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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 16:31 GMT 17:31 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)


Ten ducks
10 ducklings by Jonathan Burnage, Cambridge

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

1. Rule 2.25 of the Chelsea Flower Show regulations bans entrants from including garden gnomes in their displays. Bunting, balloons and flags are also banned.

2. Wayne Rooney is able to fill his computer-controlled bath by text message.

3. A dinosaur is named after Mark Knopfler because the team of palaeontologists that found it were listening to his music at the time. It's the Masiakasaurus knopfleri.

4. The egg came first.

5. Erotomania is the name of the condition in which a person holds a delusional belief that someone is in love with them.

6. Humans were first infected with the HIV virus in the 1930s.

7. There are 220 million vegetarians in India.

8. Special branch officers guarding former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan were frustrated at an unreliable security system on his Sussex farm that was confused by cattle, pigs and dung heaps and allowed a Jehovah's Witness to get all the way to the house and speak to Callaghan undetected.

9. Dry weather makes for less polluted beaches.

10.There are 64,726 electronically tagged offenders in the UK.

(Sources, where no links are included: 1 - Today programme, 24 May; 2 - News of the World, 21 May; 3 - Times, 24 May; 5 - Daily Telegraph, 25 May; 7 - Guardian, 26 May; 10 - Eastern Daily Press)

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

Son stakes Dracula Castle claim - oh BBC, you spoil us!
West Mids

Re Chris Maylin's request for a word that describes thinking of a witty thing to say long after the opportunity has passed. The French talk of l'esprit d'escalier - the wit of the staircase (see 20 of your unusual words) and the Germans of treppenwitz, which means exactly the same.
James Glover,
Edinburgh, UK

We've always referred to witty afterthoughts as "departees".

Re the caption comp vote, I thought it'd be a Brainless Blockhead free zone. Very topical but very predictable result. Mickey Roger's entry is the one for me, very creative. Well done Mick.
Stevenage, Herts UK

There's a pensioner at the Chelsea Flower Show was named... Sergeant Pepper. He lives!
Colin Ward,
New Zealand

Ken (Thursday letters), a true vegetarian knows that fish is meat. However, there are people who call themselves vegetarians that eat it. I define them as "cuddly veggies", as they won't eat cute animals. How am I supposed to know which you are if I don't ask?
Caroline Brown,

Further to Ken's belief that fish-eaters are not vegetarians (of course they aren't!) neither are those who drink milk or eat cheese, honey, yoghurt or eggs. Perhaps the "ovo-vegetarians" of the world could enlighten me as to the date chickens started laying tofu?
Dr Reece Walker,

And vegetarians wonder why we have a "no fun" image problem... it's enough to drive me to my first bacon sandwich in 12 years.

Re: Nancy's Marmite fondness (Thursday letters). The best description of this British delicacy I have come across is by Bill Bryson, who describes it as an "edible lubricant". Nice!

Rosie, you have inspired me to have my favourite sandwich of all time - Marmite and banana on buttered bread.

In reply to Christian's request for the noise of the 24 clock (Thursday letters) - I would say it's more kboom. kboom. kboom. kboom. then Blup. Blip. Blup. Blip.


It's time for the inaugural caption competition vote.

This week, the picture showed a penguin, rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, getting the VIP treatment as it returned to an aquarium in New Orleans.

Choose from the following winners than cast your vote below:

1. "And he says, 'Just put it on my bill!' You've been a great audience! Good night everybody!"
Mickey Rogers, Indianapolis

Which is the best caption?
1. Mickey Rogers
2. Tig
3. Sally Avard
4. Catherine O
5. Jon
6. Dave
3137 votes cast

2. "Good job I wore the tux..."
Tig, Hellford

3. "Pingu, you have been evicted. Please leave the Big Brother House."
Sally Avard, Ross On Wye

4. "So basically, my job involved creating a distraction while Flipper slipped out the back."
Catherine O, Maidenhead

5. David Blaine's extended underwater stint proved to be more astounding than expected...
Jon, Washington DC

6. "I'm sure I ticked the 'no publicity box'."
Dave, Plymouth


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

Another day, another mega-bucks divorce settlement. But where does all this money come from? Speculation was rife last week about how much Sir Paul McCartney might have to cough up in his marriage break-up. But everyone knows how he made his gazillions.

Today's Guardian carries the tale of how "computer software magnate" Heather Martin-Dye (who?) was forced to hand over 3.65m in a divorce deal. There's not even another mention of what software she, er, magnated in order to make her stash.

Earlier this week the Law Lords pronounced on two cases - one where a "senior tax partner" earned "in excess of 750,000" and the other about a bloke who worked in the City and was worth 17.5m. Repeat: 17.5m.

And then there's mention, also in today's Guardian, of car salesman, alright, "importer", Bob Edmiston, who has handed 2.1m to the Conservative Party. It'd originally been a loan, but when all the kerfuffle broke about political loans, Mr Edmiston apparently just tore up the agreement and called it a gift instead. Any mortgage companies or credit card providers fancy following suit?

Elsewhere, the spectre of life imitating Star Trek is on parade in the Metro, where keen-eyed letter writers point out the 5ft blade sported by a copper in yesterday's paper, to highlight the knife amnesty, is in fact Klingon Bat'leth honour sword... carried by Klingon impersonators at Star Trek conventions.

Anyone unlucky to come up against one of those - the sword, that is, not the Klingon impersonator - will be grateful to hear, also in Metro, that the Tricorder device which Dr Bones McCoy would wave in front of a sickly James T Kirk for an instant diagnosis, has been made a reality by "experts" at Nottingham University.

As Mr Spock would say: fascinating.


Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what's the most annoying thing meat eaters say to vegetarians. It's "bet you'd like a bit of my sausage", which 41% of you got right. But 52% of you thought it was "what about the poor carrots?" and 7% opted for our favourite "do you eat wafer-thin ham?" Today's mini-quiz is on the Magazine front page.


Letters logo

I've just seen a TV trailer for the BBC's World Cup coverage with the music from The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again. Although they've just looped the intro, on hearing it I couldn't get Roger Daltry's opening lyric out of my head: "There'll be fighting in the streets". Let's hope not.
Roddy Byrne,
Kilburn, London

No. Paper Monitor definitely need not have said the idea "went down like a cup of cold sick". You have completely aced the disturbing mental images of naked politicians we've been so enjoying recently.

Interesting. Your supermarket fashion item is "beans, spuds, skirt" on the front page, but Monitor's own In Today's Magazine sidebar targets the real fashionista - "speed, spuds, skirt". Where do you shop, exactly?
Janet Hayes,
Pontypool, Wales

Two questions for you:
1) is there a word that describes the infuriating situation when you think of an incredibly witty thing to say long after the opportunity to actually say it has passed
2) are you still accepting entries for the caption competition dated 11 May?
Chris Maylin,
Northern Ireland

Typical Magazine. Why do something yourself when your adoring public can do it for you? Why don't you just be honest and say you can't be bothered to judge the caption comp?

Was anyone else disappointed to find that High flyer Balls to lose seat was actually a political story and not something to do with ripping trousers?

What's Marmite?
Marmite Watch is due; I cannot believe that Nancy dell'Olio, having lived on our fair isle for some time, does not know of this king of spreads. Mine thickly laid on hot buttered toast please. Divine.
Ware, UK

Thanks for the tips on how to annoy vegetarians in the daily mini-quiz. I'll be trying those out later. Another of my favourites is to say to a vegetarian if animals didn't want to be eaten why are they made of meat?
Gareth Edwards,
Stoke on Trent, UK

Take it from a veggie of 20+ years, the most annoying thing you can ask is "do you eat fish?" For the record, no we don't, and we wouldn't be vegetarian if we did.

I felt a brief lift in my spirits this morning when, after voting in the mini-quiz, it stated that there had been 1 answer so far. This disappeared when I realised that this meant that 100% of people (me) got it wrong.

Re Paper Monitor's ref to 24 with Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Surely fans of the show would say it's more of a Blup. Blip. Blup. Blip. Any better suggestions?


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

Pity the French.

First they endure The da Vinci Code opening the Cannes Film Festival (and give it a roasting). Now their boos and hisses have been wheeled out against a revisionist Hollywood version of Marie Antoinette's early life by Sofia Coppola.

"[It] opens with the screaming guitars of Gang of Four as the band sings Natural's Not In It. Actors, such a Rip Torn as Louis XV, have distinct American accents," says the Daily Telegraph's man in Cannes.

But such indignities are, surely, just small potatoes compared with another detailed in the Independent.

Exactly 30 years after Californian wines trounced the best of the French in a blind tasting - in Paris and by the finest palettes in France to boot - the wine critic who organised the 1976 event has staged a rerun with the same wines. Need PM say that the idea has gone down like a cup of cold sick amongst Bordeaux's winemakers?

"Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild refused to supply her wine or allow her cousin to stage the event... The boycott attempt shows their belief that they had everything to lose and nothing to gain," writes the Indie's wine critic.

And their fears prove to be founded. Despite wine writers predicting that the French wines might this time triumph, having aged better, the experts' top five are all from the New World.



Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which pop star had had a dinosaur named after him - and 48% readers got it wrong by guessing it was Mick Jagger. The correct answer, Mark Knopfler, was identified by only 35% of the Magazine pop pickers. The dinosaur is called the Masiakasaurus knopfleri. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine front page.


Letters logo
That's sneaky. Yesterday's mini-question answer has changed. When I answered crucifixion yesterday it said it was a pay dispute. Now I'm vindicated. Better late than never I suppose.

MM note: apologies, the underling who compiled the results wrongly said it was Madonna's mock crucifixion.

Great tits give office workers a reason to give up smoking. Now THAT is a double meaning if I ever saw one.

Bluebell Halliwell. Anyone else thinking Ting Tong Macadangdang?
Helene Parry,
South Wales expat to Brentford Lock

Thanks for the "are you a compulsive gambler" quiz. It's helped me to come to terms with my problem - I've never gambled in my life so it's fairly clear now, having taken the test - my name is Jill, and I am quiz addict.

Is it only me, but isn't the dire Da Vinci Code just a revamped Scooby Doo? "If it weren't for those pesky priests... "
Judy Cabbages,
Pebbles, Scotland

Cat complains that I've made her want to see The da Vinci Code (Tuesday letters). I wouldn't really recommend it. The most exciting part of the film was looking out for the scene filmed at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, and that was at the beginning.
Michael Hall,
Croydon, UK

Thanks for explaining string vests to me (Tuesday letters). I liked the one about keeping the string dry on its way to the local string market. That's what we call "dry" English humor (or humour to you).
Connecticut, US


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

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

"I'm John Reid. I've been in the post two weeks. It feels like two years."

The new Home Secretary may look nothing like Jack Bauer, but like the star of 24, he's endured the longest day of his life. Then another. Then another.

And, like the head of the CTU, he's something of a hard nut and so is a gift for the sketch writers after his appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"Very soon, we fear, the sound of firing squads will be heard from the yard at the back of the Home Office, as guilty officials pay the price of their incompetence," says the Daily Telegraph.

"A trained assassin, down to his Marigold-clad fingertips," says the Times, likening him to fearsome dirt-busters Kim and Aggie of How Clean Is Your House?

"They never find mere dirt. Instead they uncover prehistoric layers of grime and cockroach colonies so entrenched that they have developed rather good secondary schools. So it is with Mr Reid and the Home Office."

"He had been in the job for 'two weeks and three days'. During the morning, Dr Reid said this between six and 750,000 times (Home Office estimates vary)," says the Independent.

But enough. On to lighter things. How does the Telegraph mark its 25,000th crossword, having yesterday pondered how to get "ver kids" interested in such puzzles?

Why, with a special prize edition, with a mini-break at Lower Slaughter Manor, a gracious 17th Century mansion in the Cotswolds up for grabs.

If that isn't one for loyal Telegraphites, PM would like to know what is. Answers by the usual form please.


It's Punorama results time.

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 Madonna, who kicked off her world tour this week in Los Angeles. The show includes her going for a ride on one of her dancers in dominatrix-style riding gear.

Let's get the most popular one out of the way first. Some variation on Madominatrix was suggested by Nick W in London, Brian Ritchie in Oxford, Sarah in Forres, Scotland, Ketan Mistry in Dublin, Stephen Derry in Newcastle and BG in Muscat, Oman.

There was also solid support for Madonna e mobile from Brian Ritchie in Oxford (again), Steve C in London and Charles Frean from Bedford, Massachusetts.

Song titles offered fertile ground, with Like A Mare offered up by Gareth Jones in Frome, Alex Fortune in London and Richard Ryan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Gearoid O'Muimeachain in London and Martin Price in the UK suggested Hooves that Girl?.

And there are honourable mentions for Roadie-oh from David Dee in Maputo, Mozambique, Rein dance from Candace in New Jersey, Crop Star from Catherine O in Maidenhead, and possibly best of all Gimp-kana from James in Lancaster.


Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked why protesters were outside Madonna's latest concert. The correct answer was the least obvious - it was a pay dispute with stagehands. But 70% of you thought it was because she was simulating a crucifixion scene. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine front page.


Letters logo
Jennifer: a string vest is a thin, tubular covering (or "vest") for a piece of string, traditionally made of waxed linen but more often nylon or rubber these days. They are used to keep string dry whilst it is being transported from the factory to the local string market.
James Cram, Loughborough, UK

A string vest is a vest that looks as though it is made out of interconnected pieces of strings - and is very see through. A photo can be seen on the BBC News website here - look for the Rab C. Nesbitt character.
Manitoba, Canada

Isn't Mr. Hirst's latest creation rather reminiscent of Lordi?
Herts UK

My mate Lois is selling his pub in the New Forest. He made me promise I wouldn't tell anyone just yet ("Anyway, it's still a bit hush-hush, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell the BBC, seeing as you're on their top 20") so please don't publish this letter.
Whiteley, UK

For the benefit of Jennifer in the USA (and the other sceptics) a "string vest" is also known as a "wife beater" due to its association with such men.
Woodford, UK

Dean is right about Lordi not being death metal. Nor are they any sort of metal. The clue is in the song title - "Hard Rock" Hallelujah.

I notice that the Monitor can now see into the future? Nice of you to review tomorrow's papers for us!

Not so much highlights of the daily press as highlights of the crossword in the Telegraph! Was there no news today, or was it all about Big Brother, and PM is doing us the kindness of not mentioning it?

Okay, I got "ecstatic" but can someone please help me with the other two? This letters page is always full of people who are too intelligent for their own good... help me!
Runcorn, UK

I noticed with interest how the percentage of pirated software in use is calculated: "... by working out how much PC software was installed in 2005 and subtracting from that the amount paid for software..." Does that mean that free software counts as pirated because no license fee is paid?
Colin Main,
Berkhamsted, UK

I saw the Da Vinci Code film over the weekend, and at least it settles one fundamental question.What would Jesus Drive? A Smart Car, natch.
Lauren Silverwolf,
Bristol, UK

There are two flaws with your water leakage story. Firstly, if you say that all water lost gets recycled why is there a big problem with using hosepipes, washing cars etc? It will surely also get recycled! Secondly, what happens if the burst pipe runs right next to the seafront? It will go straight into the sea!
South East England

RE: Daily Telegraph publishing its 25,000th crossword- the young generashhhhiooonnnn are intershted in crosshhhwords!
Richard, Leicester,

In 10 lesser-known alternative therapies I thought 'rolfing' was finally going to report on how wearing a tiny beard and asking complete strangers 'Can you tell what it is yet?' is good for you. Sadly it doesn't.
Gareth Jones,

As the 25,000th cryptic crossword will probably keep me going for another 81 years no trouble.
London Docklands

Thanks very much, Michael Hall of Croydon (letters, Monday). Now I'm going to have to watch the film.
London, UK


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

Whither the crossword? As the Daily Telegraph prepares to publish its 25,000 cryptic crossword, the paper is in doubtful mood about whether this most traditional of pastimes for newspaper readers will last another 81 years (the Telegraph's first cryptic crossword was published in 1925).

As with so many things, it seems the young generation just aren't interested, what with TV, PSPs, binge drinking and the like. A paucity of knowledge about classics, literature and history only fuels their crossword indifference. And that was before Sudoko came on the scene.

A glance at the back page shows the Telegraph is clearly hedging its bets with both a Sudoku puzzle, something called Codewords, a Quick Crossword all in addition to the 24,999th cryptic crossword (for which stumped participants are invited to dial a premium rate number to get help with tricky clues).

Perhaps the problem is that the Telegraph crossword is just rather off-message for the paper's famously conservative readership. Clues today include: "Spirit of additional ace Labour leader's in...(6)"; European Community's still on top of the world (8)" and "Check backward tendency (4)".


Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which celebrity rocked up to the Beckhams' pre-World Cup black tie do topless? Once again Magaziners proved themselves to be on top of the serious news agenda, correctly picking Ashley Cole (41%), although Ozzy Osbourne ranked a close second with (38%). Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine front page.


Letters logo
Please, please, please can we have a Big Brother Free zone in the MM. Surely all the MM readers are a rung or dozen above such dross.

Re Why is Blair backing nuclear?"So far this week the prime minister has whipped up controversies over the criminal justice system, animal rights protesters and, perhaps the most explosive, nuclear power." Pun intended??
Candy Spillard,
York, UK

For the benefit of us Yanks (or maybe just me) could someone please explain what a "string vest" is?

If I say I'm related to Stig or Mrs Stig of London, and I'm actually known as PJ, do I get published? Or shall I just be honest and say my boyfriend doesn't think I'll get a letter on MM before he does. You know how the woman is always right..?

The Saturday, May 19th edition informed us that, US shares flat after tricky week. Is the rent divided equally among the flat mates? Did somebody get evicted during, "tricky," week? So many questions.
John D. Rockhill,
Tempe, Arizona USA

As a service to the easily bored, could you please not publish any letters about the all-noun headline "Holiday road closure 'ruin' fear"? Including this one.
Repton, UK

Your poll: Is the Eurovision Song Contest...?
* Entertaining fun
* A musical nightmare
Where's the "both" option?
Stuart Moore,
Cambridge, UK

Darren Waters' Cannes Festival diary has left me curious. This film, 'Lesbian Vampire Killers': is it about a group of lesbians who kill vampires; a group of lesbian vampires, who kill; or about a group of people who go round killing lesbian vampires? Then again, does it really matter?
Paul Taylor,
Manchester, UK

Could you please tell the make of car Andrew Marr drives at the opening of the politics show
Fred Dowling,
Henley in Arden

It's a Nissan Figaro.

Bomb squad called to chip factory: Is this what they call "Bangers and Mash " ?
Violette Cameron,

Can I suggest a "don't mention the war" watch during the World Cup? This article being the first and probably finest example.
John Airey,
Peterborough, UK

I wish people would stop referring to the Finnish rockers, "Lordi", as being "Death Metal". They simply aren't. You could hear some of the words for one thing.

Did anyone else who saw The Da Vinci Code film at the weekend think that Audrey Tautou could have done with watching the "driving backwards is dangerous" public information film?
Michael Hall,
Croydon, UK


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

If there's one adversary guaranteed to bring a colour magazine editor out in a cold sweat it is breaking news. While newspaper hands can alter an article minutes before publication, to reflect the merest change of nuance in a story, their colour mag counterparts are bound by long lead-in times.

Recall, if you might, the Radio Times cover celebrating Liza Minnelli and David Guest's marriage - which hit the newsagents just about the same day as the pair announced they were heading for the divorce court.

The Guardian Weekend magazine came up against a similar fate on Saturday with its Q&A slot. In the chair this week: Heather Mills McCartney. Greatest love of your life: "My husband, my baby daughter and my sister"; favourite smell? "The McCartney rose"; how often do you have sex? Ok, Paper Monitor will take its leave at this point, although before doing so it's worth noting that HMM's favourite book is Gorbachev's autobiography and that she is kept up at night by "images of animals being skinned alive".

It could be worse... she could've been watching Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest, in which an even more scary spectre presented itself: the competition's Finnish winners, "death metal" band Lordi. In the run up to the contest, the group had built up a certain mystique by refusing to de-mask and show their real identities. But Monday's Daily Mail has unearthed an exclusive picture of Lordi in the flesh.

Sad to say they are not a bunch of fresh-faced Mummies' boys with bowl cuts, but a group of lank-haired, pasty-faced Nordics, although one of them is a woman.

The Telegraph, helpfully notes, that Lordi's total of 292 points is more than the accumulated points of all Finland's entries since 1985.

And the Telegraph is not the only paper to prefix its headline for the story with: "Oh Lordi!" Viz comic - you are truly a cultural titan.


Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which singer-songwriter did Prince Charles hail as being a personal favourite: Bob Dylan, Katie Melua or Leonard Cohen? Magaziners tended to think it was Melua - who scored 42% - but turns out the future King is a Leonard Cohen fan. There were, by the way, 11,315 votes. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

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