dismissing my contribution out of hand. Thank you.
Halifax, Canada

Re imperial sayings: "Give them a centimetre and they'll take five decimetres"? It's got a sort of ring to it.


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press, somewhat later than normal but with all the flavour.

Forget bird flu. It's Diana flu which is really spreading. For the third time in a week the Mirror has followed the Express's lead, and put her on the front page. Before long this mania could become endemic and could hold for at least five years.

Other points to note: The Guardian asks 16-year-olds what they think about politics, after Gordon Brown suggested they should be allowed the vote. Great line from one of its panel, Rhea Buckley: "If I could vote, I'd vote for Blair. He's the only politician I know really, apart from the one who was an alcoholic."

It comes as a bit of a surprise then to read the Daily Mail reporting a speech Mr Blair made yesterday arguing that girls needed better career advice. (If that message rings a bell with anyone following Stop Look Listen, that's hardly a surprise.)

And there's a "great minds" moment in the Sun and Mirror, which report on the High Court battle over the Da Vinci Code with the identical headline: Da Pinchi Code. Lads lads lads, how many times must we tell you. Punorama is on a Wednesday.

Last word to the Guardian which reports that "BBC staff feel failed by managers". Paper Monitor note to Paper Monitor underlings: just get on with your work.


Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which former political leader was recruiting 25 interns for their foundation - and despite the distractions of John Major and George Bush (senior), a landslide majority of 76% backed the winning option of Bill Clinton.


Letters logo

Surely Plaid's (nee Plaid Cymru) new logo is a Welsh daffodil, not a poppy (which, as it's yellow, would be a *Californian* poppy)?
Julia L-T, expat in Boulder, Colorado

Clearly a case on the BBC News Front Page [FridaY] of a headline/link which means there is no need to read the article. Sudan man caught in sex act ordered to 'marry' goat
Stuart, CT, USA

Sorry to be the second one to correct this but G from Canary Wharf has committed the French pronunciation error of all pronunciation errors when he says that Ypres (in Belgium) is pronounced "eeep". The R must be rolled, preferably with that lovely gargling sound that Dutch Belgians make when pronouncing French words with R's. It comes out sounding sort of like this: "eeep-prrruh". It's pronounced best just after a bad throat infection. I can't help with the Polish, though.
Holly, Overijse, Belgium

Was anyone else slightly curious about the story "Phillipine marine head removed", or was it just me?
Sarah, Scotland

Re imperial sayings: isn't the saying "If you give them an inch then they'll take an ell(~45")(Source OED). So a metric transliteration is "give them a centimetre and they'll take (just under) half a metre." (Any ideas for an obsolete metric unit to replace ell if cm replaces inch?)
John, Rushden

Re todays DMQ, the foundation is recruiting 25 interns for......what exactly? A Lewinsky look-a-like contest?
Owen Metcalfe, Stevenage Herts UK

Re Paper Monitor: well perhaps if James Hipwell hadn't nicked Paul Smith's suit he wouldn't have been in the slammer.
Kip, Norwich UK

So, Saddam has ended his hunger strike "for health reasons". You couldn't make it up.
Erol Fehim, London


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

Ok, it's Monday, so regular readers of Paper Monitor or indeed the Daily Express, will know what that means for said paper's front page. The latest line is something about American secret agents refusing to co-operate with investigating detectives.*

But the Express doesn't stand alone on this today. The Mirror has news of "sensational new evidence" which will be revealed in the full investigation report later this year.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, tells how the widow of the former Yugoslav communist dictator Tito, has been reduced to living "little better than a bag lady". The former First Lady, 81, lives in a building in Belgrade with no heating but lots of damp. Her circumstances were only highlighted after her sister kicked up a fuss in the press. One newspaper said it was amazed to discover she was still alive.

In another fall from grace, former Daily Mirror financial journalist James Hipwell, who was jailed for three-months for manipulating the stockmarket, writes from behind bars.

In a prison diary written for the Guardian, Hipwell tells how after being sent down by the judge in his court case he found himself in a room with "drug dealers, four guys convicted for GBH, an armed robber a couple of smackheads who had been caught burgling, some Chinese illegal immigrants and a wife beater... Then there was me, a stock market manipulator wearing a Paul Smith suit".

* For those who are new to Paper Monitor, see more here.


Last Friday's Pointless Poll noted that the new Bond film might be boycotted by fans objecting to the casting of Daniel Craig. But if Craig couldn't be 007, who else should fill the role. Craig David won 28% of the vote, as did Craig from Big Brother. But way out in front was Irish balladeer Daniel O'Donnell, with 44%.

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