Idle Moments – Dec/Jan 2020

Well, here we are again then. Funny old world isn’t it?

Last time I was writing about lockdown season being
over and now, a couple of days ago (as I type this) it’s all back
on again. Still, by the time you read this it might be over
again – and we have got Christmas to look forward to. I wonder if it will be legal to visit any of my family this year

Ah well, so much for levity; let’s have some number puzzles

  1. 5 T on a HF
  2. 4 LS by RS
  3. 16 FOGPW of SM
  4. 15 M in the SNRC
  5. 163 F of the BK in D
  6. 4 L of the T in a SR
  7. 8 TF on an O
  8. 4 F in a B
  9. 168 PNUOT
  10. 169 S in the LDCG

After the undoubted popularity of last time’s 5BY4 (not a single complaint!), I thought I would expand to another part of the natural world with Avian Taxonomy (posh names for birds, if you prefer). With so many to choose from, I eventually decided to include only birds that I have seen this year, either from my home or during walks through Bushy Park, which is just round the corner and which helped to keep me sane through lockdown. So here they are. Can you match them up? Do you care?

1.Wren                 A. Fulica atra
2.Coot                 B. Apus apus
3.Black-Headed Gull    C. Ardea cinerea
4.Kestrel              D. Turdus viscivorus
5.Jackdaw              E. Falco tinnunculus
6.Swift                F. Cygnus olor
7.Mallard              G. Troglodytes troglodytes
8.Mute Swan            H. Corvus monedula
9.Grey Heron           I. Larus ridibundus
10.Mistle Thrush       J. Anas platyrhyncos

And so we draw the year to a close with some more trivial knowledge. As in previous years, I have included some related to events that occurred over the festive season, until I ran out. I hope you find them interesting.

  1. In what year did the Queen make her first televised Christmas message to the Commonwealth?
  2. Which former President of the USA died on 26 December 1972, at the age of 88?
  3. Samuel Pepys began his famous diary on 1 January, but in what year?
  4. In what year did the Manchester Ship Canal first open to traffic on 1 January. Its official opening was performed by Queen Victoria on 21 May in the same year.
  5. By contrast, on 2 January 1839, Louis Daguerre took the world’s first photograph of what object?
  6. Who was the first Roman Catholic to become President of the USA?
  7. And, who was the first Roman Catholic to become Vice President of the USA?
  8. Which month is the longest in the year?
  9. We all know (Idle Moments, December 2016) that the tallest free-standing structure in the UK is Emley Moor transmitting Station. But where is the tallest structure in the UK – a cable stayed tower which, at 365 metres, is about 35 metres taller than Emley Moor?
  10. The arena for what sport contains features called dedans, tambour and penthouses?

Well that’s one year I shall be glad to see the back of, though why a new calendar on the wall should carry any guarantee that things will suddenly improve currently eludes me. Still, you have to laugh, don’t you? (Don’t answer that!)

I really do wish you all a happy Christmas and an excellent New Year.
Andy Pirson


As usual, here are the solutions to the puzzles set in the October/November Idle Moments column.

Number puzzles:

  1. 6 Platforms at Euston Mainline Station
  2. 744 Hours in October
  3. 14 Lines in a Sonnet
  4. 1997 Last Voyage of SS Canberra
  5. 12 Dozen in a Gross
  6. 640 Acres in a Square Mile
  7. 1668 Degrees Celsius is the Melting Point of Titanium
  8. 142 Million Miles Between the Sun and Mars
  9. 7 for the Seven Stars in the Sky
  10. 600 Test Wickets of James Anderson (on August Twenty-Fifth)

5BY4: (Posh names for trees)

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

General Knowledge:

  1. The organisation which held its inaugural General Assembly in Geneva on the 15 November 1920 was the League of Nations.
  2. Florence Nightingale was born on the 12 May 1820. Her place of birth was Florence, Tuscany.
  3. Agatha Christie’s first novel, published in October 1920 (in the US, the next year in the UK), was the Mysterious Affair at Styles.
  4. 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, was sent in 1320.
  5. The ship which was launched at Greenwich on the 11 May 1820, and that made a global circumnavigation in 1831 to 36, was HMS Beagle.
  6. The first roller coaster in the UK, the ‘Scenic Railway’, opened on 3 July 1920 – in Margate (Dreamland).
  7. The Treaty of Troys (whereby it was agreed that Henry V would inherit the throne of France when the current incumbent, Charles VI, died) was signed in 1420.
  8. The notorious Scotsman, born in Rome on the 31 December 1720, was (in full) Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart.
  9. The character, created by artist Mary Tourtel, who first appeared in the Daily Express on the 8 November 1920 was Rupert Bear.
  10. The by-election where eighteen year olds were allowed to vote for the first time (on 13 March 1970) was at Bridgwater, Somerset.

Once again, I gratefully acknowledge the web site for the above information.