Questions for April-May 2017

1. Who was the director of the British MI6 who pointed out that semen made a good invisible ink for use by spies?

2. When James Dodson, at the age of 47, found that life insurance was available only for persons up to age 45, he decided to start his own insurance scheme that catered for all ages. Why didn’t it go ahead?

3. What was unusual about F.D.C.Willard, FRSC – who co-wrote a paper on low temperature physics with Professor Jack Hetherington?

4. What was it that Mick Jagger had, of enormous size, that greatly impressed the young journalist Lola Bensky?

5. What did Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II say, when someone who had not recognised her said that she looked like the Queen?

Questions for March 2017

Still staggering along. Now and then I find some new material. Have a go, post a sarky comment!

1. When they wind up the clockwork clock at the Houses of Parliament (whose hour bell is named “Big Ben”) what source of the correct time, if any, do they check it against?

2. What was the highlight of the 1894 London stage production of Ben Hur?

3. Cats come in various colour schemes. What colour cat was preferred by the Vikings?

4. What did Thomas Edison irrationally fear?

5. Which country burns the most firewood per head of population?

Questions for February 2017

As I keep saying, this quiz is doomed – I have been doing it for 20 years now – but I keep finding enough questions to make up a set. So here is February 2017 – have a go by posting a comment, or just enjoy it.

1. Erasmus, in 1526, wrote the first modern book of table manners. Including: Instead of licking ones’ greasy fingers, or wiping them on one’s jacket, one should … do what?

2. The British driving test was instigated in 1935. Who was the first candidate?

3. In 1970 the Cairo Opera House was engulfed by fire. Why didn’t the fire brigade attend?

4. Anders Celsius devised the centigrade scale for temperatures in 1742, but it had a flaw – how did Carolus Linnaeus improve it?

5. David Wolf was an astronaut on the Space Shuttle in 1997. What pressing need did he have, unique among astronauts, that was facilitated and enabled specifically for him?

Questions for January 2017

This is the 20th anniversary of the quiz!! But, it is doomed. When I started it in 1997, Google and Wikipedia had not even been dreamed of, let alone invented. I am running out of obscure questions, information is so easily available these days! Anyway, here is a special Captain Beefheart quiz –

1. Captain Beefheart, when a young man would often wash his hair & keep it wet – why?

2. Why was Trout Mask Replica once chosen for Desert Island Discs?

3. CBS used a brand new disc-cutting lathe to make the master recording of Doc At The Radar Station. Once the cutting began, the band and the engineers all went out for a meal … and what happened?

4. The Captain came to regret making the too-commercial LP Bluejeans and Moonbeams. (My mother liked it). What did he advise his fans to do with it?

5. Beefheart added his cousin, Victor Hayden, to the band on bass clarinet. What was remarkable about Victor’s style of playing?

Questions for December 2016

Here’s the questions for December – no pictures this time.

1. In the original series of Star Trek, when the Enterprise uses a Tractor Beam to pull things toward the ship, you cannot see the beam at all – why?

2. And in the original series of Star Trek, there was a sort of square-looking transporter module for travelling down from the ship to land on planets, so why did they keep doing the “beam me down/up” thing?

3. After much strife, prominent Tibetans (mostly in exile) managed to get a national Tibetan Football Team together. Then, due to pressure from China, nobody wanted to play against them. Where was their first international game?

4. What is unique about the English word BONDMAID?

5. The Dyirbal language, spoken by 29 persons in NE Queensland, has not two, not three, but four genders. One gender is for males … what things fall into the other three genders?

Questions for November 2016

All pictures again – some from my holidays!!


On this map of Europe, what do the coloured zones represent?


Where is this?


This is Archbishop Grgur, a propellerhead of the 10th century. As you can see, he was pretty motivated – what about?


This is the ancient town of Komiza, on the Dalmatian island of Vis. A passing Pope with his fleet of boats took shelter here during a storm – this was ages ago – and was impressed with the industry and zeal of the fishermen, as well as their hospitality. How did that Pope reward the fishermen of Komiza?


This is an 18th-century lawyer in London, depicted at one moment in his life. (The artist must have sketched very quickly). What is about to happen?

Questions for Sept/Oct 2016

I’m travelling a lot these days and will have to end this quiz soon, after 20 years!! but I will soon put up a “Best of” compilation of a few of the earlier questions that got the best sarcastic answers. (I remember promising to do that 15 years ago, in August 2001). So here are some picture questions until I get home … witty comments are welcome.


1. This is Leonardo’s idea for a tank. What’s wrong with it?


2. These men are, would you believe, looking for a job. What job?


3. What does this device do?


4. This is a list. What are the items listed?


5. These are post-war Germans in Berlin. What are they looking for?