Idle moment – April / May 2021

Hello again.  Funny old world, isn’t it.  As I sit typing this (on 11 March) I have just been reminded (by Breakfast TV) that a year ago today Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and a year ago yesterday was my 70th birthday.  An awful lot has happened in that year and quite a lot of it awful…  Still, one advantage of getting older is that I’ve probably forgotten a lot of the awfulness.  Ho-hum!

 Sorry about that; will a non-rhyming limerick brighten things up?  Here’s one from June 1988 (blimey! 33 years ago) by Mike Gigg and Chris Leftley:

A football team coming from Slough
Had gallantly fought their way through
To play Middlesbrough.
But lost the match though,
'Cos their tactics weren't thorough enough.

Let’s get on with something to pass the time, sadly not in a quiet corner of the balloon bar with a glass of something nice beside us, but maybe you’ve got a bottle (or firkin?) of something nice at home.  Here are some number puzzles:

1.             2 S on a CS
2.             3 BS
3.             19 is ONO on a DB
4.             5 is the AN of R
5.             5050 is the S of the N from O to a H
6.             3 NOH by MM
7.             1686 L of LF
8.             5 D is Z in MC
9.             2 T in the BS
10.          20 FS is the W-T

Now for 5BY4.  I don’t know why but the thought came to me to use the code names for allied operations of World War 2.  Here are ten of them; can you match them up?

1. Market Garden   A. The capture of Northern Burma
2. Overlord        B. Plan for invasion of Japanese homelands (halted after bombing of Hiroshima)
3. Carthage        C. Development of the Bouncing Bomb and Ruhr Valley dams raid
4. Crossbow        D. Normandy Invasions (D-Day) and battle for France
5. Dynamo          E. The invasion of Sicily
6. Husky           F. Invasions of North Africa Nov 1942 to May 1943
7. Downfall        G. The evacuation of Dunkirk
8. Chastise        H. Netherlands campaign stalled at Arnhem (“A Bridge Too Far”)
9. Capital         I. RAF bombing of Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen
10. Torch          J. Operations against German V-Weapon installations

Getting lazy in my old age, I thought I would continue on from the last edition with events which happened in years ending with the number one.  I have advanced through the year a bit and all of this month’s are from June, July or August:

1.             The Duke of Edinburgh was born on 10 July 1921 – on what island?

2.             In what year (on 7 July) did Solar Challenger, piloted by Steve Ptacek, become the first solar powered aircraft to cross the English Channel?

3.             The Royal Liver Building was opened on 19 July; in what year?

4.             Britain’s first trolleybus service started running on 20 June 1911.  In which city did it operate?

5.             Whom did Sherriff Pat Garrett shoot in New Mexico on 15 July 1881?

6.             The first Royal Ascot race meeting was held on 11 August 1711.  Who was the monarch in attendance?

7.             Of what Commonwealth country did Dom Mintoff become Prime Minister on 21 June 1971 following a Labour Party general election victory?

8.             Who was enthroned as the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 June 1961?

9.             On 28 July 1821 which South American country was proclaimed an independent nation, having been liberated from Spanish rule by the forces of San Martin?

10.          On 17t July in what year was the Humber Estuary Bridge officially opened by HM The Queen?

Well, that’s about it for this time.  By the time you read this you should be getting close to being allowed to visit pubs (well, pub gardens) again.  And by the time the next edition comes out you may even be allowed INSIDE pubs!  That’s all assuming, of course, that all the politicians trying to get places open before it’s safe, don’t win.

Have fun and stay safe (hopefully they aren’t mutually exclusive).

Andy Pirson

As usual, here are the solutions to the puzzles set in the February Idle Moments column.


1.             17 Platforms at Clapham Junction Station
2.             206 Bones in the (Adult) Human Body
3.             5 Violin Concertos by Mozart
4.             29 is the Atomic Number of Copper
5.             1441 Foundation of King’s College, Cambridge
6.             2 Violins in a String Quartet
7.             31 is the Highest Number whose Square is Under One Thousand
8.             2 Stars in a Binary Pair
9.             6 Top Ten Hits of Gerry and the Pacemakers
10.          8 Arches of the Wharncliffe Viaduct at Hanwell


Avian Taxonomy (Coastal)

1.             Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
2.             Gannet – Sula bassana
3.             Common Tern – Sterna hirundo
4.             Dunlin – Calidris alpina
5.             Puffin – Fratercula arctica
6.             Manx Sheerwater – Puffinus puffinus
7.             Herring Gull – Larus argentatus
8.             Arctic Skua – Stercorarius parasiticus
9.             Curlew – Numenius arquata
10.          Little Auk – Alle alle


1.             The name of the World’s first space station, launched by Russia on 19 April 1971, was Salyut
2.             The FA Cup Final held on 23 March 1891 was the first to use nets on the goals.
3.             The French impressionist painter, born in Limoges on 25 February 1841, was Pierre Auguste Renoir.
4.             On 5 April 1971, Mrs Fran Phipps became the first woman to reach the North Pole.
5.             The first licensed betting shops were opened in Britain on 1 May in 1961.
6.             The sculptor Gutzon Borglum, born in Bear Lake, Idaho, is most famous for the sculpture of the four Presidents on Mount Rushmore.
7.             Capital punishment was abolished on 8 May 1921 in Sweden.
8.             On 31 March 1921, at Leicester, the jockey who rode Gay Lord to the first of his 4,870 wins was Sir Gordon Richards.
9.             The trial of Adolf Eichmann for war crimes started on 11 April 1961.  It was held in Jerusalem.
10.          The purpose of the 22nd Amendment to the United States constitution (ratified on 27 February 1951) was to limit the President to two terms in office.