It’s that time of year again. So here’s the 2011 of the annual Christmas quiz. As always, there are no prizes and it’s just for fun. Mr Google may help with some, though perhaps not all, questions but where’s the glory in enlisting him as your assistant? The answers will be posted in the New Year but they’re also available by emailing me (alexmassieATgmail.com) or you can ask for clues on Twitter (@alexmassie). Good luck!
1. Where, arguably, might Whittier’s most famous son, a great American evangelist and an Anglo-American poet have ridden with a man on the moon? And in which Faulkner novel could they have appeared?
2. In the beginning, 46 fled but lost his foolish wife; 39 was Eric Blair’s island, 18 simply means expensive, 86 is on the Danube and one half of Glasgow is 32. Identify these and then determine what 75 must be worth.
3. Where do the Nile, Ganges, Danube and River Plate meet?
4. In what way are a Roman poet’s real name, the author of a historic compromise, a Catalan artist and the Chilean name for Chilean Sea Bass literally quite alike?
5. On the face of it, 1 is 1 and 5 is 16, 20 is 7 and 50 is 18; 500 was 25 but 1000 was 24 (and 22). How so? And why are 10 and 100 different?
6. What flower would be sported by the namesakes of: a bunny-boiler, a most unpopular officer in Mayo, a Missouri haberdasher, a titan of the imperial era and the onetime face of Revlon?
7. How are Lord Marchmain’s heir and a horse ridden by Elizabeth Taylor related to a tin-miner’s luncheon?
8. One deceived by Nobody, Achilles’ colossal cousin, the conquerer of the Chimera and a Greek Commander-in-Chief all did their duty. For whom?
9. Why might a former head of MI6, the creator of a bookmaker who impersonated a detective at Blandings Castle and the impersonator himself be some of the usual suspects at a country house party? Who else should be interrogated?
10. The Crimson came first. Who are they and who are their Bulldog rivals? Also: who are the Lions and the Tigers and the Bears, what amicable group is the furthest south and which other two complete this elite octet?
11. What do Robert Markham, Benjamin Black and Dan Kavanagh have in common?
12. Identify the man who called for Watson, Johnson’s successor, a notable clipper and a Glaswegian merchant who favoured credit more than honour. Why might they be considered mongrels?
13. Hannibal and Cicero each triumphed in Surrey. How?
14. What dubious distinction is shared by a notorious Scottish speculator, a Jacobean playwright and the most disgraced Vice-President of them all? And why are the authors of A Hero of Our Time and Eugene Onegin notable for precisely the opposite reason?
15. What was taken from the Isle of Wight to New York City in 1851 where it stayed until 1983? To which three countries has it since been taken?
16. What links Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Idi Amin, Claus von Bulow, Benjamin Disraeli and King George VI?
17. One who though, figuratively speaking, born in a stable was not a horse, his later title, a great victory for the Grand Alliance and major cities in New Hampshire and Nova Scotia all earned their wings, so to speak. Which county town is more famous than any of these?
18. In which mountains might you have seen the Badger, the Heron, the Little Elephant and the Eagle of Toledo?
19. One sounds as though it should be Mitt’s slogan, another assisted one of the most famous Belgians, a third is where "the sea is calm tonight" while a fourth is known for its golf. Can you name the fifth?
20. Elinor was the first and Anne the sixth and last. In between came Elizabeth, Fanny and Catherine. Which eponymous heroine completes the set?
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.