Alex Massie

Christmas Quiz! The Answers!

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As promised, here are the answers to this year's Christmas Quiz. It turns out that it was perhaps a little harder than I'd appreciated since no-one (or at least no-one who sent me their answers) came very close to getting it right. The most valiant efforts - and most efforts were most valiant now that I think of it -  scored some marks on a little more than half the questions but no-one scored points on more than 22 of the 30 questions. Still, many thanks for playing and better luck next year...

1.  What's the connection between Dartford, St Pancras North, Beaconsfield and Edinburgh South?

These are parliamentary constituencies and the first seats fought, and lost, by our most recent Prime Ministers: Thatcher (Dartford), Major (St Pancras North), Blair (Beaconsfield) and Brown (Edinburgh South).

2. Can you identify a dog's skipper, a military bridge, a fish and an oil field? Where might you find them together?

You'd find them on the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast. Fitzroy was captain of the Beagle, the military bridge is a Bailey Bridge, Sole is a fish and Forties a North Sea oil field.

3. My Man, Inimitable, Carry On, Thank You, Very Good. What comes next?

As many of you suggested, Jeeves is the next word in each of these titles. My fault for wording this imprecisely: the answer I was looking for is Right Ho Jeeves since this is a list of Jeeves books in order of (UK) publication.

4. 2 and 6 are as closely connected as 41 and 43. 9 and 23 are more distant but not nearly so removed as 26 and 32. Explain.

American Presidents:

2 is John Adams and 6 his son John Quincy Adams. George W Bush was the 43rd President and George HW Bush the 41st. 9 is Henry Harrison and 23 his grandson Benjamin Harrison. 26 is Teddy Roosevelt and 32 his distant cousin FDR.

5. A Duke, a Banker,a Parson, a General, an Admiral, Young Ascoyne, Young Henry, Lady Agatha. Who are they and who unites them?

All are members of the D'Ascoyne family played by Alec Guinness in the wonderful Kind Hearts and Coronets.

6. The tenth and latest is also a college at both Oxford and Cambridge, the third a former British foreign secretary and the sixth Britain's first Empress. Where? And what do the numbers signify?

The college at both Oxford and Cambridge is St John's, the former foreign secretary Halifax and the Empress Victoria. These are also Canadian provincial capitals. St Johns (Newfoundland) is the tenth and most recent province to become a full member of the Canadian family, Halifax (Nova Scotia) the third and Victoria (British Columbia) the sixth.

7. How might a Roman god's means of ascent, a Pacific island and running a Roaring Game inspire a child to verse?

The Roaring Game is another term for curling which is traditionally administered by the Caledonian Curling Club; the pacific island is New Caledonia and the Roman god is Neptune whose staircase is a series of locks on the Caledonian Canal. So the connection is Caledonia - as in Sir Walter Scott's couplet: O Caledonia stern and wild/Meet nurse for a poetic child.

8. 287, 325, 334, 336, 364, 365. Which three numbers come next?

Cricket: this is the progression of  the record for the highest individual score in test cricket. The next three numbers are: 375 (Brian Lara), 380 (Matthew Hayden) and 400 (Brian Lara).

9.  Blaze, League, Carbuncle, Pips. What's the colour sequence?

Silver, Red, Blue, Orange: Sherlock Holmes stories - Silver Blaze, The Red-Headed League, The Blue Carbuncle and Five Orange Pips.

10. In the bible, who or what killed one quarter of the world's population?


11. Why could an infamous duelist, America's most popular limousine and the Year of the Telephone all be seen from the Diners Club?

The duelist is Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton, the limo is the Lincoln Town Car and the telephone was patented in 1876. Burr, Lincoln and 1876 are each novels in Gore Vidal's "Narratives of Empire" series and could be seen from the Diners Club as a collection of Vidal's essays is titled The View from the Diners Club.

12. She was a darling in song, he was an actor who wasn't perfect, while another scoffed at the cuckoo clock: who are they and why would they be related to a civil servant?

My darling Clementine; Jack Lemmon closed Some Like it Hot with the line "Nobody's perfect" while Harry Lime (Orson Welles) disparaged the cuckoo-clock in The Third Man. A senior civil servant might also be considered a mandarin. So each is a citrus fruit. UPDATE: Commenter Whizzo rightly points out that it was Joe E Brown who said "Nobody's Perfect: in SLIH. But he said it to and of Jack Lemmon so it's Lemmon who ain't perfect. The question makes sense; my explanation of the answer was sloppy.

13. The first was assassinated, the second done in by friendly fire while the third and fourth were killed in action by the enemy. Who? And which number eventually prevailed?

Scottish History: James I was murdered, James II killed by his own exploding cannon, James III and James IV both died in battle while James VI prevailed by becoming King of England as well as Scotland.

14. Sandy in Oregon, James in Virginia, Floyd in Iowa, Charles in Massachusetts. The connection?

All are rivers in the United States.

15. Galway in 2001, Dublin in 1995, Cork in 1990 and Limerick in 1896. What?

The years signify the last time these counties won the All-Ireland gaelic football championship.

16. One had a farm made famous in rhyme while another sounded rather equine; others included one who ruled Sweden and one who married his boss's sister? Who are they and, why, collectively, could they be said to have been given the boot?

Napoleon's marshalls: Macdonald is the "farmer", Ney sounds equine, Bernadotte was King of Sweden and Murat married Napoleon's sister. Wellington's victory at Waterloo gave the Little Corporal and his remaining generals the boot.

17. Diplomats were to Washington DC as Roughnecks were to Tulsa and Surf to California. How so?

Washington Diplomats, Tulsa Roughnecks and California surf were all teams in the now-defunct North American Soccer League.

18. Why might a seat where the Lady was not chosen, the English rendition of a left-leaning Italian port, a pioneering landing place and a colourfully socialist-sounding American state each help you decide which came first?

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Here we're interested in chickens: Margaret Thatcher tried and failed to become the Conservative candidate in Orpington. The left-wing port is Livorno, traditionally rendered Leghorn in English; the pioneering landing place is Plymouth Rock and the American state Rhode Island: Orpington, Leghorn, Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Red are all breeds of chicken.

19. Delaware, Wyoming, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Minnesota: Which three states come next?

American Vice-Presidents! Joe Biden is from Delaware, Dick Cheney is from Wyoming, Al Gore from Tennessee etc. The next three in the sequence are New York (Nelson Rockefeller), Michigan (Gerald Ford) and Maryland (Spiro Agnew).

20. Why is Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard now a matter for history?

Because it no longer exists as an independent entity. First raised in 1633, The Royal Scots were the oldest regiment in the British army and nicknamed Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard on account of their antiquity. They were amalgamated with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

21. Lambs' Ears, Snails and Little Worms. Adding butterflies might over-egg it, no?

Types of pasta. In order, agnolotti, lumache, vermicelli and farfalle.

22. Multiply the Men of Moidart by London's tubular sisters. Then add the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the number of French Republics before dividing by the hostages rescued by Richard Hannay. What number do you arrive at?

20. Seven Men of Moidart (who landed with Bonnie Prince Charlie), Seven Sisters tube station in London, six Tolpuddle Martyrs, five French Republics and Richard Hannay rescued The Three Hostages.

23. Road-trip! If you visited Guy Boniface, Marcel Michelin, Aime Giral and Jean Bouin where, specifically, would you have been?

On a tour of French rugby grounds: Mont-de-Marsan to Clemont-Ferrand to Perpignan to Paris (Stade Francais)

24. A windy doctor and an English batsman were among those who shared victory with Dorset's flagship writer. Who? Where? And for whom?

Dorset's most famous writer is Thomas Hardy and Nelson's flagship, Victory, at Trafalgar was skippered by Hardy. Collingwood is the English batsman who shares a name with another of Nelson's captains, while the windy doctor is the Fremantle Doctor, a wind which blows in Perth, Australia and Fremantle was also one of Nelson's skippers at Trafalgar.

25. If Keats was conversing with Chapman and they were interrupted by the Brother who claimed to be representing the Plain People of Ireland then what newspaper might you have been reading and who'd be responsible for it all?

You'd have been reading the Irish Times since all are characters in Myles na Gopaleen's (aka Flann O'Brien) long-running, marvellous column.

26. What are: a Belgian Blue, a Norwegian Red, a Hungarian Grey and a British White?

Types of cattle.

27. What's shared by Cabbage, the London home of light opera and a Franco-Italian Duchy?

Savoy: savoy cabbage, the Savoy Theatre (home of Gilbert & Sullivan) and the Duchy of Savoy.

28. Valencia and Reims are the opposite of Porto and Nottingham Forest. How so?

Soccer: Valencia and Reims are the only teams to have reached the European Cup final more than once and never won (losing twice each); Notts Forest and Porto the only sides to have reached it more than once and never lost (twice each again).

29.  Which novel ends with the line: "I never saw any of them again—except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them."

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.

30. Identify, please, a father and son double-act, a brace of lexicographers, the Prime Minister's generic neighbour, an almanack compiler and a naval hero and explain the journalistic connection.

Editors of the Spectator! Nigel and Dominic Lawson, Frank and Boris Johnson, Alexander Chancellor, Charles Moore (Old Moore's Almanack) and, of course, the current boss, Fraser Nelson.

So that's all folks. Until next time. Thanks again to those who emailed me their answers and I hope that those of you who didn't also enjoyed wrestling with it all...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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