Digital Detox is grand even when, as this New Year, it’s partly unplanned. Back today from an extended break on the Isle of Jura which, like much of Britain, has been lashed by gales. Unlike most of Britain, however, this has meant a) no ferries running and b) not much in the way of internet access (thanks to said storms). There are worse places to be marooned even if, like George Orwell, we ran dangerously low on tobacco…

Still, good to be back and all that. I trust you all had a splendid Christmas and an even finer New Year.

Normal posting to resume forthwith. Meanwhile here, somewhat belatedly are the answers to this year’s Christmas Quiz. I hope you had some fun with it. I know some people (or teams of people) got all the answers correct.

1. How are hostages plus steps the answer to everything? Because 3+39=42. John Buchan wrote novels titles “The Three Hostages and “The 39 Steps” and according to “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

2. Where were a new Prince, the chief author of a good book’s vulgar version and a Munster hell-raiser accompanied by an American sour cherry? On the river Thames.  These are the “Three Men in the Boat” (plus Montmorency, the dog). George, Jerome and Harris – as in Prince George, St Jerome and Richard Harris.

3. Lord Pumice Stone survived it. So did The Uncrowned King of Scotland and so, most infamously, did The Great Moghul. Who are they and what? They each survived attempts to impeach them. Lord Palmerston was sometimes known as Lord Pumice Stone. Henry Dundas ran Scotland (for Pitt the Younger) and Warren Hastings, governor of Bengal, was also sometimes referred to as The Great Moghul.

4.  2-8-15 is to 7-23-2 as 18-13-14 was to 12-2-10. This being so, identify 21-19-7, 23-8-20 and 10-11-16. The numbers represent letters. A=1, B=2 and so on. So BHO is to GWB as RMN was to LBJ. That is Barack Hussein Obama, George Walker Bush, Richard Millhous Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson. The others are, therefore, Ulysses S Grant, William Howard Taft and James K Polk.  

5. The namesakes of a turbulent priest, a hunchback, a cold wind, a German land and, most recently, a generic Scottish mountain are members of an exclusive club. Who are they and what distinction do they share? Winners of the nobel prize for literature. Beckett (Thomas and Samuel respectively), Quasimodo, Mistral, (Hermann) Hesse and most recently Alice Munro. 

6. What links a “seditious Middle Temple lawyer”, a guardian of Scotland and a Frenchman temporarily exiled to England? Each have been the subject of biopics that won the Oscar for Best Picture. Gandhi (as described by Churchill), William Wallace (appointed Guardian of Scotland) and Emile Zola (temporarily exiled to London during the Dreyfus affair).

7. A shipwrecked man might want for a cow, a patterned sweater and one of the Friends. But where? In Scotland: these are Scottish counties. Alexander Selkirk was shipwrecked. He might have wished for an Angus cow (though Ayrshire is acceptable too), an Argyle sweater and even, though this is less probable, Ross from the TV show “Friends”.

8. Who sport, respectively, a trio of pears, half a dozen martlets, a white horse and a daffodil? Worcestershire, Sussex, Kent and Glamorgan county cricket clubs. These are their respective badges.

9. What did A Silence in the Water become? Similarly, identify: The Last Man in Europe, The Sea-Cook, The Kingdom by the Sea, and finally, First Impressions. Original titles for: “Jaws”, “1984″, “Treasure Island”, “Lolita” and “Pride and Prejudice”.

10. What links a chap who said goodbye to Berlin, one who dashed to gold, one said to have declined a kingdom and another who played a great detective? Repton School. These are each former pupils. Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes, CB Fry is said (perhaps apocryphally) to have declined the Albanian throne, Harold Abrahams won the 100m at the 1924 Olympics and Christopher Isherwood wrote “Goodbye to Berlin”.

11. What could be said to be thunderous in London but grey and feminine in New York? The Times. (The New York Times is nicknamed The Gray Lady; the London Times the Thunderer)

12. A dog named Fred, a town in Derbyshire, Lydia’s lover and an Irish gothic novelist might each be deemed unsuitable. For whom? Bertram Wooster. The poor sod was engaged to Madeleine Basset (Fred being the cartoon dog), Honoria Glossop (Glossop being a town in Derbyshire), Bobbie Wickham (Wickham being Lydia’s lover in “Pride and Prejudice”) and Pauline Stoker (Bram Stoker is the gothic novelist).

13. The first was Blessed, the second the Liberator and the third the Peacemaker. Who? Tsars Alexander I, II and III in Russia.

14. Where could you say Byron’s publisher, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and a man who portrayed the Iron Horse run? Byron was published by John Murray, Alistair Darling is a former Chancellor and Gary Cooper played Lou Gehrig (aka “The Iron Horse”) in “The Pride of the Yankees”. Murray, Cooper and Darling are all rivers in Australia.

15. If a pop singer from the Kingdom, a Wigan great in the northern code and a dog that went viral are three of six can you identity these and name the other members of this English cluster? The Potteries: six towns in Staffordshire. (KT) Tunstall (from the Kingdom of Fife), (Ellery) Hanley (from Wigan rugby league) and Fenton (the deer-chasing dog that went viral) are three of the six. The others are Stoke, Burslem and Longton)

16. Why might Clare suit the man who killed the King in the North and the first test centurion? County Clare is the “Banner County”. Roose Bolton in “Game of Thrones” slew Robb Stark (“The King in the North”) in “Game of Thrones” despite being Stark’s “Banner man” (i.e., loyal supporter) and Charles Bannerman scored the first century in test cricket. 

17. One lacked world and time enough, another did not wave and a third was notably inspired by a weekend train trip. Who are they and with which cultured city are they associated? Hull, the UK’s latest City of Culture. Andrew Marvell wanted for time and world enough (in “To his coy mistress”), Stevie Smith wrote “Not Waving but Drowning” and Philip Larkin was inspired to write “The Whitsun Weddings” by a train trip. Marvell and Smith were born in Hull; Larkin lived there for many years.

18. How would light blue and silver take you from the Pleiades to a home fit for the Robinsons? By London Underground. The Victoria one (light blue) from Seven Sisters (i.e., the Pleiades) to Swiss Cottage via the Jubilee line (silver) and as in Swiss Family Robinson.

19. What first happened in Vasteras in 1958, next happened in Dortmund in 1974 and last happened 15 years ago in Bordeaux? Scotland scoring a point – indeed, just a goal – in the World Cup finals. Depressing, I know, but there you go.

20. A yodelling country star, a Welsh-born social reformer, Boston’s greatest hitter and Powell’s narrator seem like the people for a new party. How so? Founders of the SDP. Jimmie (Bill) Rodgers yodelled, Robert (David Owen) was the social improver, Ted (Shirley) Williams played for the Red Sox and Nick (Roy) Jenkins narrates “A Dance to the Music of Time”

21. What would you expect to be round in a city of gnomes but oval in Richard Arkwright’s home town? A ball. Zurich is the “city of gnomes”. Richard Arkwright was born in Preston, Lancashire. Zurich’s football team are the Grasshoppers; Preston’s rugby union team are also Grasshoppers.

22. Identify an Irish county, a brace of Empire State governors, a Texas university and one who hung from a London clock. Who is next in the sequence? County Kerry, George and Dewitt Clinton, Rice University, Robert Powell (playing Hannay in 1978) – all US Secretaries of State. So the next is Madeleine Albright.

23. France, United States, England, United States, Turkey. Which island country provides the next setting in this novel sequence? Jamaica. These are the chief locations for the first six James Bond novels. “Dr No”, though the first (officially) filmed was the sixth novel published and is set in Jamaica.

24. On which New York thoroughfare might you expect to find a man who felled the Greatest and an alloy that is 92% silver? What connects them with HG Well’s initial profession? And who, briefly and at some cost, partnered them? Henry Cooper felled Muhammad Ali, sterling silver is 92% pure silver and HG Wells trained as a draper. Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper, Don Draper were briefly joined by Lane Pryce as a partner in Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price – the advertising firm from “Mad Men”. So you would associate them with Madison Avenue.

25. Rhodesia and (among many others) South Africa used to; Hawaii, Manitoba, Fiji and New Zealand still do. What? They each had, or still have, the Union Flag as part of their own flag. 

Tags: Christmas Quiz, Happy New Year, Trivia