TAC 31 Index
The quiz (TAC30, pp4,5) continued a relentless upward curve: 21 entrants last year, 22 this! Rumours of it being easier proved unfounded, the average mark dipping from 44.57% to 39.50% - although the winning score was, remarkably, almost identical: 73.46% in 1995 against a flat 73% here. Twelve of last year's gluttons returned for more punishment, but only five improved their position. The national spread mimicked TAC's subscription database if not quite its readership as a whole: 12 Scots, 9 Engloids, 1 Welsh. In general, feedback was of folk mixing fun, frustration and occasional other words beginning with f. Corinthian spirituality abounded, with much it's-the-taking-part-that-counts-ism and willing acceptance of Ben Humble pie.
Top dog two years ago, Stuart Benn teamed up with Barbara Brodie to edge out last year's Merseyside pedigree chums Dave Tyson and Brenda Lowndes in a reversal of the 1745 quiz, since the winners hail from Culloden. It's now five years since neither Benn nor Lowndes bestrode the podium as joint or clear victor. Various entrants maintained form, notably Barbara Jones, Richard Webb and Andy Archer, whilst newcomers Paul Kennedy, Bruce Smith and Peter Shaw zoomed in high up. In the basement, ex-champ Graham Pearson pled university finals as an excuse for continued free-fall, whilst Harry Ingram further enhanced his fine collection of booby prizes. The killer questions were 2e, 3b, 6a and 6e, which no-one got right - although a clever alternative to 2e earned several half-marks. This applied also to 8 (ix) and (xii), whilst the only two actual bonuses were for 2b - clever observation - and 8 (xi) - for making your Ed and Blanco laugh aloud after midnight in the marking session (although they'd had a bit to drink by that stage). As ever, other half-marks were awarded for answers right in themselves but not what was really being looked for.
Benn / Brodie pick up Andy Wightman's kind offer of his own Canongate book Who Owns Scotland, Alan Dawson's new The Hewitts and Marilyns of Wales, Grant Hutchison's World Tops and Bottoms, and another year's sub; Tyson / Lowndes get the Tables and the mag, whilst Kennedy's postie will bring a brown envelope every second month from now on. And since both top pairings included someone with the surname of a boxer - Benn and Tyson - it's perhaps time for the question-setters to start laying out their winter clothes in preparation for next year's epic ...
73 Stuart Benn / Barbara Brodie (joint entry), 71 Dave Tyson / Brenda Lowndes (joint entry), 61 Paul Kennedy, 561/2 Bruce Smith, 541/2 Peter Shaw, 471/2 Barbara Jones, 451/2 Graham Benny, 45 Richard Webb, 44 Andy Archer, 421/2 Paul Caban, 401/2 Andy Mayhew, 381/2 the Garrad Hassan crew, this time featuring Andrew Fellows, Paul Gardner, Graham Gow, Peter Jamieson, Gordon Smith (the other one) and Anne Telfer; 36 Wolf Gruellich, 32 both Ann Bowker and Ian Johnston, 311/2 Gary Westwood, 251/2 Jim Willsher, 211/2 Graham Pearson, 201/2 Craig Weldon, 20 Ewan MacKenzie, 18 Dewi Jones, 121/2 Harry Ingram.
1a Whose new book ... Climbing Mount Improbable? A comfortable start for most people - Richard Dawkins - although potential winners DT/BL carelessly confused genetics with physics by putting "Stephen Dawkins", and were chasing the game thereafter.
1b In August, what was expensively lost on Croaghaun Mountain ... ? A winning Irish Lottery ticket, for #2.08 million. JW added that it was discovered somewhere else entirely, down the back of a sofa or something. Sofa so good for most quizzers.
1c In which English city ... ? Trickier: Southampton (Hedge End). Estate agents Man and Co South-East were fined #1500 and branch manager Jason Franklin a further #150. Seems a bit harsh m'lud.
1d ... climbers Ben Moon and Stephen Coates ... ascent from Gotan Camp. Many scored well here. Gotan Camp, despite the Himalayan-sounding name, was in the uplands of Berkshire: Newbury treetops to be precise. Moon and Coates were part of the anti-bypass protest which ended when sheriff's lackeys hauled them down to be arrested with violent disorder. This word was needed for full marks: those who merely said "removed" bore the brunt of the quizmasters' own cherry-picking.
1e Which Asian city ... buildings as high as Auchtertyre Hill? Said hill, 452m, is matched by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Comedy spellings abounded (eg Koala Lumpur - PC). Other skyscrapers twinnable with Marilyns include the Empire State Building (Mynydd y Lan, 381m), the World Trade Centre (Low Fell, 423m) and Chicago's Sears Tower (1m shy of 444m Dun Caan).
1f ... London Millennium Tower ... We were hoist by our own radio mast here, since two out of the three options scored full marks. Cuilags was intended, with tower plus mast 1265ft+162ft, ie 1427ft / 435m, as per the Hoy hill. But by offering 50m alternatives to either side, we messed up since the mast is itself this height, reducing the total to 1265ft / 385m - and Gun is 384m. So both options were allowed - and, with no-one offering Carleatheran or declining to guess, a rare 100% was scored.
1g The inside of which British 3000ft hill ... film set? Hollowed-out Ben Cruachan threw a massive red herring, but "British" flagged a warning, and some rightly chose Elidir Fawr in Snowdonia. The movie, Mortal Kombat II - Annihilation, proved much harder - and hard on the locals too, since the crew apparently did a runner without paying their extras. Only DT/BL scored with the film: half for Mortal Kombat itself. RW's perfect start self-destructed here, with his suggestion of Mission Impossible.
2a ... map 10km square ... names of all these animals? After a relatively easy opening, this started to sort the sheep from the goats - and the hinds, and the asses, and the donkeys. The big square is on OS70, eastings 40-50, northings 05-15. Individual beasts at Gass 4105, Craigdonkey 4710 (honest!), Boreland 4013, Ewe Hill 4512, Ashentree 4313 (or Auchenroy Hill 4405), Scottish Industrial Railway Centre 4707-4807, Lambdoughty Hill 4006 and Ravenscroft 4614. SB/BB also found 70-80/00-10 on OS80 - 11 animals and an ark to put them in - whilst AM outdid this with 14 in 29-39/02-12 on OS79. BL's letter implied that DT did most of the donkey work.
2b The rectangle of 1km squares ... 12:12 placename? Obviously tricky if 2a had proved elusive, and only the three prizewinners found Craigs of Kyle in square 4215. BS threw up Burn of Elsick, OS38,45/8994, but AM followed his own agenda and discovered the first ever Scottish 13:13 - Howpasley Burn, a Borthwick/Teviot feeder around 3405 on OS79. This follows a total of eight 12:12s spread over two years, and was awarded a rare full-mark bonus since it's like someone having finally scored a 62 in a golf major.
2c An easterly two-word 12:12 ... Easier than the above once the "watery names" were sussed to be B(l)ackwater Reservoir. This gave the 12:12 as Glen Quharity, OS44, 2861.
2d ... Mid Lix ... four feet higher than Ar Riabhach? Much easier - good scoring here - although slack had to be cut for different methods of totting up the Roman numerals. We intended MID LIX to be broken down to 1000+1+500+50+1+10 = 1562. Some folk kept the Is with the parent letters, giving 1000+499+50+9 = 1558, ie the same as Ar Riabhach (475m = 1558ft). No-one was penalised for this, nor for use of an earlier one-inch sheet which had both hills slightly lower. Incidentally, your Ed was forced to do mental (in both senses) Roman times-tables when at junior school, which may partly explain the way his adult brain works.
2e What linguistic quirk ... an accountant ... Cnoc na Peiste? Also at school, your Ed learned that the only English word with three consecutive double letters is bookkeeper. And recent Irish OS revisions have done away with Cummeennapeasta for the fourth highest Reek. No-one deduced this, but SB/BB, IJ, PK and BS all picked up points for an alternative: the summit translates as "Hill of the serpent", from which it's only a short slither to "adder", ie an accountant. Neat - although scarcely tallying with St Paddy having banished all snakes from Ireland. Maybe the hills were named prior to the fifth century?
2f ... name shared by a Scottish and an Irish Marilyn ... Hellish difficult (and we knew it!) since IOS maps are not easily available over here whilst the groundbreaking Irish TACit Table which would have made it trivial is still slouching towards Bethlehem. For all the suggestions of Ben More etc, the only shared name is Mount Eagle - the 256m Black Isle highpoint and a 516m summit down Dingle way. SB/BB, DT/BL and BJ all showed why they rank highly, rolling up their Slieves to find this. Unluckiest was AA, who found 589m Cruach Mhor, highest hill in Section 19A, and also a 932m hill of that name in the Reeks - oddly an outlier of Cnoc na Peiste. But with a drop of only 32m this is a mere Hewitt, not a Marilyn.
3a "Three hundred miles and more ..." is the opening of The Country of the [Danny] Blind, by HG Wells. JW knew this and also pointed out that the actual book - as opposed to the story - is The Door in the Wall. But nobody knew:
3b Which subsequent Nobel laureate ... ? Shame on you all. Seamus Heaney, Field Work; map of Glanmore, Ireland. Guesses included William Golding's Darkness Visible (published 1979) or Odysseus Elytis (awarded Prize 1979). Edwin Morgan's 1996 Collected Translations shows an old European map, but Morgan has never been invited to Oslo. All this supports the theory that your Ed is unusual in reading poetry, especially given his absence from the vast throng of popular culturalists who knew 3e!
3c Which band released the 1979 single ... ? This split the quizzers into young (or young-at-heart) and old fogey camps, with the indie-freaks correctly citing Wire.
3d Which 1995 novel ... ? Despite various Muriel Gray Trickster guesses (and Enid Blyton from HI - be serious at the back!), this was Michael Crichton, The Lost World, pp318-319.
3e In which 1990s film ... sex in the Munro Hotel? Dave, starring Sgurr na h-Eabhair. Only seven folk (plus your Ed) didn't know this.
4a ... a Graham-sized hill named Qaqqartivakajik? Greenland - although as globally-pedantic PC pointed out, we should have said "dependency", not "country", since it's part of Denmark.
4b ... the Guilin Mountains? China was what most said, and they were right.
4c If Ben Hutig ... moved to Israel ... Ben Hutig, despite the Hebrew-sounding name, is a 408m Sutherland Marilyn which would sit neatly beside the Dead Sea, since anyone climbing it would return to "sea level", the Dead Sea being at minus 408m. DT/BL tried it on with "the Mount of Olives, because Hutig means olive in Hebrew". No it doesn't: we checked, and olive is zayit (or elaia in Greek).
4d ... an anagram of two African cities? Easy enough despite comedy guesses such as DW's G(h)ana Hill. Broad Cairn + u = Durban + Cairo. PS wrote "Board Cairn" and was docked a half-point by the harsh quiz-setters.
4e Which New Donald contains the name of an African country? Again easy: Beninner. IJ had been there (by boat presumably), Ghana again featured (Alhang minus the l), whilst arch countrybagger AB shamefully gave up.
4f ... writer ... African country? Comedy question, comedy answer. Only CW missed man-of-the-moment Camero(o)n McNeish.
4g ... admin centre ... Munro? Only RW correctly gave Longyearbyen in Svalbard / Spitsbergen, named for one Munro Longyear. False trails led to Monrovia and Port Stanley (Munro Stanley - who he? It was PM Edward Stanley aka "Lord" Derby, surely?) Ditto Hugh Town, admin centre of the Scilly Isles - these aren't dependent, being administered by "Prince" Charles and some Cornish bobbies; and McMurdo Sound in the Ross Dependency, NZ's Antarctic claim. This geographical (ie non-administrative) entity was named after a Lt McMurdo who sailed on HMS Terror - as known by Grant Hutchison's Professorial Other, who shares the name.
5a Which of these three Ochils ... ? Two quizzers packed rucksacks and researched this the best way, whilst most stay-at-homers fell into the trap of suggesting Bengengie since it's craggy on the map. Hence only the diligent GB and DT/BL plus good-guessing WG and AM scored: Colsnaur Hill is a great summit for lunch-eating in a westerly gale. For the record, Myreton Hill has two close-together bumps, the southerly one carrying a neat cairn; Colsnaur has a slightly larger cairn and the little pointscoring crag facing east; Bengengie has a bare cairn but an extremely prominent crag 20m east. Try to shelter in that and you'll end up down in the glen.
5b Dunkeld 16, Pitlochry 38, Blair Atholl 45, Dalwhinnie ? The most common guess - kilometres north of Perth - was on the right road but missed the spin. Each A9 layby is numbered, and the figures given are of the layby immediately before the turnoff heading north. Dalwhinnie is 88, as only the local SB/BB realised. RW was unlucky: his guess of 61was the right answer ... to 5d!
5c Which Graham shares a name with a Masonic Lodge ... ? This doubled with the Ochiline 5a, since Lodge Ben Cleuch stands only 200m from the Mill Glen car park in Tillicoultry. SB/BB hunted high and low in Lanarkshire (no shortage of Masons there) but found no Lodge Tinto. They then took the insider route and asked a trouser-tugger, who loaned his Year Book. This gave the fantastic info that four more lodges are named from hills: Schiehallion, Ben Ledi, Hartfell and Tap o'Noth!
5d What number ... ? Trivial once 5c was known. It's Lodge 782, so taking off 721m gives 61.
5e The summit ... viewfinder ... error. Only three folk checked this on the ground, with one - BS - even then failing to spot that whilst the hills are correctly marked, the engraved plate is 180° awry, with S given as 0°, W 90°, N 180° and E 270°.
6a England 0, Wales 4 ... Explain. One of Blanco's, your majesty. No-one came near to seeing that "Thomas Weir" is an acronym for Thousand Metres Above Sea-level in Wales, England and the Irish Republic; the "scorelines" tally the appropriate hills in each case.
6b What number linked Princess Di ... on 4/12/95? This was better: 492 gave one mark, with a second for saying Lamington Hill is 492m, Athers faced 492 balls in his matchsaving 185 v South Africa, and the Queen of Hearts wore a baseball cap bearing this number after a "secret" hospital visit. AM undid his earlier good Howpasley Burn work by twigging the story but writing 429!
6c Which two Donalds ... England test cricketers? Two cricket questions in a row! Forget (Chris) Broad (Stuart) Law; it was (David) Capel Fell and (Robert) Croft Head. Your Ed reclimbed these in chilly clag on 1/2/97 to celebrate the closing of the quiz!
6d Newtyle Hill 20, Ben Vrackie 21, Carn a Chlamain 22, The Fara ? Looked like a rehash of 5b, but different entirely. The missing apostrophe and the "Newtyle" clue hinted at these being Scrabble scores. Hence The Fara = 1+4+1+4+1+1+1 = 13.
6e Which new book ... ? Most bizarre of all. "Predictions" gave a clue, but no shame for not knowing The Real Counties of Britain by Russell Grant. Yes, that Russell Grant, the fat soothsayer. Honest. Maybe we'll review it one day.
7a On which very widely seen Scottish map ... ? Even English-based quizzers seemed to know that these triangles come not from Iain White's CD "panoramas", but from the standard ScotRail map.
7b ... hills in the following sections: West Lomond 21 ... ? Very hard. Your Ed only knew to set this since his pilot brother-in-law Geoff owned Aeronautical chart ICAO 1:500000, Sheet 2150ABCD Scotland, Orkney and Shetland [sic] Edition 16. Only the otherwise struggling DJ scored anything, knowing the type of map but not the specific sheet. The numbers give safe heights, ie the highest hill per section, rounded up, plus 300ft. Nice maps to look at; bugger all use for bagging.
7c ... odd one out: A70, A71, A72, A73? One answer is traditionally given in your Ed's TGO column at the appropriate time: last year it was the height of the Maldives, now this. The A73 is the the only road not to appear on its numero-eponymous OS Landranger. Various half-marks for folk wittering on about roads crossing the watershed, merging at Hyndford Bridge or running north-south. The nice word "numbersake" featured a couple of times.
7d Which of the Great Lakes exists in Scotland ... ? For all the four neat anagramisations of Loch Hourn / Lake Huron and the six weird guesses at Erie Hill, SB/BB, GB, BJ and EM all found the simple Lake Superior on OS76/0870.
7e Name four other Scottish Lakes ... In addition to L Superior, we found a further eight definite lakes named on current Landrangers: L Louise 21/7387, Kelly (aka Lower) L 30/8835, Pitfour L 30/9748, Upper L 30/8734, L of Menteith 57/5700, Hirsel L 74/8240, Cally L 83/6055, and Manxman's L 83,84/6748. Murkier is Swan L 76/2209, given as Swan Pond on the latest OS70 overlap. Pathfinder sheets threw up four more: Raith L NT29/2691, Keithfield L NJ83/8533, Pressmennan L NT67/6273, and Lakes (plural) of Hatton NJ74/7547. Fasque L and L of Orcadie were supposedly named in a 1996 fishing guide - and, since HI was struggling for points, we allowed the former (near Fettercairn, unnamed on any OS map); but not the latter, which remains unlocated. The 1997 edition also gave Aros L on Mull, although this may really be Lochan a' Ghurrabain, 47/5253. Definitely disallowed were Pitcairnie L and Dupplin L on OS58: both have long been lochs whatever old maps might say; L of Moy on OS27: a settlement, with the nearby pondish thing unnamed even on the Pathfinder since the words are in black, not blue; and Pawston L on OS74 - in England! The proportion of lakes in the grounds of stately homes says something about the anglification of the Scottish gentry over the centuries, for sure. (This list - of 14 definites - feels pretty complete, but if anyone knows more, please write in.)
7f Which OS Landranger has a high point, or "map top", of only 7m? The quiz-setters traditionally make a bit of a Meall na h-Aisre of one question, and this was it. The answer, as almost everyone said, was OS131 (Boston and Spalding): flattest of flat sheets in a flat land. This is a-Wash with at least six 7m trig points / spot heights (249436, 292303, 429334, 458179, 472185, 477199), but we'd overlooked an 8m spot height at 263276, and a 9m spot height at 439223. BS even claimed a 10m contour nearby, but we got headaches squinting for this. Apologies for the mess-up: anyone offering any of these naturally scored full marks. Since most of the points are humanly-built structures - levees - then, as AM and GP pointed out, the actual map top should perhaps be the topmost turret of the Boston Stump. And as for Peak Hill, 2m or 3m in square 2616, GW rightly suggests it suffers slight delusions of grandeur.
8 Corbents and Grabams The favourite quiz question ever? Very user-friendly, in that contestants had a list of multiple-choice answers in front of them - albeit 224 options for the Grabams and 219 for the Corbents. Answers given in the form clue-solution / hill, with explanations and comments where necessary:
(i) Woody Allen movie: Zelig / Belig; (ii) Jay Silverheels: Tonto / Tinto (The actor's name); (iii) Cantilevers overhead here: Queensferry / Queensberry (Forth Bridge); (iv) Pinky-blue Girl actress: Grogan / Groban (Clare Grogan, co-star of Gregory's Girl and singer with Altered Images, whose 1982 second album was Pinky Blue); (v) A group of Munro's: Runrig / Dun Rig (Not Munros but Munro's - Donny of that ilk being lead singer of the Celt-rock band); (vi) Hamish MacInnes' wee dog: Pup of Glencoe / Pap of Glencoe (PK made the biggest blunder in all quizdom here, correctly identifying the hill but offering Pip of Glencoe, as Pip was "just the sort of name that Hamish would give to his wee dog"!); (vii) Definitely the other Hamish's dog: Storm / The Storr (Hamish Brown's second dog, after Kitchy); (viii) Where Glasgow girls go for a night out: Hen venue / Ben Venue (Glasgow vernacular: woman = hen); (ix) High, TGO, Trail, plus this: And TAC / An Stac (Clever half-point-scoring alternative from AA and GB: Press and ye / Pressendye; Bad and on hill / Badandun Hill might also have scored); (x) Northern Exposed pub: The Brick / The Brack (Pub/café/diner in TV series Northern Exposure); (xi) The bloke who bribes juries and dopes racehorses: The nobbler / The Cobbler (Does anything other than a jury or a racehorse get nobbled? We think not. PC scored a full point - and deserved more - for the tremendous Bent Imran / Ben Tirran ... allegedly); (xii) All Together Now boys: The Farm / The Fara (1990 song by Liverpool band The Farm; AA scored another unorthodox half for Men loyal / Ben Loyal); (xiii) Pacey Zimbabwean: Streak / Streap (Heath Streak: opening bowler for Zimbabwe in recent Test series versus England); (xiv) Question the terrible ruler: Ask Ivan / Askival; (xv) Tin snake: Can asp / Canisp; (xvi) Repair Highland village: Mend Onich / Ben Donich; (xvii) White Riot Squad in the morning: Clash am / Clisham (Track four on 1977 first album by the seminal London punks was White Riot); (xviii) Ariston goes on ... : And on / An Dun (Interminable TV advert); (xix) Definitely not Dennis's dandy sister: Mona Menace / Monamenach (Read DC Thomson's comics for the hardest Grabam/Corbent); (xx) Duke's boy: Son of Atholl / Sow of Atholl (Actually the late George Iain Murray had no direct heir, and his title passed to an obscure South African cousin; EM's Ben Royal ensured that what the 1981 SMC Tables labelled "the northernmost Corbett" again featured); (xxi) Put cheek on a pedestal: Mount buttock / Mount Battock (Cheap arse gag to end with).
Thanks to all the contestants and also to those unseen millions who dibbed and dabbed after the Christmas turkey or tofu but with no real intention of submitting an entry.
Sources: The Beano; The Cambridge Encyclopedia (Cambridge, 1992); The Grahams and the New Donalds, Alan Dawson (TACit, 1995); The Great Rock Discography: Third Edition, MC Strong (Canongate, 1996); The Guardian, 5/12/95 (Princess Di), 28/2/96 (Atholl), 13/3/96 (Gotan), 4/9/96 (Lottery), 9-10/9/96 (Millenium); Hamish's Groats End Walk, Hamish Brown (Paladin-Granada, 1983); The High Mountains of Britain and Ireland, Volume 1, Irvine Butterfield (Diadem, 1993); The Mountains of Ireland, Paddy Dillon (Cicerone, 1992); Munro's Tables (SMT, 1981); The New Bible Dictionary (IVP, 1978); Ordnance Survey Gazetteer of Great Britain: Third Edition (1992); Rand McNally World Facts and Maps (Rand McNally, 1995); The Relative Hills of Britain (plus 1996 update), Alan Dawson (Cicerone, 1992); Scotland for Fishing 1997 (Pastime, 1997); Teaching Little Fang, Mark Swallow (Abacus, 1991); TGO 11/96 (Longyearbyen, pp48-53) and 2/97 (A73, p100); Variety Movie Guide '97, Derek Elley (Hamlyn, 1996); Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1996 (John Wisden, 1996); World Tops and Bottoms, Grant Hutchison (TACit, 1996).
TAC 31 Index