Round Britain Quiz began again on Radio 4 last Monday. Now this is something of a show for the connoisseur. I’m not saying that the teams don’t take it seriously – I’m sure that they do – but it’s not the same sort of competition as any of the other shows I review regularly. It’s one of those shows where on the same show you can be amazed at what the teams do manage to answer, and then surprised at what the teams don’t manage to answer. It’s probably the only quiz where the teams are given the questions printed on paper at the start of the show as well. -
On with the show then. On Monday’s show we had the South of England, represented by Marcel Berlins and Fred Housego (that pint is still on the table if you’re interested, Fred. Just drop me a line.) against Northern Ireland represented by Brian Feeney and Polly Devlin.
Question one asked the South of England : -
Can you explain how Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain together might transport you to RCH?
Now, the thing was, I actually could. My first thought when I heard RCH was – Chile’s international car registration. CH is that of Switzerland, I of Italy, L of Luxembourg, and E of Spain. I thought that was relatively straightforward. I’m afraid that Fred and Marcel didn’t get it at all, despite question master Tom Sutcliffe’s pointed allusions to Fred’s famous profession. No points.
Northern Ireland’s first seemed rather more obscure to me.
If I swim back to a Nevada city, where I play a board game and I learn where to go dancing, what language do I speak?
Like the team, I guessed the city might be Reno, and the game, Ludo, so the language might be Latin. I couldn’t get the dancing thing, which apparently was Disco. Which is actually latin for I learn – and that’s something I learned from listening to the show. I’d maybe have had a couple of points for this, but no more.
The South of England received their music question, and were played a piece of classical music – Baggy Trousers by Madness – When the Saints Come Marching In, then they were asked -
Where would you go to see these in action?
Fred and Marcel didn’t recognize the first either. Now – Baggies and Saints suggested Premier League football teams, which I had slightly before Marcel and Fred. Baggies are at the Hawthorns, and Saints at St. Mary’s. Now, when Fred speculated with the Toon Army for the first, Tom confirmed that he had the right team for the wrong reason. I speculated with The Thieving Magpie, which indeed it was. St. James’ Park. Kudos to the setter for that one – I really liked it. 3 points to the South – I would have had at least that many.
Northern Ireland then had their own music set. We began with hit the Road Jack, and were then asked -
Add to this piece what happens when you top a trifle, when you stop smoking, and when things might have gone well at Jonathan’s; and you have a catalogue of surprising violence. Can you explain?
My answer was a succinct – no, I can’t. Like Northern Ireland, I knew that you put cream on top of a trifle. But not to what purpose with the question. Whipped cream? Yes, apparently. When you stop smoking you kick the habit. So hit – whip – kick. I really don’t think I’d have had any point for the Jonathan allusion. His was a coffee house which was also used as a stock exchange, where you’d make a killing. Ho boy. I think I had the same that Northern Ireland did with 2.
Back to the South of England. Now, their next question began with : -
Who might be accompanied by a Captain who lost his ear, a puzzle with a long literary tradition, and a month associated with fertility?
Well, obviously the captain was the famous Jenkins. Fred had that. As for the month, well, that was May. Tom asked a riddle, to give a clue that the puzzle was riddle, and surprisingly Fred and Marcel still didn’t get it. I’ll be honest, the only person I could think of with the name Riddle – excluding the mythical Jimmy – was Nelson Riddle, which saw me punt with Frank Sinatra. This turned out to be correct, and messrs May and Jenkins were also band leaders who had worked with the great man. Quite pleased with myself for that.
For their own third question, Northern Ireland were asked
You could get 8 out of 10 for connecting Hockney’s Percy, Jane Fonda’s outlaw, and poet Carl Sandburg's weather report. How?
Well, when I saw this one I knew that Percy was a cat – was he Ozzie Clark’s cat? – and Jane Fonda’s outlaw could therefore be Cat Ballou. 8 out of 10 owners said their cats preferred it etc. But where Carl Sandburg came in, well, that I couldn’t explain immediately. Rather strangely Polly had a mental image of Lee Marvin singing Wanderin’ Star. I say strangely because he sang that in Paint Your Wagon. He was in Cat Ballou, though, and that’s what she was driving at. She mistakenly thought Percy was a dog, and then she explained the Carl Sandburg reference. Apparently his weather report depended on how his cat’s tail is standing up. Is that how the Met Office do it? Actually, though, no, she was barking, or miaowing – up the wrong tree. It was all to do with a poem he wrote called Fog, apparently. 3 points for Northern Ireland – I think I’d have had more.
For their last South of England were asked
In plural form, why do these people show a uniform purpose? A 1970s England Manager and also his nickname as a player; an 18th century novelist, poet and playwright; and a Black Country comedian known to his friends as Chris Collins?
Now, I think Chris Collins is a bit of an old quiz chestnut. He is of course Frank Skinner. The Skinners are one of the honourable livery companies of the City of London. Put that together with The Mercers (England caretaker manager Joe), and the Goldsmith’s (Oliver) and bob’s your uncle. Fred took a punt with Jasper Carrot, and had to be given the clue that he was a supporter of the Baggies in order to get it. Once he had that one he was away although like me he had no idea of Joe Mercer’s nickname as a player. When Tom said he shared his nickname with a Prime Minister, then Grocer, as in Heath, occurred, but I wouldn’t have had it otherwise. 4 points for that.
The last question for Northern Ireland was
The owner of a goat well known to Val Doonican, and the custodians of Top of the Form and Broadcasting House, should put you in mind of a famous traveller who walked the Broken Road. Who is he, and what did he do in the war?The first three immediately said Paddy to me – McGinty, Feeney and O’Connell – but the traveler proved more problematical to me. Brian Feeney was in with the answer right away with Paddy Leigh Fermor. In the war he worked for the SOE with the Cretan Resistance, and captured a German general. I didn’t know that, but Brian and Polly did. The Broken Road was the title of one of his books. Well, I might have had one or two points there, but that would have been my lot. Northern Ireland, though, earned 4.
I don’t know how much it really matters, or whether it really matters at all, but for the record Northern Ireland took the win with 12 points to 10. Good show – enjoyed it.