Answers for October 2001

Dr Bob’s winner for October 2001 is

Jay Scrivener

who says “I am a peasant clod and I can’t spell my village’s name”. But his e-mails come from Perth, WA

Question 1

If Churchill’s speech “We shall fight on the beaches / the landing grounds / the hills / the fields / the streets and we shall never surrender” had been delivered to Englishmen in 1066, they would have understood every word except one. Which word?

Correct Answer

  • Surrender. It’s French!!
  • Surrender is patently a pusillanimous latinate expression, not a stark, manly Saxon word. Of course, the Normans won at Hastings, but that’s not the issue.
  • Surrender, which comes from the 15th Century Middle French “surrendre” – to give back, yield. Unlikely to be spoken by Englishmen before the Normans invaded.
  • Surrender, which is of French origin (which had no effect upon English until the Normans showed up). Although, technically, they (the medieval English) would have understood little of what Churchill said, due to the large shifts in English pronunciation over the last thousand years.
  • Surrender. A true Englishman doesn’t surrender. <cue Land of Hope & Glory etc. etc. etc.>
  • Surrender. No English peasant clod could pronounce it, much less put the word to any good use.
  • Surrender. The English don’t know the meaning of the word “surrender.” They don’t know the meaning of a lot of words, that is why the OED is so damn big. And “surrender” comes from the Old French, so those Saxons wouldn’t readily know that word.
  • Surrender. Prior to 1066 (and for a while thereafter), Englishmen didn’t know the meaning of the word surrender – what they said instead was “Fuck this for a game of soldiers, I’m off”. It has an interesting history. During the War of the Roses, the first change bowler for the Lancastrian side was a certain Sir Ender Ramsbottom, who was defending the left wing of Henry’s line (on the top of a hill). Along came the Grand Old Duke of York (later Richard the Turd) with his 10,000 (actually only 9,992 as eight had been sent to the physio with strained Achilles tendons) men. Seeing this, Sir Ender said “Fuck this for a game of soldiers, I’m off”, thereby leaving the Yorkists forces to roll up the Lancastrian line (using the heavy roller, naturally) and defeating their opponents by an innings and plenty. From that day onward, such craven activities were known as “Doing a Sir Ender” later still it was corrupted to the word we use today. I know this to be true because six of the eight men let off with tendonitis were ancestors of mine.

Other Answers

  • It’s got to be the forward slash. While they *may* have understood what having a slash meant, I’m sure that the direction in which the slash was had would have been influenced by the wind rather than where they were heading.
  • Aardvark. However purists may say ‘surrender’ because it is derived from old French (‘surrendre’) and the nasty Normans, having nearly but not quite conquered the pusillanimous Poms, had not had a chance to pollute the local language. Realists may say ‘fight’ because it is clear from the result that Harold’s Poms certainly did not understand that particular word.
  • Beaches: just as the inuit have 20 words for snow, the English had no word for beach. Everyone knows that there are no real beaches in England, there are just forlorn pebbly coves and crappy weather.
  • Beaches The English STILL don’t know a beach when they see one, at least until they come to Bondi.
  • Beaches. Blackpool had not been invented then.
  • Beaches. Even today some Poms are confused with the concept of a beach. A beach as a stony place where one wears socks and sandals, sits in a hired deck chair, and occasionally rides a donkey.
  • Churchill They would have said “Forsooth, but who is this balding ninny that doth addresseth us? And pray what is that odd object he has set fire to in his mouth?”
  • Fields, because Charlotte Bronte didn’t invent them until the 18th century.
  • Fight, what with the Danes and then the Normans taking a stroll through the country side, the English had no idea of the word.
  • Fight, because in 1066 there were only pansy-arse pussys who wouldn’t fight for anything!
  • Fight. It was during the Age of Python and it was really Sir Robin the Brave who lead (huh?) the Bwitons into battle. “When danger reared its ugly head, brave Sir Robin, turned and fled”. You see it wasn’t until Sir Christopher of Skase said “Gather round, boys, I’ll show you how to bravely face your foes”. To which a new word was added to the Battle Cries of the English “RUN AWAY”.
  • I doubt they would have understood every word, pronunciation was a lot different then. They would not have understood “fight”. In 1066 the velar fricative represented by the “gh” would have been sounded and the word would have been similar in sound to the German “nicht”. It makes the speech a bit pointless if they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing on the beaches, landing grounds, hills etc.
  • Hills – these were not invented yet !
  • Landing, just a guess.
  • Let me have a guess and say “the landing grounds” because planes hadn’t been invented at that stage. Otherwise I would guess at either “never” or “surrender”.
  • It’d be unfortunate if they didn’t understand “never” because then the speech would say “We shall fight…. and (blah) surrender”. Motivating stuff.
  • Since the word ‘one‘ is not in that sentence, they would have understood them all!
  • Shall. Obsolete archaic word even then.
  • Shower. Actually, Englishmen didn’t exist in 1066.
  • Streets They didn’t actually have streets in 1066, so there were no Old/Middle English words for that concept.
  • Streets – what we call streets today, the locals then called sewers/garbage dumps
  • Streets, because there wouldn’t be that many then. . . but hang on, they are Englishmen, they wouldn’t know a good “beach” if it bit them in the arse. Oh, hang on, is this a trick question where the answer is actually “one”.
  • The – up until then they all said “da”.
  • The logical thing to do is probably to ask a speaker of german which of these words sounds totally unlike it’s low german equivalent, but our resident german is currently in Brisbane, so I’ll have to guess. Ummm…. “the”. At any rate, they probably wouldn’t’ve paid that much attention to what he was actually saying, because they’d be muttering to each other, “Hey, am I seeing things, or does that fat bloke keep sucking on what looks like a smouldering dog turd?”
  • They wouldn’t’ve understood the word “the”, which is five words, not one.
  • We, of course. The poor bastards never had a collective pronoun. As you can imagine this was a bit of a social impediment. Although the word was introduced in the 1700s (through a total misunderstanding of the French), the English have never quite got the hang of social structure. To this day they feel a deeply ingrained disgruntletude, which they express with constant whingeing and whining.
  • We. They weren’t very team oriented at the time.
  • I’ll go the pronoun “we” as all the rest are nouns and fairly common. I bet everyone else will go for the word “street” but I’m indulging in a clever bluff, because I reckon they had streets then too.
  • With the amount of lead they used to put in their beer to make it taste better, I’m surprised they could understand more than one word of any kind. More like “Duhh..we… beach.. streets… more beer… glorious Duff…”
  • The whole speech, because they’d be mistaken about which war Churchill was talking about, and Churchill’s accent was divergent from theirs by 900 years.
  • They would not have understood what they were fighting about, but that is the case with most wars anyway.

Question 2

The civil war fighting in Beirut used to cease for a while on Monday evenings, why was this?


The Benny Hill Show was on TV

Let’s See What’s On The Other Channels:

  • Why of course, it was so they could all watch Mash re-runs.
  • To watch Scott and Charlene in “Neighbours”? But seriously, to worship their god / prophet? Same thing?
  • To watch Friends.
  • To watch 4 Corners on Aunty, of course. Even in the ME it is recognised as quality viewing.
  • To watch “Who wants to be a millionaire?”.
  • To sing [I’d prefer the fighting]
  • To eat Baklava and watch “Roseanne” reruns.
  • They were watching The Simpsons. Everyone wanted to see what Bart was writing on the board in the opening sequence.
  • They had to watch “Perfect Match” [Only the side that was losing]
  • They had to go to the market & do their shopping sometime.
  • The Lebanese equivalent of “Neighbours” was on the telly.
  • The Goon Show was on the BBC World Service Radio.
  • That is when Dallas was broadcast in Lebanon and everyone wanted to know what J. R. was up to. Perhaps they should have broadcast it 24 hours a day.
  • Soccer.
  • Soapies.
  • So they could go back and watch themselves on the TV news
  • So that the devout could face the deity in the corner of the living room and pay homage to JR bin-Ewing, a legendary oil sheikh who miraculously survived attempted assassination by one of his harem.
  • So everybody could buy and eat an ice-cream. The Mr Whippy van used to have much the same effect on my brother and I when we were kids, although when hostilities resumed we were never as nice to each other as the opposing sides in Beirut.
  • Skippy the bush kangaroo on the Teev? Na couldn’t be that, the frustration levels would have been higher. American civil war re-enactment night? Na, that was every other night. Bingo! No really… I mean Bingo.
  • Re-runs of Mr Ed
  • Repeats of the Don Lane show
  • Prayers
  • POWERBALL! Or “Neighbours”. Or “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!” Or “Mr. Squiggle, the Untold Story”. Or “Dallas”.
  • People stopped shooting.
  • Oh, it could be any number of reasons; talking to the enemy, moving dead bodies, light conversation to try and end the war…. But I’d say usually moving the dead bodies, yeah I like that one.
  • Obviously we sold A Country Practise and the fighting would stop for an hour. Every night the people of Beirut would stop for what they all thought was an Australian Sex program. Every week they would tune in to see of Cookie would actually get his hands on the little sheep from the back paddock, or would Big Bob get their first and render the young sheep useless for anyone. Of course as this bestial (big word look it up) feast would never happen this left the locals with a high level of frustration and so the fighting would start again. Think I’m making this up, then why did the civil war stop when A Country Practise ceased production.
  • Neighbours… everybody needs good neighbours…” tra la, tra la, you get the idea.
  • Neighbours was on. I don’t care what the real reason is but I wouldn’t mind betting it was something like that. Perhaps it was the Lebanese version.
  • Neighbours was on TV….everybody needs good neighbours….thats when good neighbours become good friends….
  • Mondayitis?
  • Monday nights are pro wrestling nights! I wonder if they supported the WWF or the WCW?
  • Monday night football. Duh. Getting the CBS satellite feed is a problem sometimes, though.
  • It was the only time the internet was available to do Dr Bobs Quiz?
  • It was happy hour at the West Bank Arms
  • In Beirut Tonight was on
  • Hostilities would take a back seat to the retransmission of ABC’s NFL coverage in “Monday Night Football”.
  • Friends is on TV. And who is Rachel pregnant to??????
  • For prayers
  • For breakfast.
  • For a drink, I expect
  • Druze holy day?
  • Coffee break.
  • By mutual consent, both the Israeli troops and PLO would get together, sing John Lennon songs, and trade hints for dealing with amputations.
  • Because that was when K-Mart had their great blue light specials and everyone wanted to get in on the bargains!
  • Because it was disrespectful [A good idea – it could be extended until ALL fighting is disrespectful … if Allah wills it]
  • Baywatch.
  • At that time, they resorted to uncivil warfare
  • Ancient tradition. See question 5 [where the answer was “Tuesday to Sunday”]
  • Ammo shipments would come in that day, and everybody needed to reload
  • Aardvark. So they could watch Four Corners and BackBerner uninterrupted.

Question 3

Working buildings must provide a certain number of lavatories per employee but the Pentagon has more than necessary – why?

True Answer:

The Pentagon has extra bathrooms because the laws of Virginia in the 1940s when it was built required separate bathrooms for whites and for non-whites. After the end of segregation, they figured it would be mighty difficult and/or insulting to convert bathrooms into offices, so they stayed. [The designers must have contemplated the situation where ALL the staff are of a non-white colour … without guessing how military policy might have then changed]

I Knew There’d Be This One:

Because every time a plane flies overhead everybody shits themselves

And, Of Course:

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Lavatory Humour:

  • You know Bob…. I think it’s because Americans often have trouble in that area. [Yes, an aeroplane flew in]
  • Too many officers!
  • Toilets are usually situated at the corner of a building. Most buildings have four corners. Obviously five cornered buildings require more toilets. I am glad that I do not work in a round building.
  • To be prepared for eventualities such as the recent terrorist attack, when several toilets were violently destroyed.
  • They may look like extra lavatories to the untutored, but really they’re office space for all the useless shits who work in Dept of Defence administration.
  • They had a surplus of funds during construction.
  • They employ lavatories. More specifically, shape-changing aliens disguised as lavatories. There’s also a secret association of plumbers with Pentagon connections who install aliens in people’s houses. Think about it – it explains the American abduction figures.
  • These are special lavatories with three flush buttons: one for wees; one for poos; and one which turns the bog into an elevator and scoots the seated down into a bomb shelter in the basement. Plumbing was quite a challenge, sometimes it leaks a bit. In fact, it is a pentagon newbie’s initiation rite not to tell them this, leading to many a hilarious episode. (Yes, this was in appalling taste.)
  • The Prez can’t be caught short, how undignified.
  • The Pentagon usually has lots of guests. Guests need to pee, and they can’t have all that pee swishing around on the floors. It is the Pentagon, after all. They have to maintain some semblance of decorum.
  • The lavs go ‘offline’ to be cleaned of bugs so need more to cover ‘down time’….we all know how spies hang around toilets.
  • So they’ve got some use for all the $500 toilet seats that their inefficient tendering practices have resulted in.
  • So that no one wastes time by having to queue for a toilet
  • Pretty much every office building has more than the required number, right?
  • Perhaps the nice folks in the Pentagon are a sight more nervous about THEIR decisions than we are…
  • Lavs per employee? How many do YOU need Dr Bob?
  • Judging by some of the weird things the US military have done in the past I would say that they probably have more than their fare share of closet drinkers, and thus are always running to the loo.
  • It is unseemly for officers to be seen hurrying to the toilet and having to wait in line while there is a major emergency at the same time.
  • Dunno, but is Pentagon really an appropriate name for it anymore, how about the Wreck Tangle. (I expect a knock on the door any minute now)
  • Due to the fact that the building is full of public servants and dictates military policy to the US you require some way to remove the vast quantities of bovine excrement that the place generates.
  • Consider the statistics, Pentagon employees drink from 691 water fountains, consume 4,500 cups of coffee, 1,700 pints of milk and 6,800 soft drinks and a bottle of Pimms. They may need to utilize the 284 rest rooms.
  • Bush has that affect on the bowel
  • Because, as everyone knows, all well-trained and regimented military personnel ablute and excrete at the same time, so they need one dunny each. This is known as esprit de crap.
  • Because when the Pentagon was built the segregation of the races was still “government policy,” so it was necessary to build additional lavatories for the “coloureds” over and above those required for the “whites”. With the coming of desegregation presumably they simply took down the discriminatory signs thus instantly doubling the available lavatory count.
  • Because they’re a bunch of pissers
  • Because the pentagon is a very important building and the employees must avoid being full of shit.
  • Because the Pentagon is a closed figure, they couldn’t make nie-blankes sit (or stand, as the occasion required) at the back.
  • Because people live there in an emergency [Americans probably would. For myself, I would rather go and live anywhere except there, in an emergency]
  • Because most officers in the Pentagon suffer from verbal diarrhoea, thus excreting from two orifices at once hence double the toilets
  • Because it was designed that way, silly.
  • Because it has a lot of important visitors regularly
  • Because having their own personal bog helps the self esteem of each general, colonel, security advisor and secretary of state. If ever they have a crisis of confidence (“Darn it, why are we bombing the bejeezuz out of a bunch of starving paupers when al-Quaeda are all over the place”), they dash off into the little boys’ (or girls’) room, cry for a while, whip out the ground zero horror photos, and come out with guns blazing as it were.
  • Because Big Brother has a Big Ass.
  • Anyone ranked above a general gets their own loo
  • Analysts receive an excessive amount of reading matter at the pentagon. In order to read in peace they wander off to the dunny with reports etc. under their arm. More dunnies are needed to allow this analysis to take place. Good place for used reports, too.
  • American Toilets are so well built that they double as bomb shelters.
  • Aardvark. One is tempted to say it’s because the US Army is a shitty lot, but I’ll manfully resist that temptation. The real reason is because Australian military exchange people at the Pentagon take the piss out of their US colleagues at every opportunity, thus increasing the latter’s propensity to skip-to-the-loo-my-darling.

Question 4

(Assuming that they had existed in the first place) what difficulty would King Arthur’s knights have had with their armour?


It hadn’t been invented yet

Other Legends:

  • Zounds! Not a lot of “give” should a fair damsel pass by and certain male bodily reactions occur.
  • You try scratching your back with your lance while wearing armour! You could do yourself a real damage! Actually, they usually wore mail instead of armour, anyway.
  • Why should I assume the problems existed in the first place? Economics tells us that as a demand for service existed a service supplier would have been created to fill the need……or they could hire a consultant now they’ve got real problems
  • What difficulties wouldn’t they have? How about, mounting a horse without dissecting it, finding the fly to pee, rust around the crotch, getting up after they’d fallen over, that irritating sound of clanking, the armour would seize up after a rain (and we all know how much it rains in foul old England), rape and pillage would be out of their warrior repertoir. And they would have had dreadful trouble driving a car in it. [Which is how the police got the upper hand in M.Python & Holy Grail – which by the way is historically more accurate than most other Arthurian films]
  • Washing it
  • Walk in front of a tower of loudspeakers and suddenly those magnets come into play…
  • Underarm rusting – the phrase ‘squeaky clean’ originally meant something quite different. And they were a bitch to iron…
  • Toilet visits would be a pain, literally. Getting the codpiece off with the gauntlets on would be hard enough, let alone holding the old fella. There was the risk of laceration from the bottom edge of the front piece, and if they sneezed they could find themselves dong free.
  • The extra “U”. When will you people learn it is COLOR, ARMOR, etc. It is the curse of the French [who still don’t know how to spell their own language] that too many Anglo-phones are stuck with too many extra letters in their words.
  • The armour was so heavy that they’d sink and disappear in the foul boggy sludge that passes for soil in England. And if they fell over indoors, they’d make a dreadful mess of the parquetry.
  • Taking a leak. Would have known Arthurs men, by the yellow and rust stained armour. By the time you got the greaves off, then the doublet, then got the chain mail strides off, and as for the chain mail jocks, then get the wedding tackle out for a drain. You’d give up and just let go, worry about cleaning the rust off later. Still that’s why they invented serfs.
  • Swords, mostly. Sometimes arrows were a problem, too. I would imagine that armor wouldn’t stop you from getting squished by a horse, either.
  • Standing, sitting, raising their arms, moving in general. Would have been funny to see them walking through a muddy stream. “I’ll get you, you vile dog, you blub,blub,blub….(the silence is deafening, all except for Mel Gibson standing on the other side of the stream with all his Braveheart buddies, falling about laughing)
  • Spit and polish – who has that much spit?
  • Rust; inability to sit down; difficulty in walking; inability to mount a horse; inability to stand up again after you have fallen off your horse; going to the loo; seeing clearly – no peripheral vision with those visors; putting it on and taking it off; tiring quickly from carrying all that weight around; is that enough?
  • Rust. The Killrust range of products had not been invented then
  • Rust. Big problem in Camelot, which was located on the windy, rainy English seaside. Caused no end of problems with the local Mini Minors too. Due to the fact that there was no stainless steel in those days.
  • Rust. Big Kev’s cleaning products would have been very popular.
  • Problems? What problems could they possibly have had?! (apart from the weight, the heat, the rusting, the chafing, the restricted movement, the restricted vision, the noise…)
  • Passing through Airport check-ins.
  • Obviously: going to the lavatory, coitus, sitting on horses, rust, static electricity during dry days, and metal rash.
  • No zips in iron trousers.
  • No one had yet invented a product like WD40 or CRC, so the knights were using beef lard. The problem was not in rusting or seizing up of the metal joints, but the large number of hungry dogs that followed them around.
  • Let me list the ways, Heavy oh so very heavy, fall down and your stuffed. Limited movement, no fancy sword moves in these babies. Rust, Rust really bites particularly in the finer joints like shoulder and gloves. Could be kept clean though. Vulnerable to the long bow, Heavy projectile travelling very fast, very accurately by easily trained foot solders. Not a good idea but fine for fairy tales.
  • King Arthur and his men were Celtic warriors in Fifth century Britain and didn’t have the plate armor that Sir Thomas Mallory outfitted them in. Hence, they wouldn’t have had difficulties.
  • I’ve never understood how they would defecate through 5mm of iron armour. Should a hole be provided for this purpose, it would constitute a weak point, and as you can imagine, a most humiliating death. But then again, if I was King no soldier in my army would cack himself at the sight of the enemy in the first place.
  • It’s hard to get it on and off by yourself.
  • It would weigh down Sir Robin as he bravely ran away.
  • It would not have been metal
  • It would have rusted badly in that climate.
  • It weighs a bloody ton
  • It was bloody heavy
  • In order to get into the armour they would have had to be lowered in to the lower half, making toilet trips would have been impossible, hence…well you can imagine the rust problem.
  • If you get a bit horny while wearing one of those things, suddenly you have to sit down to piss.
  • If they were walking along and a bee got in their armour. That would suck.
  • I can only guess again – it would have been too heavy for them or their horses? The helmet caused blind spots (especially when the visor kept dropping down) making it impractical for battle situations? It rusted too easily? There was twelve of them and only eleven sets of armour? There was “cod-piece” envy, resulting in a bizarre race to see who could wear the biggest?
  • Have you ever tried to climb onto a horse in full armour? (Neither have I but I’d bet it’s not easy – not easy on the horse either!)
  • Greaves.
  • Good grief, where to start the list? Okay, apart from the fact that you were stuck inside a very heavy and hideously expensive personal tin can for hours at a time with your lice and your excrement (because these things didn’t have trouser flaps) AND eating and drinking were practically impossible AND vision was extremely limited once you had your visor down AND you were dependent for transport on a horse (lunatic creatures that are born with brain damage, every one of them, then just acquire more stupidity and/or rat cunning as they get older) AND you required a small tribe of boys in school tunics and bad haircuts just to maintain it and help you get dressed AND looking like a knight meant that Morgana Le Fey would probably be trying to turn you into a frog AND that pooncey Launcelot and henna-haired harridan Gwynhyvar were keeping you awake at night rutting like stoats in the castle’s worst kept secret CLANK CLANK CLANK, any knight had to deal with the “what am I going to wear today” headache: what to wear, how to wear it, and how to accessorise? For instance, will you sit high, or in cantle? Will you set your stirrups low, or forward? Will you couch your lance, or rest it? Flex sabaton, or firm? Side plate, or vambrace guard? Broadsword left or right? Basinet beneath your helm, or not? [No wonder they didn’t go out much] On top of that, any chain mail involvement invariably meant that child labour would’ve been employed to do the riveting of the tiny rings, and you ran a distinct risk of being assaulted by a group of FairWear demonstrators. And Grud help you if the militant Animal Lib people saw you with any feathers adorning your helmet.
  • Going to the toilet would have been supremely difficult. Not to mention riding, moving, walking, standing up and sitting down, along with almost any other activity you can think of [and especially the only one that I can think of]
  • Going to the dunny, rust, going to the dunny, getting pressure cooked on hot days (if any), frozen immobility on very cold days (lots and lots), going to the dunny (if you think I have a preoccupation with going to the dunny then you should see me down the Nott(ing Hill Pub) on Saturday after a few pots!)
  • Getting up after falling over. Metal suits are bloody heavy. Mind you I’d not want to have to take a leak while wearing one….unless there is a tap on the cod piece *snigger*
  • Getting the windsor knot correct.
  • Firstly walking in it – it would have been too heavy, and relating it to question 3, they’d be in a spot of bother going to the loo.
  • Finding the zipper.
  • Finding the right super models to successfully market the product, oooooh they are soooooo heavy.
  • Finding a good panel beater
  • Finding a can of WD-40.
  • Eating at the round table
  • Dry cleaning the darn stuff was HELL for everyone!
  • Droolz, chainmail… Well Bob for one thing it’s extremely heavy and takes a while to put on and take off, you don’t have full movement whilst wearing it…. and it’s difficult to see out of the hat. So I imagine it would be quite difficult to fight in them.
  • Churchill’s speech. C’mon. Knights didn’t come into existence until around 1000, and so time travel would have to exist. Thus, Churchill could also have been taken back in time and delivered his speech. The unknown word in the speech would have caused them to be vaguely uncomfortable in their armo(u)r.
  • Chafing.
  • Body waste expulsion – not a pretty thought
  • At the beginning they each had only one little metal ring, which (you must admit) wasn’t very good at protecting anything. Then one of their number, a certain Sir Chaim (the token Jewish knight), hit upon a cunning strategem. He made 20 copies of his ring (now, now, no sniggering – this is a family quiz) and sent them off to his 20 closest friends with instructions that they should, within 48 hours and on pain of terrible bad luck, also make 20 copies and send them to their 20 closest friends. The problem was that the only people any of the knights knew were other knights of the Round Table, so soon all of them were constantly sending and receiving dozens of letters with little metal rings enclosed and Camelot soon rang with the sounds of rings. Cometh the hour, cometh the [wo]man. A certain Lady Pearl found that if she linked the rings together into certain patterns and hung them about the knights, they were pretty good at defending their persons. As these rings always were enclosed in letters, this gave rise among the knights to the term “Chaim’s mail”. However, due largely to the difficulties of wielding a quill while wearing metal gauntlets, it has come down to us as “chain mail”. (see also “chain letter”.)
  • Armour worn by Henry VIII weighed around 20 kgs. Metalwork back in the Pendragon days was a tad primitive and armour would have weighed considerably more. And no-one had invented the fly.
  • Aardvark. The answer relates directly to Q3 above, even though Arty and co. were neither employees nor Yanks. Wot’s with all the toilet questions this month??

Question 5

In ancient times what was the accepted time of year (season) for fighting battles?

Correct Answer, Which Also Explains Why The Battle Of Hastings Was In Late October:

It was no good fighting in Spring, your men had to be out sowing crops. Autumn would have been out because of the harvest. Winter would have been perfect except that your knights would have frozen solid in all that armour. Summer would be OK but the heat and disease would have crippled your army. So where does that leave us? Nowhere. Probably late autumn after the harvest. That way, if you won, you could nick the enemy’s harvest as well. Indeed, many battles through history have been lost when soldiers went AWOL to tend to the harvest.

If They Couldn’t Agree On When To Have Battles, They’d Fight Anyway:

  • Winter. The shortened days meant that battles started and ended at reasonable times. Rather like rugby.
  • Winter – too wet, the armour rusts. Spring – you need to do the planting. Autumn – the Harvest. Summer – just right but a bit warm if you’re wearing armour.
  • What period? What civilisation? Dr Bob, this is most unlike you. But just for the record Ancient Egyptians used to time battles with the inundation of the Nile so they could use their naval fleets to their full capacity.
  • Well, der! Battle season! Have at you, sir!
  • Tuesday to Sunday. See question 1.
  • To borrow a USism, fall. Hit them hard and over they go…
  • The Vassal Troops’ Armed Thugs’ And Miscellaneous Hangers-On Union would’ve demanded that the various kings and warlords pay out huge extra amounts in holiday allowances and overtime for the Christmas period.
  • The ski season. Anything to get rid of those yobs going up the highway every Friday night…
  • The dead weeks between footy and cricket seasons.
  • The Civilisation of Ancient Times (pronounced “timeez”) was completely pacifist and had no use of battles at all, apart from the annual summer water pistol fights against the Atlanteans. Needless to say, they won.
  • The best time of year to go out and slaughter your neighbors was after harvest. You will provide for your family at home if you die, and those people you hope to rob–er, defeat in battle will have lots of goodies for you to take home.
  • The battle season lasted from spring to late summer, although the post-season lasted into fall. The winter off-season was used to sign free agents, build stadium improvements, and set next year’s schedule.
  • Summertime, when the living was easy.
  • Summer, nice firm ground (winter) no bog to lose knights in, no harvesting (Autumn) for the peasants who you can now turn into solders. And no harvest to get in (Spring).
  • Summer was the fighting season, as all winter was taken up with football training. and the football games were on Monday nights.
  • Spring, so they all had a spring in their step before going off to get their heads sliced off
  • Spring of course was when a young man’s thoughts would turn to thoughs of rapine, pillaging and slaughter. Ahh yes, back in the old days, we would plant the crops for the spring rains, nip out to pillage the village, rape the local cattle and slaughter all the women, and be back in time for the harvest. They were the good old days. Many a time I would nip out with my mates the Vikings and slash and burn our way through a drunken rampage through most of Northern England and Europe and still be home in time for the harvest. These days of course its all just memories, what with the kids, and work interests and the wife. Still, I have good memories (wistful sigh)
  • Same as modern times with the family, on Xmas day, oops….. that will get back.
  • Rosh Hashannah? Yom Kippur?
  • Probably summer, but anyone with 1/2 a brain would attack during winter. The ‘honourable’ side would never expect that.
  • March . . . the name makes sense anyway.
  • Let me go watch Gladiator, that factually correct documentary of ancient times. Summer? Don’t have to plant, don’t have to reap, don’t have to deal with flu.
  • Last week in June
  • It could have been post-harvest time. You know, the period when you see who will eat and who will not.
  • In England, mid-Summer. Any other time it would rain, the warriors would all catch cold and it would ruin their make-up.
  • In ancient times there only were two seasons; the fightin’ season and the not fightin’ season
  • I’m not sure about Rome, Greece or Egypt, but in Sumer, wars were always conducted in the hot season. Hence the well known Sumerian battle hymn, “Sumer Time, when the fighting is easy”. [Thank you Sir Jim R Wallaby – don’t call us, we’ll call you]
  • I’d think spring/autumn , but I recall Henry IV begins in the rain, and Kenneth Branagh is never wrong. Then again, this is England.
  • I would guess Spring, so that the newly emergent lifeforms could feast on all the carcasses and save the cleaners a big job.
  • I would guess autumn, as it’s not too hot and not too cold, and there’s less risk of treading on someone’s flower beds.
  • I don’t know why battles were acceptable at all.
  • Have you ever tried to march around in the desert in full armor in the middle of a Middle Eastern summer? Neither have I, but I’m sure it isn’t pleasant. That’s why football season is in the autumn.
  • Generally, mid autumn to early winter was preferred. As the custom of the time was to start fighting at first light, they tended to wait until the days were as short as possible (but before they were waist-deep in snow), enabling them to sleep in or simply live a couple of hours longer.
  • For the English, wasn’t it when the tea leaves had finally dried enough to be useful?
  • For every thing, turn, turn, turn . . . Winter, presumably, after the harvest was safely in and a chap had only the company of his wife (who had a 20% chance of being his *late* wife after this year’s baby, and you can bet she’d let you know it!) and his throng of mewling sprogs. The din of battle must have been a relief in comparison.
  • For battles between peasants and aristocracy, anytime there was enough of the former to overwhelm the latter, pox, syphilis and a sharp guillotine notwithstanding.
  • For battles between caribou, on their seasonal migration across the tundra.
  • Feastivus (Seinfeld fans will understand!) [Worth an exclamation mark – people who find Seinfeld funny would not usually understand very much <g>]
  • Breeding season, of course, when testosterone is high and men are driven to fight or fuck.
  • Autumn. It was warm enough that you could have a good set-to all day without slipping in the snow and ice, but cold enough that the dead bodies wouldn’t stink too badly in a short period of time (thus giving the camp-followers enough time to rob the dead).
  • Accepted by who? [By the people who lost]
  • Aardvark. If you wanted to win, Spring. If you expected to lose, Fall. Pretty obvious, really.

Question 6

<Photo of Tree> This is a tree in southern Russia. Why is it so special?

Correct Answer:

Because of a set of socially-constructed beliefs. [Dr Bob Explains: Yes, it was the only tree left standing after the battle of Stalingrad].

Special Answers:

  • We need all the trees we can get, or the Russians have bombed all the other trees in southern Russia flat anyway.
  • Tolstoy wrote underneath it [Using the plaque provided there for this purpose]
  • This tree was presented to the Russian people by the freedom loving citizens of all of the Soviet countries during Russia’s well intentioned expansionist period. The tree is meant to show how all the USSR people could unite under different branches of communism and prosper. Sadly all they got was what the tree got – rooted.
  • This is the southern Russian “Dig Tree”. Burke and Wills were way off the mark, not only couldn’t they be rescued at Coopers Creek, they went completely missing in Russia.
  • This is the only tree in Russia to have survived 5 consecutive years as the subject of the annual outing for the Volgograd Amateur Dendrochronologists’ Society.
  • The woman-shaped fruit growing out the side of the trunk. These things don’t happen every day (my backyard excluded).
  • The tree is so important that the locals take turns leaning against it to prevent it from falling over
  • The President pissed on it
  • Some one is standing next to it
  • It’s the Tomb Of The Unknown Arborist, commemorating all those heroically subversive tree loppers who were tragically lost during the Stalinist purges.
  • Its the biggest one in the photo?
  • It’s ‘special’ relationship with the lovely girl in white.
  • Its really a CIA agent in a deep cover disguise. No one has told him the cold war is over yet. The girl is a KGB agent who has been assigned to ‘tail’ him.
  • It’s got knobbly bits that people like to rub.
  • It’s the only tree in world to have a parasitic human growth grafted to it. Anoher triumph for soviet science and medicine
  • It’s the only one of it’s type left [Yes it’s the only last tree in the area]
  • It’s a tree with a woman growing out of it. Gives a whole new meaning to getting a root.
  • It was the only one NOT eaten by the starving peasants in 1918.
  • It was the last tree Tsar Nicholas II had a wee against before he took his family to Ekaterinburg for a holiday? [Maybe that’s why the girl is stuck to it ….]
  • It was planted in northern Russia but was transplanted by Rasputin, the mad arborealist.
  • It used to be a village squirrel named Bob, who really annoyed some Leprechaun?
  • It looks a bit like a potato, yet no-one has eaten it?
  • It is the first known case (in Russia at least) of an interspecies marriage. It is expected the union will produce many fine striplings (not to mention saplings).
  • It is a post-Chernobyl mutant tree, the first to digest flesh. It attracts victims with big fleshy protuberances (the tree has them, not the victims…anyway) which are covered with a substance both very sticky and acidic. The victim is dissolved and slowly consumed at point of contact. The little plaque at the front is a warning.
  • It is a little known fact but by boiling the bark and drinking the resulting liquid while walking widdershins around the tree and praying to Saint Boris, you get three wishes. (Whether they come true or not is not stated in the literature!)
  • It has red things growing on it
  • It has it’s own plaque… not many trees do.
  • It has evolved to include a brass plaque.
  • It has a woman growing out of the Western side. How does he know it’s the west I hear you ask, well the shadow is to the left and it is in focus so it must have been taken in the AM before the intake of any sizeable quantity of Vodka.
  • It has a woman growing out of it.
  • It has a relatively attractive woman standing next to it instead of the usual Intourist cross between a shunting-engine and a troll…or do I need to get out more…?
  • It has a plaque next to it, and it is next to an important looking square.
  • It has a plaque in front of it.
  • It has a beautiful woman growing from the base
  • Is that where Catherine the great met her favorite horse?
  • If I zoom in a little, I can see it… Ah! It’s dedicated to Mmmbbub Wamamanwawa. And it appears to be standing in front of the Washington Monument.
  • I talk to the trees, that’s why they put me away…
  • I lost my virginity under it (but not to her).
  • Holy cow! That tree is growing right out of the cement!!!!
  • Growing out of a dead tsar?
  • Een Rossha ol triz are speyshil. Rosshians eez werry spiritual peepil. At night, when I swing naykid from branch to branch een birch forest, I sing to myself and ask “Why are we Slavs so meesundertood?”
  • Difficult to say. Could you blow up that text a bit? [Everything else in the area was blown up in 1942]
  • Because your wife is standing next to it, naturally.
  • Because the woman has been holding it up for several hundreds of years, and this cannot be explained
  • Because it started its life as a carrot near Kiev. Those lateral bulges are the beginnings of legs. Chernobyl has a lot to answer for.
  • Because it is keeping that woman upright.
  • Because it has a plaque, and everything that has a plaque is special.
  • Because it has a plaque in front of it.
  • Because it can grow in concrete.
  • A lady has to be by its side, talking to it, nursing it 24 hours a day to stop it growing any more lumps that look like Jesus Christ or Samantha Fox.
  • A complete guess. This tree is the only one not to be felled during the siege of Stalingrad in WW2. [Correct; elephant stamp] Either that or it has to be supported continuously by women leaning against it.
  • At last, a Hitler question! It marks the furthest east that the invading Wehrmacht made it into the USSR in 1942. Oberleutnant Gunther Pfartz pissed on this tree in the eastern Crimea to mark the spot. He was actually searching for ears to photograph and strayed too far from the panzers.
  • All trees are so special.
  • Aardvark. Russia, eh? Then why the blue sky and short-sleeved dress, eh? Where’s the snow and ice, eh? (Sorry, the quiz is getting to me – must trotsky along now.)


  • Thank you for the tree question uncle Bob, it really got me thinking! I hope you put my optional comments at the top so everyone can see how happy I am to have a TREE QUESTION! Also, please remember that I do not appreciate the rest of your web site much, this quiz is the main attraction for me. So make sure you make the next one really good with questions to baffle us and make us think intence thoughts! [I’ll C what I can do]
  • You’re not the same Dr. Bob who submitted “Better Programs and Algorithms” as a fake magazine subscription to have on the Dilbert website?
  • You know, there’s something disquieting about the idea that there are a whole pile of terrorists who were aiming for CHOGM now floating about with nothing to do. If I don’t write again, you’ll know what happened….
  • Will you send me the correct answers to these questions [But my own ‘correct’ answers often turn out to be wrong! Do you want the wrong correct answers or the correct correct answers?]
  • When the red red robbin comes Bob Bob bobbin along.
  • Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La La and Po
  • The picture question got me thinking about trees and the hugging of such and reminded me of a joke: Two baby harp seals walk into a club…
  • Thank you once again, for providing the search terms to find fine websites like this:
  • Still trying to come up with something amusing… [Hey guys, give me a chance]
  • Sorry about the poor taste Pentagon (sorry… Square) joke, but it needed doing… and I am a weak man.
  • So after all those coincidences in the last quiz are you going to set yourself up as the new Nostradamus? 🙂
  • Singular. [Like a black hole]
  • Several electrons *were* harmed in the making of this email. Tough.
  • Rubbing tuna onto a wall power socket, you can provide children and the family cat with hours of fun.
  • Postmodernism is whatever you think it is about.
  • Nyaah nyahh nyahh nyahh nyahh
  • Not as much scope for funny answers this month Dr Bob. And why so late with the answers for last month? Were you in Russia? [No, Brisbane]
  • No comment
  • Last month’s quiz offered absolutely no scope for my poor sense of humour. Please see that it doesn’t happen again. I love the quiz by the way, I reckon they should shorten months to two weeks each so I don’t have to wait as long for the next one.
  • I’ve been having sex with two women at the same time. I just had to tell someone. [You have time to tell someone?]
  • It’s a toss up between your quiz and plucking nostril hairs. [Well with three things to do you must be quite busy]
  • Is the person in the photo Dr. Bob in drag?
  • Is it that obvious that I had only five minutes to do my answers this month? (That’s four minutes longer than usual though…)
  • Intriguing!
  • In case of fire, break glass. That’s almost a cyptic crossword clue. answer: slags (rearrange the letters of glass to get something to do with fire). Hmmm, I don’t think I’ll give up my day job just yet.
  • I’m sorry it took me so long to answer but i’m still in an exam at the moment.
  • I’m a little teapot, short and stout…
  • Ik kan Nederlands spreken maar ik kan Nederlanders neet begrijpen.
  • I was in Melbourne earlier this month and I didn’t see you there. Where were you? [in Sydney would you believe, looking for you] There I was with the rose in my teeth and you didn’t show up. I waited, oh how I waited…! Well, I’m sorry mister, but the next time you decide to stand someone up on an all-you-can-eat-American-beer-and-chilli-pickle-cheese-dog night it will be with someone else. OK? OK??! Good. Oh, and please stop leaving those disgusting messages on my answering machine – the budgie is beginning to suspect. [Sorry, I thought I was talking to the budgie]
  • I thought I knew the answer to the Pentagon question but I did a search to check. Most unfortunate. Did you know that the terrorists who hit the Pentagon on September 11 hid in the toilets on the plane? Nor did I but I do now, there are loads of sites that tell you that.
  • I think I started all right but went down hill rapidly. [And then you found DR BOB’S TRIVIA QUIZ … And look at you now]
  • I promised myself that I would not look at this site ever again. I am going to stop drinking alcohol too.
  • I love your work and could you send me in info about the bermuda triangle and any other interesting thing you find skeptical. [Sorry, I got all the info together but it disappeared]
  • I have venereal disease and i slept with ur mum last nite [Oh sorry … I should not have let her roam the streets]
  • I have no idea what im doing!!! Im only 19 but thought i would have a guess! Im not clever in any way!! Heh heh. [It’s a pity that nominations for the Federal Election have just closed]
  • How do you balance that question mark on your head? [It’s easy, but I can’t get my trousers on the right way round]
  • How do I come up with such crap month after month without actually answering anything!
  • Here is a question for you, why are the toilets so full in the USA? And why is the butter white? I have no idea.
  • Get a life!
  • Dr Bob, do you think I’d be arrested if I went out into the street and did….. <THIS!!> ? [Well, they are cracking down on jaywalking]
  • Do you really mean “please answer all the questions”, I only knew one and so now you have 5 (possibly 6) stupid answers. (I have a disturbingly unsceptical respect for instructions on forms). Oh, and this site is very cool. [That’ll be because we throw a bucket of water over it now and then]
  • Do you believe that a Volvo is an unmentionable portion of a woman’s anatomy? If so, join One Nation now!
  • Did you know that there are 43,480 matches for Dr. Bob on the Internet? [How nice. Please ask them to form an orderly queue outside my chamber.] They include Dr. Bob’s Quit Smoking Page, a Railway Resources Page, the Alcoholics Anonymous website & an AA trivia quiz, the National Council of the Churches of Christ, The University of Reading School of Plant Sciences and several cosmetic dentistry pages. [Yes that’s me – before I give it up I’ll go into town, have a drink, wonder why it’s so small, pray for a root, and smile]
  • About time we got some more U.S.A. questions in here. Keep it up, and we might just let you retain your independence for a few more years 😉
  • Aardvark. If I write ‘aardvark’ at the start of each answer, will you put my answers first? Will I then win the competition?