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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 16:58 GMT 17:58 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, Rhode Island

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

1. Dolphins communicate like humans by calling - more accurately, whistling - each other by "name".

2. Fidel Castro is worth $900m according to Forbes although he insists his net worth is zero.

3. The short xylophone ditty that Apple Mac computers play is called Sosumi - a contraction of So Sue Me - Apple's cheeky riposte to the Beatles' Apple Corps.

4. George Bush's personal highlight of his presidency so far is catching a 7.5lb (3.4kg) perch.

5. The architect of Centrepoint - London's most obvious modernist landmark - built more buildings in the capital than Sir Christopher Wren. His name was Richard Seifert.

6. Britain is still paying off debts that predate the Napoleonic wars because it's cheaper to do so than buy back the bonds on which they are based.

7. In Japan, boys in secondary school wear an outfit modelled on 19th Century Prussian army uniforms.

8. Despite the abundance of aerial shots of tall gleaming City of London buildings, Sir Alan Sugar's company Amstrad is based in a low-rise block in Brentwood, Essex.

9. Employees of the British Nuclear Group are entitled to an annual underwear allowance of 70.

10. Five billion apples eaten a year in the UK.

(Sources, where no links are included: 2 - Forbes Magazine; 3 - Radio 4 Today, 8 May; 4 - Living with Modernism, BBC Four, 9 May; 8 - Guardian, 10 May; 9 - Daily Telegraph, 8 May.)

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

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.


Letters logo
I refuse to use Sainsbury's Self-Check out as it's just a way to have one member of staff running four tills, thus reducing staffing numbers. They may claim it's for our convenience, but the simple rule is that no supermarket would introduce something that doesn't increase their profits. And is that THE David Dee, of Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch fame? If so he's gone all respectable with a full first name

Having read the Government report on the July 7th bombings (in PDF format from the BBC website) I noticed in the conclusion section that they have the wrong date for the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. They state that it was 9th September - not the 11th as it was. They probably got confused with all this 9/11 business. But wouldn't that have made it 9th November ?
Tim Knott,

I think we have finally solved the mystery of the Thursday letters. MM has been making up the numbers in the Top of the Pops audience.
Ben P,

To Michael B and Michael G - I'm going away tomorrow. If Michael G will give me his number, I'll call him - but someone needs to call me. Then I suppose someone will need to call them and someone else will... I'll get my coat
Hitchin, UK

Surely no PJ-watch is complete without a mention of this story.
John Russell,

Having been a closet air drummer for many years, I am delighted to see there are other MM readers who share my passion. May I recommend either 'Hoedown' or 'Food For Your Soul' by Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Complex rhythms and a cruely fast pace, you'll need a good rub down with a towel after air drumming to those two!

Air drumming? Surely New Order's "Blue Monday" top of everyone's list?
Surrey, UK

Air drumming? Even more exhausting than air guitar, especially if attempted to Deep Purple's 'Burn'.

Sorry Steph but the air drumming award has got to go to the Vangelis theme for Bladerunner. You know: Ta! Da! Da! Da! Bom! Bom! Bom! Bom!
Norwich UK

Stay on Classic FM and wait for Bolero (Ravel). They play it most days as it seems to be permanently in their top 100 or whatever (self-fulfilling?). Anyhow the air/steering wheel drumming potential is massive, especially with the explosive ending.
Lucy Jones,

In the light of the recent on-the-spot fines being issued to litterers for dropping lolly sticks and Wotsits, can we now look forward to local councils tackling the blight of red rubber bands littering our streets by fining the Post Office 75 for each one dropped?
Mark Oakden,
Ilford, Essex

Does the M32 smell of toast? It must be all the jams.

Martin from Stevenage, where do you live? You say that you walked to work and then, later, that you work from home. If you walked from where you live to your home then why isn't where you started from where you ended up 'cos if you worked from home then you wouldn't have walked... oh, I give up, it's all too much for a Friday!!

Ooh - a headline with more than one meaning. 'Lords debate assisted dying bill'. Presumably Bill was bored to death.
Whiteley, UK

One of the more colourful terms for minger on this side of the pond is 'coyote ugly' so called because when you wake beside them the next day you chew your arm off to escape rather than wake them.
New Jersey, US

About Radio 4's "Down the Line" - it could only have been a spoof, as it was interesting to listen to. I have on a couple of occasions listened to Clive Bull on LBC and have found myself in mentally the same place as mountaineers trapped under rocks who have to chew off their own arms to escape.

An example of a headline which makes you have to read the story to see if it matches the surrealism was seen in the Jersey Evening Post; "Cauliflower Disaster Averted". Don't ask.
Martin Hollywood, Brittany,

I didn't get where I am today being called PJ.


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, the Minister for Sport Richard Caborn and Nancy Dell'Olio kick footballs to promote a scheme to send balls to children in Afghanistan. But what's being said?

The winners:

6. "What are you doing here you publicity seeking nobody?"
"Tony told me to come"
dylan, Grenoble

5. "Concentrate Richard! A player is offside when..."
Karl Walde, Witney, Oxfordshire

4. Richard had to admit that Lawrence Dallaglio was a lot prettier than he'd been expecting.
Hilary, UK

3. Another government inister makes a pass.
Kevin Riggs, London

2. "These are exactly the same boots as Wayne was wearing when it happened."
Peter Underwood, maidstone, Kent

1. Nancy: "I practised on Sven."
Geoff Harrison, Alsager, UK


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Congratulations to the Sun for speaking the inner, forbidden, thoughts of all Apprentice-watching fans: "Would Michelle have won if she was a minger?" It is, says the Sun, the "big question". Boardroom eligibility is also troubling 16-year-old school boy Patrick Philpott, who appears on the front of the Financial Times. Despite his tender years, Patrick's concerns are more focused on the real world rather than reality TV - he has spotted a clause in the government's proposed company law bill which will ban teenage company directors.

And, like any normal school kid with a gripe, what does Patrick do? Write a letter to the FT. Pity the poor FT scribe who was charged with following up yesterday's missive from Philpott, who divides his time between school and being managing director of a company called Intelligent Networking Events. The jobbing hack came up against a "stern PA" who informed him the boss's line is busy and could he call back.

But the Sun can trump a 16-year-old FT-reading schoolboy - it's found Britain's youngest gym-slip mum-to-be: an 11-year-old school girl. Not only is she still in the first-form of secondary school, she began smoking at nine and puffs away during her interview with the newspaper. The good news, and that term comes with a heavy dose of "relatively", is that she's given up drinking.

And from the US, in the Times, news of a new 24-hour TV channel aimed at children aged from six months.

Most of the papers pick up on the story of how the BBC's director general sent a round-robin e-mail to staff on Thursday afternoon inviting them to attend that evening's recording of Top of the Pops. The BBC had been belatedly told it didn't have a permit for live music - prompting the nice headline: "BBC told it has no licence to entertain".

Disgruntled feelings towards Paper Monitor's paymasters have been in evidence elsewhere lately, following the broadcast of a late-night phone-in show on Radio 4 called Down the Line. So it's the Guardian which does Middle England a public service today by unmasking the programme as a spoof; the brainchild of Fast Show creators Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson.

"...which was nice!"


Letters logo
"New bullies are 'indulged brats' " surely should qualify for 10 things we already knew. Their behaviour is learned from their parents - middle-class people have some of the worst manners I've ever seen. Last week I was at a Sainsbury's self checkout and when the machine next to mine wouldn't accept the well-dressed customer's coins she started saying "hello? it isn't taking my money" in a loud voice - not looking at, but clearly directed towards the assistant already helping someone else. Did no one ever tell this rude woman that patience is a virtue? The assistant was very polite back, all credit to her.
London, UK

Re Discarded stick costs girl lolly, we are all fed up with litter spoiling the environment, and costing councils (ie you and me) a fortune to clean it up, yet whenever anybody gets caught they bleat "Not fair", and you try and show the enforcee in a bad light. Litter is a blight on our landscape. Good luck to the councils for sticking by their guns!

How a discarded stick cost one teenager an awful lot of lolly, at least it didn't cost her hundreds and thousands.
Chris Philpot, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, UK

Following Wednesday's letters, could we please start a "PJ watch"?
Stephen Buxton,
Coventry, UK, thelbiq.co.uk

What's with all the PJs in the Monitor letters? One from West Yorks, another from Barcelona and one from Edinburgh. Has it got something to do with the Da Vinci code?

Do you have to be called PJ to get published on here?
not pj,

I am becoming increasingly concerned by the multiplicity of me. I learnt to cope with West Yorkshire, but now I see Edinburgh as well, and can I have a prize, (old lbq keyring maybe) for spotting all three of us on the same day!

In response to Michael's B letter on Wednesday ("I'm going abroad next week and won't have internet access. Can someone call each day and read out MM to me?"). I'd be delighted to phone you, but I'm going abroad too. Perhaps someone could call me, and then I'll call you...?
Michael Gillen,
Manchester, UK

Go on, Michael B, what's your number?
Ben Hill,
Cardiff, Wales

Re a word for people who spoil a subtle punchline (Tuesday letters). My friends and I use a Family Guy line for this situation. In one episode the characters share a chortle when someone says aces swing both ways in poker, to which a dullard shouts out "like a bisexual!".

Hmm. Paper Monitor and plaited hair? Something important on yesterday evening? It can only be that PM is in fact a BORO fan with dodgy Rio Ferdinand hair. Either that or a Hippy Collective that digs the apprentice. The field is narrowing on you PM!
London, UK

My husband has been suffering with terrible stomach ache all this week, even to the point where he is up nearly all night. On going to the doctor's he was told it was probably because of the bowl of porridge he had on Sunday - too much fibre... He only ate it because I had been relaying the MM comments to him. Oh how we suffer to be trendy!
Sharon Shepperd,
High Wycombe, UK

Is it just me, or does the end of the M32 in Bristol smell of toast on some mornings?
Andrew Fermor,

Dorset Police's cover story about the blue tits Blue tits make police 'stub out' seemed quite convincing until they gave the game away by ludicrously referring to a "wildlife officer" called "PC Dave Bird". So what are they really up to? Guarding a safe house for stool-pigeons, I suspect.
David Dee,
Maputo Mozambique

I walked to work this morning and enjoyed the sun. I'm still enjoying the sun as I work. Chilled orange juice in my hand, sun on my face. Ahh the joys of working from home in the summer.
Stevenage, UK

I think we need a flexicon entry for the satisfaction you get from seeing your first ever published MM letter. I needed a word to describe that feeling this week. Any ideas?

In today's story about a lynx-like creature seen near Evesham, a West Mercia force spokesman said: "Clearly, members of the community should not attempt to approach the animal if it is spotted." So if it's striped, it's OK to wander over and give it a pat on the head...?
Whitwick, UK

I just found a story from 1997, I was 14, Tony had only been in Number 10 for six months and the BBC Website was red with a blue star, makes me feel old.
Owen Davies,
London - UK

While driving to work this morning, I passed a white van adorned with the company name "Flexicomms".
Simon Watkins,
Cardiff, Wales.

Ah, Thursday! Another stack of letters for Magazine Monitor's compost bin...

I'm beside myself. Today's article about composting includes the sentence "We knew we had to make composting convenient and friendly for people on the estate and sell the scheme the right way or it would never of had a future." Does nobody proof-read any more?
John Henry,
London, UK

There are headlines that tell the whole story, and there are those that simply force you to read on. In today's Edmonton Journal, for example, "Amateur Hairstylist ordered by judge to stay away from power tools."
Nigel, Edmonton, Canada

Can the BBC's picture caption writer be granted an honorary Punorama win for Plans for the porn-only domain had aroused controversy'?
David Richerby,
Athens, Greece

Re PJ's letter, Wednesday. I wonder if Monitor readers have any recommendations for good air drumming tunes. My personal favourite is Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love. It's brilliant, though your arms hurt after a bit.

Has Anna Ford been sacked by the Monitor? Is that why Thursday's letters haven't been published... again!?!!
Sue B,

Can you compost porridge? Surely that would make it fashionable!
Margaret Grant,
Christchurch, NZ


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz on the Magazine index asked what will Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry's new job entail. No flies on you - 75% said she'll launch a company that will dispose of unwanted computers. Just 15% thought it might be selling an anti-wrinkle device - which is series one winner Tim's job - and 10% said hawking a talking Sir Alan doll. Today's mini-question is on the index now.


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If ever there was a Financial Times poster girl, surely Michelle Dewberry, last night's winner of BBC Two's the Apprentice, would be it. Alas, there's no sign of her in today's pink pages - in fact no mention at all about the show.

The other papers amply compensate however. If her glamour, ambition, and triumph over adversity, were not enough, there's the additional pun power lent by Sir Alan Sugar's name: "The sweet life for Michelle as Sugar says: You're hired!" (The Express); "Sugar babe" (The Sun); "Sugar goes for the sweetie" (The Mail).

The Mail's candied headline masks a rather-too candid story with a distinctly sour edge.

The paper has been scratching around Michelle's pre-TV life in Hull and the details, to any Mail reader, are not as pretty as the victor herself. A former boyfriend recalls how she ditched her northern accent and "went posh" (although seasoned viewers of the Apprentice will, perhaps, have struggled to detect this affectation) and how they'd discussed children and Michelle had wanted them to be called, gasp, Armani Leigh and Kelvin Leon. Are you getting the picture?

After a gratuitous anecdote about a karate trophy comes a killer quote which is almost too perfect to be real: "Looking back, I guess she was my sexual apprentice. In the end though it was me she turned to and said: 'You're fired'."


Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz on the Magazine index asked about the man who has pedalled around the world since 1962 who had his bike stolen within hours of arriving in the UK. Had it happened before? Almost half of you said no. Wrong! More than a quarter of you said yes, once a year on average. Wrong! His bike was last stolen 10 years ago in Siberia, which 23 percent of you answered correctly. Today's mini-question is on the index now.


Letters logo

While driving to work this morning (or should I say sat in a queue of traffic), I saw a man in my rear view mirror playing his "air drums". As he was clearly enjoying himself I tried to find the same radio station for this "good beat". As he passes my car, to my amazement he was listening to classic FM... Mid-life crisis in the making?
PJ, Edinburgh

Re Headline Makers. Two of my favourite headlines were missing. The Daily Mirror (I believe) headlined the story of Dr Vivian Fuchs's Antarctic expedition with "Dr Fuchs off to Antarctica". They scored a remarkable double a few years later when Klaus Fuchs, the atomic power spy, was released from prison and went to Moscow. The headline? "Klaus Fuchs off to Russia."
Alan, London

Paper Monitor has to be a girl. No boy would know of the plaiting your hair when the parents said no to the perm.
K, Edinburgh

Dirty Idea (Tuesday letters) asks for a flexicon entry for when someone stomps over a subtle piece of humour. Over-compunsation?
Helen, Ankara, Turkey

An explan-idiot?
Bas, London

The news of our loss of the great HP sauce to Holland saddened me this morning, until I read (over someone's shoulder of course) the Mirror's fab headline: Outsourced... and my faith in Britain was restored!
Rach, Bedford

In response to Ian Wells' letter in Trade mark turf wars, I have set up an investigative organisation to look into his comments. After searching in the bottom drawer of my Triumph I have discovered magazines depicting Triumphs adorned with models unfettered by Triumphs. I've decided after this success to call my new venture... Victory!
pj, barcelona

I'm sure Terry Gray (Monday letters) would be interested to know that it has taken me exactly one minute and 55 seconds to write this letter. Oh, no, that's two minutes and 11 seconds. No, two minutes and 33 seconds, oh I give up.
P J, West Yorks, thelbiq.co.uk

Porridge Watch; porridge is now being eaten by the leaders of the country, for example, in team briefing breakfasts in David Cameron's house, according to the Telegraph... Monitor, your influence spreads far and wide!
Rosie, Ware, UK

I'm going abroad next week and won't have internet access. Can someone call each day and read out MM to me?
Michael B, London, UK


It's time for the Punorama results.

The rules are straightforward - we choose a story which has been in the news and invite you to create an original punning headline for it.

This week it's the man who has made a mint out of selling his naturist package holiday company - a story that the Magazine admittedly has a penchant for, since we also followed it up today.

A career as a red-top sub-editor beckons for some of today's entrants.

Money for no-thong and your cheeks for free, offers David Dee, of Maputo, Mozambique, while Rebecca Craven, from Exeter gives us Making a phwoar-tune, and Money for cold folk comes from Bas in London, and the Eye-ful Tour from Gareth Jones in Anglesey.

And there's more.

A number of readers remember the title of a once-controversial naturism magazine

Wealth and Efficiency is offered by Kip from Norwich, Simon Rooke, from Nottingham, and Richard Ryan, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

And there are some business references.

Steve T in London is taken by Stripping Assets, and there are variants from Paul Cox, in Milton Keynes and Gearoid O'Muimeachain in London (again). Katy in Rochester, Kent gives us Bottom line looks good for package holidays, while Linz Gordon in Edinburgh looks forward to a Bum-per profit.

Oh and there are plenty who seize on anything relating to bare. From Vern in Romsey we have Who wants to be a million-bare?, while Kenny Luke in Aberdeen also offers us Million-bare. Gareth Jones in Anglesey (again) and Michael Gillen in Manchester are pleased by Bare-tours, and Stig from London offers Bare-faced cheque.


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A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Goodness, all this excitement over sackings. Prescott deshuffled! Blair - now or later? And as for Brown, will the nation hire or fire? But enough of this negativity, how about promotions? (All of which for some reason reminds Paper Monitor that there's something VERY IMPORTANT happening this evening. Now what ever was it?)

Congratulations first to Margaret Beckett, new foreign secretary, long-time Labour stalwart and once (briefly) party leader. The Times marks her appointment by - how else - sending for the fashion police. Circumstances have conspired to hasten this fate, seeing as how she's just met her opposite number, Condoleezza "sharp suits and sexy boots" Rice.

Their verdict? Condi 1, Maggie 0. But all is not lost, even if she sticks with the shoulder pads and her penchant for pastel shades paired with black "sub-sex-shop booties". The paper's fashion editor says it's a look that may "strike a chord with the vast swathes of Middle Americans who have the most appalling dress sense in the world and may well adopt Beckett as their very own Kate Moss." Mieow indeed.

And congratulations also to Melanie Slade, who has gained promotion to the premiere league of footballers' partners now boyfriend Theo Walcott is the surprise pick for the World Cup squad. Waving delightedly at the photographers massed outside her home, the 17-year-old features on the pages of the tabloids and broadsheets alike.

But how long can the honeymoon between paparazzi and prey last? An object lesson comes courtesy of the Daily Mail, with its picture of Rio Ferdinand snapped unawares on a trip to his stylist, his trademark cornrows unpicked and looking, the paper has it, "like a fourth member of the Supremes".

Hmmm... familiar. The 1980s. Schoolyards. Parents saying "no" to perms. Girls resorting to plaiting their hair into tiny braids overnight to get the desired bouffant look.



Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz on the Magazine index asked who do women find Britain's sexiest pensioner - it's Sean Connery, 75, which 62 percent of you correctly answered. One-third plumped for Patrick Stewart, 65, with the remaining handful preferring Michael Caine, 73. Today's mini-question is on the index now.


Letters logo
So the Beatles lose their case against Apple Computer, because iTunes is merely a data transfer store, not actually involved in the creation of music. Could it be, then, that McCartney and Ringo just went after the wrong target? Apple's Garageband program is designed PURELY for the creation of music...
Jim Hannigan,

Re: the Coke Quiz, Coca-Cola didn't exactly return to the original formula after the 1984 "New Coke" fiasco. When it returned to market in the U.S., the sweetener had been changed from sugar to corn syrup. In Mexico, though, it is still made with sugar -- and it is not uncommon for a restaurant here in the southwest to import the real "real thing" from across the border. The taste difference is subtle, and a trip down memory lane!
Jeff Wutzke,
Phoenix, AZ, USA

Regarding Judy Cabbages' letter... I'm still undecided whether that says more about Scotland or Brazil!
Alexander Lewis Jones,
Nottingham, UK

It's great to see Judy Cabbages making an appearance but please, please, no suggestions for a new game called Cabbaging II.

Can I nominate 'Comas not realistic in movies' for Things Intensive Care Staff Already Knew, and add that 'coma' patients are never represented realistically in TV either. Never in all my years of ICU nursing have I seen a patient wake up like they do on TV and films, and it is extremely difficult trying to explain this to relatives who think that we are failing their loved one in some way because they have 'seen it all' and 'know' what to expect.
ICU staff nurse,
W. Yorks

While I am pleased to see that Warner are going to be offering legal downloads, I have to question their pricing. They are going to be released the same day as the DVD and cost a similar price as a DVD, yet you can only play it on the PC you downloaded it onto. So I can either go to the shops and buy a DVD I can play anywhere I choose, or spend a few hours downloading to only be able to watch it on the PC. They expect to make money how?
Andrew White,
Southampton, UK

Re Alan Taylor's letter. It's not clear that Ireland's plastic bag tax is all that good for the environment. Tesco reports that bin-liner sales have rocketed because people are having to buy them instead of using carriers as bin-liners. The carrier bag contains much less plastic.
David Richerby,
Athens, Greece

May I rightfully claim my place to the Anon comment yesterday? In my excitement to contribute something fascinating to the Monitor, I forgot to enter my details. I did go back and enter them about 5 seconds afterwards when I realised, so had hoped that MM would realise my foolish mistake.

Can Terry Gray, of Voorschoten, The Netherlands foretell the future, or can he just estimate everything he does with uncanny accuracy? "...and written this message in exactly 10 minutes..." As this phrase is in the middle of his message, how did he know? What if the 'phone had rung, his wife had physically dragged him away from his computer, etc.?
West Yorks,

Don't know if there is a link between Azerbaijani and Arabic, but the word zibil would have a similar meaning in Arabic. Well, it's literally "manure" - similar enough for me!
Nazareth, Israel

ReChris R's Monty python quote. Is there a flexicon entry for when someone stomps over a subtle piece of humour by proclaiming the punch line that was inferred?
Dirty Idea,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

To fit in with the current headline craze: "Trial of Bali 2005 accused to begin". Hope it's a big courtroom.

Re Dolphins 'have their own names', yes, but *what* names do dolphins use? "Morning Aloisius, how's it blowin..?"
London, UK

What sort of stupid survey is in the monitor today? How can Patrick Stewart not top any "sexy man" poll you care to mention? Can you not publish this at the top, please, in case my husband reads the Monitor letters. Thanks.
Lindfield, Sussex

Once again others follow where the mighty Monitor leads! The Guardian has only just spotted that the Daily Express has a bit of a thing for Princess Diana headlines. Apparently the piece was "researched" by a Guardian staffer - who needs to spend hours combing the archives when a quick visit to MM is all you need... cheeky monkeys!
Rob S,
Cambridge, UK

In reply to Chris from London. When Aberdeen were sharing their pitch with Inverness they used to stay at a hotel in Aberdeen when they were playing "Away" to Inverness to get them in the right mood.
Jenny Embleton,

I saw a naked bum on the Magazine front page.
A bum.
John Henry,
London, UK


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The government's problems are all too clear - just look at the front page of the Guardian: "'Tony Blair ought to sack Gordon Brown' - Robert Harris in Comment, Page 32". Well that settles that... until one sets eyes on the Times front page: "'Prescott is a creepy oaf and should have been sacked' - Libby Purves, Page 20". What of the Independent? "'Why we think the Prime Minister should go now'" runs the headline to a comment piece by Neal Lawson. Has Sir Alan Sugar staged a coup on Fleet Street?

The antics of the Daily Express are finally having an impact beyond Paper Monitor - Shortcuts, in the Guardian's G2 section, gives a rundown of several dozen Diana headlines from the paper over the past six months.

The Express, however, is no one trick pony. It's got loads more stories up its sleeve than just Diana. Take today's front page: "New boom in house sales", which bears no resemblance whatsoever to its Friday front page splash: "House prices up 2% in a month".


Corrrrrect! Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz on the Magazine front page asked what did George Bush say he was the greatest moment of his presidency? A thumping 66% of you got it right - catching a 7.5lb perch.


Letters logo
I printed the BBC website page with the item 'ban plastic bags for happiness' to show to my local Azerbaijani newsagent. We have a running gag regarding plastic bags - he wants to give me one everytime I make a purchase in his shop and I explain that they are the spawn of the Devil, littering and polluting our environment. I explained that the Southern Irish imposed a tax on them and that this hugely reduced usage. I have even learned the Azerbaijani for rubbish - zibil, so that every time I go to the shop I salaam him and he ritually offers me a plastic bag with a wry smile and I remind him zibil! Bhutan is right - ban the things or tax them to ensure constant re-use.
Alan Tayler,

With regard to the Spurs food-poison outbreak, can someone please explain why the team needed to book into a hotel for an away match at West Ham, less than 15 miles from their home ground, in order to make a 3pm kick-off?

I think it would be nice if the govenment could make the time to increase the legal age for smoking by one year every year. I find it hard to believe that in say 4 years time that school children would still be able to get away with buying cigarettes, and it would not actually force anybody to stop.
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

From the 'Clarke loses position' story - "Trade Secretary Alan Johnson gets education." Oh that's nice, but I thought he would have had some before getting into government?

The new smoking ban here in Scotland is certainly having a big impact. I was leading a Brazilian visitor down Princes Street in Edinburgh when he commented, "You have a lots of good looking prostitutes here." "What! Where?" I was shocked. He gestured to a clutch of office women smoking furtively in a doorway. "Oh... no! There's a smoking law..." I began to explain.
Judy Cabbages,
Peebles, Scotland

I would like to congratulate the author of the piece on the 'university pay row' for their excellent punctuation of the "Universities and Colleges Employers' Association's offer". Why? Well, it is because I would like to encourage similar care to be taken when using prhases like "Student unions" towards the end of the same article.
Ray Lashley,
Bristol, UK

Chris R,
Cambridge, UK

As well as pointing out headlines that require no futher reading of the article, I wish to nominate this headline as one that no-one wants to continue reading about. Bono to edit newspaper for a day

As Sir David Atenborough reaches 80is there any chance of a repeat showing of Zoo Quest for a Dragon?
London UK

Should we all club together to buy Nick Robinson a pair of pyjamas? The BBC obviously doesn't pay him enough.
Herbert G.,

I have read (for the first time) your "10 Things" page, digested it, mused over it and written this message in exactly 10 minutes. Which, coincidently is the time it has taken for my wife to become rather irate as I have used that time to avoid getting ready for a party that I am not interested in going to. It's a fancy dress party. The theme of the party is not "10 Things", pity.
Terry Gray,
Voorschoten, The Netherlands

With regards to the picture caption: "A bird or a plane?" It's quite clearly Thunderbird 2.

Porridgewatch: Nigel Reo-Coker, West Ham's ultra-energetic midfielder and FA Cup winning captain next weekend (I can hope...) eats porridge each morning prepared by West Ham's team cook Tim!

A headline with a double meaning: 'Hard rock hinders Tasmania rescue'. Maybe they should listen to something more sedate, like classical.

When Martin Jol was asked how he felt about the 'Tottenham Trotspur' incident how on earth did he keep a straight face when he answered "We were gutted!"
Jan Podsiadly,

If I got a 3 in the Coke quiz, was it a flat or a sparkling performance?
Tim Sheppard,
London, UK

Just for the record, Wallace and Gromit eat porridge on Tuesdays (Close Shave).
Trieste, Italy


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No prizes for guessing what leads today's Daily Express... it is Monday. The Sun, meanwhile, can't resist the Tottenham Hotspur food poisoning story for its pun value, chiefly: Tottenham Trotspur.

The Mail meanwhile catches up with the charming tale behind a much loved photo, of two young women perched on the railings of Blackpool promenade in the 1950s. Taken by the late Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy, the snap, Maidens in Waiting, has come to grace thousands of greetings cards. Its portrayal of youth and innocence, and its slight flirtatiousness with the viewer, calls to mind Robert Doisneau's iconic picture of two French lovers kissing in a Paris street, dating from about the same period.

And just as the Doisneau picture provoked a decades-long debate as to whether it was posed - so it's been widely speculated that Hardy's picture was also more staged than he might have wanted us to think. Hardy, himself, had confessed to staging other "spontaneous" shots in his career.

Now, more than 50 years later, the two anonymous stars of the picture have been identified. They are both still alive - aged 74 and 76. And whereas Doisneau eventually admitted his picture was staged - and, in so doing, breaking that cardinal rule of all reportage photographers - according to Hardy's two protegees the picture really was snapped without them knowing.

But Hardy's Maidens in Waiting title was a little presumptious - it turns out one of the women was married at the time the shot was taken, and the other had been her bridesmaid.


We asked you on Friday which actress's age corresponded to the biological age of the pregnant 63-year-old, according to her doctor?

  • Madonna
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Meg Ryan
Madonna was the option picked by 50% of readers, with only 26% picking the correct answer, 45-year-old Meg Ryan.

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