Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

I’m on Brain of Britain: ask me anything

I am taking part in a recording of BBC Radio 4’s Brain of Britain on Thursday 15 December. 

I think you need to get about 20 points to have a chance of winning.  You get 1 point per correct answer, with a bonus point if you get 5 in a row (the most you can be asked in one round). 

Send me some questions.  Bear in mind that this quiz is for a Radio 4 audience (middle-class, middle-aged): nothing about daytime TV, soaps (except The Archers), Katie Price, footballers, or X-factor

If I could write my own questions, they would be something like this:

  1. What was the name of the Duke of Wellington’s horse?
  2. To what family of flowering shrubs does the tea plant belong?
  3. Which mathematician gives his name to the SI derived unit of pressure?
  4. What name is given to the sauce made from a vinegar reduction flavoured with shallots, pepper and tarragon, and thickened with egg yolks and clarified butter? 
  5. What name is given to the first battle of the American Civil War, a shocking defeat for the Union? 
  6. ‘Erythrocytes’ are more commonly referred to as what?
  7. Which composer’s only opera is called Fidelio?
  8. The UK had two prime ministers during the First World War.  One was David Lloyd George.  Name the other.
  9. Only two chemical elements are liquid under normal conditions.  One is mercury.  Name the other. 
  10. Two countries which are not former British colonies have joined the Commonwealth of Nations.  One is Mozambique.  Name the other.
  11. In which year did the 7 Years War break out?
  12. Since 1998, what has been the capital city of Kazakhstan?
  13. By what whimsical name is the hypothetical Higg’s boson also known?
  14. What was the name of the Royal Navy submarine which torpedoed and sank the General Belgrano in 1982? 
  15. Which poet wrote The Lake Isle of Innisfree?
  16. In what year were the 5 pilot episodes of The Archers first broadcast?
  17. Which architect designed St Chad’s Roman Catholic cathedral in Birmingham?
  18. Which military figure was premier of Germany for 20 days between the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the armistice which ended World War Two in Europe? 
  19. After Hamlet, which is the longest part in Shakespearean drama, what is the second longest in terms of number of lines?
  20. What is the name of the novel by Julian Barnes which won him the 2011 Man Booker Prize?

6 responses to “I’m on Brain of Britain: ask me anything

  1. Paul Sharratt December 13, 2011 at 1:52 am

    The Tugrik is a unit of currency in which country?
    Artemisia Gentileschi was the first woman to admitted to the Academy of Fine Art in which Italian city?
    Sebek or Sobek is an Egyptian deity with the head of which animal?

  2. wthirskgaskill December 13, 2011 at 11:56 am

    1. (Guess) Turkmenistan: wrong: it is Mongolia.
    2. (Guess) Florence: I guessed right.
    3. No idea. Answer: crocodile.

    1/3. Except it would be 0/3, because I got the first question wrong.

  3. Paul Sharratt December 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Three more…
    What term is used in heraldry to describe an animal or plant with its natural colouration?
    The First Triumvirate consisted of Caesar, Pompey and who else?
    “The Snowstorm” and “Two Hussars” published in 1856, are early works by which author?

  4. wthirskgaskill December 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    1. (Guess) native. (The answer appears to be “proper”.)
    2. Mark Antony. (Wrong: it was Crassus.)
    3. (Guess): Sir Walter Scott. (Wrong: it was Leo Tolstoy.) That’s not a fair question. There should have been some indication that the works had been translated into English. At least I have learnt that Sir Walter Scott died in 1832.


  5. Paul Sharratt December 14, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Ah, alas, you have been confounded by the Second Triumvirate, of which that esteemed patrician was indeed a member, as Robert Robinson might have put it.

  6. wthirskgaskill December 14, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Ah, that pesky Second Triumvirate gets me every time. It is the Open University’s fault. We covered the Second Triumvirate in AA100 when we were learning about Cleopatra, but not the first one. They failed to draw sufficient attention to the numbering of triumvirates. I may write to them and request that they issue a fair triumvirate notice to all students in future.

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