A Christmas quiz to keep you guessing

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The Independent Online
A SPECIAL Christmas quiz today, to cut out and keep for those times over Christmas when you simply can't think of anything else to do.

(What's so special about this quiz? Well, it makes a change from all those other boring Christmas quizzes which demand accuracy, knowledge and a good memory - or, even worse, test your memory on what's been happening in 1992 - because I have included in this quiz only questions to which there are no answers. Or at least to which the answer has never been found - by science or anybody else come to that. So any score of 1 or more is highly

impressive. . . .)

1. If the relationship between us and the Americans is a special relationship, how come we think of them as our American cousins and they don't think of us as their British cousins? Or, indeed, think of us at all?

2. Considering that there are many more birds than aircraft, why is it that birds never have midair collisions whereas planes are doing it almost all the time?

3. Why does growing a beard make balding men look even balder than they did before?

4. Come to that, why do blunt razors cause worse cuts than sharp razors?

5. What colour is used as a symbol by ecologists in countries such as Ireland, where green, the ecologists' chosen colour, is already the national colour?

6. All those pedants who protested, and continue to protest, against the word 'gay' being hijacked to mean 'homosexual' - well, if these pedants were so protective of language, why didn't they protest earlier against the hijacking of the words 'queer' or 'bent' for the same purpose? Eh?

7. Why, when you put your foot on the pedal of a pedal bin, does the bin always fall forward, throwing its contents on the floor, instead of the pedal going down as it is meant to?

8. When the IRA claims responsibility for some explosion, who decides to substitute the phrase 'admit responsibility' for their phrase 'claim responsibility'?

9. Minutes before an IRA gang is arrested, do the police phone a warning, using agreed codewords, that an arrest is about to take place in the area?

10. And does the gang blame their failure to escape on the muddled nature of the police's coded phone call?

11. What do you call a television personality who has no discernible personality?

12. What song do they sing in Iceland instead of 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas'?

13. I couldn't help noticing at the weekend that the main noticeboard outside the Royal Devonshire Hospital in Buxton calls it a centre 'for the treatment of rheumatology'. Rheumatology is not a disease, of course, but the study of rheumatism. Therefore, there is no need to treat it as one. So, do you think this means that the desire to study rheumatology is

so violently strong in Derby-

shire that it has to be cured?

14. Why are people on television chat shows called guests, when they are not guests at all but are actually paid to be there?

15. Would it improve or detract from your enjoyment of, say, Newsnight or Question Time, if a caption was flashed up to specify how much each 'guest' was being paid?

16. Why are people staying at hotels called guests when they are not guests at all, but paying customers?

17. How did a Russian republic and an American state both come to be called Georgia?

18. If 'homophobia' is a Greek word meaning 'fear of the same', can you suggest a good word, from any language, meaning the curious state of being anti-homosexual?

19. What is Greater Manchester greater than?

20. What is the opposite of a white Christmas?

21. There are many countries without a royal family, but can you think of any royal family (apart from the Monaco royal family) without a country?

22. The name given by meteorologists to a really bad depression is a 'recession'. True or false?

23. Things named after people - who is, or was a) San Andreas b) Eddy Stone c) Ben Lomond d) Matrix Churchill e) Oscar Tango?

24. If meteorology is the study of weather, what is the study of meteors called?

25. If 'llama' is also the Spanish word for 'flame' (which it is), was a well-known novel by Tom Wolfe translated into Spanish as The Llamas of Vanity?