1 Anne Glenconner published Lady In Waiting, in which she wrote about her life with Princess Margaret. What was the Princess’s customary way of requesting another drink?
a) ‘What about another little drinkie-winkie?’
b) ‘Time for top-ups!’
c) ‘Did someone mention a re-fill?’
d) ‘I think we could all do with another glug-erooni, don’t you?’
In his autobiography, Elton John revealed that he and Rod Stewart call each other by pet names. What are they?
2 From William Mann’s new biography of Marlon Brando, The Contender, we learned that the actor’s ‘sense of the absurd’ emerged in a love of practical jokes. Which one of these jokes did he play, and upon whom?
a) A fart machine under Robert De Niro’s chair.
b) Itching powder in Meryl Streep’s underwear.
c) A firework beneath Faye Dunaway’s floral bedcover.
d) Prescription laxatives in Laurence Olivier’s chicken curry.
3 In his new book, The Body: A Guide For Occupants, Bill Bryson indicated the length of blood vessels in a single human body if laid end to end. Would they go:
a) All the way from Buckingham Palace to Downing Street?
b) The length of three football pitches?
c) Two-and-a-half times around the Earth?
d) The same distance as an average garden hose?
4 In her memoir, Year Of The Monkey, singer/songwriter Patti Smith listed the contents of her suitcase. Which one of these items is NOT on the list:
a) Herbal cough remedies
b) Packs of expired Polaroid film
c) Six pairs of underwear
d) Her Cabbage Patch Doll
5 William Feaver’s biography of Lucian Freud included a number of the painter’s acerbic comments on people. Match the comment with the person.
a) ‘Awfully nasty.’
b) ‘Extremely silly.’
c) ‘Had a way of spoiling eveything.’
d) ‘Looked rough and bloated.’
e) ‘Rather terrifying.’
i) Virginia Woolf
ii) Vivien Leigh
iii) Princess Margaret
iv) Greta Garbo
v) Judy Garland
In Year Of The Monkey, did Patti Smith include a Cabbage Patch Doll on the list of things in her suitcase?
6 ‘Booker Judges Try To Have It Both Ways,’ read a headline after the announcement of this year’s Booker Prize. Why?
a) The judges admitted that though they had read half of the books in their entirety, they had skipped through the other half.
b) The judges awarded the prize to two books, when the rules stated they had to award it to just one.
c) The judges read some of the books, but listened to others on special recordings, read by Danny Dyer.
d) Given the choice between two out of three possible courses at the presentation dinner, half the judges opted for pudding and half opted for a first course.
7 In Berkmann’s Cricketing Miscellany, Marcus Berkmann assembled an amazing compedium of cricket trivia. He revealed, for instance, that Adolf Hitler declared the game ‘insufficiently violent’ and described which of these cricketing items as ‘unmanly and unGerman’?
a) White trousers
8 In his autobiography, Elton John revealed that he and Rod Stewart call each other by pet names. What are they?
a) Sharon and Phyllis
b) Popsy and Mopsy
c) Little and Large
d) Toodle and Pips
9 As revealed in The Mountbattens by Andrew Lownie, Lady Mountbatten called her breasts by which pet names?
a) Mount and Batten
b) Fortnum and Mason
c) Bits and Bobs
d) Mutt and Jeff
In Berkmann’s Cricketing Miscellany, Marcus Berkmann assembled an amazing compedium of cricket trivia. He revealed, for instance, that Adolf Hitler declared the game ‘insufficiently violent’
10 A N Wilson published a masterly life of Prince Albert this year. In it, he revealed that when he told the Duke of Edinburgh he was writing it, the Duke replied… what?
a) ‘Frankly, I’d rather read a life of you by Prince Albert.’
b) ‘Prince Albert always wore his trousers too tight. I hope you’ll mention that.’
c) ‘Prince Albert? Why would anyone in their right mind want to write about him?’
d) ‘Prince Albert had a very short life, so you can write a very short book.’
11 Match the autobiography published this year with its author:
b) An Improbable Life
c) Finding My Voice
d) A Day Like Today
e) Face It
f) For The Record
i) David Cameron
ii) Nadiya Hussain
iii) Trevor McDonald
iv) John Humphrys
v) Debbie Harry
vi) Elton John
12 Elton John revealed that one of his famous friends was no good at charades. ‘He couldn’t get the hang of the “How many syllables?” thing at all. He couldn’t do “Sounds like” either, come to think of it.’ Who was he talking about?
a) Bob Dylan
b) John Lennon
c) Rod Stewart
d) Bernie Taupin
13 In the third and final volume of his authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore revealed that, late in life, Denis Thatcher formed a friendship with… whom?
a) Diane Abbott
b) Mandy Rice-Davies
c) Germaine Greer
d) Janet Street-Porter
14 In his nature journal, A Claxton Diary: Further Field Notes From A Small Planet, Mark Cocker described standing on a Norfolk beach, looking at two creatures mating. It was, he wrote, ‘a highly public and rather fraught business. Even in congress the heads and upper bodies of both animals writhe and, open mouthed, they snarl and gnash at each other’s face’. What are these creatures?
c) British holidaymakers
15 In the summer, an American academic editor of a book of previously unpublished poems, Harvest Bells, mistakenly reprinted a spoof that had originally appeared in Private Eye. Who was the poet?
a) W H Auden
b) John Betjeman
c) Laurie Lee
d) Stevie Smith
16 Ian McEwan published two novels in 2019. In the first, Machines Like Me, he imagines a different world in the Eighties. Which one of these events does NOT take place?
a) The Beatles get back together and record a new album, Love And Lemons, which is a disappointment.
b) Tony Benn defeats Margaret Thatcher to become Prime Minister, but is later assassinated in the Brighton bombing.
c) The Bay City Rollers are all awarded knighthoods, and Shang-A-Lang becomes the National Anthem.
d) President Carter wins a second term in office, defeating Ronald Reagan.
17 In the second of Ian McEwan’s novels of this year, he imagined a British Cabinet formed almost entirely of creatures that have been transformed into human beings. Which creatures?
What did Margaret Thatcher say in a letter to Liverpool captain Emlyn Hughes after Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United in February 1978?
18 These authors all died this year. Match the saying with the author:
a) ‘Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.’
b) ‘I just like writing to be clear and concise. I don’t like a lot of words.’
c) ‘Heaven knows, I’ve exposed myself in my novels through the use of fantasy and imagination…my new book is about what really happened to me, not my heroines.’
d) ‘A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.’
i) Clive James
ii) Diana Athill
iii) Toni Morrison
iv) Judith Krantz
19 Dominic Sandbrook’s Who Dares Wins: Britain 1979-1982 included a letter written by Margaret Thatcher to Liverpool captain Emlyn Hughes after Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United in February 1978. One of the following sentences comes from Mrs Thatcher’s letter. The other three I have made up. Which is the real one?
a) ‘At first, it was agony seeing the near misses – almost as bad for me watching as for you playing!’
b) ‘Your victory confirms Liverpool’s wonderfully plucky spirit of get-up-and-go!’
c) ‘A word of advice, if I may: take care to congratulate each of your players individually on their achievement, or else a certain amount of resentment may fester.’
d) ‘I hope you will be playing a German team in the near future – it’s high time that particular country was taken down a peg or two!’
Which of Lucian Freud’s famously acerbic quotes was said about movie legend Greta Garbo?
20 In April, E L James, author of Fifty Shades Of Gray, published a novel called The Mister. Its sex scenes were few and far between, which is perhaps for the better, as they are strangely mechanical. Only one of these sex descriptions is by E L James. The other three are by me. Which is the odd one out?
a) ‘With my arm under her behind, I slide her up my body so her legs are on either side of my hips.’
b) ‘With my elbow under her chin, I slide my leg so her behind is on either side of my arm.’
c) ‘With my ankle under her shin, I slide my tongue over her cheek so her hips are on either side of my left knee.’
d) ‘With my nose under her earlobe, I slide her torso up my body so her toes are on either side of my tummy button.’
Answers: 1) a 2) a 3) c 4) d 5) aii; biv; ciii; dv; ei 6) b 7) c 8) a 9) d 10) d 11) avi; biii cii; div; ev; fi 12) a 13) b 14) b 15) b 16) c 17) b 18) ai; bii; civ; diii 19) a 20) a