[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to the Magazine Monitor, the home for:

  • Daily Mini-Quiz results
  • Paper Monitor
  • Your letters
  • Punorama (Tues)
  • Caption Comp (Thurs)
  • 10 things we didn't know (Sat)


10 ants, as spotted by Ciaran Walmsley in Birmingham.

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

1. There are 2.5m rodent-owning households in Britain, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association.

2. The name Dixons was chosen from the telephone directory because Charles Kalms needed a six-letter name to fit neatly above his studio door.

3. About 95% of broiler chickens never see daylight and are slaughtered after 40 days.

4. The personal mobile phone numbers of senior police officers in Tanzania have been published - with an invitation for the public to ring them with information in a crackdown against crime.

5. Rainfall on the roof and gutters of a three-bed detached house can amount to 120,000 litres each year.

6. The average age in urban areas is six years' younger than in rural areas - 36 and 42 respectively.

7.The greetings card industry in the UK, which produces 2.6 billion cards a year, has its own version of the Oscars, called the Henries - named after Sir Henry Cole, who produced the first commercial Christmas cards in 1846.

8. There were 30,000 applications per hour from the UK to register .eu internet addresses, on the first day that the new domain was launched.

9. Dental drills were being used by stone-age people 9,000 years ago. The drills were made from flint.

10. England has more people in prison, per head of population, than anywhere else in western Europe. But the United States' imprisonment rate is five times higher.

[Sources where no story linked: 2, 3: Daily Telegraph, 4: Channel 4.

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

Add your comments to this story using the form below:

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.


On Monday Fiona from Wellington asked whether you walk up fewer steps by hurrying up an escalator. Nick Allen, the Monitor's formula buff, writes:

"When you think about it, you experience the maximum number of escalator steps if you go at a very *high* speed - because the escalator barely has time to move while you're on it!

The formula goes like this: n = [ p/(p+e) ] x N where n is the number of steps you experience, p is your walking speed, e the escalator's speed and N the total number of steps on the escalator.

So at an infinite, Billy Whizz-type speed, n becomes equal to N and you get to cover all the steps. The same happens if e = 0 (because the escalator is broken!) The formula does suggest that if your walking speed is zero you experience no steps at all - which isn't quite right in reality, because you do experience at least one, but that's just because there is a finite number of steps."

As ever, Monitor readers are invited to send their comments.


Letters logo
Oh the power of Google. Having nothing better to do over lunch I decided to test the Guardian's claim that the collective noun for swans is "bevy" (I had my doubts). Well - "bevy" is there - but in about two minutes I also found - ballet, wedge (but only if flying), whiteness, bank, regatta, drift, game, team, herd, eyrar (a what?!) and - what I'd remembered and also I think more appropriately given the circumstances - a lamentation...... Any more for any more?

Further to Gareth Edwards' letter (Monitor Letters, Thursday), what was he doing in an English lesson during lunchbreak in the middle of the summer holidays?
Mike Schlup,
Lewes UK

I propose establishing Magazine Monitor, Monitor or Monitorwatch for short to keep tabs on the Monitor's current tardiness and to discover exactly what Thursday afternoon distraction prevents the letters being published. On behalf of all Monitor readers I'd like to remind the Monitor that we manage to complete our work, despite wasting time reading our daily monitor fix.
Richard Lucas,
Northampton, UK

Monitor message to Lucas: You're barred.

I am so determined not to have a letter published on your site that I'm going to send you one next Thursday.

All this talk about SOCA reminds me of this quotation from the CIA site: "Privacy Notice - The Central Intelligence Agency is committed to protecting your privacy and will collect no personal information about you unless you choose to provide that information to us."
Caroline Brown,
Rochester, UK

An ice cream van has just come up my road. It's blaring out Jingle Bells.
London, UK

Re: Easter Cards. I saw Easter Crackers in Tescos on Monday. Good Grief.

There was an intersting article in Metro today. Unfortunately the person next to me got off the train before I could finish it.
Martin Jordan, Ingatestone, Essex.

Re Vaccination No Silver Bullet: are we worried now that bird flu can pass to werewolves?
Martha Hampson, London

I'm glad it is dry at the moment. I can't get anyone round to repair my guttering.....
Paul Rooke, London UK


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, Ant McPartlin (or is this Declan Donnelly?) of Ant 'n' Dec greets fans at the premiere of the duo's first film, Alien Autopsy. But what's being said?

6. Alp Mehmet, Reykjavik
Ant queued all night for his first ever kiss. Poor boy is still waiting.

5. Nick McDonnell, Nottingham, UK
Debut Ant.

4. David Hazel, Fareham, UK
"Bird flu?"
"No, Ant, she just jumped a little."

3. Chris Field, US
"Sarah Conner?"

2. Rob Falconer, Penarth, Wales
Ant misbehaving.

1. Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock
The public welcome the result of a revolutionary surgical procedure, the very first Antandectomy.


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

With no evidence, yet, of more than a single dead swan in the bird flu story, the papers are scratching around for juicy pictures. The Guardian has come up trumps with a bevy (for that, apparently, is the collective noun) of swans who were somehow coaxed by a persuasive photographer to hang their heads in a gloomy er, swan-like manner. The Independent uses a depiction of the sinister looking virus, as does Metro, coupled with the headline "Don't Panic", which uncannily is the same headline deployed by Telegraph cartoonist Matt in a depiction of his pipe-smoking protagonist jumping out a window on being spooked by a cuckoo clock.

Leaving H5N1 blanket coverage behind on pages 2,3 and 4, the Telegraph attends the auditions for young cast members for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's upcoming musical the Sound of Music. Frankly, the thought of 2,000 Bonnie Langford-a-likes queuing round the block for a chance to unleash their precocious talents turns the stomach, but Telegraph writer Cassandra Jardine is all in favour - having carted her daughters to several such events.

"Really eager parents are queuing half the night with sleeping bags, camping chairs and Thermos. Their equally eager children are often showing off by reading the book, singing snatches of the songs or even doing tap dances..."

At least, given the provenance of the von Trapp family, there would have been little call for the cheeky, chirpy, cockney kid character that was the stock in trade of all stage school kids in the 1970s.

Cor blimey guv'nor. Consider yer-self, at 'ome...


On Thursday, the Daily Mini-Quiz asked for the duration of Eminem's most recent marriage, with 50% of readers being showered in confetti for getting the correct answer of 82 days. The longer stretch of 92 days was incorrectly guessed by 39% and an even smaller number, 11%, believed it could have lasted 102 days.


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

In honour of Paper Monitor's good friend and colleague, Ad Breakdown, a look at commercials.

As ads for a leading brand of anti-dandruff shampoo are criticised as misleading, the papers have fun digging out past examples of banned ads - and the ingenious excuses deployed by the companies involved.

The Daily Mirror recalls how when KFC was asked why its chicken burger was so much bigger on TV than in reality, it said the model holding it had small hands. Digging deeper into the past, the paper finds a 1959 ad for Maltesers with the strapline "Choose the chocolates that help you keep slim".

Which segues rather neatly into the Daily Telegraph's latest example of a headline which means you needn't read any further: "I HAVE GOT TWO DAUGHTERS WHO WILL HAVE TO MAKE THEIR WAY IN THIS SKINNY-OBSESSED WORLD. I DON'T WANT THEM TO BE EMPTY-HEADED, SELF-OBSESSED, EMACIATED CLONES; I'D RATHER THEY WERE A THOUSAND THINGS BEFORE 'THIN'." So says JK Rowling, who has had a pop at "talking toothpicks". Right on, sister.

So three cheers for Katie Holmes. Unlike some celebrity bumps who disappear for the duration least they be seen with a less than a concave tum, she's been snapped so hugely pregnant that she sports not so much a belly as a cantilevered shelf.
Cruise ready to pop? - Sun
Shop till you drop [sic] - Mirror

Meanwhile, Diana's on the front of the Daily Express - but no conspiracy theories today, it's a poll on whether Camilla will be accepted as Queen. Can you guess the answer?

It's not the same as that given in the Sun by the "royals' favourite snapper" who says "Camilla has EaRned right to be Queen".


With satellite navigation systems sending cars trying to get to a North Yorkshire village along perilous clifftops, Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz - which can be found on the Magazine front page - asked what the name of the village was? An impressive 69% of you knew it was Crackpot, while 19% thought it was Crackedpath and 13% thought it was Crooked.


Letters logo

My wife and I were talking about your Green Light series while watching the Six O'Clock News last night. The weather man suggested that, because it was going to be a cold night, we should turn our central heating up. Perhaps someone should tell him...
Winchester, UK

Re Green Light: the Celtic Manor hotel in South Wales has escalators that only operate when you approach them - which is a great energy saving idea. Unless you've been drinking champagne all evening in which case it provide much entertainment.
Andrew Carr,
London, UK

Has the Magazine Monitor signed up for the Cosmic Ordering Service? Your light bulb diagram for the Green Light feature looks suspiciously like one of Noel Edmonds' mysterious hand drawings on Deal or No Deal. What did you order?
Poole, Dorset

No doubt by this time, the Monitor has noticed the remarkable similarity between the SOCA name and badge with SKODA's name and badge (Deconstructing SOCA, 5 April).
London, UK

I'm shocked and, sad to say, a little disappointed at the Magazine. Surely everyone knows that it is "Thunderbirds are go!" and "Thundercats.....HO!"? Clearly SOCA did.

In response to Charles Frean's letter. Does anyone remember where they were at 12:34:56 7/8/90? I was in an English lesson in high school.
Gareth Edwards,
Stoke on Trent, UK

My sister had her first child on 01.02.03 - her second is due on 14.05.06 but I'm trying to persuade her to squeeze it out ten days early to ease my problems remembering birthdays.
Cambridge, uk

In reply to Chloe's comments on subtitling: I was amused a couple of years ago now, when watching a late night show. The expleted had been bleeped out the soundtrack, but appeared in full in the subtitle. Presumably the written word is less likely to offend than the spoken?

No offence to the contributors, but the best thing about this week's Punorama is the name Periwinkle Throbgusset.

Damn you Monitor - now I even DREAM about porridge

Nice picture of a seaside cliff on today's Mini-Quiz, but the village in question is in the Yorkshire Dales, about as far from the sea as you can get at that latitude.

When is it going to rain again? At least that stops kids kicking their balls into our garden.
Rob Falconer,
Penarth, Wales


It's Wednesday and it's the new time for Punorama results.

Rather like a lovely bowl of porridge, the Magazine Monitor has decided to slowly release the goodness that is the weekly regulars. Rather than overload people with a sugary quick-fix of competitions from mid-week onwards, Punorama will now be on Tuesday and judged on Wednesday.

The rules are straightforward and remain the same - 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 Disa, a three-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy, who survived after swallowing a metal tent peg that was almost as long as her body.

Eat little and off tent, quips Gareth Jones, Anglesey. In the same vein is The flat pins diet from Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock, who also contributes Not a yappy camper.

It's groans a-hoy for No Pup In-tent-ed (Glenn J, UK), A stitch in time saves canine (Jeff D'Monte, London) and Life's a pitch (Ellie , Norwich).

The puppy's name proves inspiring for many, with Disa-ster (Gwynn Jones, North Wales; Grahame Baker, London), Disa-pointed in you (Kieran Boyle, Oxford), For Disa jolly gazebo (Bryan Poor, Oxford) and Doggone Disa-pointed (Charles Frean, Bedford, Massachusetts).

Others play with nursery rhymes and ditties to come up with How much of that peg is in the dog now? (Stephen Buxton, Coventry, thelbiq.co.uk) and I choked on peg... diddle-iddle-iddle-um (Periwinkle Throbgusset, Anglesey).

Keeping it short and sweet is Guyed dog (Hedley Russell, Morecambe, England), Pin doctoring (Candace, New Jersey, US) and Passed tents (Katie Bond, London). The last apologises for her pun, rather unnecessarily, we thought.


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

Paper Monitor is a capricious beast, and likes it that way. So the decision not to review Metro, overturned last Wednesday only to be reinstated a mere three paragraphs later, has again been temporarily overturned.

Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. For the freesheet's regular 60 second interview is with one T Blair. And his grilling is remarkably similar to that given to the singing soap stars that usually populate the slot:

"Where and when was the last time you got drunk?"
"Is there any problem which keeps you awake at night?"
"Do you ever say 'tell George I'll ring him back tomorrow - I'm too tired to talk'?"
"Who's your favourite Opposition MP?"

The answers, should you have missed Metro this am, can be condensed thus:
"So long ago, I can't remember."
"Sending troops into action."
"In a very real sense, not telling."

Now that would indeed take about 60 seconds. But the interview was longer than that. In the interests of accuracy, PM has recreated the exchange, complete with gestures and self-deprecating pauses... in three minutes and 55 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail continues its fun with the Condi-Jack double act.

"Forget shock and awe, this week's toe-curling love-in between Jack Straw and Condi Rice was more schmuck and phwoar," the paper says, over a double-page photo spread on their special relationship.

And the amusing captions they've come up with! "Get your tongue out of my ear, Jack, NOW!" "We should rent a condo, Condi." Ho ho ho.

The Daily Express has its favourite princess on the front page: DIANA: QUEEN'S SECRET ANGUISH. That's twice in one week. With these scoops, Mr Desmond, you really are spoiling us.


On Tuesday, the Daily Mini-Quiz asked about the name of a new advertising service which uses bare midriffs as its poster boards. Bellyvision, the correct answer, was pitched by 42%, while 31% guessed Navel Gazing and 27% thought it was Watchboard Stomachs.


Letters logo
I found Friday's article on subtitling very uplifting. I am a live subtitler (working for one of the BBC's competitors). It's nice to know that subtitling gives so many such pleasure, because we really do try to enhance the viewer's experience, whether they are hard of hearing or not. There was a comment on the article about voice recognition technology, and I just wanted to explain that you can tell which form of subtitling is being used from the mistakes made. The comment mentioned homonyms, which can occur with voice recognition software, but is usually from stenography (which is phonetic). Stenography gives itself away if you see a jumble of consonants ("kjsnfgsihf") instead of a word, but occasionally will also cause things like Jonathan Ross asking David Attenborough, "What's your favourite species of Beatle?" The "Andrew Lloyd Wober" mistake in the article itself could be voice recognition, or perhaps a manual typing error. Voice recognition errors are most commonly those of understanding: the wrong tense, or little words like "of", "and", or "or" appearing when the subtitler takes a breath or hangs on to a final vowel for too long. The other big problem is unusual names, or names with conflict words (e.g. Peter Crouch), which have to be trained in separately. If the computer doesn't recognise them, the unusual name will just come out as a selection of words which approximate the sounds! You can also get words like "full stop" when the computer doesn't respond to punctuation commands correctly. And, weirdly, "madrigal" and "macabre" often appear when the commands to change the colours to yellow and blue respectively don't work. But (hopefully) you'll never see expletives, even if the subtitler is having a bad day and feels the need to utter one themselves.
Chloe G,
London, UK

Re Paper Monitor: Liz Jones writes about the ups and downs of her marriage to a younger husband in the Mail on Sunday supplement. Her column is hilarious, touching and addictive reading. She has previously been editor of Maire Claire, and has written regularly for the Guardian, the Sunday Times. I have met her and she is just lovely - I and quite a few others are very interested in what she has to say!
Sally Attwood,
Maidenhead, UK

Hurray for Paper Monitor. It's a great relief to hear someone else with so little time for Liz Jones.
James E,

Liz Jones scares me. But her husband scares me more - he married her, and wrote a book about it.

Re: Green Light. I like the idea behind the Green Light series. I also note with interest that you include a link to the Patent Office. If someone has an original idea, and you publish it, the simple act of publishing the idea makes it public domain and therefore unlikely that it would ever get a patent.
Stephen Buxton,
Coventry, UK, thelbiq.co.uk

The BBC should EDUCATE us all to use less energy. Practical tips, show an electricity meter's wheel turning in a typical household using filament lightbulbs. Then show meter disc turning at 1/10 the speed in a household using high eficiency bulbs. "annual saving...." GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS!! Now show the meter disc morph into a circular saw blade, cutting through the Earth! A really powerfull message. Put one such item at the end of the news each day. Other items could be not leaving taps running, closing windows in winter, fit draught excluders,etc...& Axe Top Gear!!
Barnet, Herts

Ooh! Ooh! Can I be one of the 12,365,485 people to email you about this article please? The modern prisoners' diet.

If proof were needed for politicians being 'out of touch', would the choice of insults at UKIP be suitable? Cranks and gadflies, loonies and fruitcakes...
Rick P,
Kumasi, Ghana

I was wondering whether writing a letter from an interesting sounding place makes it more likely to be published?
Gonbad-e-Kavus, Iran

Let me be the first to point out that on Thursday, May 4th, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date (at least in Europe) will be: 01:02:03 04/05/06.
Charles Frean
Bedford, Massachusetts

Aaargh! A ghost!
John Henry,
London, UK


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

The news that Jack Straw slept in Condoleezza Rice's bed on a flight to Iraq - Dr Rice slept on the floor - was reported in some papers yesterday. But today the others have caught up and have done so in some style.

The Sun, for instance, offers a Mills and Boon-style account: "The gentle rise and fall of Condi's chest beneath her tight-fitting power suit grew more urgent with each passing minute. But was it the turbulence that buffeted her private jet, leaving her breathless or the excitement of what lay ahead with Jack?"

The Daily Express highlights what it sees as ungallant behaviour on the foreign secretary's part: "Condi gives up her bed for (I'm all right) Jack".

Even more intriguing than Rice/Straw is the tale of what the strange symbols Noel Edmonds has started drawing on the side of his hands mean (hardened Deal or No Deal fans, like Paper Monitor, will have spotted them).

The Express has a theory - it's all to do with Edmonds' signing up to what's called a Cosmic Ordering Service, apparently. What you have to do, it seems, is write down what you want and wait, like a giant mystical Swap Shop. ("Dear Universe, may I please have a Buckaroo set? I'm willing to swap it for Operation in its original box.") The symbols, the Express says, are in some way related to this, but it's not quite clear how.

"Edmonds' spokesman would not say what the mysterious symbols - which have included a rain cloud, a star, a black arrow and a circle - implied but it is thought they are a reminder of his connection to the cosmos."

The Sun, by a coincidence we have to consider cosmic, also has an article today about the same subject. It says the signs "remind the cosmos with symbolic hints", but that Edmonds is not allowed to think about them constantly.

Finally, a question for readers. Can anyone explain Liz Jones? Why exactly are we supposed to be interested in a woman who in the past month alone has written the following articles:




Today in the Daily Mail she gives us a headline-in-need-of-no-story with: "Confessions of an Obsessive - She polishes every light bulb, cleans the television remote with a toothbrush, and won't touch the fridge door in case she smudges it. As Beckham admits to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a fellow sufferer reveals how it's taken over her life."

And now her husband's written a novel and has given interviews about the whole thing. So once again... Why exactly are we supposed to be interested?


With the Highway Code celebrating 75 years this month, Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz - which can be found on the Magazine front page - noted there are 2,200 traffic fatalities per year, but how many were there in its year of launch, 1931? A paltry 17% of you got the right answer - which was 7,000.


Letters logo

Regarding Monday's Paper Monitor. The quote of the new Robin Hood: "modern and medieval, with a bit of street" may sound worrying to PM, but it sounds like more like Tony Robinson's much missed "Maid Marian and Her Merry Men" to me. Who needs Friar Tuck when you've got a Rasta reggae'ing about Pancake Day?
Andy Elms,

Ann Calvello... sustained 12 broken noses, four broken elbows, a broken collarbone and numerous cracked ribs. Been and Gone Huh? I can see one broken collarbone and lots of cracked ribs, but twelve noses? Come on, editor, the same nose was broken twelve times. And how many elbows did she really have? Yours in pedantry,

Re: Graham Parsons' comment on the boat race commentary... Friday's letters I don't remember the particular quotation Graham relates but there was the(in)famous occasion when Harry Carpenter said, "Oh, thats nice. The wife of the Cambridge president is kissing the cox of the Oxford crew"! Hehe, priceless!

Along the lines of Imogen from London's letter re: running vs walking in the rain... Friday's letters I've always wondered whether you walk up fewer steps by hurrying up an escalator (yes, I do know the answer if you stand ...) Is there a formula for that?
Fiona, Wellington,

I thank you. Means nothing to me of course but at least I can now show off down the pub.

Everyone else is trying it so here I go: You never publish my letters. Thinking about it you probably won't publish this letter ... so I'm going to lunch.
I T,

could u plz send me a pic of jodie marsh's tattoo of stars on her foot i have looked everywhere and can't find it. thanxs


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

They both love opera and met and fell in love in the chorus at La Scala in Milan. Who are these romantic souls? Boris Johnson and the latest young woman he is allegedly having a tryst with? No, they are the stars of the Welsh-language children's series that is to be screened on al-Jazeera.

The Baas are an extended family of mixed-race sheep that rap and sing opera while promoting recycling and racial tolerance. The Arabic broadcaster hopes they will bring harmony to the Middle East, says The Times. Of course, it's so obvious! Why hasn't someone thought of it before.

Now, Paper Monitor likes to think it embraces change, that it's not an old fuddy-duddy, but sometimes a bit of tradition is good, especially when it comes to certain legends.

Most of the papers carry the story of Jonas Armstrong, who has landed the role of Robin Hood in a new 8m BBC series. Talking about how he will play the swashbuckling hero, he says he's come up with something both "modern and medieval, with a bit of street". It sounds worrying to PM.

But traditionalists will also be alarmed by another change, warns the Daily Mail. For once they may have a point, poor old Friar Tuck has been ditched after all these years because he is "too fat and a poor role model for kids", according to the paper. Without wishing to sound too much like one of its leader columns, what is the world coming to?

At least certain traditions are being maintained. It's Monday and the Daily Express has a front cover about Princess Diana. Apparently there's something a little suspicious about the inquiry into her death. PM really would think the world had gone crazy if it couldn't rely on this weekly Diana fix.


In Friday's Pointless Poll we asked which television show with a historical twist you would most like to take part in. The most popular choice was Big Brother Inquisition, 41%, followed by I'm a Celebrity, Get me a Cure for the Plague, 33% and Castrati Idol, 26%.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
Your e-mail address
Town/city and country
Your comment

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


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific