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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
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 daisies by Louise R. Holliday

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

1. Thinking about your muscles can make you stronger.

2. Figures this week showed that black people are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to be stopped by police officers in the street under anti-terror laws than white people. Asian people are twice as likely as white people to be stopped.

3. Getting up too early could be one reason that people start smoking. Research suggests that people whose body clocks give them "social jet lag" are much more likely to smoke than other people.

4. Until this week, the age limit for marriage in France was 15 for girls, but 18 for boys. The age for girls has now been raised to 18.

5. The footwear used in 85% of footprints can be identified by a pilot scheme which police hope could make the marks as useful as fingerprints in crime detection.

6. Cleaning up the UK's nuclear waste, and decommissioning of nuclear power stations, could cost £70bn.

7. Six million people use TV subtitles, despite having no hearing impairment.

8. Blue Peter awards 1,000 badges to viewers each week.

9. Three-year-olds can drive - just not very well.

10. TV licences have been sold at Post Offices for more then 60 years - but will not be sold there after July.

[Sources where no story linked: 2: New Scientist, 8: BBC News 24, Wednesday. 9: Ananova]

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

Add your comments to this story using the form below:

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Letters logo

Dead giveaway! On your Mac quiz, one of the questions asks you to name the best gadget as voted by magazine readers in the US. Under the "See Also" links, it has one stating "Apple laptop is 'greatest gadget'" Made me laugh anyway...

Coming into the season of April showers a thought occurred to me. When walking to a destination in the rain, are you less likely to get wet if you run or walk?
Imogen, London
MM note: perhaps this might help.

Re the No casual sex - it's immoral, say nine out of 10 women story. Are the phone numbers of those (statistically correct?) 46 women available from the research team, or are they a jealously guarded secret?
The far north

So nine out of 10 women say casual sex is immoral!? Not overly surprising, but a survey based on 46 people surely leaves a rather large margin for error!?

Helen's comment about Metro only being interesting when read over someone's shoulder (Wednesday letters) reminds me of a newspaper placard 20 years ago which read "There'll be something interesting in tomorrow's xxxxx." On one poster at Victoria Station someone had scrawled "Bother - I've got today's".
South London

I know that "quiz" is used by the media because "questioning" is too long but after seeing an Evening Standard placard saying "Blair Faces Police Quiz", all I could think was that the first question might be "What is Sting's real name?"
Martin Jordan,
Ingatestone, Essex

According to MPs call to end TV badge auctions, "the BBC is examining ways to verify that a [Blue Peter] badge actually belongs to the person wearing it." Will all competition winners now be required to submit iris scans, fingerprints and DNA samples, and be entered on the National Identity Register database?
Neil Golightly,
Manchester, UK

Re: Are gravestones really dangerous? - that rather depends on your views about cause and effect.
David Dee,
Maputo Mozambique

With the boat race coming up on Sunday, does anybody else remember Barry Davies' immortal commentary a few years ago: "Here come the Oxford team, being led out by their cox"? Sadly a Google search comes up blank, so perhaps I imagined it.
Graham Parsons,

Comrade Ian's colleague has porridge for dinner (Wednesday letters); I have it for pudding every evening.

There's a lovely Chinese supermarket near me selling tasty and interesting stuff - and "Instant Fish Flavour Porridge". Be warned - this has the texture of damp cardboard and the taste of badly rotten fish. I will eat anything, but one spoonful left me feeling like my taste buds had been violated...
Duncan Hoffmann,

Re: Your 20 worst fears. Does the Magazine have a fear of counting down? 10 - Coleslaw, 9 - Cats, 8 - Wind Farms, 9 - Animal costumes...

What happens on Thursdays to ensure that the letters go missing? Or is Wednesday night your office night out? If so are we all invited?
Newcastle upon Tyne

Damn you Paper Monitor! I recorded The Apprentice and was looking forward to watching it with a stiff drink and you have ruined it for me. There you go blabbing it without any prior warning for those of us who want to stay in blissful ignorance.
Hungerford, UK

Combining two of the current Paper Monitor running themes. The Metro today edited the throne that Camilla is sitting on in India to gold from silver.

Tim Noble asks why his photocopier copies the second side first of double-sided pages (Wednesday letters) - duplexing photocopiers do this so that if there is an odd number of sheets the last one doesn't get stuck in the duplexer.
John Airey,
Peterborough, UK

Look, I don't have long as my wife's in the next room and she thinks I spend too much time on the computer. Anyway I would like to tell you what I think about you never publishing my comments. I really think that you are a bunch of - blast, she's coming. I'll get back to you later.
High Wycombe

Please print my letter. Alternatively, please print some from other people.
Stithians, Cornwall


It's time for the caption competition.

This week's picture shows former US president Bill Clinton, attending an event in London with the Chancellor, Gordon Brown. Mr Clinton was giving a talk on progressive politics and globalisation.

6. Donal Casey, Dublin
"The things I do for Hillary."

5. Francis O'Shaughnessy, London
"I wonder if he knows that's my hand on his knee."

4. Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts
"There once was a man name of Brown... no, wait... The Chancellor, whose name is Brown... no, how about... I once heard a speech by G Brown... Where his eyebrows went up and went down... He'd spit and he'd sputter... Not a word did he utter... That didn't make me want to frown! Cool... gotta tell Hillary."

3. Paul, Salford
"Ah, those happy day of melon testing."

2. Lee, Cardiff, UK
"When he said this was going to be taxing, I didn't think..."

1. Miles, Harrow
Gordon begins his speech with his favourite globalisation anecdote.


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

The Daily Mail gets aerated about "feckless girls" with "lax morals" drinking and sleeping around. No change there, then. But wait, the accompanying photo shows a demurely dressed miss, her hair in a tidy bun (although she is kissing a squaddie).

For the story is not about today's loose women - who do come in for stick a few pages later - but about wayward schoolgirls during World War Two. Home Office files released this week reveal they were blamed for spreading VD amongst servicemen after "frequenting undesirable cafes where they could strike up acquaintance with American soldiers who had plenty of money".

The Daily Express has a blonde on a throne on its front page. No change there, either. But wait, it's Camilla in India. And this blonde also makes the likes of the Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

Oo-ooo! And the reviews of Basic Instinct 2 are in:

"About as sexy as a pair of old y-fronts" - Guardian
"Only a comedy could make such flagrant symbolism out of the London 'gherkin' building's phallic elevation" - Independent
"Basically a sin, so let's cast the first Stone" - Daily Mail

Even better is the Daily Telegraph's assessment of her co-star, David Morrissey, who steps into Michael Douglas's shoes as the obsessed lover. "Only three years after the Downing St drama The Deal, it's hard not to look at him and think of Gordon Brown."

My eyes! My eyes! Paper Monitor has all but recovered from the sight of the Chancellor nude last week and now the Telegraph goes and says that...


In Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 49% of you correctly identified that natives of Diego Garcia are called Chargossians. The rest of you were wrong. And because it's Friday, it's time for a Pointless Poll, thanks as ever to Stephen Buxton of Coventry. (Apologies for no letters yesterday, though you're probably getting used to it.)


Newspapers logo
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press. Apologies for the late arrival.

Now it may not seem so from the name, but Paper Monitor has never been one to confine itself to just the one pleasure. Sure, the papers will always be closest to PM's heart, but when another favourite is immortalised in newsprint, it is truly cause for celebration.

For Jo has been fired from The Apprentice. And that means she's all over today's papers.

For the uninitiated, she's the contestant who makes viewers either cringe or cheer with delight (or both, in PM's case) as she pings wildly about, much like a toddler fired up on E numbers and sugar. Sir Alan Sugar, in her case.

"Oh God, I'd be a nightmare if I worked in an office. Ha ha ha ha ha ha," she tells the Guardian. It is her laugh that makes Jo stand out, and it gives her interviewers a chance to flex their metaphors.

"A cross between a sheep and motorbike" - Daily Mirror
"A really good one will start as a machine-gun salvo, then she'll gasp for breath, turn into Mutley, then Woody Woodpecker, and it will end up as a girly giggle" - the Guardian.

Now PM is also partial to "fake sheikh-ery", when the News of the World's undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood poses as a rich Arab to lure embarrassing comments from the great and good. Even better is when he's rumbled himself. And by George Galloway, who tells the Guardian how he was taken for an expensive dinner by two men keen to "sponsor" MPs...

"I told them absolutely not, it's completely illegal." They then asked if his dislike of the Daily Express was because it's owned by a Jew. "No, I said, because it's owned by a pro-war pornographer'," Mr Galloway says. They then asked him to pose for a photo with their gold-toothed driver.

On returning home, suspicious that he was due a "sheikh-down", Mr Galloway consulted Andrew Marr's book on journalism. Marr had once interviewed the mysterious Mahmood, and described his minder as having gold teeth.

With Mr Galloway's past form as a feline impersonator, the paper says he'd "surely have been the first to smell a rat".


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 was Welsh singing legend, Tom Jones, who went to Buckingham Palace to receive his knighthood.

His award was in recognition for his services to music - with hit records going back to1965, with It's Not Unusual.

It's no surprise that most puns this week focused on Sir Tom's songs. Delilah..ted to meet you Sir Tom was suggested by Andy Phillips from Swansea in Wales, while Daniel Newland from Coulsdon in Surrey came up with My, My, My Eliza and one the same wavelength was Helene Parry from Brentford Lock in London who suggested My, my, my Regina.

Another popular - and more risqué theme - was Sir Tom's legendary sexual prowess. Mark Willingham from London was in your face with sex gong, sex gong, here's my sex gong, while Jip Foster in Reading suggested Love me to-knight and Stephen C from Winchester offered Queen's Knight To Remember.

Rob Falconer from Penarth in Wales went for For Sir Voice to Music and rounding it off with a jolly little offering is Robb Winchester from Wrexham with A good Knight, had by all.


Wednesday's Mini-Quiz asked what is the difference in lifetime earnings between left and right-handed men? The answer was £52,000 more for left handed men and 43% of readers were correct, ahead of 33% who guessed £42,000 less for left handed and 23% who said they both earned the same.


Letters logo
Metro is a strange paper (Paper Monitor, Wednesday). It has some fascinating and amusing stories in it, but only if you read it over someone else's shoulder. As soon as you have your own copy, it transforms itself and becomes dull and annoying.

So, to improve fitness, the government has "set a target ... to ensure that ... no one will be more than a 20-minute journey away from their nearest leisure centre." Is that a 20 minute walk or drive?
Steve Sutton,
St. Albans, UK

Re: Terminal 2 at Heathrow being older than Terminal 1(Monitor Letters, Tuesday) . When our photocopier at work does a double-sided copy, it says "Copying second side first". Does that make sense to anyone?
Tim Noble,
Prague, Czech Republic

Vienna has underground lines U1, U2, U3, U4 and U6. A good trick to play on tourists is to tell them to take the U5 then follow the signs for the "Einbahn" ("one way street").

I was rather concerned, upon using the Energy Quiz, to find that the Citreon emits 109 grans per kilometre. Does this explain why nursing homes are so full?
S Murray,
Chester, UK

Monitor note to Murray: Yes, very clever, thank you.

Concerning Porridgewatch: Colleen (Roonie's girlfriend) has a flat stomach due to eating porridge for breakfast, according to Heat magazine.
Banchory, Aberdeenshire

It seems porridge is no longer confined to the breakfast table. A colleague of mine just yesterday made some for her dinner. Coincidence, or conspiracy?
Comrade Ian,

Even the fast food industry is jumping on the bandwagon. McDonald's are now advertising porridge with jam on the radio! Almost made me fall over in the shower in shock!

Why care about disaster in Iraq (Paper Monitor, Wednesday) if we're all doomed anyway?

Now that spring is here, I can officially announce that the days are now longer than 2 Routemasters (or 1.6 Giant Squid).
Erol Fehim,

Re: Link to this item


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

Just as with Paper Monitor's new year resolution not to indulge in even mild sarcasm (a pledge which lasted about 20 minutes), the decision not to review Metro is hereby overturned.

Nearly all of page three of today's paper is taken up with a fascinating poll to find which of the famous public information films - Charley Says, Green Cross Man, Tufty, etc - is the nation's favourite. It's amazingly interesting stuff, and apparently about 25,000 people voted, choosing Charley Says as the number one.

Unfortunately there is no information in the story about where this survey or vote was conducted. Do any readers know where Paper Monitor can get more details about this? It strikes one as the kind of thing that could do with some more investigation. Perhaps even a month-long retrospective season might be in order.

Ach. For this (especially because it was hot on the heels of yesterday's Crazy Cycle Lane story and because Paper Monitor is in a bad mood) the ban is reinstated.

Never mind though, because we're all still doomed from Global Warming. The Independent front page says so again today. (Does nobody care about Iraq any more?)

Let's have a look at some cartoons for light relief. Matt in the Daily Telegraph obviously relishes being unPC today, with a PMT joke - and though he does make it funny, it's the kind of gag one might expect from Mac in the Daily Mail (the man who brought us Blitish Airways, remember?)

Mac's joke today isn't funny either, but it's all right because there's a double page spread of cute animal pictures under the headline "The gentle side of the world's fiercest predators". Could be the subtext to cute animal pictures in the Daily Mail, really.


Tuesday's Mini-Quiz asked what was the latest charity fashion trend. The wrong suggestion, that it was trainer laces, tripped up 42% of readers, ahead of the 39% who identified the correct answer of military-style dog tags, which are being promoted by the Samaritans. Friendship rings were the charitable choice of 19%.


Letters logo
Regarding Heathrow's Terminal 2 being the oldest yet not apparently prestigious enough to be called Terminal 1 (Monitor Letters, Monday). Airports are funny things. Chicago O'Hare Airport has terminals 1, 2, 3, and 5. Apparently terminal 4 is a bus station. New York's JFK airport has 9 terminals yet terminal 5 has been mysteriously "temporarily closed" for a couple of years now, and Charleston WV airport is tiny and only has 4 gates, yet they are randomly called A, B, C & 10. Quite what happened to the other 9 gates is not clear....
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Re Paper Monitor, Tuesday: How did the Manchester Evening News get past the Metro censor? Spot on rag and all, but are we to savour the delights of the Derby Evening Telegraph or the East Anglian Daily Times next?
London, UK

Re. Tuesday's miniquiz and the latest fashion craze after wristbands. The popular answer rightly shows that trainer laces will be the next hit rather than dog tags - that's because the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) launched laces for its annual SOS day in January. In this case SOS stands for Save Our Soles (scuse the pun) and is in aid of the RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crews and their training. It's not too late - send for your laces now via sos@rnli.org.uk and be prepared for RNLI SOS day 2007.
Liz Cook,
Poole, Dorset

OH MY GOD! Did you see the Metro today? A full 12 page spread about porridge, an in-depth investigation into Princess Diana conspiracies, pictures of Keira Knightly AND David Brent in totally irrelevant articles, it was amazing! Oh wait, you decided not to read it didn't you. Oh well...

Perhaps I'll get a letter published today. With all of those public sector workers out on strike, the Monitor surely can't have as many as usual! Why does the letters page have a red stamp? I haven't seen one of those in years.

I'm on strike all day so have time to sit down and read The Magazine Monitor at last...while I eat my porridge (with honey - sorry to any purists reading this). Shall I make good use of my time by switching on my Porridge-cam?
Jon Brown,
Winchester, UK

Porridge watch - Sky News reports on a celeb chef trying to feed truckers porridge rather than fry ups. A challenge indeed...

Did anyone hear JK and Joel on Radio 1 today? - they wanted someone who was eating porridge in the hall to say they love Hall & Oates.
Stirling, Scotland

Tim Wyatt wants to know the collective Flexicon entry for those of us who don't get our letters published. It's disappointniks.

Norwich UK

Derek Behan,

Because we know people don't get published, yet we don't know how many, the collective noun for such unfortunates should be a 'Rumsfeld'.
London, UK

The Monitorpedoed.
Halifax, Canada

Could you write quicker please?
Andy Simpson,


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

There's a mystery at the heart of Fleet Street today. You might have read the story on this site (as ever, a day ahead of the papers) about the 14-year-old Berkshire girl who was in court for driving offences. The papers have gone to town on the story, with a picture of her apparently throwing eggs at reporters.

In each case her face has been obscured, because she is a minor. Some papers have pixellated it. Some have covered it with a black box. The Daily Mail, however, has taken the very strange step of pixellating AND changing the colour of her polo shirt from pink to yellow AND airbrushing out a pink checked scarf she was wearing AND spelling her name differently (Leanne for the rest of Fleet Street, Leighanne in the Mail.)

Very strange behaviour.

Elsewhere, some papers (stand up Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and Manchester Evening News) have no compunction in printing a very amusing selection of crazy cycle lanes... just 12 days after 200,000 Magazine readers enjoyed a strangely similar selection.

The Independent, not concerned with matters like girls throwing eggs or crazy cycle lanes, adds further evidence to the theory that it has only two front pages, "Iraq: what a disaster" and "Global warming: we're all doomed". Today's it's the latter, near enough.

Finally an apology from Paper Monitor, which failed in its duty to report punmeistery. Yesterday's Daily Star, front page: "WITCH DOCS PUTS HEX ON BECKS." Good work.


On Monday, the challenge was to guess what had been voted the best air guitar moment of all time. An impressive 61% knew it was Stairway To Heaven, while 23% opted for Voodoo Chile and 16% decided it was All Right Now.


Letters logo
Well done BBC for taking the fight to those Ebay people again. (BBC fights Blue Peter badge sales, 27 March.) How dare they allow Blue Peter badges to be bought and sold like common Victoria crosses or World Cup winner's medals.
Kelly Mouser,
Upminster, Essex

Re: Porridgewatch: porridge is the "breakfast of the month" for the Food Doctor newsletter...although it is 'special' high fibre porridge. The mind boggles.
London, UK

Is it just me, or does Professor Vaughan Williams (Billion pound game, 27 March) bear a striking resemblance to Ricky Gervais?
Matthew Bayliss,

If Terminal 2 is Heathrow's oldest terminal (BAA to shut Heathrow's Terminal 2), why isn't it called Terminal 1?

Not owning a Blue Peter Badge, I have to present my LBQ keyring. This gains me free advice on all sorts of excursions. To be honest, they just say I should get out more.
Kieran Boyle,
Oxford, England

You say that Noel Edmonds was not keen on Deal or No Deal, even after seeing the French 90min version (Faces of the Week, 25 March). To be honest I'm not surprised, goodness only knows what they showed him, because "A Prendre ou a Laisser" is on TF1 every night from 1900 till 1945......or did they make him sit through two episodes ??
Nîmes, France

Re 10 Things We Didn't Know..." about the apparent decline in sparrows, surely the current average of 4.4 sp/garden today compared with 10 in 1979 only makes sense if there are the same number of gardens in the UK today as in 1979. Does anyone know whether this is true?
Chelmsford, UK

I am seriously disappointed by the 'executive decision' not to peruse the champion of the commuters - the Metro (Paper Monitor, Thursday). Its daily mix of informative news, humorous anecdotes and really bad cartoons and horoscopes provide sustenance for millions on their travels. Shame.
Tim Wyatt,
London, UK

Keep up the good work, you're brilliant.

What's the collective noun for people who fail to get their letters published in the Monitor?
Tim Wyatt,
London, UK

It's really hot in here


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

"A knife to the national psyche," bemoaned a leader column in the Times, revealing a falsehood so cruel that a "little bit of Britain has died".

What was the outrage to the nation's soul? The sale of Blue Peter badges on eBay - which are then used to gain free entry to places such as Legoland and Madame Tussaud's.

Such is the power of the blue galleon that free entrance is given to the plucky badge owners at more than a hundred attractions. But this online scam has cast such a long a shadow that one of these venues, Edinburgh Zoo, is now considering removing the perk.

The Sea Life Centre in Oban complained that there were "gangs of kids turning up clutching battered 20-year-old badges that have clearly been bought for them by their parents".

It won't only be badge holders who will now be left out in the cold in Scotland. Smokers are now getting the doorstep treatment - and this brought out an acridly entertaining front-page sketch in the Guardian from AL Kennedy, who showed no sympathy for the moaning smoke-blowers.

"Perhaps people should have the right to poison bar staff and waiters: some of them are very annoying," she wrote. And that "smoking always seemed to involve a great deal of phlegm and death for very little buzz".

Smoking out fake photos was the problem facing the Guardian's readers' editor. The fire on Canford Heath in Dorset last weekend had been illustrated by the paper with a dramatic picture showing the full drama of the scene, with threatened animals silhouetted against the blaze.

Except a reader had written to ask what elk were doing looking at a heath fire in the west country.

Tracing the origin of the picture shows the perils of instant newsgathering and "citizen journalism". The picture used by the Guardian came from a screen grab from Sky News, which had been sent the picture by a viewer, except that the picture turned out to be a hoax which showed a forest fire in Montana several years ago. Hence the elk.

More photo confusion from the Daily Telegraph. Perhaps it's the fixation with who is going to succeed the prime minister, but the official photo of David Cameron being sent to Conservative associations has been attributed to a Jane Brown, rather than the veteran photographer Jane Bown.

And is there such a thing as a zeitgust, as well as a zeitgeist, because the Daily Mirror is following the prevailing wind of writing stories about wind turbines. The amount of electricity produced by windmills great and small is to increase by 50 per cent by the end of the decade, reports the Daily Mirror.

Oh yes, it's Monday. The Daily Express has a front cover about Princess Diana. Apparently there was something a little suspicious about her death.


With it being Budget week, Friday's Pointless Poll on the Magazine index asked who should be paying even more tax?

  • People who play Sudoku
  • People with loud iPods
  • People who respond to polls

Fifty-eight percent of you went for people with loud iPods. 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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