Well, hello and a Happy New Year to you. Strangely, as I
write this, in the first week of January, it doesn’t feel a lot
like the 2021 we were looking forward to when I composed the
last Idle Moments in early November. Still, at least we are not
still in lockdown. No, we are in lockdown again! Never mind,
we have a couple of vaccines being rolled out now – and at my
age I’m being told I should get my first dose by mid-February;
we’ll see. . .
So, that’s the fun bit out of the way. How about a nonrhyming
limerick; I haven’t blown the dust off them for a while.
Here’s one of mine from 1992:
There was an old soldier named Dewar
Who’d made a long career out of war.
But when he found that his foe
Had stolen his shoe,
said, “This time you’ve just gone too far!”
Now let’s do some number puzzles. I hope they’re not too
obscure; sometimes I have trouble sorting them out the day
after I’ve composed them:
- 17 P at CJS
- 206 B in the (A)HB
- 5 VC by M
- 29 is the AN of C
- 1441 F of KCC
- 2 V in a SQ
- 31 is the HN whose S is UOT
- 2 S in a BP
- 6 TTH of G and the P
- 8 A of the WV at H
This time 5BY4 follows on from November’s and is subtitled
“Avian Taxonomy (Coastal)”. It includes birds you would be
most likely to see at the coast or in estuaries. Watch out,
though; I’ve included a couple specially selected to confuse:
Oystercatcher A. Fratercula arctica
Gannet B. Stercorarius parasiticus
Common Tern C. Calidris alpina
Dunlin D. Larus argentatus
Puffin E. Sula bassana
Manx Sheerwater F. Sterna hirundo
Herring Gull G. Numenius arquata
Arctic Skua H. Haematopus ostralegus
Curlew I. Alle alle
Little Auk J. Puffinus puffinus
And so, with an air of awful inevitability, we come to the
general trivia bit. It being the start of a new year (perhaps not
quite so new when this hits your inbox) I have selected
questions based on significant anniversaries. They are not
necessarily centenaries but they are all decennials, so if I am
looking for a year as an answer, it will end with a one:
- Russia launched the World’s first space station on 19 April. What was its name?
- The FA Cup Final held on 23 March 1891 was the first to
use an invention of J A Brodie of Liverpool. What was it?
- Which French impressionist painter was born in Limoges
on 25 February 1841?
- On 5 April 1971, Mrs Fran Phipps became the first woman
to reach – where?
- The first licensed betting shops were opened in Britain on
1 May – but in what year?
- The sculptor Gutzon Borglum was born in Bear Lake, Idaho
on 25 March 1871. What is his most famous sculpture?
- Capital punishment was abolished on 8 May 1921 in what
- On 31 March 1921, at Leicester, which jockey rode Gay
Lord to the first of his 4,870 wins?
- The trial of Adolf Eichmann for war crimes started on 11
April 1961. In what city was it held?
- On 27 February 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the United
States constitution was ratified. What was its purpose/effect?
Right, that’s yer lot; you can go and do something interesting
now. Have a good spring.
As usual, here are the solutions to the puzzles set in the
previous Idle Moments column
- 5 Toes on a Human Foot
- 4 Last Songs by Richard Strauss
- 16 Formula One Grand Prix Wins of Stirling Moss
- 15 Matches in the Six Nations Rugby Championship
- 163 Floors of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai
- 4 Laps of the Track in a Speedway Race
- 8 Triangular Faces on an Octahedron
- 4 Firkins in a Barrel
- 168 Prime Numbers Under One Thousand
- 169 Squares in the London Drinker Crossword Grid
5BY4: Avian Taxonomy
- Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes
- Coot – Fulica atra
- Black-Headed Gull – Larus ridibundus
- Kestrel – Falco tinnunculus
- Jackdaw – Corvus monedula
- Swift – Apus apus
- Mallard – Anas platyrhyncos
- Mute Swan – Cygnus olor
- Grey Heron – Ardea cinerea
- Mistle Thrush – Turdus viscivorus
- The Queen made her first televised Christmas message to
the Commonwealth in 1957.
- The former President of the USA who died on 26
December 1972, at the age of 88 was Harry S Truman.
- Samuel Pepys began his famous diary on 1 January in 1660.
- The Manchester Ship Canal first opened to traffic on 1
January in 1894.
- On 2 January 1839, Louis Daguerre took the world’s first
photograph of the moon.
- The first Roman Catholic to become President of the USA
was John F Kennedy.
- And the first Roman Catholic to become Vice President of
the USA was Joe Biden.
- The longest month in the year is October (at 31 days plus
one hour, at the end of British Summer Time)
- We all know that the tallest free-standing structure in the
UK is Emley Moor Transmitting Station but the tallest
structure in the UK is Skelton Transmitting Station in
Cumbria, a cable stayed tower that at 365 metres is about
35 metres taller than Emley Moor.
- The arena that contains features called dedans, tambour
and penthouses is a real (or royal) tennis court.