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Happy New Year

4 January 2013

10:23 AM

4 January 2013

10:23 AM

I hope you all had a splendid Christmas and New Year. Mine was, if you care about these things, more eventful and hectic than I’d planned or otherwise anticipated. Each January I tend to have a Wodehouse Week, returning to the great man for cheery sustenance in the bleak midwinter.  It will be a rum thing, reading Wodehouse while engaged to be married.

Anyway, back on the grid now and the great thing about writing and blogging is that it’s a commendable distraction from wedding planning. The grindstone never seemed so appealing.

Time too, I suppose, to post the answers to my Christmas Quiz. So here they are. Hope you had some fun with it.

1. In what sense might the road to Rome, a vernal American composition and the location of the South’s surrender each be found on your phone?

The Appian Way takes you to Rome (from the south). Aaron Copland wrote Appalachian Spring and Robert E Lee surrendered at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War. As you can see these are each “apps” and so might, so to speak, be found on your smart phone.

2. The Scots have theirs arranged in threes, the Irish in fours and the Welsh in fives. So who, respectively, can be recognised by their singles and doubles?

This is a military question. Specifically, the grouping of buttons on the tunics of the guards regiments. The Scots’ are grouped in threes, the Irish in fours while the Welsh have theirs in groups of five. The Grenadiers are in singles and the Coldstream Guards in doubles.

3. What city links Brian Friel, Bruce Springsteen and George Cukor?

Philadelphia. “Philadelphia, Here I Come” is a play by Brian Friel. Springsteen sang about the Streets of Philadelphia and George Cukor directed “The Philadelphia Story”.

4. Humphrey Bogart in Massachusetts, James Bond in Berkshire and Harry Flashman in Warwickshire share a dubious distinction. What is it?

They were each expelled from school. Philips Academy (Andover), Eton College and Rugby School respectively.

5. One seems like something that might have to be borne by a monarch, the second had a bookshop at number 84 nearby. Cricket’s former custodians give you the third while the fourth sounds like a wetland place of worship. Where would you find these and what sum would you need to purchase them?

I boobed rather badly here. You are, of course, looking for London Stations on the Monopoly board: Kings Cross, Charing Cross, Marylebone and Fenchurch. (The Marylebone Cricket Club was formerly responsible for running cricket). The problem here is that Charing Cross is not actually on the Monopoly Board. Liverpool Street is. The question should have asked for a 19th century prime minister or something like that. Apologies and congratulations if you made any sense of it at all.

6.  A sports ground whose owners appear to be in the wrong borough, the founder of the Lion City and the fellow who introduced a medical man to a most singular individual might all be at home in Connecticut. How so?

Stamford is a city in Connecticut. Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge which is actually in Fulham not Kensington & Chelsea. The Lion City of Singapore was founded by Stamford Raffles and the man who introduced Dr John Watson to Sherlock Holmes was also called Stamford.

7. What is the connection between Antonio Salieri, George Patton, Truman Capote and Sir Thomas More?

All parts played by winners of the Oscar for Best Actor

8 A Yorkshire city, a dry biscuit and the namesakes of, respectively, a British Field Marshall and a noted lexicographer are among the 67 who have been fourth in line. How so and who are they?

You are looking or Cordell Hull, Dean Rusk, Alexander Haig and Daniel Webster. Each as served as US Secretary of State who is fourth in the Presidential succession line.

9. What connects England in 1485, Scotland in 1513 and Sweden in 1718?

The last time monarchs from these countries were killed on the field of battle.

10. 80 is the first, 92 the seventh, 93 the eighth and 94 a ninth that is no longer in the same category. Identify these and explain how 52 is ours.

Mercury (the nearest planet to the sun) has the chemical element number of 80; Uranium is 92, Neptunium 93 and Plutonium is 94 (Pluto, however, is no longer consider a true planet). Tellurium – from the latin Tellus, meaning earth – is 52. And earth is “us”.

11. German black and its English opposite and the German (or Dutch) for bird were three wrong ‘uns spinning from Africa. But the fourth of them, who shares a name with the creator of Yoknapatawphna County, was the greatest of all. Who are they?

Cricket: Before the First World War there were four fine leg-spinners from South Africa. They were Schwartz (German for black), White, Vogel (German for bird) and, the greatest of them, Aubrey Faulkner whose namesake William Faulkner set many novels in Yoknapatawphna County. They are “wrong ‘ins” because they also bowled gogglier – aka the wrong ‘un.

12. Where would you find a thrice-thwarted British tennis player, a so-called Spartan General, Lear’s son-in-law and one who succumbed to “sharp medicine” with some stoicism?

Bunny Austin is the tennis player thrice defeated in Grand Slam tennis finals, Bernard Montgomery was sometimes known as “the Spartan General”, the Duke of Albany was King Lear’s son-in-law and Sir Walter Raleigh’s “sharp medicine” was his execution. Austin, Montgomery, Albany and Raleigh are all US state capitals.

13. Whose thirds were, respectively, Scottish, English, Polish and Heroic?

Symphonies: Mendelsson, Parry, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.

14. In whose affair might you hear a soldier’s final tune sounding across a patch of ocean? Another couple, similarly involved, gave versions of their story with a perished bird and at a railway station respectively. Who are they?

Ford Madox Ford wrote “The Last Post”. He had an affair with Jean Rhys, author of the novel “Wide Sargasso Sea”. Similarly the poet George Barker had a famous affair with Elizabeth Smart. He wrote about it in his poem “The Dead Seagull”, she in her novel “By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept”.

15. When did the Shannon run into the Chesapeake?

1812: these were ships who fought an action in the Atlantic during the War of 1812.

16. Victoria’s successor, Leonardo’s enigma, a recently defunct American car marque and a Canadian rush for riches are baked-in so to speak. How so?

Edward VII, the Mona Lisa, Pontiac and Yukon Gold – all varieties of potato.

17. One sounds almost lupine and a gardener might need another. Another proved essential at Agincourt while yet another shares a name with an English dramatist. Why was trouble their business?

Philip Marlowe’s business was trouble. So did Nero Wolfe (vulpine), Sam Spade (garden) and Lew Archer (Agincourt). Each, of course, are fictional detectives.

18. What was done by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Adolf Hitler in 1936, Richard Nixon in 1960, Charles de Gaulle in 1968, Emperor Hirohito in 1972 and George W Bush in 2002? Who would you expect to do it in 2014?

They opened the Winter Olympics. We might expect Vladimir Putin to do so in 2014.

19. Jack Sparrow’s ship, Portugal’s hero of 1966 and a much-decorated American star at the Folies Bergere are each alike and rare but not, perhaps, as valuable as a sacred Mormon text. How so?

The Mormon text is not the Book of Mormon but, rather, “The Pearl of Great Price”. The other three are each the Black Pearl. The Portuguese hero was their greatest footballer, Eusebio while the American dancer (and resistance fighter) Josephine Baker was also known as the Black Pearl and Captain Jack Sparrow commands The Black Pearl in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series of movies.

20. Black for Italy, Green for Romania and Blue for Ireland. What?

The colour of shirts favoured by fascist movements in these countries. (Romania’s Iron Guard wore green shirts)

21. In which British city might an Anthony Burgess novel take you from an undistinguished American president to a badger’s ford via a noted mathematician?

Glasgow. The city’s underground is known locally as “The Clockwork Orange”. Buchanan was an undistinguished President, Ibrox means “badgers’ ford” and Lord Kelvin is the noted mathematician. Buchanan Stree, Ibrox, Kelvinhall and Kelvinbridge are all stations on the network.

22. Where might Teddy Roosevelt’s boys meet fleece-chasers in pursuit of someone whose grandfather gave his name to a particular cup of tea?

Teddy Roosevelt’s troops in the Spanish-American War were known as the Roughriders while Jason’s band of adventurers chasing the Golden Fleece were, of course, the Argonauts. The Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Toronto Argonauts are two of the teams in the Canadian Football League. Canada’s “Superbowl” is the Grey Cup named after a governor general who was the grandson of the Earl Grey who gave his name to the famous blend of tea.

23. Who are Barmy, Stilton, Pongo, Tuppy and Bingo and where might you find them having lunch? And which of their friends was considered “brilliant, but unsound”?

The Drones Club! These are PG Wodehouse characters. Bamy Fotheringay-Phipps, Stilton Cheesewright, Pongo Twisteleton, Tuppy Glossop and Bingo Little. According to his headmaster, the Rev Aubrey Upjohn, Claude Cattermole “Catsmeat” Potter-Pirbright was”brilliant, but unsound”.

24. What links logarithms with the father of an English parliament and the Clifton suspension bridge?

You are looking for Napier, Simon de Montfort [typo fixed] and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Each have British universities named after them.

25. Where do a Spanish wine and an especially successful Olympic cyclist lie south of a sharp cry, a father and – in the local manner of speaking – what sounds as though it must be a large fish egg?

You need to identify Cava and (Sir Chris) Hoy. Then you need Yell, Papa and Muckle Roe. Cava and Hoy are two of the Orney Islands; the other three are in the Shetlands which lie north of Orkney. (Muckle is a Scots term for large).


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