TAC 41 Index
Blimey. TAC has long nurtured its reputation of setting difficult quizzes, with the winning mark usually around 70% and the overall average down in the 30s. That's been blown away this time. Not only did entries rise to a new high of 28, and not only did the fifth-placed contestant beat the previous record score, but this year's winner scored an astonishing 96%. Maybe we should retire - although most likely we'll set an old-style stinker next Christmas. The early feedback was of this being an easier quiz than usual (although the real mathematicos tended to think it trickier), but even so 96 points is an impressive bag by any standards.
With two-thirds of entrants topping 50%, last year's average of 38% was always going to be wiped out, but 54% is startling. The Bruce Smith / Peter Shaw pairing scored a thumping 881/2 but still finished runners-up for the second time. They're now up there with Charles Everett as the finest quizzers never to have won a major. Wolf Gruellich's rise to third (edging out Jones/Everett and triple winners Benn/Brodie) is a lesson to all who think the quiz lies beyond their abilities. This year also saw new permutations such as the aforementioned Guildford/York dreamteam, while it was good to see old favourites in the bargain mezzanine as usual: Garrad Hassan, Webb, Johnston and Ingram might perennially take part rather than win, but that's what matters in the end.
Most folk had entered before, with only seven newcomers (several of whom acclimatised nicely for future summit bids). Phil Harmston did well to whip the booby away from the overconfident grasp of Ronald "Do I get the relic?" Turnbull. Phil picks up a nicely coloured Welsh booklet plus the aforementioned relic, a scrap of one of Hamish Brown's maps from way back. As usual, we made a Meall na h-Aisre of one question (see 5a), whilst a few others were, in retrospect, unnecessarily vague (1d, 5d, 7i, 8R); but on the whole feedback was positive and, as the old cliché has it, a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone who entered.
96 Jim Willsher, 881/2 Bruce Smith / Peter Shaw, 781/2 Wolf Gruellich, 751/2 Barbara Jones / Charles Everett, 731/2 Stuart Benn / Barbara Brodie, 721/2 both Graham Pearson and Dave Tyson / Brenda Lowndes, 68 Paul Caban / Alastair Matthewson, 661/2 Kevin McGovern, 651/2 Ian Baines, 65 Graham Benny, 62 David Griffith-Jones, 58 Gordon Smith #1, 57 the Garrad Hassan team (this year featuring Lucy Craig, Andrew Fellows, Paul Gardner, Graham Gow, Peter Jamieson, Linda Malone, David Robb, Gordon Smith #2 ,Helen Snodin, Anne Telfer), 56 Mike Jacobs, 54 Gary Westwood, 53 Richard Webb, 521/2 Ann Bowker, 441/2 Alan Cresswell, 44 Ian Johnston, 421/2 Bev Barratt, 37 David Bell, 30 David Hoyle, 25 Edie and Christopher Horton, 241/2 Harry Ingram, 19 John Owen, 16 Ronald Turnbull, 14 Phil Harmston.
1a In 1998, who was videoed talking about sex whilst surrounded by maps?
Bill Clinton, Slick Willy himself, gave his Lewinsky testimony down the wires from the Map Room in the White House. As Grant Hutchison (who wasn't allowed to enter) said, it gives you an orgasm just thinking about the White House Map Room. Wrong names included Chris Bonington, Robin Cook, Muriel Gray, Nicole Kidman (that was The Blue Room), Madonna, John Major, Cameron McNeish, Dr Ruth and Janet Street Porter. BB and IB both went for Joe Simpson - right answer, wrong question - while KM opted for Ron Davies and worried about the wisdom of websearching on sex+videos or sex+maps.
1b Who in 1998 chose as their Desert Island Discs book "an Ordnance Survey map of the world"?
Judi Dench, 17/4/98. Another mixed bag: Bonington and Street Porter again plus Eileen Atkins, David Attenborough, Ffyona Campbell, Ranulph Fiennes, David Hempleman-Adams, Anthony Hopkins, Andrew Motion and the Michaels Palin and Portillo.
1c On which 1998 map was the Mull of Kintyre located on Mull?
British Tourist Authority's Rock and Pop Map - One nation under a groove. Nice concept except it placed Paul McCartney's home rather further north than the steep rolling Machrihanish heather and the mist in the Bastarding (see 6h) glen. The Virgin Trains map proved a popular guess - reputedly very badly drawn. RT's suggestion of the SMC CD was a little cruel.
1d Where in Scotland is a 57m trig point mapped with no contours between it and the sea?
A couple of folk pointed out that the trig on the dunes at Forvie (38/NK023278) does have a contour to its east. Yes, but it's possible to walk S and reach the sea without having crossed the line. Various folk came up with other interesting trigs, notably the 313m Marilyn-top one on Biod an Athair on Skye (23/NG158549). Also 160m Hill of Clibberswick on Unst (1/HP663127), 76m on Noup Head, Westray (5/HY392497), 59m on Wiay in Loch Bracadale (23/NG294356), and 48m on Mull Head, Orkney (6/HX592097). BB found a Hydrographic Survey Pillar at 185ft beside Loch Ewe at NG815895 on 1" Sheet 19, but this is mapped with contours on OS19 (as 57m, coincidentally). SB/BB suggested the 74m trig on Dumbarton Rock; mapped outside the 50m contour on OS64 but correctly shown on OL39. KH spotted that the trig on Burgh Hill, Stronsay (5/HY689232) currently lacks a height.
1e What common factor links the following four hills: Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Ward Hill (Hoy), Leith Hill?
The first of the points dropped by JW came here: he suggested these were all the high points of their two-letter grid squares. Yes, but of their one-letter squares, too: N, S, H, T, as foretold by Grant Hutchison in TAC18.
1f Which big Graham was deleted in 1998?
Tommy Graham, the hefty Renfrewshire West MP booted out for being too Old Labour. "Ma back is that fu' o' knives", he said. Half marks awarded for Graham Kelly (sacked 12/98), but nothing in the end for George Graham or Ally Graham of Ayr United.
2a Initially at least, which Munro might provide a good home for unwanted cats and dogs?
Most folk got this: Stob Poite Coire Ardair bears acronymic similarity to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
2b Which white goods company was criticised for comparing a sheep to a multi-megaton nuclear explosion?
Zanussi, during their "Mis-appliance of Science" advertising campaign.
2c From which white goods book: "As far as I could see, there were miles and miles and miles of open spaces all around these sheep ... Sheep aren't stupid. They're petty, spiteful and bloody-minded"?
Round Ireland with a Fridge, Tony Hawks, p46. TAC keeps tabs on all sheep books.
2d Where in Scotland ... Old Deer, Long Goat, Otter Had, South Whaleback?
30/NJ976476; 44/NO339613; 2/HU393813; 4/HZ213703. Easy look-up stuff, although the current OS4 gives just Whaleback. Old maps and Haswell-Smith's The Scottish Islands (reviewed in TAC30) gives South Whaleback. KM, along with Mr Munro-it-all RW, pointed out that Ronnie Burn, the second Munroist, came from Old Deer.
3a In 1997, Martin Moran fell from (i) Aconcagua; (ii) Liathach; (iii) his roof?
(c) - and we'll resist the temptation to call this "doing a Rod Hull".
3b On Ruby Wax's show, who would Joe Simpson prefer to sleep with: (i) Wax; (ii) Rhona Cameron; (iii) Brigitte Nielsen?
(ii) - who, it might be added, was one of very few celebs to price themselves out of The Golden Cagoule, fee-wise. The guesses here were revealing: La Wax 11, Cameron 11, Nielsen 6. WG said the BBC Info Dept claimed none of these had been on the show.
3c Who will Tom Cruise play in a forthcoming movie: (i) Bart Simpson; (ii) Joe Simpson; (iii) Edward (as in Mrs Simpson)?
Canny quizzers started to see a Joe Simpson / Martin Moran theme emerging here.
3d The cover of which mountaineer's latest book shows a man having a piss in the middle of the author's name?
That man Joe Simpson again: Dark Shadows Falling.
3e In which TV sitcom was a character avalanched on Mount Useful?
"Sitcom" is a debatable way of describing an animated cartoon, The Simpsons, but it appears to be the accepted usage. Wrong attempts fast-reeled through an entire genre: Brittas Empire, Drop the Dead Donkey, Frasier, Home and Away (a sitcom?!), Men Behaving Badly, Red Dwarf, Seinfeld, Twin Peaks, 2 Point 4 Children. CH/EH declined to answer as they don't own a TV.
4a Which hillgoer finished first and second in a semi-final of the 1998 European Championships 3000m steeplechase?
If it's not Joe Simpson then it has to be Luis Martin (Spain, 8:27.31) and Ramiro Moran (Spain, 8:27.46). Your Ed noticed these guys on the first lap and prayed for them to finish one-two. Afterwards, he thought about entering the Lottery for the first time in his life - but decided it was still a materialist capitalist immoral disgrace, regardless of whether his luck was in.
4b Which two categories of hill kicked the goals for Widnes at Featherstone on 26/7/98?
Mark Hewitt and Damien Munro kicked four goals and one goal respectively. Hewitt was named Man of the Match despite having spent ten minutes in the Sin Bin. Sounds familiar.
4c Which one of the following competed in the Edinburgh Chess Congress: (i) L Nagar; (ii) M Keen; (iii) C Aosda?
Ho ho. Your Ed's least favourite Congress of 1998 (held in a horrible pseudo-gothic hall in Heriot's School) at least provided a quiz question. Eight folk went for L (Larry?) Nagar, sadly no-one tried Chas Aosda, and it was Martin Keen all along.
4d From which 1997 sports book: "The draw for the Open, like hill walking ... is a total mystery to sane and rational people"?
Surprisingly difficult: only five entrants knew that it was Four-Iron in the Soul, by former Bluebells popster Lawrence Donegan.
4e Which TAC contributors opened the bowling for Yorks: (i) Dawson / Hewitt; (ii) Warbeck / Smith; (iii) Hamilton / Hutchison?
Easier: Gavin Hamilton / Paul Hutchison, although Robert Dawson, Jamie Hewitt and many Smiths also feature in the averages.
5a What theme links these four pairings of Scottish and US hills: Carn Eige / Mount Washington; Ben More Assynt / Mount Mitchell; Ben More (Mull) / Wheeler Peak; Morven (Caithness) / White Butte?
We made a mess of this one (there's always one, try as we might), sorry. Whilst most people sussed the theme - highest points in Scottish 100km grid squares paired with the high points of US states with the same two-letter code - we give the wrong Scottish hill in one instance. NH (New Hampshire) and NC (North Carolina) are fine for the first two parts, as is ND (North Dakota) for the last. But whilst Ben More on Mull is certainly in square NM, and Wheeler Peak is indeed the New Mexico high point, Sgurr na Ciche, Garbh Chioch Mhor, Sgurr Mor etc are higher Scottish NM points.
5b Which other Scottish hill could be similarly paired with a US hill?
This obviously became tricky for those people (PC/AM, BL/DT) who saw the flaw in 5a and were thus unsure of what we meant by "similarly". Both pairings got it right however (whilst offering a "highest Marilyn" - Beinn a'Bhuird - alternative), and hopefully no-one dropped points through outright confusion. What we were looking for was Cairn Gorm, high point of square NJ, since NJ is the only other Scottish square to double as a US state code (New Jersey, whose high point is just called High Point).
5c Which two English hills could be paired with US hills in the same way?
Again strictly required legit examples in 5a, but again it didn't seem to cause any problems. Most people correctly gave Scafell Pike (NY, New York, Mount Marcy), and The Old Man of Coniston (SD, South Dakota, Harney Peak). An inordinate number of folk added Snaefell just in case (SC, South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain), but of course the Isle of Man is not part of England.
5d Which two Corbetts are the closest to each other in distance?
Also tricky to answer, since two pairs are so close as to be incalculable short of having observers unreel a massive ball of string between the tops. At first we thought the Arran pair of Caisteal Abhail / Cir Mhor was closest, with Sgurr a'Mhuillin / Meallan nan Eun above Strathconon slightly farther apart. In grid-ref-trig terms Arran is 1.26km, Conon 1.30km. But these figures are effectively identical given the 100-metre error of the grid refs (1.26 rounds up). Grant Hutchison, a man with spherical trigonometry hardwired into his brain, was duly recruited. Correcting for spherical geometry adjusts 1.3km by only 50cm, which is lost in the grid error. So flat map measurement is more accurate, but the differences are so close that the width of the spot height dots comes into play. It's impossible to be sure. Incidentally, the question of whether Foinaven would be the most northerly Munro were it high enough (TAC35, p17) also suffers from rounding error. Ben Hope has the higher latitude, by 0.00056 degrees with 111.4km to the degree at this latitude. This gives a difference of 62 metres - which is again within the 100-metre error of the original grid refs. So Foinaven might still be farther north!
5e Which two Grahams are the closest to each other in distance?
After all that, this was pleasantly straightforward: Meall Reamhar and Meall nan Caorach, east of Amulree, easily win at 0.85km.
6a Who fell 8800m in a thunderstorm and survived?
Balloonist Steve Fossett, during a round-the-world attempt before yon French geezer and that dead bloke from the Stones put paid to all the tiresome hype. BJ/CE and KM mentioned Vesna Vulovic, survivor of a 10159m plunge when her VC9 exploded in 1972.
6b Who sang "Getting up this time of day / Is like climbing Everest a difficult way"?
The Supernaturals, in "I wasn't built to get up". SB/BB claimed (via music biz connections don't ya know) that the lyric was "Anything at this time of day...", but it certainly sounded like "Getting up" when your Ed saw them on Saturday morning kids' TV. Wrong guesses: Björk, Alan Blanco, Brian Blessed, Boomtown Rats, Nick Cave, Diggers, Fannies, Manics, Oasis.
6c Who was ordered to "Climb Mount Niitaka" on 2/12/41?
Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi of the Japanese fleet: this was the order that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor five days later. Best story here came from BB who gave up and "casually switched over from channel 3 to 4 to see a Japanese face in navy uniform and a subtitle at that very moment said 'Climb Mount Niitaka, Tora Tora Tora!' ... My faith in a superior being has been restored."
6d Which Country Top was the scene of repeated mass suicide attempts in 1998?
Pico de Teide on Tenerife is the highest point on Spanish soil, and is where Heide Fittgau-Garthe and her cult members planned to (country) top themselves secure in the knowledge that the usual UFO would whoosh them away to a new and better life.
6e Add a European country code to an English County Top and get a shaft of light
Your Ed's favourite clue: Shining Tor (Cheshire) + CH (Switzerland) = Shining TorCH. There's something really pleasing about this.
6f In 1906, who cooked his books and faked it?
Frederick Cook "climbed" Mount McKinley in 1906 but only reached the top of Fake Peak, 5000m lower. This is akin to claiming a winter ascent of Ben Nevis by Tower Ridge when you've merely strolled up Cow Hill. Cook cropped photographs to "prove" his claim in To the Top of the Continent, but he was finally proved fraudulent in 1998 by Robert Bryce. Cook also falsely "reached" the North Pole in 1909 and was later banged up for oil fraud. GS told of another Cook, Thomas, who built a funicular up Vesuvius only to have it trashed by an eruption (in 1906, oddly). A lesson for the Cairngorm Chairlift Company: don't do it, you will die horribly.
6g Whose 1959 Rum Diary was published in 1998?
Not Hamish Brown as various folk suggested, but Hunter S Thompson. Ah, Dr G W McSharkie, where are you now? You're the best writer ever to grace the pages of TAC, please come back if you're still out there.
6h Which of the following is not a Scottish hill: (i) The Devil's Point; (ii) The Bastard; (iii) General Pinochet?
We thought this the easiest question, but it almost tripped JW who got it right without knowing why. General Pinochet is not a Scottish hill, whereas The Bastard is, 188m down in Kintyre (68/NR758123): see Alan Blanco's ill-conceived article in TAC18.
7 In 1998, with which countries were these associated: 7a Ben Slimane, 7b Ben Zekri, 7c Ebbe Sand, 7d Roar Strand, 7e Ben Challenger, 7f Lembit Opik, 7g Taribo West, 7h Ben Again, 7i Bin Laden, 7j Reuben Bagger, 7k Earth Summit?
These were all people or horses, with points awarded as follows: a Tunisia, b Morocco, c Denmark, d Norway, e UK (England), f UK (Wales), g Nigeria, h New Zealand / Canada, i Afghanistan / Saudi Arabia, j Denmark, k UK (England). Some were straightforward, eg a, b, c, d and g appeared in the World Cup. e was a highjumper (human) and the son of Romeo Challenger (horse) of Showaddywaddy. f was debatable since Opik hails from Estonian stock (not Lithuania as given by PH who used to drink with him), but he was born in Wales and was in the news in 1998 because of his hang-gliding accident near Llandinam. h was an NZ racehorse named Tulsy Tsan until someone complained; also a Canadian showjumping horse. SB/BB pointed out the ease with which it could be muddled with Moray Marilyn Ben Aigan. i caused confusion since Osama bin Laden comes from Saudi, hangs out in Afghanistan, and was accused of the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Only the first two scored points, since the bombings are technically unclaimed (and since when has US propaganda been trustworthy?) j was the hardest, since although Reuben (possibly Ruben) Bagger plays football for Brøndby, eg against Man Utd, he wasn't in the Danish World Cup squad. Several folk suggested he was Israeli, but he seems straightforwardly Danish. k was the winner of the 1998 Grand National, and sadly no points for those who suggested the Rio or Kyoto Earth Summits, since these eco-conferences took place in 1992 and 1997 respectively.
8 Quotations: "So does the bung stop here? If so a footballing public which for five years has been treated not so much to a mountain as a Himalayan range of speculation and allegation concerning the game's seamier finances might regard the end result as no more significant than a Scottish upland followed by a few foothills." - David Lacey, on Brian Clough, Guardian.
"When he isn't galloping up and down that flank, he says, he and Tanya are away climbing the Scottish hills: Ben Lomond, the Cobbler, the hidden valley of Glencoe. On one occasion last summer, when the affection and abuse raining off that Ibrox main stand seemed almost within earshot, the two headed off to Skye. 'Scotland is very beautiful,' says Big George with a rusty purr. 'The top of Ben Lomond was something very spectacular to me.'" - Graham Spiers, on Jorg Albertz, Scotland on Sunday.
"Chasing 225 was not exactly climbing Everest. It only looked that way because both sides had made such a pig's ear of their previous attempts. Logically they were only trying to get to the top of Snowdon. But they have missed the chance to use the old ladies' walking trail; the railway must be closed for the winter; a blizzard has blown in reducing visibility to zero; and they are out of Kendal Mint Cake." - Matthew Engel.
"It was like trying to drag a dead elephant up Ben Nevis with an elastic band" - Iain Brown on the filming of Lanark, by Alasdair Gray (quoted in Alasdair Gray: a life in pictures, Jonathan Jones).
"'The advantage of not having sex getting in the way means that we can get to know each other.' She would hope that there might be children. The idea at the moment is a house somewhere in Norfolk which they both like and where Reg had been evacuated during the war. 'And I love the mountains,' she laughs." - Duncan Campbell on Roberta Kray, Guardian.
"There were 193 'peaks' and I saw, spotted, noted, enumerated every one: what a sense of triumph, of completeness, of closure." - Stephen Moss, on trainspotting, Guardian.
"Television is like a whole lot of rolling hills, there's so much of it. But I hope you can discern one or two BBC peaks among them." - Peter Salmon, controller of BBC1, profiled by Maggie Brown, Guardian.
"Beckham, not the first to discover that the wind blows strongest at the top of the mountain." - Martin Tyler, Charity Shield.
"Are they friendly with their local Britpoppers, Oasis? 'We haven't met them,' says Gillian. She glances at their wild acreage outside, at the public footpath running across their land. 'Now, if they were hikers...'" - Gillian Gilbert of New Order, Guardian.
"How far can they go? Enter the 'angle of dangle' device. Producers refer to a map of Scotland and in particular to the Mull of Kintyre. If the offending implement raises its head above the angle of the peninsula then it's out. If it doesn't, it's in." - Channel 4 penis guidelines, Guardian.
"You always know, if you're in the limelight, that it's going to be a bumpy ride - but it used to be a perfectly acceptable waveform. You could think 'well, I'm going to have a few awards and a couple of good years and Whoops! Here we go.' Now it's like rollerblading up Everest." - Noel Edmonds, interviewed by Janine Gibson, Guardian.
These proved popular questions, since several were pretty obvious and all were guessable. Only JW picked up the bonus mark for all correct however, with numerous folk tempted away by the alternative charms of Brian Blessed and Cameron McNeish. Several people also fell into the bung/buck and Beckham/Bergkamp traps, whilst there was frequent muddlement of phrases such as "a Himalayan range", "a whole lot of rolling hills", "an Everest", etc. Similarly the options in the Jorg Albertz question tended to be given in the wrong order. The only debatable (half) point came with the Channel 4 quote, since this featured the byline and was thus subjective. Half for anyone who gave "programming" rather than "penis". Obviously many alternatives were designed to tempt people, and we knew the likely wrong suggestions, but there was still something endearingly visual about "a gang of youths running across their land", or even "badgers running across their land". The latter qualifies as a new kind of Brocken Spectre.
TAC 41 Index