Christmas Quiz Questions Features

The Spectator's Christmas Quiz

Test your wits against Christopher Howse. With illustrations by Castro

14 December 2013

9:00 AM

14 December 2013

9:00 AM

Says who?

In 2013, who said:
1. ‘To me it’s not a marriage, it is, if you like, a Ronseal deal.’
2. ‘Marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories.’
3. ‘It is the Conservatives who have decided to completely reinvent the wheel and tie the country up in knots.’
4. ‘If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.’
5. ‘You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?’
6. ‘Send in the clowns.’
7. ‘People who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their entrails in public before the cameras. Are these the people you want to support?’
8. ‘There are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the north-east.’
9. ‘Britain can do better’. (17 times)
10. ‘What you gonna do when your ship is sinking, and you’re crying out for help, and just the seagulls listening?’

Creature comforts

In 2013:
1. What sort of creature did three fire crews succeed in coaxing from an island in a pond in Watford High Street?
2. Muhammad Shahid Nazir, the ‘£1 fish man’, whose market song went, ‘Very, very good, very, very cheap,/ One pound fish,/ Six for five pound, one pound each,’ took up politics in Pakistan. Which party leader did he support, Nawaz Sharif or Imran Khan?
3. What sort of marine mammal basked for the cameras on the shore of North Ronaldsay in a rare visit to Orkney?
4. Which kind of ungulate did scientists from Canada suggest had evolved in the Arctic?
5. In Uckfield, Sussex, a specimen that habitually ate Weetabix and weighed 3st 8lb was found to be the world’s biggest what?
6. A grey bird with a red head, named as a new species, Orthotomus chaktomuk, had been spotted in which Asian capital?
7. A new species called the olinguito, a 14-inch raccoon-like mammal, was discovered living quietly in the mountains between which South American countries?
8. A man in bed died when what farm animal fell through the corrugated roof of his house in Caratinga, Brazil?
9. An outbreak of what arachnids temporarily closed the Dean Academy, in the Forest of Dean?
10. The DNA of hairs from which Himalayan beast was found to match that of prehistoric polar bears from Svalbard?

Royal flush

In 2013:
1. Which member of the royal family asked: ‘Should we be considering a real market for horse meat?’
2. Which king’s skeleton was said to have been found beneath a Leicester car park, the site of the former Greyfriars church?
3. Which member of the royal family spent two days in hospital this year with symptoms of gastroenteritis after shaking hands with Olympic athletes?
4. Whose funeral in St Paul’s did the Queen attend in April?
5. Which member of the royal family spent his 92nd birthday in hospital?
6. After the abdication of Queen Beatrix, aged 75, who became King of the Netherlands?
7. The King of which country gave up his 136ft yacht, Fortuna?
8. Two days after an intruder climbed a fence and was arrested in Buckingham Palace, armed police tackled which member of the royal family in the gardens of the Palace?
9. Which new member of the royal family was given the supplementary names of Alexander Louis?
10. In Delhi, which member of the royal family did children present with a Black Forest gateau bearing the number 65?

Mad world

In 2013:
1. The state television of which country broadcast 12 hours of wood burning in a fireplace?
2. Which country saw a campaign on Facebook to boycott overpriced pistachios over its New Year?
3. Which popular singer’s concert in Jakarta was cancelled following its denunciation by an Islamic group as ‘satanic worship’?
4. Castle View School in Canvey Island, Essex, banned triangular versions of which food items after a boy was hit in the face by one?
5. Whose sandals sold for £19,000 at an auction at Ludlow Racecourse?
6. The Football Federation of which African country suspended four teams involved in two play-offs that ended with scores of 79-0 and 67-0?
7. Whose hair became entangled in the blades of a fan onstage in Montreal, though she continued singing ‘Halo’ as security men grappled with her tresses?
8. For what vehicle did Matt McKeown, from Plymouth, achieve a record speed of 70.4mph?
9. What name did Bradley Manning, the American soldier sentenced to 35 years for publishing secrets, take when he announced that he was now a woman?
10. In which City of London street stands the 37-storey skyscraper nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie, which focused autumn sunshine and melted a parked car?


In 2013:
1. Which film was shown in China without the scene in which James Bond kills a security guard in Shanghai?
2. Which film depicted the capture by pirates of the MV Maersk Alabama?
3. In which biopic did a member of the royal family say to a heart surgeon: ‘Yes, I’ve been a mad bitch, yes, I’ve been a stalker, yes, I put on a crummy Liverpudlian accent to get your attention’?
4. Saving Mr Banks told the story of the wrangle between Walt Disney and which children’s author?
5. Which fictional disc jockey says: ‘We’re asking, what is the worst monger? Iron, fish, rumour… or war?’
6. In Le Week-End, Lindsay Duncan as Meg went to Paris with her husband Nick, played by whom?
7. If Chris Hemsworth was Thor, who was Odin?
8. If Henry Cavill was Man of Steel, who was Iron Man?
9. In 1949, Alan Ladd was Jay Gatsby; in 1974 it was Robert Redford; who was it this year?
10. Johnny Depp played Tonto in The Lone Ranger. What is his character called in Spain?


Match the writers with the extracts:
Agatha Christie, Henry James, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Thomas Love Peacock, George Meredith, Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Benjamin Disraeli
1. It was Christmas Eve, and I had to stir the pudding for next day, with a copper-stick, from seven to eight by the Dutch clock.
2. As he went over toward the big four-poster bed he noticed an envelope lying on his pillow. He opened it and drew out a piece of paper. On it was a shakily printed message in capital letters.
3. ‘Get away!’ Hippias vehemently motioned, and started from his chair. ‘I’ll have none of it, I tell you! It’s death! It’s fifty times worse than that beastly compound Christmas pudding! What fool has been doing this, then? Who dares send me cake? Me! It’s an insult.’
4. ‘What impertinence!’ said the Pudding. ‘I wonder how you’d like it, if I were to cut a slice out of you, you creature!’ It spoke in a thick, suety sort of voice, and Alice hadn’t a word to say in reply: she could only sit and look at it and gasp.
‘Make a remark,’ said the Red Queen: ‘it’s ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!’
5. But then everybody knows that the real fun of Christmas never begins till the day itself be passed. The beef and pudding are ponderous, and unless there be absolute children in the party, there is a difficulty in grafting any special afternoon amusements on the Sunday pursuits of the morning.
6. We passed through cold, bleak passages, to which an odour of suet-pudding, the aroma of Christmas cheer, failed to impart an air of hospitality; and then, after waiting a while in a little parlour appertaining to the superintendent, where the remainder of a dinner of by no means eleemosynary simplicity and the attitude of a gentleman asleep with a flushed face on the sofa seemed to effect a tacit exchange of references, we were ushered into a large frigid refectory, chiefly illumined by the twinkling tapers of the Christmas-tree.
7. Christmas puddings, brawn, and abundance of spirituous liquors, throwing the mental originality into the channel of nightmare, are great preservatives against a dangerous spontaneity of waking thought.
8. It was supposed to be the first time that a Christmas pudding had been concocted at Jerusalem, and the excitement in the circle was considerable. The Colonel had undertaken to supervise the preparation, and had been for several days instilling the due instructions into a Syrian cook, who had hitherto only succeeded in producing a result which combined the specific gravity of lead with the general flavour and appearance of a mass of kneaded dates, in a state of fermentation after a lengthy voyage.
9. Then came geese and capons, tongues and hams, the ancient glory of the Christmas pie, a gigantic plum pudding, a pyramid of mince pies, and a baron of beef bringing up the rear. ‘It is something new under the sun,’ said the divine, as he sat down, ‘to see a great dinner without fish.’
10. The Plague of Plum Pudding extends its ravages from end to end of the land, and lays the national digestion prostrate at the feet of Christmas.

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