A long time ago, in a bedroom far away, I got disillusioned with the ‘production-line’ approach to Christmas cards: you write someone’s name, write your name, maybe append a Christmas salutation, and then stick it in an envelope. This all seemed a little bit dull to me, and so I vowed from that point forwards to each year attempt to write a different thing of length in every single person’s card.
This has evolved over the years into a ‘themed’ set of supposedly-humorous vignettes that people generally glance at and then throw away. Still, it makes me feel better.
In 2015, the theme was a Christmas quiz. You know, the kind of thing irritating people like me think will be a ‘fun’ idea at parties, mainly because deep down inside we like to show off how clever we think we are. Here, for your delectation, is the complete set of questions. Merry etc.
- True or false: the character of John Rambo first appears in the works of Mark Twain?
True. He appears in Tom Sawyer Part V: First Blood.
- In Jane Eyre, what does the title character find in the loft of Thornfield Hall alongside the Mad Mrs. Rochester?
Mr. Rochester’s first cat, Fluffikins, stuffed in a pose resembling Lord Horatio Nelson, and an anachronistic collection of Bay City Rollers LPs.
- Does the fact that Jeffrey Archer has written so many books preclude the existence of the traditionally-understood Christian God?
It certainly doesn’t help.
- Several Enid Blyton books have been banned in recent decades due to increasing ‘political correctness’. Can you name any of them?
Naughty Amelia Jane Incites Racial Hatred; The Paedophile Ring at Mallory Towers; Five Join the British Union of Fascists; Noddy Visits the Mohel.
- Approximately what proportion of Tolstoy’s War and Peace is war?
- If Henry VIII had six wives, and Henry VI had eight wives (which he didn’t), how many wives would Henry IX have had if there had been one (which there hasn’t)?
387,420,409 (9 ^ 9).
- Who is missing from this list of early Anglo-Saxon kings? Ethelbard, Ethelbert, Ethelred, Alfred the Great.
Ethelernie, King Arthur and Fred Flintstone III.
- If the events of Star Wars happened a long, long time ago, who was king of Spain at the time?
Philip II (and his beard).
- Henry VIII had six wives. How many times did he recite his wedding vows?
Five. In order to fool the Pope, who was still a bit miffed what with the whole ‘reformation’ thing, Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was conducted entirely in an early version of semaphore, using lavishly decorated flags designed by Hans Holbein’s lesser-known sister, who was rubbish at painting, but a real whizz when it came to elaborate cross-stitching.
- Thanks to a competition on a box of cereal, you have been selected to take part in the world’s first time-travel event. You have chosen to go back to the time of the Elizabethan era (the first one). Assuming that you bump into William Shakespeare, what advice would you give him?
Think about a more upbeat ending for Hamlet in order to appease future Hollywood audiences. Perhaps Ophelia could come back as a zombie and pledge her undying love to Hamlet before he dies? Also, don’t bother with Coriolanus: the lead character is an idiot and people will forever be confusing it with Julius Caesar anyway.
- An essential item of modern-day computing is the mouse. Why is the mouse so-called?
Because originally real mice were attached to computers. They were nailed to little roller-skates and, as the user moved them across a smooth surface, electronic pulses were sent to the CPU via the mouse’s tail. This practice was eventually brought to an end by the reduced manufacturing costs of plastic mice and complaints from the RSPCA, Mary Whitehouse, the Queen, and the entire population of French-Canada.
- A printer is an example of a computer peripheral. Name three others.
Suitable answers include: a scanner; a dongle; a mouse; an inflatable Bill gates; a Bionic Man; a keyboard; a graphics tablet; or a giant killer robot with spikes down its back that shoots laser beams from its eyes and stomps around going ‘roooooooaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh’.
- Your computer displays a fatal exception error and smoke begins to pour from the air vents at the back. What do you do? Assume for the purposes of this question that the Bat-signal is broken.
Throw a bucket of water (room temperature, not ice-cold) over the computer at once, and then immediately call the emergency services and request a fire engine and a qualified exorcist. Never, under any circumstances, attempt to open the case of your PC and tamper with the insides. No user-serviceable parts lie within, and many computer cases are home to small tribes of miniature sabre-toothed monkeys that do not appreciate their privacy being disturbed. Every year 500 people in the UK alone die from miniature-monkey-related injuries. Make sure you’re not one of them.
- How do mobile telephones work?
All modern mobile telephones incorporate a tiny fairy, trained at an exclusive boot camp just outside Oslo. Whenever a telephone call is made, the fairy records your voice onto a small spool of tape roughly the size of something really small. This tape is then transferred across the sub-ether to the other telephone at a speed so fast it’s impossible to write the number on the page without the digits flying off. The receiving fairy then re-plays the tape to the call recipient. Text messaging works in the same way, only with a typewriter.
- What is a gigbite?
The same as a gigabyte, but with more teeth.
- What is the longest river in the world apart from all the other ones?
- If you were to climb Mount Everest whilst wearing a tin-foil hat, would you be able to get a 4G signal on your mobile telephone?
Probably, although if you’re on Vodafone you might struggle to get one in your own house.
- What did the Hanging Gardens of Babylon hang from?
The Colossal Coat Hanger of Marduk.
- If Driver A took the M4 towards Glasgow, travelled at a constant speed of 68mph and stopped for six twelve minute comfort breaks, whilst Driver B did the same journey but at an average speed of 50mph with no breaks, who would reach Glasgow first?
Neither: the M4 doesn’t go to Glasgow, and the head gasket on Driver B’s car broke just outside Gretna.
- Name five types of rock.
Any five of the following: igneous; sedimentary; metamorphic; soft; dad; fraggle; crocodile.
- 1992 Paul Verhoeven film Basic Instinct is infamous for the scene in which an underwear-less Sharon Stone crosses and uncrosses her legs. What can be seen during this scene if a viewer uses freeze-frame?
A baby owl in a trilby.
- True or false: initial studio cuts of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones replaced Anakin Skywalker actor Hayden Christensen with a cardboard cut-out of a young James Caan. Nobody noticed the difference.
False: he was replaced by a glass of tepid water.
- 1990 Tom Selleck epic Three Men and a Little Lady had several straight-to-video sequels. Can you name any of them?
Three Men and a Junkie; Three Men and a Contractual Obligation; Two Men and a Different Man Because We Couldn’t Afford the Same Third Man as In the Other Films.
- John Wayne and Bruce Wayne are related. Discuss.
A good answer will mention that John Wayne was Bruce’s elder, cowboy-obsessed cousin. A poor answer will deny the existence of Batman. A very poor answer will deny the existence of John Wayne. An answer that denies its own existence will not be an answer. QED. Or something like that, anyway.
- True or false: the sequel to The Great Escape sees the survivors attempting to break back into the prison camp.
False: the sequel (The Great Escape II: Escape Harder) has a supernatural theme where the ghost of Steve McQueen possesses his motorbike and attempts to finally make it over the fence.