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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 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 bales of straw by Jamie Kitson

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

1. Everyday school expenses - such as uniforms - cost families an average 1,300 a year.

2. Some Royal Mail stamps, which of course carry the Queen's image, are printed in Holland.

3. 88% of couples in long and happy relationships have lips of similar size, according to research by the University of Leicester.

4. London has the best public transport system in the world (well, according to readers of TripAdvisor.com).

5. Helen Mirren was born Ilyena Lydia Moronoff, the daughter of a Russian-born violinist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

6. The Airfix swastika decals are banned from kits for sale in Germany.

7. Toytown, the horse which carried Zara Phillips to equestrian gold, cost just 400.

8. Chinese Girl, a painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff, who died last week, is believed to have sold more in print form than the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

9. Some sharks can't reproduce until the age of 20 or above.

10. Dipping seagull eggs in oil, so they do not hatch, is seen as the best way to limit the seagull population. Shooting the birds is too dangerous, while smashing eggs just leads to gulls laying more.

(Sources: 3 - Daily Mail, Monday 28 August; 10 - the Times, Wednesday 30 August.)

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

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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

Manilow recovering after hip op: just for a moment there I thought Barry had deserted his middle of the road roots and regretted it.
Cat, London, UK

If I started a petition for a "none of the above" choice on the Caption Competition vote, would anyone be with me?
Lindsay, Glasgow

Wow! This week's caption competition entries actually were quite good. It was novel having to decide between several good entries for a change. Could we have a button to vote for more than one answer?
Lester Mak, London

Re Paper Monitor's reference to Mark Almond, if it could have been THAT M Almond, he would have been Marc, not Mark. Unless there's another famous Mark Almond who I'm not aware of, obviously.
Silas, London, UK

Regarding the government's proposals to chip our bins. I don't know if this crossed anyone else's mind but if households are going to be charged by weight for rubbish collection how are they going to stop unscrupulous neighbours from putting their rubbish in other peoples bins to avoid paying?
Chris, London

Whatever the rights and wrongs of hold baggage charges, does Toby Nicholl really think that "an explosion in the amount of baggage put in holds" is the best choice of words?
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Two articles caught my eye today - "Semen 'may fuel cervical cancer'" and "Cameron calls for emissions law". Typical of today's policiticans: no sooner does a problem arise than they want to legislate on it.
Wen, Horsham

I hate to blow Adrian's theory of Paper Monitor's gender out the window (Thursday letters). He reckons a woman because of the reference to perms and ruffles for a Christmas party outfit. I have two words for him. Russell. Brand.
Isabella, Sheffield

Could the Magazine Monitor enlighten me on a question that's been bothering me? What is the plural of Daddy Long Legs? Our house was invaded by a plague of them and I'm not sure whether to refer to them as 'Daddy long legses', 'Daddies long legs' or just 'Daddy long legs'. They seem reluctant to leave the house till I get my grammar right.
Rob, Letterkenny, Ireland

Re "That icon of effortless good looks, Victoria Beckham.". One for the flexicon there I think. An obvious example of a foxymoron.
Kip, Norwich UK


It's time to cast your vote for the winning caption.

This week broadcaster Gyles Brandreth poses with the original Fozzie Bear given to him by Muppets' creator Jim Henson. It is among bears from the world's oldest Teddy Bear Museum that are due to be sold at Christies. But what's being said?

1.David, Edinburgh
Judge presents legal council team.

2. Tony Holden
The passage of time had not been kind to Miss Piggy.

3. Pix6, Vienna, Austria
The reason why Goldilocks is still in therapy.

Choose your favourite caption
1. David, Edinburgh
2. Tony Holden
3. Pix6, Vienna
4. David Dee
5. Helene Parry
6. Hal Coyle
2835 Votes Cast
4. David Dee, Maputo Mozambique
"Cash in the Attic - mixed lot - do I hear 50p?"

5. Helene Parry, South Wales expat to Brentford Lock
The security dog was spoilt for choice.

6. Hal Coyle, Cambridge, MA, US
Before and After patient photos from Dr Marvelo's Cosmetological Clinic (results not typical).


Newspapers logo

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So when is Tony Blair going to resign? After months of speculation, the Guardian has been taking soundings from the prime minister's friends and tells us it's next summer. So that settles it. Only over at the Times, matters are less cut-and-dried. It's been talking to the big kahuna himself and the verdict is - not telling. Paper Monitor finds itself wondering what does his contract of employment say about the length of notice he's obliged to give. Anyone who's been in a senior job for almost 10 years would normally be expected to serve out several months, while the employer tries to fill the vacancy.

No such luxury for President Bush - at least if the plot to Channel 4's latest controversial offering - Death of a President - were to come true. The film portrays a fictional assassination of the US president - a plot that has outraged some Americans. Not that the Daily Mail gives a stuff, asking "What if it DID happen?" Historian Mark Almond - no, not that one - is on hand to speculate. And it's not a pretty scenario, as America is imagined to descend into an authoritarian regime, and fight a bloody war on Iran. The sentence "Cheney's re-election campaign in 2008" will send shivers down some spines.

But here, at least, is someone prepared to stick his neck out and put a date on the end of Mr Blair's term in office, although Brownites won't like it one bit. "When Tony Blair stepped down in 2009 to join President Cheney's Anti-Assassination Commission, it was David Cameron who won the election."


There are 745 Morris Marinas still cruising the streets of the UK according to Auto Express magazine. Well done to the 40% of respondents who got the figure right in yesterday's Daily Mini-Quiz. Today's DMQ is, as ever, on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

No Paper Monitor until after 2pm today! Is it that PM has been too busy trying out the various fashion tips to get any work done?
Jay, NE Wales

We have the truth! Paper Monitor must be a woman (not a gay man, not a piece of computer software etc). Read today's PM and at the end it says that her "Christmas party outfit" is sorted - what kind of non-female would say that?
Adrian, China

Can I nominate 'Mobile phone theft drive launched' as today's most confusing headline?
Craig MacKenzie, Glasgow

I would either like to live for ever or have a letter published by Magazine Monitor - whichever comes first....
Wen, Horsham, England

In Thursday's mini-quiz. about the number of Morris Marinas still on the road, I was rather disappointed by the absence of "Too Many" as an option. I suppose it would have been the clear winner.
Andrew Collyer, Rainham, Kent

Re: Royal Academy of Arts fire. The BBC report quotes an eyewitness saying she saw smoke and there was a strong smell of burning in the air. Where would we be without these insights?
Jim Ringer, Norwich, England


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

Late! Late! For a very important date!

With a change of season almost upon us, Paper Monitor has been poring over the pages and pages of fashion advice to glean some tips.

And what tips to be had. White handbags are trendy again. Looking like a pirate is too (if you're Kate Moss and topless on the Sun's Page Three. Or in an Adam Ant tribute band. Or Johnny Depp. Obviously).

Even that icon of effortless good looks, Victoria Beckham, has been sharing her style secrets in a new book. The Daily Mirror's puff piece is illustrated with "now" and "then" snaps of the former Spice Girl.

Then, in a photo from her school days, she accessorised with a perm (didn't we all), flesh on her cheeks (ditto) and a smile. Now, at age 32, a smile is the last item one would expect to find in her dressing up box.

Her tips? Why Paper Monitor can't wait to share them with you. Avoid horizontal stripes. Flat shoes with skinny jeans means you look like a golf club. Don't eat beetroot because it stains. Words to live by.

And as befits the anniversary of Diana's death, the Daily Telegraph's fashion advice is that ruffles - a la the princess's wedding dress - are back. As are the designers behind that frilly confection.

So that's Paper Monitor's Christmas Party outfit sorted.



Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what was the name of the horse on which Zara Phillips won gold at the World Equestrian Games. It was Toytown, which an impressive 73% of you got right. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

So the Royal Academy of Arts was nearly on fire. If you click on the news item, then on the RA link, their front page shows a photo of a woman with a lighted match between her lips. The picture is entitled Pyromaniac 2, by Josephine Meckseper. Hmmm... perhaps it was a piece of installation art that went horribly wrong.
Nicola Turton, Old Basing, England

I was a bit puzzled to read about a suspect who was "remanded in custody in his absence". Does anyone know how that works? Presumably it could do a lot to ease prison over-crowding.
David Dee, Maputo Mozambique

To Adrian, faced with expensive water (Tuesday letters). Did you buy it? That's how it works.
Phil, Cambridge, England

Adrian, this is how it works. Crude oil is drilled for in hostile conditions in the North Sea. It is piped ashore, refined and taken to petrol stations. The Government then nearly trebles the price with duty and VAT so it ends up costing 95p a litre. Water comes out of the ground. It is bottled and goes to the shops. It is sold (inc VAT) at 1.20 a half-litre. This is what's known technically as a "con". Refill empty 250ml bottles with tap-water and carry one with you. End of con.
Ken, Hornchurch

Re new mnemonic for the planets. Just change the mnemonic to Many Vindictive Earthlings Minister Judgement - Segregating Unwelcome New Plutons (or Plutoids or whatever!)
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Re Punorama I am sulking that my pun "Griddley Scot" failed to get a mention in your honours list. It had all the rightingredients (no pun intended). By way of explanation - griddle (on which pancakes are cooked). The guy was a Scot (can we presume if he was at Aberdeen Uni). He made a film (like the famous director Ridley Scott). Get the idea? Ach well there's always next week.
B Gunn, Muscat, Oman
Monitor note: The judges' decision is final.


Pancakes man

The rules are as simple as could be: we pick a story in the news, you come up with a punning headline.

This week it was the story of a student whose home-made movie film about his love of pancakes became an internet hit and how he uses his fame to recommend Aberdeen University.

James Provan (right) loves pancakes so much he shot a video in his flat about how to make them and stuck it on YouTube. It became a hit, catapulting Mr Provan to global fame - an achievement that set him on course to become an ambassador for his university.

So, how did you punsters do?

Many of you took James' surname as your inspiration, including Mark Wrighton in London with Flip-tastic video is a Provan success, Mal Walker in Adelaide, Australia, with Pancake movie a Provan success and O.G.Nash in Doha, Qatar, with Video Provan anyone can be a star

Thinking along the same lines were DS in Bromley, England, and Martin Price in the UK with Panbassador. Also, Norm Brown in Australia and Gareth Jones in Anglesey with Flour of Scotland.

Honourable mentions go to Crepe expectations from Candace in New Jersey, US, Batter by far - Aberdeen Uni is flippin' brilliant! from Rachel in Perth, Australia, Out of the frying-pan into the hire from Susan in Oswaldtwistle, England, and Doing batter than expected from Lynne F in Castleford.

And a special message to Owain Williams in Munich, you weren't the only one so you don't have to eat you hat, and to Paul in Brighton, Magazine Monitor doesn't accept dares - so there.


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

Aww. The summer is not yet over when a picture of Bambi makes it onto the front page of the Times.

But Paper Monitor fair choked on its porridge on turning, as directed, to page five to read all about the cute baby deer. The headline? "EXTENDED DEER CULL WOULD PUT ORPHAN FAWNS IN HUNTERS' SIGHTS."

And what's this? It's a Wednesday and there's Princess Diana smiling prettily from the front page of the Daily Express.

Are they messing with our minds at Desmond Towers? For she was on the front page on Tuesday too. That, thanks to the Bank Holiday, was the first day of the working week, so Tuesday was in effect Monday (a day on which the paper found room for its favourite princess on the front page, as tradition dictates).

But all becomes clear on turning to pages 18 to 21 as directed. It's the ninth anniversary of her death on Thursday, so expect an entire newspaper devoted to her final days tomorrow.

How could this important date have slipped Paper Monitor's mind when the Express works so tirelessly to make every week a Diana week?

The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, has another anniversary in mind. If a picture of a tear-stained and frustratrated New Orleans resident tells a thousand words, its headline provides the sobering caption: "270,000 PEOPLE HAVE LEFT. LESS THAN A THIRD OF SCHOOLS ARE OPEN. ONLY THREE HOSPITALS ARE WORKING. JUST HALF THE BUS ROUTES RUNNING. THIS IS THE SCANDAL OF NEW ORLEANS ONE YEAR AFTER THE HURRICANE."

All the while, another storm bears down on the coast. For it is hurricane season once again.



Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked how many Beatles' albums were in the top 10 of a BBC Radio 2 poll to find the nation's favourites. It was four, which 44% of you got right - another 44% said three and 12% said one. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

From the most popular list this morning, it looks like I wasn't the only one fooled by the title "Trouser secrets" of the Saxons, only to be cruelly disappointed by talk of a belt... humph.
Elizabeth, London

Kathleen Wells has given us a new mnemonic to help remember the planets. Unfortunately, she has included Pluto, thus rendering her mnemonic rather useless.
Kate , Salisbury

Supertrunker's question about Pluto's being relegated from planet status is a valid point. Did the horoscope writers see the demotion of Pluto coming?
Anon, Brizzle

Whilst postman Roger Annies has undoubtedly done people on his round a great favour (Junk-mail tip postman faces sack), it's still somewhat ironic that he had to drop an unsolicited leaflet through their doors.
Nick Jones, Dorking, UK

Travelling in to work today I went to buy a bottle of water. I was shocked to find it costs 1.20 for 500ml. This is 2.40 per litre, making it very nearly three times the price of petrol. How does that work?
Adrian, London, UK

In the article showing before and after weight loss pictures, how do you know that they are in the right order and that these aren't pictures of people that have put on a lot of weight?
Cassandra, Oslo, Norway


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

Charles Kennedy is back in the papers.

Two days ago the Observer ran an interview with the former Lib Dem leader where he revealed a desire to get back on the party's front bench at some time.

The Times has followed this today with the first part of its serialisation of Greg Hurst's alcohol-centred biography of Mr Kennedy. The splash suggests Mr Kennedy's drink problem goes back further than previously thought.

It's the only political story of the day. Even the Daily Telegraph has to acknowledge its existence. Although because of a shortage of space on page two, it is not able to mention the newspaper where you can find the serialisation. The Times. Or the nature of his day job. Political correspondent at the Times.

Page three in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Mirror and even the Daily Telegraph has the reunited, original Charlie's Angels, resplendent at the Emmys. But the real highlight is the focus on Dame Helen Mirren's 20 "stripper shoes" in the Express.

Many of the papers have leads on Roger Annies, the rebel postman and budding hero of Middle England. Mr Annies has been suspended by the Royal Mail after telling the residents on his round they could opt out of unaddressed junk mail.

In the Mirror, that's p16. And on p17? An advert for the Royal Mail. Good work production chaps.



Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which EU nation is the best at recycling? A healthy 62% of readers correctly said it was the Netherlands. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.


Letters logo

Ah ha... my powers of deduction lead me to believe that there is only a skeleton staff at most offices today. Therefore, it doesn't matter that this letter isn't profound or witty, it still has a higher chance of being published due to a lack of response from the rest of the MM reading world.
Imogen, London

Hi all, have been away on a motorbike for last 3 weeks, anything unusual happened?
Gerard Linehan, Dublin

The 'BBC News Most Popular' was showing 'UK traffic to the site is 266% below normal'. It was right after Paper Monitor was posted - any connection?
Gene Scharmann, Bergen, Norway

In answer to Rob's answer to Alex in Friday's letters the French actress Miou-Miou is pronounced "mew-mew". I don't know if that's of any help to Alex though.
Liz F, Nyons, France

Can I now expect my horoscope to mention the influence of UB313 following the demotion of Pluto?
Supertrunker, Houston

In answer to the request for a new mnemonic to remember the planets in Friday's letters. Many Vindictive Earthlings Minister Judgement - Segregating Unwelcome New Planets
Kathleen Wells, New Brunswick, Canada


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

The Daily Telegraph rejoices in a chance to use a front page photo that ticks the key boxes: "posh", "blonde" and "attractive". It's Zara Phillips of course, fresh from her emotional triumph at the World Equestrian Games in Germany.

But they are not alone. She also makes the front of the Daily Mail and the Times. Even the staunchly republican Guardian has to swallow its pride and prominently feature a royal achieving something.

The papers that shy away from Zara? The Daily Star fills its attractive blonde quota with Bianca Gascoigne, the Daily Mirror features Peaches Geldof, and of course the front page of the Daily Express is only big enough for one posh attractive blonde - Diana.

Only the front pages of the Independent and the Financial Times are free of attractive blondes. Phew.

The now-obligatory poster front on the Indy proclaims the saving of 16 threatened bird species from extinction. Readers can enjoy their bank holiday safe in the knowledge that the Pale-headed brush finch is doing OK.

Over in the Financial Times, there is a picture story on Construction Jihad, the extraordinarily named civil engineering wing of Hezbollah.

And in the Mail, page 13's lead poses the burning question of the day: "Could my dog find me a man?" Puppy dating is the latest thing, apparently, with celebs like Ben Fogle and Davina McCall finding their other halves thanks to canine collisions.

Ah, August bank holiday, the pinnacle of the silly season, and Paper Monitor sees everything is well.



Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked what was the solar system's new outermost planet after the sad disqualification of Pluto. A healthy 54.49% of readers said it was Neptune. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

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