Idle Moments – Oct/Nov 2020

Right, pay attention; schools are back so listen up. So, lockdown season is over – maybe . . . Just today we’ve all been told not to congregate in groups of more than six; not much prospect for beer festivals starting up any time soon then.

Right, that’s the uplifting introduction out of the way. I was going to start with ‘Season of mists…’ but I think I might have used that before and John Keats doesn’t really need my support, so let’s just get on with the usual entertainment (?), starting this time with some number puzzles:

  1. 6 P at EMS
  2. 744 H in O
  3. 14 L in a S
  4. 1997 LV of SSC
  5. 12 D in a G
  6. 640 A in a SM
  7. 1668 DC is the MP of T
  8. 142 MMB the S and M
  9. 7 for the SS in the S
  10. 600 TW of JA (on AT-F)

Yes, I know – I always start with number puzzles. It’s what some comedians call irony; I just call it silly. That’s why I used it – I’m like that.

Right, now for some 5BY4s. It’s Taxonomy Time – or, if you like, “Posh names for trees”. Can you match the Latin names in the second list with the ‘real’ names in the first? If not, you could always Google them; after all, with no printed copies you will probably be reading this on some internet connected device.

1.Common Holly         A. Fraxinus Excelsior
2.Walnut               B. Ilex Aquifolium
3.Horse Chestnut       C. Crataegus Monogyna
4.London Plane         D. Acer Pseudoplatanus
5.Common Hawthorn      E. Pltanus x Hispanica
6.Sycamore             F. Juglans Regia
7.English Elm          G. Aesculus Hippocastranum
8.English Oak          H. Carpinus Betulus
9.Hornbeam             I. Quercus Robur
10.Common Ash          J. Ulmus Minor (var. Vulgaris)

And finally, without ‘irony’ or ‘silliness’ let us drift aimlessly towards the General Knowledge questions. This time, just because the year ends with a nought (and I am of an age where 100 years ago both my parents were about school age), I thought that I would search out a few centenaries (mostly). For these I am indebted to a web site that I chanced upon called abitaboutbritain.com (no cheating, now).

And finally, without ‘irony’ or ‘silliness’ let us drift aimlessly towards the General Knowledge questions. This time, just because the year ends with a nought (and I am of an age where 100 years ago both my parents were about school age), I thought that I would search out a few centenaries (mostly). For these I am indebted to a web site that I chanced upon called bitaboutbritain.com (no cheating, now).

  1. What organisation held its inaugural General Assembly in Geneva on 15 November 1920?
  2. Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May 1820. Where (outside Great Britain) was she born? (There might be a clue here.)
  3. Agatha Christie published her first novel in October 1920 (in the US, the next year in the UK). What was its title?
  4. 2020 marks a centenary of the Declaration of Arbroath, a letter from Scottish earls and barons to Pope John XXII asking for his recognition of Scotland as an independent nation and Robert the Bruce as its rightful king. In what year was this letter sent?
  5. What ship that made a celebrated global circumnavigation in 1831 to 1836, was launched at Greenwich on 11 May 1820?
  6. The first roller coaster in the UK ‘the Scenic Railway’ opened on 3 July 1920, but in what seaside town? (No, it wasn’t Blackpool.)
  7. In what year (It’s a centenary) was the Treaty of Troyes, whereby it was agreed that Henry V would inherit the throne of France when the current incumbent, Charles VI, died?
  8. This chap was born in Rome on 31 December 1720. He rejoiced in the names ??? ??? Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria ???. Can you fill in the missing names of this notorious Scotsman?
  9. Created by artist Mary Tourtel, what picture story character first appeared in the Daily Express on 8 November 1920?
  10. I’ve run out of centenaries, so here is a 50th anniversary. Eighteen-year-olds were first allowed to vote in the UK at a by-election on 13 March1970. Where was this by-election held? (It was won by the Conservative candidate Tom King.)

So that’s it for another couple of months. It will nearly be Christmas when you are next subjected to this rubbish. Now I have got this done I can spare the time to visit one of my favourite art galleries for a socially distanced exhibition of contemporary water colours – and my first ride on a train since March. (Quick plug for Mall Galleries – the home of the Federation of British Artists. See, I’m not a total philistine.)

Bye for now,
Andy Pirson

THE ANSWERS

As usual, here are the solutions to the puzzles set in the August Idle Moments column:

NUMBER PUZZLES:

  1. 3 Valves on a French Horn
  2. 7 Notes in the Tonic Sol-Fa
  3. 4 Tunnels Under the Thames on the Jubilee Line
  4. 2 Radial Engines on a Vickers Wellington Bomber
  5. 1 for Sorrow (it’s a Magpie)
  6. 3 Types of Colour Receptor in the Human Eye
  7. 215 (at least) Victims of Dr Harold Shipman
  8. 5 Premier League Football Teams in Greater London
  9. 7 Drunken Nights by the Dubliners
  10. 2 Elements are Liquid at Room Temperature (Bromine and Mercury)

5BY4: (National Flowers – Europe)

  1. France – Iris
  2. Hungary – Tulip
  3. Belgium – Poppy (red)
  4. Portugal – Lavender
  5. San Marino – Cyclamen
  6. Spain – Carnation (red)
  7. Finland – Lily of the Valley
  8. Switzerland – Edelweiss
  9. Ukraine – Sunflower
  10. Estonia – Cornflower

General knowledge

  1. The name of the first US space shuttle orbiter (used for approach and landing tests but not actually having an orbital capability) was Enterprise.
  2. The name of the last space shuttle orbiter (built to replace Challenger) was Endeavour.
  3. The school teacher who died in the Challenger space shuttle accident was Christa McAuliffe.
  4. Used as part of the space shuttle program, the ships MV Freedom Star and MV Liberty Star were used to retrieve the solid rocket boosters that were jettisoned over the sea after lift-off.
  5. And finally for the space shuttle, a total of six orbiters were built.
  6. Not the statue on Crete, the ‘Colossus of Roads’ was Thomas Telford.
  7. James Watt did not invent the steam engine; what he did invent was the separate condenser.
  8. . . . and it greatly improved the efficiency of the steam engine because it avoided wasting heat in repeatedly heating and cooling the cylinder.
  9. The sequel to Jerome K Jerome’s book Three Men in a Boat was Three Men on the Bummel.
  10. The guitarist who is the only person to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times is Eric Clapton, once as a solo artist and twice as a group member (in the Yardbirds and Cream).