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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 17:37 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 slightly sinister chicks' by Naomi Banks

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

1. Goths, those pasty-faced teenagers who revel in black clothing, are likely to become doctors, lawyers and architects, according to a study by Sussex University.

2. Nelson Mandela used to steal pigs as a child.

3. In the UK there are: 275,000km of gas pipes; 353,000km of sewer pipes; 396,000km of water pipes, and 482,000km of electricity cables.

4. Jacques Chirac spent time in his youth as a forklift driver at a US brewery.

5. More than 3,000 BT internet customers download up to 200 gigabytes each month.

6. There are an average of 4.4 sparrows in each British garden, a study has found. In 1979, there were 10 per garden.

7. No chancellor of the exchequer in more than 150 years has delivered 10 Budgets in a row. Gordon Brown achieved that feat this week.

8. Electricity for Number 10 Downing Street is supplied by a French company.

9. Boris Johnson calls Harriet Harman "Hattie".

10. Under the Estate Agents Act 1979, anyone can set up in business as one unless they have been banned by the Office of Fair Trading or are bankrupt.

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 and Darren Farr.

Add your comments to this story using the form below:

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


A quick run-down of porridge-related news stories from this week's papers, as part of the Monitor's ongoing obsession to prove the rise of the wonderfood.

The Mirror - "How to turn your man into Bond. Breakfast: Big bowl of porridge with strawberries and honey, a banana and mango smoothie."

Guardian interview with broadcaster Jeremy Isaacs: "9.30am-10am is the earliest I surface, and I have porridge. With salt, of course. There are people who put yoghurt and honey on it and I have to avert my gaze."

Times food writer Jill Dupleix: "It's easy enough to include more seeds in your diet as a supplement, simply by scattering linseed over your porridge or sunflower seeds into salads."

A Guardian line, intentionally quoted out of context, just for fun: "My abiding memory of Macbeth day was how difficult it was to wash off body paint mixed with porridge oats when it had cemented itself to all your body hair."


Letters logo

Monitor note: apologies for the non-appearance of Thursday's letters. Here's a bumper crop.

Honestly, I don't know why anyone writes to you any more. I shall remain in this huff until you publish the letters. (On second thoughts it may actually be a snit. Any thoughts on how to tell one from the other?)

I was watching Question Time with subtitles, and during a question about party funding and loans, one of that panellists was talking about (according to the captions) "ab sol uegs". He didn't seem to want these "ab sol uegs," whatever they are. Can anyone decipher it?
Manchester, UK

Quote of the day
Re the teacher with the flatulent chair: a few months ago I was given one which made similar noises, which my colleagues thought a novel way of announcing my presence in the office. After an embarrassing moment while getting up to greet the new CEO from the US, I brought in a can of WD40 and gave the offending part a quick spray. The thought of claiming compensation never crossed my mind - nor did I claim the WD40 on my expenses.

The female puma called Felicity "now lives, stuffed and mounted, in the Inverness museum"... if you can call it living.
Nicola Turton,
Old Basing, England

If we are to eat grey squirrels (Jamie 'must back squirrel-eating'), can we expect them to be labelled "May contain nuts"?
Geoff Harrison,

I've just heard on my local news about a budgie that was very good at reciting poetry. Sadly, the bird died around 40 years ago. It got me thinking. Does anyone else have any pets with unusual talents or pets that like odd things? I do. My dog, Jess, likes nothing better than eating a bowl of Brussels sprouts. She likes being read to as well. In fact, she LOVES a good bedtime story. Anyone else?
Tyne & Wear, UK

Have the results of the Stop Look Listen vote for the old PIFs been released? I did vote, but now can't find a link to the results.

Monitor note: They'll be on the Magazine on Tuesday.

Can I just say thank you to the teenagers who were continually spitting into the flower border by the bus stop outside Sainsbury's yesterday? They were doing their bit for the water shortage.
Michael Hall,
Croydon, UK

A headline with a double meaning: Bird flu case confirmed in Jordan. Here's hoping she makes a full recovery soon.

While reading news from the Commonwealth Games I came across not only a great name but a double meaning headline to boot - Loudy Torky wins gold in 10m platform.
La Zenia, Spain

Person with the best name? I think she just won a bronze... Pinky Le Grelle won England's first medal on day nine.
Paul H,

If kudos were awarded for ingenuousness rather than ingenuity, Punorama would deserve buckets-full for assuming that "Hand of the fair rose" was entirely without guile. A little historical research would have revealed otherwise. But thank you (and Chris) for a good laugh.
David Dee,
Maputo Mozambique

Number 42 was the answer to the great question of life the universe and everything (Wednesday letters). So arguably it is both the funniest number (in answer to the question "What is the funniest number?") and the unfunniest number.
Paul Illingworth,

Re: 'HE'YER FA'GOT A DICKEY, BOR' (Paper Monitor). Strangely enough it's not rude in Italy either. A shopkeeper once shouted this at me, having left part of my newly purchased computer system on the counter. I replied that I had not forgotten- my hands were full and I would return for the keyboard soon.

A Norfolk conversation overheard: An old lady had just demonstrated her self-opening umbrella to her friend. Her friend was impressed. "Do that do that?" she said. To which the lady with the umbrella replied: "That do." We're not fond of using too many words in these parts.
Jim Ringer,
Norwich, Norfolk

David Lloyd-George must be a dirty word in Helena Bonham-Carter's house (Paper Monitor).
Andrew Mahoney,

Today's Pointless Poll comes with the "iPod" option pre-selected; same with yesterday's. Is this: (a) just me; (b) everyone else too; (c) my browser knows me too well?
Brian Ritchie,
Oxford, UK

Re: Today's pointless poll, if people who respond to polls should be taxed, would that be a poll tax then?
Rob Asher,

I was under the impression that Paper Monitor was male, due to the acerbic witticisms and general impression. However, I now know beyond doubt that she is female. I quote "But there's one thing that can take PM's mind off sex, and it's chocolate."
Nazareth, Israel

Paper Monitor is almost certainly a "lady". Mention of word cute twice when referring to animals.
Banchory, Aberdeenshire

James Carter from Manningtree, who giggled about "utterly butterly fingers" (Wednesday letters), should indeed be worried - he's suffering what is known as Ned Flanders Syndrome.
Marseille, France

Please don't start playing Mornington Crescent (Wednesday letters). It's the most pompous upper-middle-class rubbish, and it's been done to death, gone so far past even post-modern-ironically-funny that it's drilled a hole right through. Stop. It. Now. Use those Oxbridge-educated minds to think up something new.
Blyth, Northumberland

Hi all, sorry I'm a bit late; the mouse was going so slow this morning, and then the main file transfer was stuck in the port - wrong type of data on the cable, apparently - but I managed to grab the last available laptop (cost a hub and a disk, mind you) and got here at last. Did I miss much?
David Ph,
London, UK


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, Rod Stewart shops at the CIS Insurance Cup Final between Celtic and Dunfermline Athletic at Hampden Park in Glasgow

6. Andy, Cambridge
Rod pondered whether he still had the body for such tight clothes.

5. Kelly Beswick, London
Rod was determined Penny would win the tight T-shirt competition.

4. Di, Scotland
Do you think I'm stretchy?

3. Michael Fotios, Mortlake
Rod's half-time ventriloquist act wasn't going too well.

2. Kieran Boyle, Oxford
All Rod was really after was a woman who understood laundry labels.

1. Richard Ryan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
"The First Kit is the Cheapest."


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

Maybe it's the thought, still in Paper Monitor's mind, of a nude Gordon Brown. Maybe it's having double helpings of porridge this morning. But something must account for this tardiness in delivering today's best bits of the papers. And not delivering yesterday's letters.

So here, at double-quick speed, are six choice cuts from today's papers.

1. Picture of Diana on front of Daily Express. No particular reason, except that she had a mother, and it's Mothering Sunday weekend.

2. The Times uses the word "masstige" on its business pages: it means quality for the masses, and is in an article about River Island. PM not sure it can see the link, but likes the idea and may well adopt it as a personal motto, replacing "KAIZEN".

3. The Daily Mail has some nice pictures of mad March hares. Cute.

4. It also has articles headlined: "Why does [Gordon Brown] hold the middle classes in such contempt?" and "Chernobyl: did it really kill 1,000 British babies?". Still, cute animal pics.

5. Letter in the Sun: "Well done to Heinz on the 130th anniversary of their ketchup. It can make even the most unpalatable food edible. Paddy Maxwell, Southampton." How true, Mr Maxwell, how true.

6. Daily Telegraph reveals that Helena Bonham-Carter, the great-granddaughter of Liberal prime minister Herbert Asquith, used her family background as inspiration when filming the Planet of the Apes. "My agent said that Ari [my ape character] was from a dying, liberal dynasty. I said: 'Then that's the role for me. My great-grandfather was the last Liberal prime minister of Britain." PM wonders what happened to Lloyd George but knows that someone will explain something complicated about coalition governments etc.


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what are people late for work more likely to do than punctual colleagues. Sixty percent of you said perform better later in the day - for some no doubt a wishful guess, but it was correct. The rest were evenly split between thinking tardy workers were more likely to be disruptive in the office, or to have an alcohol problem. As it's Friday, today's mini-question on the Magazine index is a Pointless Poll.


This week, Rod Stewart indulges in a spot of shopping at the CIS Insurance Cup Final between Celtic and Dunfermline Athletic at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Send us a caption using the form below. Winning entries will be published here on Friday at about 1200 GMT.

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


Give us a pun for a story in the headlines.

This week it's a visit by Prince Charles and Camilla to Brooke Animal Hospital in Cairo, while on a five-day visit to Egypt.

On the visit the couple were shown - and feed carrots to - the mistreated horses and donkeys who are taken in by the sanctuary and nursed back to health.

First past the winning post was Martin Price, of London, with the pithily perfect: And what do you chew?

Other notables include Royal Burro of Windsor - from Kip, Norwich; and a smattering of puns along Eeyore lines with Eeyore Royal Highness (from both Graham Valentine, Richmond, England and Charlie Rose, Walsall); and eeoHRH, credit to Sean Smith, Bucks.

Other runners and riders, in no particular order, include:

  • Donkey Darby & Joan, from Toppo Todhunter, Newbury, Berkshire
  • Royal Ass'ignment, by Kate H, Wirral, UK
  • and of a similar flavour, from Richard Ryan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Welsh Ass-embly
  • Mule Britannia - thanks to Stella Alvarez, Teesside, and Helene Parry, Brentford Lock
  • and the inspired, but not quite there Polo pony? No, donkey-carrott!, from Mark Wrighton, London.

    Mention too must go to Chris, from Witney, UK, who assuming (correctly) we would be swamped with cheap jibes at the Duchess of Cornwall, offered Hand of the fair rose, by way of balance.


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

    Urgh. It is an image now seared onto Paper Monitor's consciousness. Gordon Brown on the front page of the Times, stark naked save for a necktie and a pair of well-polished shoes.

    "They've called in their loans!" he cries, gesturing to the empty ministerial red box which covers his (cartoon's) modesty.

    The blushes continue on the inside pages with the headline 'HE'YER FA'GOT A DICKEY, BOR?' ISN'T RUDE... IN NORFOLK. It's a greeting in a Fen dialect to be preserved in schools, and the correct response is "Yis, an'he want a fule ter rold 'im, will yew cum?" It's delightfully, playfully rude without being dirty, with delicious sounds that appeal to the linguistic magpie in PM. Suggested translations using the usual form, please.

    This momentary diversion from the thought of Gordon starkers ends when PM picks up the Financial Times... got you there, we mean the Sun, with the headline CHANCELLOR OF THE SEX-CHEQUER. At least he's dressed in their photo.

    Nor does the Daily Mail help, with a pic of Gordon and his pregnant missus. How do you think she got that bump?

    But there's one thing that can take PM's mind off sex, and it's chocolate. Praise be for the Daily Express (as ever), which offers readers a free box of Ferrero Rocher to beat the Budget blues. You're really spoiling us.

    And the results of our metropoll [TM Ali M, Wednesday's letters] into whether to add the free sheet of the commuting classes to Paper Monitor's reading list are in. Almost half of you said yes. But PM is not one to run with the crowd, and so has made an executive decision not to include Metro.


    On Wednesday, the Daily Mini-Quiz asked what was the latest theory on why dinosaurs became extinct? It was a very close-run thing but most readers - 36% - opted for the wrong answer, thinking it was an allergy to volcanoes. But the correct answer, lack of sleep, was spotted by 34%. A further 30% believed that it was too little exercise.


    Letters logo
    Which makes you more proud: when we get the mini-quiz answer right, thus proving we are highly intelligent readers, or when we're clearly foxed, proving the Magazine Monitor is superior?
    Cambridge, UK

    Paper Monitor asks if it should start to read Metro - can this be called a Metropoll?
    Ali M,
    Delft, Netherlands

    PM's an ideal liege,
    Keeping the rags under siege,
    Being a vassal,
    Is definite hassle,
    So remember your noblesse oblige.

    Quiz host Luke asked in Tuesday letters how to stop people texting AQA. Reminding people that neither service is free did the trick for a while but in the end I had to change my music rounds from 'name that tune' to 'what's the next line'.
    Aberdeen, UK

    Buying a phone-jammer might do the trick but that would of course be illegal. The best answer is to do quizzes in a nice Cornish pub in the middle of nowhere - in this era of modern technology there are still plenty of areas blissfully hidden from the mobile network.
    Chris B,
    Truro, UK

    When reading the Sportsman's poker tips (Paper Monitor), it took me a good few minutes to realise that "playing with jewellery: women do this when in trouble" didn't mean that, when they run out of chips, women bet with jewellery.

    Whilst in my local Co-op store a man next to me dropped a tub of what can only be described as butter substitute. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying "Utterly Butterly fingers" to him, and have been giggling to myself about this for days. Should I be worried?
    James Carter,
    Manningtree, UK

    John Henry (Tuesday letters) is incorrect that even numbers aren't funny - according to the late, great humorist Douglas Adams, the funniest number is 42.
    Dursley, Gloucestershire

    More great names after the bunch in Tuesday letters - my sister went to school with a girl called Queenie, who married a Mr Cumberpatch, and was thereafter Mrs Q Cumberpatch.

    Several years ago whilst singing Evensong at Chichester Cathedral, the prayers were read. One of the ladies who had died was called Primrose Withers.
    Kathryn Harter,

    Yesterday I sold a rail ticket to a German businessman. The name on his credit card was (honestly) Rudolf Reinders. I managed to keep a straight face, just.
    Hornchurch, Essex

    America is the best for great names. I used to have a father and son team work for me Harlon Haddock and his son Randy and a sales rep I dealt with was called Randy Stroker. The first time I spoke to him I was crying with laughter. Then I had to explain...
    Plymouth, UK

    An ex-colleague of mine was called Ben Toogood. Not so funny in itself? It was when he worked on the same project as Tom Goodenough.

    I once worked for a famous UK life assurance company, and we had a lady on our books called Mrs Fanny Tickler (Honest, I saw a copy of her marriage certificate). Beat that!
    Richard Collins,

    A headline with a double meaning: "Sharp UK downturn hits Kingfisher". What would the RSPB say?

    Re: PorridgeWatch - the front page of the NHS Direct website has this gem: "The benefits of doing porridge."

    Ed Loach (Tuesday letters), I must say that you cannot move to Mornington Crescent from there! You parallel arched and crossed lines without placing a purple counter first. And you were in Knid. Honestly, you'd think some people don't know the rules of the game...


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

    Regular Magazine readers - and let's face it, why would there be any other sort? - will have seen Alan Connor's examination of how to become a Lord without having to lend anyone millions of pounds.

    The Sun must have been reading - today it offers a Lordship of the Manor to the person who can say why they would be the perfect lord or lady in 20 words or fewer. "The unique documents will be supplied in a posh leather-bound 12th Century-style presentation case," it promises.

    Dag Nabbit! Paper Monitor has never wanted a peerage, but a posh leather-bound 12th Century-style presentation case? Well that seals it. Suggestions for what Paper Monitor should write on it entry please, in the usual fashion.

    There's a new kid on the block today. The Sportsman newspaper, aimed at people who love sport and betting, had its first edition. Well I say "people", but its self-consciously non-PC name must raise a few eyebrows. Are they really not interested in women reading or betting?

    The answer comes in a feature on giveaway signals in poker, helpfully modelled by a woman. One caption, presumably written by a man, reads: "PLAYING WITH JEWELLERY: Women do this when in trouble."

    Sounds a bit to Paper Monitor like an advert for Nuts, and to avoid being just a boys' own paper, they are going to have find something new to do. Especially now they've used their "women playing with jewellery" feature.

    Paper Monitor wishes the new venture well. But it's not going to make it to our regular reading matter, sorry.

    Should Paper Monitor start reading Metro?
    2995 Votes Cast
    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
    Incidentally, if you didn't catch our debate yesterday, Paper Monitor is currently in two minds about whether to read Metro, a free newspaper which is distributed in 11 cities across the country. Voting currently suggests that it should be included, but if you haven't voted yet, here's another chance. Paper Monitor retains the right to ignore the outcome.

    And just as a little treat for Budget Day, Diana's picture is on the front page of the Daily Express.


    On Tuesday, the Daily Mini-Quiz challenge was to guess which item was no longer included in the shopping basket used to calculate inflation. Most readers - 51% - opted for the wrong answer, thinking it would be menthol cigarettes. But the correct answer, muesli, was spotted by 39%. A further 10% believed that it was champagne that had been ditched.


    Letters logo
    Re: Colin from Thatcham's question about signing. Many deaf people communicate predominantly in BSL, and (written) English is often a second language. I don't know why it's on late at night though. Surely digital TV should provide a function to toggle signing off and on on certain programmes? Did that last sentence make any sense?

    Can we please stop giving AQA free advertising? I'm a quiz host, and it's already hard enough to stop people using Shazam on the music rounds, let alone texting these know-it-alls every round! Speaking of which, does anyone have a good idea on how to stop the pub quiz cheats, short of buying a mobile phone jammer?

    If the Lords only get 81-50 a day for accommodation and allowances (Monitor Letters, Monday), they should ask to become civil servants. The fairly junior ones I know who come to London never spend less than about 120 on a hotel and another 30 on dinner.

    To Alistair of Argentina (a delight to type in itself), who asks what the sound of porridge is. Surely it's somewhere between Cream's Greatest Hits and the Best of Bread?
    C Falconer,
    London, UK

    Today's mini-quiz prompts another question, 'What has replaced Muesli in the nation's shopping basket?' Could the answer be porridge?

    H from Newtown mentions Bertie Paradise (Monitor Letters, Monday). I went to school with someone called Kieran Kazzlebash.

    H (I do so hope you weren't in Steps) I've taken a call at work from a Mrs Della Ware. That made me giggle.
    Daniel Gray,
    Melton Mowbray

    There's an American I've come across called Holliday Banta. Isn't that what stops you from sleeping on easyJet flights?!
    Lucy Jones,

    I know somebody called Prince Vroom! Top that!

    My nan's nursemaid is called Misty Waters. I think I win.
    Evan Dreifuss,
    Boston via Liverpool

    I went to uni with not one, but two Jonny Perfects (Aberystwyth 1999), have I won?
    Staines, UK

    There is a guy at our Uni Radio Station called Henry Fullalove. Awesome!
    Canterbury, Kent

    While Bertie Paradise is undoubtedly a great name I once saw listed the name Mangoes J Hunt. I was in awe until I realised it was really just J Hunt following someone with the surname Mangoes. I was quite disappointed but still, Mangoes is a pretty impressive surname.

    Let's not forget Judy Cabbages.
    Adrian Colclough,
    Stafford, UK

    Why is it that odd numbers are funny, but even ones aren't? Take 73 for instance - hilarious! 68? Not a sausage.
    John Henry,
    London, UK

    I invoke the not-another-tedious-ongoing-internet-based-game-of-Mornington Cresent rule and say "Mornington Crescent".
    Ed Loach,
    Clacton, UK

    I'd like to nominate a new activity. Over used headline watch. First offering: "Blair to 'take on' Iraq critics"
    David Manley,

    You people (Paper Monitor, Tuesday) who said "whatever" - you think you're so cool, don't you?
    John Henry,
    London, UK


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

    There are many things Paper Monitor loves about the Daily Telegraph - but primary among them is that, rather like its attitude to the world, its size remains unchanged in a world of wishy washy mid-sized confections. This means that Paper Monitor, arms outstretched, can lose itself in the paper on the way to work instead of having to engage in eye contact with people who might be doing sudoku or reading the Da Vinci Code.

    The paper's political editor George Jones today writes about how he stitched up Humphrey the Downing St cat, now sadly no longer with us. In 1994, John Major went to show Jones some robins nesting on a Downing St balcony, only to find the chicks were dead, apparently abandoned by their parents.

    In the next day's paper Jones wrote an article saying that Humphrey was under suspicion.

    "That, I admit," he writes now, "was a piece of journalistic licence. I had not evidence that Humphrey was responsible for the massacre."

    You might call it journalistic licence, Mr Jones. But I think we all know a much shorter phrase which would also do. You made it up.

    The scandal is compounded when he adds: "My personal suspicion was that Mr Major, now Sir John, might well have been unwittingly responsible for disturbing the nest and possibly frightening away the parent birds."

    Even horribler! The whole thing was a shameful cover-up.

    Let's turn, dear friends, to an item of housekeeping. The Metro newspaper is a familiar sight in many cities now. It's given away free on Tubes in London, and on buses and trains elsewhere around the country. Some people despair of what it is doing to the circulation of paid-for newspapers, but others think it good that so many people are at least reading a paper.

    Should Paper Monitor start reading Metro?
    2995 Votes Cast
    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
    Paper Monitor is in two minds. Part of Metro's charm is that it doesn't seem to indulge in many of the tricks of other newspapers. But many people do seem to be having their news awareness shaped by the paper's somewhat lightweight agenda (making them what we call round here "Metrocentric").

    So here's the question. Should Paper Monitor start reading Metro? Would this little service provided here each day be enhanced by the paper's inclusion? Place your vote now. In the spirit of journalistic licence, Paper Monitor promises to ignore the result and make its own mind up regardless.


    On Monday, the challenge was to find the nickname of Humphrey, the late lamented Downing Street cat. The correct answer, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, was caught by 56% of readers, while 33% opted for the Prime Mouser and 11% decided it should be the Mouse of Commons.


    Letters logo
    I'm quite shocked that peers only get an accommodation allowance of 81.50 per day (Paying for the privilege, 20 March). The range of hotel rooms available in London for that is somewhat limited, and that's without the cost of food. Last time I went to the capital for work I spent about 85 - does this mean I live like a lord?
    Ian Rutt,
    Bristol, UK

    Re. Eurovision withdrawal: "Serbia-Montenegro faces a fine of up to 35,000 Swiss Francs (15,000) and a possible three-year ban from the contest." (Row prompts Eurovision withdrawal, 20 March) So much pleasure for so little money; who'll start up a fund to let the UK withdraw too, and give us 3 years of dross-free bliss?
    Brian Ritchie,
    Oxford, UK

    Is it a coincidence that the Any Question Answered service (Question Time, 17 March) shares an acronym with the exam board Assessment and Qualifications Alliance who (in my humble opinion) don't know the answers to the questions they set? (I deserved an A!) Perhaps they will start collabarting?

    Can anyone in Monitorland explain why late night programmes are signed? Is this a better system than reading subtitles? And, if this system is needed, then why only on programmes in the middle of the night? Don't those who might benefit watch TV during peak times?

    Re: Teaching of reading to be revised, 20 March. But will the thorough teaching of synthetic phonics be enough in Slough though?
    London, UK

    Did anyone else realise there is 'solo synchronised swimming' at the Commonwealth Games? Maybe some flexicographers can suggest a better name for the "sport". Aquabatics?
    Paul Hunter,
    Hobart, Australia

    Re Paper Monitor: "The paper reports that research into visibility now suggests that blue is a better colour for concealment." Is this a contender for 10 things we're surprised haven't been thought of before?
    Philip Lickley,

    I've just discovered there's a guy in my uni called Bertie Paradise. Is anyone else as excited by this awesome name as me? If not I challenge you to beat it...

    Simon Spiro,

    I no longer scowl at the porridge conspiracy theorists. Porridge (also known here as oatmeal or goatmeal) has crept into south central Arizona. As we slept! Wake up, America!
    John D. Rockhill,
    Tempe, Arizona USA

    What does porridge sound like?


    On Friday, in the Magazine article "Question time" about a question-answering service, readers were challenged to come up with the answer to a puzzle - to find three words in English ending with the letters "gry".

    This was a tough one, because there are only two words in common usage which end in "gry" - "angry" and "hungry".

    But word-hungry Magazine readers like a challenge - and they were not slow in delivering a range of alternatives for this third example of "gry".

    The answer is "gry" - it means something small or of little or no value.
    K Monnery, Brighton

    The third word is "puggry" which is "a light scarf wound around a hat or helmet to protect the head from the sun."
    Marmy, London

    Or how about "aggry" - a "variegated glass bead found buried in the earth in Ghana and England".
    Rob Stanton, Cambs


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

    It's Monday morning so maybe that explains that empty feeling.

    The Times puts a colourful finger on what's missing - with a big picture of a sea of golden daffodils. It's the spring that hasn't happened - and the picture shows the flowers that we had at the same time last year.

    All we've got this year is a rather wilted bloom, the Times shows its readers, after an exhausting stretch of cold and dry weather.

    And there's something else missing. It's Monday morning, but what's happening at the Daily Express? Where's the story about Princess Diana and the conspiracy theories? The lady vanishes.

    Instead there's some serious stuff about this week's Budget - and a picture of Prince William's girlfriend, Kate Middleton. Is this the royal shape of things to come? No more Diana stories, and ushering the photogenic newcomer onto the front page.

    At least there is one newspaper with a sense of tradition. The Independent, according to legend, only has two cover stories. "Iraq: what a disaster" and "Global warming: we're all doomed".

    Sticking to the script, the Independent gives over all of the first seven pages to Iraq, including publishing the names of 3,000 victims of the conflict. And for good measure, it follows up later with a full page on global warming.

    But the Sun has perhaps the most surprising story about change. Submarines are being re-painted blue. After years of submarines being a menacing shade of grey, the paper reports that research into visibility now suggests that blue is a better colour for concealment.


    With its being St Patrick's Day, Friday's Pointless Poll on the Magazine index asked what would you rather see dyed a deep shade of green?

    • The sea
    • Britney Spears' teeth
    • Your porridge

    Sixty percent of you went for Britney Spears' teeth. The Pointless Poll will be back on Friday. In the meantime a new Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

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