Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your starter for 10 ...

Last Thursday I hosted a charity quiz at London's Frontline Club to raise money for the Fixer's Fund. It's thanks to these brave people that we are able to hear and see what's going on in some of the most dangerous and journalism-hostile places on Earth. It was thanks to fixers that we learned of the atrocities in Tiananmen Square and the former Yugoslavia, for example.

A number of people on Twitter have asked me what questions I set and would I post them somewhere for them to have a go at. Your wish is my command, quiz fans. I'll post the answers in a separate post tomorrow. Be warned - I was asked to set a difficult quiz and I did. My audience consisted of teams of journalists, historical fiction writers, reporters and historians. I set 50 questions and the highest scoring team got 19 and 1/3!

I'll post the answers on this blog at 2000GMT Sunday 14th November. If you simply can't wait until then, email me at and I'll email the answers to you.

So, here we go ...

Round 1: Animal Vegetable Mineral

Q1. Which popular household herb's name originally meant sea dew or dew of the sea ?

Q2. What percentage of the total animal biomass of the planet is made up from insects?

(a) 15%
(b) 35%
(c) 65%
(d) 95%

Q3. It takes 12 bees their entire lifetimes to make one teaspoon full of honey. Approximately how many flowers would a bee need to visit in order to make a pound of honey?

Q4. Which of the following is a berry?

(a) Blackberry
(b) Raspberry
(c) Cranberry
(d) Strawberry

Q5. Only three types of precious stone are created by living things. One is ammolite, an opal like stone made from fossil ammonites. What are the other two? (Half a point for each)

Q6. The Tower of London once housed a zoo. The Royal Menagerie was established at the 13th century, and was opened to the public in the 18th century. If poorer people couldn’t afford the admission fee of three half-pence, what could they pay instead to get entry?

Q7. The world’s most expensive coffee comes from the Philippines and is called Kopi Luwak. It sells for over £300 per pound. But what curious process does it undergo to give it its unique flavour?

Q8. What is the largest object that a Blue Whale can swallow?

(a) A grapefruit
(b) A basketball
(c) A ten year old child
(d) A Volkswagen Beetle

Q9. The following is a list of incomplete collective nouns. I’ve done the first one. (1/3 of a point for each correct answer).

A stench of ... skunks
(a) a drift of ...
(b) an intrusion of ...
(c) an unkindness or conspiracy of ...

Q10. What is the rarest animal in the world?

Round 2: Victoriana

Q1. Generally acknowledged as the first football anthem, ‘He banged the leather for goal’ was written in 1890 for Wolverhampton Wanderer’s striker Billy Malpass. Who was the famous composer?

Q2. Who was known as ‘Pinafore’ in the Palace of Westminster? And why?

Q3. Enon Chapel, near the Strand, became notorious in 1839. Why?

Q4. What change in the law resulted from a treasonous act by Roderick McLean in Windsor, 1882?

Q5. In what capacity did Queen Victoria employ Dr John Snow – famous for discovering that the London Cholera epidemic was due to water-borne germs rather than miasma – despite the church’s disapproval?

Q6. What year did the Crimean War end?

Q7. The Victorian who created the modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in 1843 also built the smallest property owned by the National Trust. Where is the property and who built it? (Half a point for each)

Q8. The explorer and botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) achieved a level of infamy for what reason?

Q9. Music hall performer Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) was better known by what name?

Q10. What was the first book manuscript to be written using a typewriter?

Round Three: Wordsmithery

Only one definition of the following obscure English words is true. Tick the one you think is correct.

Q1. Abligurition

A Washing the feet.
B Strangling someone with a leather thong.
C The swearing in of a new bishop.
D Spending a huge amount of money on food.

Q2. Anglewitch

A A female magician.
B A worm used as fishing bait.
C A mythical character who helps anglers.
D An English hazel tree.

Q3. Bloviate

A To spit while chewing tobacco.
B To speak in a pompous or overbearing way.
C To blow on food to cool it down.
D Description of a corpse bloated after being in water.

Q4. Festuceous

A Straw-like.
B Covered in mushrooms or other fungus.
C Delicious.
D Descriptive of a boil or spot ripe to bursting.

Q5. Impignorate

A To pawn or mortgage something.
B To rub with hog fat.
C Someone who believes in imps and demons.
D To destroy the reputation of a medical practitioner.

Q6. Mulligrubs

A Westcountry slang for woodlice.
B The blues, a state of misery.
C The last few rice grains left in a bowl.
D Nickname for people from the island of Mull.

Q7. Nudiustertian

A Alternative name for the snapdragon flower.
B The ancient Greek practice of worship while naked.
C Relating to the day before yesterday.
D Moving in a quick and nimble fashion.

Q8. Pilliver

A Old Scottish name for an immature trout.
B A 19th century machine for shaping pills and tablets.
C A pillowcase.
D A spelling that differs from current usage e.g. ‘olde’

Q9. Tittynope

A An 18th century slang term for a gay man.
B A morsel left on a plate.
C The tassel on a mortarboard hat worn by school masters.
D A starling.

Q10. Umquhile

A When a smile looks sneering or insincere.
B Shaped like a bottle.
C A native American tribe from Alaska.
D Former or previous.

Round Four: Picture this (left click on pictures to see larger versions)

Q1-4. All of these people became celebrities in later life. Half a point for each that you can identify:

Q5-6. Where would you find these naughty looking rock formations and this bizarre bendy house? Clue: Not in the same country. (One point for each - half a point each if you just name the country)

Q7-9. These are all things that could be found in any average home grossly magnified. Half a point for each you correctly identify:

Q9. This US Navy serviceman (left)became so hated that he was forced to change his identity. Who was he?
Q10: What single word links all of these pictures?

Round Five: Not so general knowledge

Q1. Polari is a camp backstage language used in the theatre, popularised by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick as Julian and Sandy in the 50s radio show Round the Horne. What would I be telling you if I said, ‘The crocus gave me dewey doobs for my eke’?

Q2. Why would you be worried if the 893 were after you?

Q3. In which year were public executions abolished in the UK?

(a) 1832
(b) 1868
(c) 1904
(d) 1941

Q4. According to the Oxford English Dictionary what simple, every day word is the most complicated to define?

Q5. Since 1927, Time magazine has annually chosen a person as ‘Man/woman of the Year’. Who was Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938?

Q6. London was the first city in the world to be attacked with long distance rockets known as V-1s and V-2`s. What did the V stand for?

Q7. Only three songs written by the Beatles end with a question mark. (1/3 of a point for every one you name).

Q8. We all know that patricide means killing your father, that genocide means killing a race of people and that suicide means killing yourself. But who would you be killing if you committed uxoricide?

Q9. Various US states are named after individuals (Pennsylvania after William Penn, Louisiana after King Louis XIV etc.) and many are named after native American words. What is notable about the origin of the name Idaho?

Q10. What connects The Times crossword, Asterix the Gaul and a man in a white suit?
Answers on Sunday! Have fun!


Chris Hale said...

Type 'Idaho' into Google and read the first result!

Debby said...

It was the third result for me, if you are referring to "Idaho is a shit hole..."

Karen Redman said...

Ooh, a quiz! So far, without research, I've been able to answer one question. Either I can assume the Alan Davis rĂ´le on your blogsite or I can kill myself.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Chris - Ha ha!

Debby - That's the one!

Google have corrected it now.

Karen - It was intended to be harder than the average pub quiz because my audience had been descibed to me as 'brainboxes, know-it-alls, smartypants and eggheads'. In the end, it proved a little too tough for them too! Next time I'll tone it down a bit.

The intention was to make it interesting - I think you'll enjoy the answers later today. x