Just for Fun - Questions and Answers

1     Just For Fun January 2020

It’s behind you! A pantomime quiz for the New Year

Why did the content of pantomimes change for ever in 1843?

In 1843 a Parliamentary Act stipulated that any theatre could now produce a play containing spoken dialogue. Before this date only some theatres were granted such a licence. Harlequin chase scenes were mimed, so theatres had been able to produce pantomime without the appropriate theatre licences. After this law was passed new writers began to script pantomimes.

When was Cinderella first performed?

The first stage appearance of the story in England was at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1804.  The story of Cinderella appears in many countries from Romania to Scandinavia. One version of it can be traced back to Madame d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales published in 1721. The story was originally called 'The Story of Finetta, the Cinder Girl'.

The Fairy always enters from the Right or the Left?

In Pantomime it is tradition that the Fairy always enters from the Right (Stage Right) and the Demon from the Left (Stage Left). It has been said that, in older theatres, the stage trap through which the Demon rose was generally located on the left side of the stage, but the tradition of Left as the 'Sinister' side and Right as the 'Good' side can be found in other superstitions

When was Dick Whittington first performed?

The first performance of Dick Whittington was at Covent Garden in 1814. Dick Whittington was based on a real character who lived in the 15th century and was Lord Mayor of London three times. In 1419 he was said to have married an employer's daughter, Alice Fitzwarren, and this is where the name of the female character originated.

Which Pantomime dame was originally called Ching Mustapha?

Widow Twankey was first known as Ching Mustapha, in 'Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp', at Covent Garden in 1813.

She had a variety of other names including Wee-Ping, Chow-Chow and Tan-kin before the name Widow Twankay appeared in 1861 when H.J Byron introduced it. Twankay was the name of a popular green tea from China.

Name a pantomime (other than Dick Whittington) based on true life

Robinson Crusoe is based on the book, The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, which was published in 1719. The book is based on the true adventures of Alexander Selkirk, who survived on a desert island for four years before being rescued.

The first production of Robinson Crusoe was at Drury Lane in 1781. The pantomime was called 'Robinson Crusoe or Harlequin Friday' and Giuseppe Grimaldi, father of the famous clown Joey Grimaldi, played Harlequin Friday.

When and where was the first use of a girl dressed as boy (the principal boy)

The first Pantomime version of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' was in 1819, which also marked the appearance of the first ever female 'Principal Boy', Eliza Povey, in the role of Jack

I am grateful to the Victoria & Albert Museum website for this information.  More details on the history of Pantomime can be found using this link:

Also to a website dedicated to keeping alive the magic of panto on this link:

2     Just For Fun February 2020

Q 1. How many apples did Adam and Eve eat?

        According to the Michigan Argus of 20th October 1876, the answer could be anything from 10 to 8,082,056.

        This article explains all.

My Thanks to Anne Knight for submitting this information.

Q2 Thinking about your fellow U3A members:

  • What are the 6 most popular surnames?
 Smith (36) Jones (13) Williams (13) Wilkinson (12) Johnson (11) Robinson (11)
  • What are the 5 most popular male forenames?

John (63) Dave/David (49) Mick/Mike/Michael (29) Peter (29) Steve/Steven/Stephen (27)

  • What are the 5 most popular female forenames?

Sue or Susan (55) Ann or Anne (49) Maggie, Margaret, Meg or Peggy (44) Chris or Christine (36) Pat, Patricia or Tricia (32)

My thanks to Anne Eady for extracting this information.

Q 3. Who coined the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson?

Not Sir Arthur Conon Doyle but P.G. Woodhouse. First used in 1915 to gently mock Holmes’s slightly pompous manner. The phrase appeared again at the end of “The return of Sherlock Holmes” in 1929 which was the first Holmes movie to be made with sound. And it has been repeated ever since.

From the QI book of General Ignorance

3     Just for Fun March 2020

We use the following expressions every day but what are their origins?

Back to Square One:  Back to the beginning,.  The phrase originated in the 1930s when the first radio broadcasts of football matches were made by the BBC.  To help listeners keep track of the game, The Radio Times devised a numbered grid system enabling commentators to indicate to listeners exactly where the ball was on the pitch.  "Square One" was the goalkeeper’s area, and whenever the ball was passed back to him, play was referred to as being ‘back to square one’

Bite the Bullet:  To carry out a task against the doer’s wishes, or getting on with something that ‘has to be done’.  The phrase is commonly thought to originate with soldiers biting down on bullets in lieu of anaesthetic during battlefield surgery, but its history can be traced back even further.

During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 bullets used grease made of either cow or pork fat to hold the missile in the cartridge. Before they could be fired, the two parts had to be bitten apart and the base filled with gunpowder.   Low-ranking Hindu soldiers - to whom cows are sacred animals - were often tasked with separating the cartridges, forcing them, against their wishes, to ‘bite the bullet’

Blackmail:  Demand money by threats, usually involving violence or the exposing of secrets.  The phrase originated in the Scottish Highlands in the 1600s.  The ‘mail’ in blackmail is from the old Scottish word for rent, usually spelled either ‘maill’ or ‘male’. In those days rent was paid in silver coins - known as ‘white money’ or 'white maill'.  When Highland clan chiefs began a protection racket, this additional rent became known as ‘black money’.  As such ‘blackmaill’ was used to describe the practice of obtaining money by threat of violence.

During the 1900s, when criminals first began demanding money not to divulge a person's secrets, the word ‘blackmail’ was adopted to describe this new phenomenon.

Cold Feet:  A loss of nerve, or having doubts about a particular situation.  The origin of this phrase lies in fiction.  In the 1860s, a scene in a novel by German author Fritz Reuter described a poker player who manages to bow out of a game without losing his fortune or conceding defeat, by explaining to his fellow players his feet are too cold and he cannot concentrate.  People have been getting cold feet ever since

You’re fired:  Miners who were caught stealing coal or other materials, such as copper or tin, would have their tools confiscated and burned in front of the other shift workers, a punishment that became known as ‘firing the tools’ or ‘being fired’.  This meant the offender would be unable to find other work and repeat his crime elsewhere. Other trades adopted the practice and the phrase quickly established itself.

Getting the sack:  Meaning to lose your job, or be discharged from duty. This expression dates back to the days when craftsmen and labourers would travel for work, sometimes working on a project for just a few days before moving on.  These workers would carry the tools of their trade around in a large sack, which their employer would hold for safe keeping, and be returned when their services were no longer needed.

As opposed to being fired, which was to be disgraced and left unable to work, being given the sack meant workers could simply carry their tools to another place of work

With acknowledgement to “Red herring and white elephants” by Albert Jack

4     Just for Fun April 2020

 Q.  Which English Alphabet letter is a question?

A.  Y (Why)

Q.  What starts with letter E and has only one letter?

A.  Envelope

Q. What is the shortest complete sentence in the English language?

A. Go.

Q.  Which word in the dictionary is spelt incorrectly?

A.  Incorrectly

Q.  Can you solve this?

The Answer is 20.

Dog = 7kg
Cat = 5kg and
Rabbit = 8kg
Last equations gives sum of all these which is 20kg.

With thanks to who have a website full of similar (and more complex) brain teasers.

5     Just for Fun May 2020: Match the Eyes to the Painting

Girl with a Pearl Earring: Vermeer,

Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk: Leonardo,
The Scream: Munch
Christ Carrying the Cross: El Greco
Tian Tan Buddha: Hou and others
Self-Portrait: Dürer
Self-Portrait: Van Gogh
Laocoön and His Sons: Unknown
Untitled from Marilyn Monroe: Warhol
Saturn Devouring His Son: Goya
Bust of Nefertiti: Thutmose
Two Sisters (On the Terrace): Renoir
Kabuki Actor Ōtani Oniji III as Yakko Edobei: Sharaku
Self-portrait Frida kahlo
Easter Island Moai: Unknown
I and the Village: Chagall

With acknowledgement to Worth a visit to see many quizzes that test your knowledge
against the clock.

6     Just for Fun June 2020: Name that Bird!

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