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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 15:47 GMT 16:47 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 fans on a stall
10 fans on a Mallorca stall by Julia McGann

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

1. British bathrooms usually have two taps instead of one because, historically, British plumbing provides hot and cold water at different pressures, meaning mixer taps are more difficult to fit.

2. A professional pronouncer is called an "orthoepist" - and it can be pronounced three different ways.

3. There are 60 Acacia Avenues in the UK.

4. If left alone, 70% of birthmarks gradually fade away.

5. Kenneth Clarke introduced road humps.

6. We sleep more deeply when we sleep alone - but when sharing, women sleep more soundly than men.

7. Gritters come out in hot weather too - to spread rock dust, which stops roads melting.

8. The exploits of the SAS parachuting dog mentioned in last week's 10 things were, in fact, a ruse. Rob the collie did little more than cheer up ground staff, according to one of the last surviving officers from his regiment.

9. A morris dancing group is called a side.

10. Jarvis Cocker watches CBeebies and rates Barnaby Bear but not the Fimbles.

[Sources, where stories are not linked - 1: G2, 21 July. 5. The Scotsman, 18 July. 8: Daily Telegraph, 21 July. 9. G2, 20 July. 10. Radio Times.]

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

In response to the e-mail on Thursday [about hot weather and frying eggs on the pavement]. I was in the pub yesterday and the staff were trying to cook an egg on one of the tables! They'd not had much success by the time I left.
Rach, Cambridge

Call that a heatwave?
Lorraine Plant, Perth, Western Australia

Is this the archetypal summer injury? I wore new sandals on Wednesday in honour of the heatwave and, as my feet swelled in the heat, was all but immobilised by a blister the size of an extra foot...
Isabella, Sheffield

Nice touch. Your writer on Acacia Avenue is Megan Lane.
Patsy, Aberdeen

Why do I always get half way through writing something here and ending up deleting it because I don't think it's...
Caroline, Nottingham


It's time for the caption competition.

This week, George W Bush gets up close and personal with a baby while on a visit to a German village. But what's being said?

Here are the contenders for caption of the week. Get voting.

1. MJF, Liverpool
Even the big dummy couldn't stop the baby crying.

2. Craig T, Peterborough, UK
*Little shake* "Any WMDs in this one?"

Which is the best entry?
Craig T
Gareth Jones
Valerie Falconer
4109 votes cast
3. Marisa, London
Great minds think alike.

4. Gareth Jones, Anglesey
Wail to the Chief.

5. Valerie Falconer, Llandough, Wales
"You're not one of these Blair Babes I've heard about, are you?"

6. Kip, Norwich UK
"Laura, when you said you had a surprise for me..."


Newspapers logo

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

What to do about all those Polish people? Latest figures show 300,000 of them have landed in Britain since Poland joined the EU not long ago, and nothing raises the ire of the tabloids like mass immigration. Yet the Daily Mail reserves its opprobrium for the government's "gross" under-estimation of numbers when the borders with Eastern Europe came down. The Poles, themselves, are "hard-working people" who have "hugely benefited our economy".

The Guardian, meanwhile, can hardly contain its cheer - devoting its entire G2 supplement to the Polish influx. It has even given over its centre spread to the Poles themselves, with a 13-point primer in Polish to "Everything you always wanted to know about Britain but were too afraid to ask" which contains such pressing questions as:

- Why are your breakfasts so horrid?
- Why don't you care about your families?, and
- Why do women here wear open-toed sandals in deepest winter?

(If you're wondering how Paper Monitor is managing to translate, it has everything to do with being an accomplished polyglot and nothing, whatsoever, to do with an online translation on the Guardian's website.)

So far, so droll... But here's something few of us Brits didn't know. In answer to the question: why do you have two taps instead of one? Turns out that, historically, British plumbing provides hot and cold water at different pressures, meaning mixer taps are more difficult to fit.

Best hope your Polish plumber is a Guardian reader.



Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked, in light of the new July record set in the UK on Wednesday, where would it be 47C? It was Kuwait - which 36% of you got right - 26% went for Nashville and 38% for Khartoum. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

The latest email order confirmation from my favourite online grocery delivery service had the helpful message "About to go on holiday? Did you know you can order one, two, or three weeks in advance? Why not place an order right now so that you get a full fridge when you come home." I never knew that they would even break into your house to deliver groceries.
Adam, London

Years ago during heatwaves the papers all had pictures of eggs being fried on London pavements. What's happened to journalists today ? Too namby-pamby to leave their air-conditioned offices?
Neville Collins, Paris, France

What heatwave?
Martin, Antarctica


Newspapers logo

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Congratulations to the Independent, which, having put everyone on a downer on Wednesday by reminding us the hot weather is a consequence of our selfish consumerist lifestyles, demotes mention of the hottest July day ever in Britain to pages 12 and 13.

But exactly how hot was it? The Mirror goes with the Met Office's official high of 97.3F in Charlwood, Surrey, but others cite the Press Association Weather Centre's 97.7F (Wisley, Surrey) . The Sun goes a full 1.4 degrees better, with a reading of 99.1F from Pitsford, Northants.

Anyway, cue lots of pictures of bare flesh, ice creams, pigs with sunglasses and flamingos.

The Telegraph brings some interesting historical perspective, revealing how Edwardians kept cool in 1911 - which, until Wednesday, held the record for the hottest July day. "Bathing machines" on Britain's beaches afforded shelter to those who wanted to slip into their neck-to-shin bathing costumers (which weighed up to 20lbs when wet), while, those pre-aircon days, the Savoy ballroom sprayed freezing ozone.

Freezing ozone! Where does one acquire that then? Could this be a missing link in explaining the greenhouse effect? We await a follow up from the Indy.

And how that excessive heat can go to our heads... Turns out that in 1911, the heat casued one man to strip off entirely in public - a deed that landed him in a lunatic asylum. Talk about being born before your time - had he waited 95 years, he'd have found himself on the inside pages of the national press.

Madness aside, the irritation caused by hot weather can test the mettle of even the most temperate suburbanite. This letter from the (suitably named) John Osborne, Woldingham, Surrey, in the Telegraph: "Is it beyond the wit of man - or woman - to invent the silent hedge trimmer?".



Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked whether it was true or false that thinking was the second-most popular bedtime activity, after sleeping. An impressive 83% correctly answered that this was true. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

Yo, Magazine!
Steve, Dagenham, UK
MM note: Yo, yourself.

Re your headline 'Man gets Beatles sentence'. If the penny just dropped on 'Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds', yeah, I guess that's news.
Diane, Sutton

Not a lot of choices in today's mini-quiz. Is that because the Magazine couldn't think of more nocturnal activities - or because it could?
David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

I read today that only nine British prisons offer porridge to their inmates for breakfast. That's what I call a deterrent.
Ralph, Cumbria

My tip for keeping cool in a heatwave: Come and work in our office. It's permanently freezing. It's the only place I know where people take their coats OFF when they go home.
Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock

I saw an advert on TV last night for a "stylish new phone" as it skimmed across rivers, oceans, and other watery bodies. At the end the small print reads "phone is not water proof"...
Pip, Kettering

Never mind the massed "Jones" attempt (Tuesday's DMQ), what about the 1000 Normans that invaded Scotland in the 12th Century? That must have been the toughest roll call ever!
Judy Cabbages, Peebles, Scotland

There are two fluffy things hanging from Gordon Brown's nether regions in this photo. The caption about how proud he is of his two great "boys" (is this a euphemism?) makes it even more confusing.
Oscar, Cambridge

Having done Bugsy Malone with children myself a long time ago (Tuesday letters), if you use squirty cream or shaving foam, the key is to wash the floor after every use, especially with splurge guns, as the floor gets very slippery.
Kath, Brentford


Emma Cox and Luke Pittard
It's Punorama 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 McDonald's workers Emma Cox and Luke Pittard who won over £1m on the National Lottery.

The pair met while working at a drive-thru in Pontprennau, Wales, and have said they will not give up their jobs.

Here's a selection of your puns:

Super-prize me - English Pete, Dorset; Sarah, Halifax, Canada; Dave, Harrow

Burger and large prize - David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

Big Mac and prize, please! - Darren, Leicester; Sue Lee, Twickenham

Meat and wedge - Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

Lucky burgers - Andrea N, Northleach, Glos; Chas, UK

Freedom prize - Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock

Big whack to go - Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Thanks to all who entered.


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

Hot enough for ya? And the weather is the only story in town. How do the papers cover what looks likely to be Britain's most scorching day on record?

The Independent gets the chance to wheel out one of its favourite doom-and-gloom front pages: "ARE YOU WONDERING WHY IT'S SO HOT TODAY?" The answer, for those at the back not paying attention, is global warming.

The Daily Mail, ever fond of our four-legged friends, has a full-page spread on how animals are keeping cool. There's a terrier being hosed down, a lemur tucking into a 99, a tiger with a blood ice lolly and a similar treat for a giraffe (sans the blood, seeing as it's a vegetarian).

The paper also continues its campaign of intimidation against the nation's women by showing what happens when young fillies are fool enough to venture out of the kitchen. They get their strappy shoes stuck in melting tarmac, that's what. Now let that be a lesson to you.

The same young woman pictured losing her flip-flop in the Mail also appears in the Daily Express. But whereas the Mail has her in a demure crouch, the Express snaps her from below, legs akimbo.

The Daily Telegraph too has this shot, but cropped at ankle-level. For it really wouldn't do to have a crotch-shot in Telegraph. Not when there needs to be space for pics of bikini-clad lovelies and topless rugby players at the beach.

Hmmm. Whatever will be in tomorrow's papers?



Yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which surname holds the current record for a gathering, as a Welsh town is planning to stage the biggest get-together of Joneses. Gotcha. A whopping two-thirds of you wrongly said Gonzales. A quarter said Williams. But it's Norberg - 583 gathered in Sweden. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

In the article on disposing of knives - someone had to 'crush 27 Lotus sports cars'. I'm curious. Why would anyone crush one Lotus, let alone 27 of them?
Carol, Portugal

Regarding the question of what "fake cocaine" is comprised of, talcum powder is used as "fake cocaine". This story tells of Australian sniffer dogs that had never moved on to the real thing. Until they had been retrained, they we supposed to be the best team of lost baby finders anywhere.
Ed, London

To Stephen Buxton from Coventry, asks if he has missed much, having been off for a week laying a laminate floor - yes, a small patch just over there by the window. I might have some spare under the tumble dryer I can lend you.
Andy Elms, Brizzle

Re Lisa's quest for easy-clean custard pies, squirty cream on a paper plate always works.
Hannah, stafford

Shaving foam is what we singing telegram girls used.
Sam, France

The 'Yo, Blair' coverage is certainly very telling - but why do transcripts vary so widely? Take the Scotsman's transcript, it includes more of the conversation than your "Full transcript" but less of the dialogue. In particular, yours omits the "he is honey" remark. Why is this?
Dan Ebdon, York

Re the UK Motor Show arriving in London. I was surprised to hear that there has been 30 years since the Motor Show was last in london. Having been to see it at Earls Court twice I am slightly confused being only 29 myself?
Richard Lucas, Northampton, UK

Driving to work this morning, I passed a sign that said "Street Light Columns - Painting in Progress". Street Light Columns? Whatever happened to good old lamp posts?
Cathie, Slough

"Chancellor Gordon Brown's new baby has been named James Fraser Brown." James Brown? Too - many - puns.
Imogen, London


Newspapers logo

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The World Cup WAGs are safely back home, ensconced in their mock Tudor mansions in the home counties, but their legacy of acronym-mania continues. Yesterday's Paper Monitor highlighted the use of SWAGs - G8 summit wives and girlfriends - and MADs: mothers and daughters, with a particular eye to the Duchess of York and her offspring.

Today's Times give us the SADOs - sons and daughters of... In this case it's a story about the questionable merits of the progeny of Hollywood stars such as Jack Nicholson, whose 16-year-old daughter Lorraine is trying to make it in the acting world.

Hold on, Lorraine??? If Miss Nicholson lacks brownie points for her lofty thespian ambitions, she at least deserves credit for having a thoroughly down-to-earth name. Any bookmaker worth his salt will surely be offering short odds on the name Shiloh Nouvel gracing cinema entrance halls in years to come.

Elsewhere, rising temperatures in the UK lead to this gem from the Daily Mail front page: DON'T RUB IN SUNCREAM.

Yup, you can forget all the advice thus far about being sensible in the sun. "Rubbing suncream into the skin drastically reduces its effectiveness," reports the Mail. "Sunscreens work properly only if they are used in a thick 'buttery' layer," it tells. Good news for sun cream makers, who could expect to shift tons more of the gloopy stuff if we all take the advice. The research is by a charity called RAFT - Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust. Acronym-mania strikes again.



Who had the first UK number one asked yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz, after a record collector announced plans to auction off his collection of every song to have hit the top spot in the British charts. Magazine readers exhibited distressing crooner ken, with 54% correctly naming Al Martino, who made number one in 1952 with Here in My Heart. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

I'm confused by Paper Monitor. Can someone please let me know what "fake cocaine" is comprised of?

Just imagine if - as the Daily Express seem to want - Customs were to insist on stripping down every single car that passes in and out of Britain, "French Connection" style, in the hunt for fake cocaine. The Express headlines about 12 hour queues at Dover on a Bank Holiday weekend would be enough to push Diana off the front page. Well, maybe...

Presumably to sniff out fake cocaine you'd need a fauxhound.

Lifeboat rescues stolen boat crew. Your report explained that rescuers had said that the crew had been going round in circles and in the wrong direction. Please can someone advise the correct direction in which to go round in circles.

I've been off for the last week laying a laminate floor. Have I missed much?
Stephen Buxton

We are doing a production of Bugsy Malone with children and are looking for recipe for easy clean custard pies mixture. Can anyone help please?
Lisa Chappell

I don't know, the Times may have it right (Paper Monitor). SWAG, in relation to leaders of the G8, might seem appropriate to the developing world..

In your article about knife disposal it states: "The steel was then sent on a train to Cardiff and by the end of Monday will have been melted down and made into reinforcement rods for concrete blocks in new buildings." Shouldn't they have been made into ploughshares?


Newspapers logo

It's Monday, which means it's Diana day in the Daily Express. Paper Monitor feels for Paris correspondent Peter Allen. Paris is lovely, but by PM's calculation Mr Allen has had to come up with 23 lead stories on the princess this year alone. He probably doesn't even have time to enjoy the pavement café culture.

Inside the Express is a two-page investigation into the laxness of Britain's port security. Reporter Nick Fagge is able to smuggle through a pistol, cocaine and wads of money. Or rather he is able to take an air pistol through, fake cocaine and fake banknotes.

"Three plastic bags of fake cocaine are waved past," thunders the paper. But PM is confused. Does the Express expect sniffer dogs to also spot "fake cocaine"? Sniffer dog training camp is going to get a fair bit more gruelling from now on.

And does the Express expect every single car passing through Customs to be searched? Even those driven by a man in fashionable glasses who resembles a newspaper reporter?

There is much frothing in the papers over the Durham builder David Smith accused of killing numerous greyhounds. The Sun refers to him as the "greyhound executioner" and "dog killer". They do not pass comment on the physical resemblance between Mr Smith and veteran rocker Eric Clapton.

PM would like to offer a word of advice to the Times (SWAGS - G8 summit wives and girlfriends) and the Sunday Times (Windsor Mads - Royal mothers and daughters). The World Cup is over, and so is this joke.



On Friday, the Daily Mini-Quiz asked readers to identify the odds on a mother having quadruplets three years after having triplets. Only 9% gambled on the correct answer of one in 800,000, with the largest number, 65%, going for the greatest odds of one in 80 million.

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