Christmas quiz 2007

In 2007, who was an "exploding tomato", what did Congleton ban and to whom did Boris Johnson apologi

Politics

1 When asked in July, which of these cabinet ministers denied smoking cannabis in their youth?

a) Jack Straw

b) Harriet Harman

c) Jacqui Smith

d) Alistair Darling

2 Prime Minister Gordon Brown became an honorary Hindu during a ceremony marking the festival of Diwali this year, adopting the first name Govardhan. What does it mean in Sanskrit?

a) Warrior charioteer

b) Beautiful lotus flower

c) Hill in paradise

d) Attractive, charming servant

3 Which city did the Tory MP Boris Johnson annoy by claiming that it was "too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs"?

a) Liverpool

b) Birmingham

c) Bristol

d) Portsmouth

4 Which of the following was one of the great or considerable "achievements" with which David Cameron did not credit Tony Blair on his leaving office?

a) Peace in Northern Ireland

b) Overthrowing Saddam Hussein

c) His work in the developing world

d) Serving as prime minister for ten years

5 How many houses does the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Chris Huhne own?

a) Two b) Three c) Five d) Seven

In the news

1 The panic-induced run on Northern Rock was the first seen in Britain since the collapse of which wholesale bank in 1866 with £11m in debts?

a) Fox Brother, Fowler & Co

b) Cunliffe, Brooks & Co

c) Backhouse's Bank

d) Overend, Gurney & Co

2 Under what more popular name did "catarrhal fever" hit the news headlines?

a) Avian flu

b) Bluetongue disease

c) Foot-and-mouth disease

d) Classical swine fever

3 What seemingly harmless activity did the hospital in the town of Congleton ban as a health and safety hazard in September?

a) Doing crosswords and sudoku

b) Watching TV

c) Knitting

d) Playing cards

4 The police identified 169 separate what in London?

a) Crime-free streets

b) Corrupt members of the force

c) Illegal gun-dealers

d) Gangs

5 Moira Cameron became the first woman to take up which job?

a) Postmaster General

b) Yeoman of the Guard

c) Voice of the speaking clock

d) Venetian gondolier

Online and technology

1 Full-scale production of the XO-1 began in November. What is it?

a) Boeing's newest airliner

b) The "$100 laptop"

c) Jaguar's next concept car

d) Nintendo's latest games console

2 Having discounted the device by $200, what did Apple offer in order to placate purchasers of the full-price iPhone ten weeks after its US launch in April?

a) An announcement saying, "Ha! Got you suckers!"

b) A full apology

c) $100 voucher

d) Free iTouch

3 Which Japanese corporation launched the world's largest commercial LCD TV, a 900lb, 108in monster?

a) Toshiba b) Sanyo

c) Sharp d) Sony

4 Microsoft revealed that which feature in its new operating system, Vista, can be hijacked so a PC tells itself to delete files?

a) Speech recognition

b) Back-up and restore

c) Shadow copy

d) Disk management

5 Which Facebook founder was taken to court, having been accused of stealing both the idea and business angle of the social networking website from a rival?

a) Thomas Anderson

b) Michael Birch

c) Noah Glass

d) Mark Zuckerberg

Books

1 It was revealed that the bricklayer David Sharp, who had been given up for adoption during the Second World War, was the long-lost brother of which novelist?

a) Ian McEwan

b) Philip Pullman

c) Julian Barnes

d) Graham Swift

2 Which poet's hip flask fetched £7,200 at auction, about ten times its expected price?

a) Robert Burns

b) Sylvia Plath

c) Dylan Thomas

d) Lord Byron

3 What was the name of the J R R Tolkien book completed by his son Christopher and published in 2007?

a) The Children of Húrin

b) The Stones of Osgiliath

c) The Kings of Valinor

d) The House of Turgon

4 Who belatedly won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his description of oral sex in his final novel?

a) Norman Mailer

b) Kurt Vonnegut

c) Ira Levin

d) Sidney Sheldon

5 What were Doris Lessing's very first words on being informed that she had won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature?

a) "Oh Christ"

b) "Can I get the groceries out of the taxi first?"

c) "Bloody hell"

d) "It's about time"

International affairs

1 Yahya Jammeh claims he can cure Aids and HIV with a natural herb infusion. Nobody would listen to him if he were not the president of which African country?

a) Senegal

b) Cameroon

c) Benin

d) Gambia

2 The then president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, was cited for which sartorial faux pas on a visit to Turkey?

a) Wearing short sleeves with a tie

b) His socks had holes in them

c) His flies were undone

d) Unidentifiable stains on his tie

3 Fifteen sailors from which Royal Navy ship were taken captive by Iranian forces?

a) HMS Exeter

b) HMS Devon

c) HMS Kent

d) HMS Cornwall

4 What became the 23rd official language of the European Union in January?

a) Basque/Euskara

b) Breton

c) Irish

d) Esperanto

5 Promising a "citizens' revolution", Rafael Correa was sworn in as the president of which country?

a) Peru

b) El Salvador

c) Ecuador

d) Uruguay

Television

1 A September edition of whose Sunday TV show, Aló Presidente, lasted a record eight hours?

a) Nestor Kirchner

b) Fidel Castro

c) Daniel Ortega

d) Hugo Chávez

2 On Ugly Betty, who performed maid-of-honour duties at the wedding of Wilhelmina Slater and Bradford Meade?

a) Lindsay Lohan

b) Victoria Beckham

c) Paris Hilton

d) Mischa Barton

3 The Catholic organisation Opus Dei complained about its portrayal in which BBC TV drama series?

a) Spooks

b) Waking the Dead

c) Doctor Who

d) The State Within

4 Describing himself as resembling "an exploding tomato", which Panorama journalist lost his temper and shouted at a representative of the Scientologists in a widely disseminated video clip?

a) Paul Kenyon

b) Raphael Rowe

c) John Sweeney

d) Peter Taylor

5 Which Cumbrian town became the first place in the UK to lose its analogue television signals and start the digital switch-over in October?

a) Whitehaven

b) Ulverston

c) Thursby

d) Kendal

Arts

1 Which Woody Allen movie shares its title with the Turner Prize-winning film by Mark Wallinger in which he wanders around a deserted Berlin gallery wearing a bear costume?

a) Love and Death

b) Interiors

c) Sweet and Lowdown

d) Sleeper

2 Which acclaimed film director made a tricky transition to opera with her ENO production of Carmen?

a) Beeban Kidron

b) Sally Potter

c) Carine Adler

d) Antonia Bird

3 Which Hollywood film was condemned by the Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as a sign of "hostile behaviour, which is the result of cultural and psychological warfare" being waged by the US?

a) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

b) Transformers

c) Norbit

d) 300

4 The people of Israel voted overwhelmingly for a song about which subject to be their Eurovision Song Contest entry?

a) Nuclear annihilation

b) Palestinian invasion

c) West Bank barrier

d) Suicide bombings

5 Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar for helming The Departed. How many times had he previously gone home empty-handed from the Academy Awards?

a) Four b) Five c) Six d) Seven

Fashion and style

1 How much would a Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag, released in March, set you back?

a) £19,129

b) £21,675

c) £23,484

d) £25,232

2 What two-word name was given to the 2007 fashion trend, adopted by Versace and Alexander McQueen, that involves wearing tight high-waisted trousers and skintight minidresses?

a) Tight couture

b) Fit wear

c) Body con

d) Squeeze dress

3 Known as the British Chanel, which brand shut up shop completely with the end of its closing sale on 20 April?

a) Jean Muir

b) Mary Quant

c) Celia Birtwell

d) Barbara Hulanicki

4 Perhaps surprisingly, Victoria Beckham was confirmed as the new face of which American designer's spring/summer 2008 ad campaign?

a) Calvin Klein

b) Tommy Hilfiger

c) Tom Ford

d) Marc Jacobs

Climate change

1 On which US TV show did the 2007 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Al Gore mock himself, saying: "Quiet! A whale is in trouble! I have to go!"?

a) 30 Rock

b) The Late Show With David Letterman

c) Curb Your Enthusiasm

d) Scrubs

2 From March until June, Mayor Ken Livingstone offered £100 cashback to Londoners if they did what?

a) Not fly for one year

b) Instal insulation in their homes

c) Give up their car for public transport

d) Replace all their inefficient light bulbs with energy-saving ones

3 Scientists working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed in February that human activity was likely to increase global temperatures by what best-estimate range over the next century?

a) 0.5-2.2°C

b) 1.8-4°C

c) 2.5-4.7°C

d) 3-5.2°C

4 Though aides briefed the media that he was preparing to exchange his car for a Toyota Prius, Gordon Brown instead chose a 4.2-litre model of which car that happens to fall into the government's worst emissions band?

a) Jaguar XJ V8

b) Rolls-Royce Phantom

c) BMW 7 Series

d) Aston Martin DBS V12

5 In March, meteorologists said that which major city had had its first winter without snow since records began in 1876?

a) Beijing

b) Seoul

c) Pyongyang

d) Tokyo

Media

1 Described by one holidaymaker as "every swimmer's worst nightmare", the video footage of the great white shark splashed across the Sun's front page on 28 July was filmed not in Cornwall, but where?

a) Australia

b) Florida

c) Mexico

d) South Africa

2 Conrad Black was found guilty in July on four out of 13 charges laid against him. On which of the following charges was he declared guilty?

a) Mail fraud

b) Racketeering

c) Money laundering

d) Wire fraud

3 Which writer branded the BBC a "racist institution" during a radio interview?

a) Paul Abbott

b) Jimmy McGovern

c) Alan Bleasdale

d) Stephen Poliakoff

4 Rupert Murdoch took over control of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal from which family?

a) The Millers

b) The Grahams

c) The Woodwards

d) The Bancrofts

5 Which former Wimbledon footballer-turned-private-investigator was jailed along with the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman for his part in the royal household phone-tapping scandal?

a) Jonathan Atkinson

b) Damien Griffin

c) Glenn Mulcaire

d) Paul McAllister

Sport

1 Which England player was disallowed a "phantom try" in the rugby union World Cup, though he claimed he was "100 per cent sure" that he had grounded the ball without going into touch?

a) Jason Robinson

b) Paul Sackey

c) Mark Cueto

d) Mathew Tait

2 At which world championships - held 29 March to 1 April - did Great Britain top the medals table with seven gold medals?

a) Swimming

b) Rowing

c) Amateur boxing

d) Track cycling

3 Why did Björn Borg pull out of an exhibition match with Pat Cash at the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament in June?

a) He dropped a jar of pickled herring on his right foot

b) Bitten by a dog

c) Stage fright

d) He missed his plane

4 What verdict was returned by the coroner Patrick Murphy in November with regard to the death of the Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer during this year's Cricket World Cup?

a) Natural causes

b) Unlawful killing

c) Open verdict

d) Death by misadventure

5 Which female tennis player won the Australian Open despite being ranked 81st in the world?

a) Serena Williams

b) Jelena Jankovic

c) Lindsay Davenport

d) Daniela Hantuchova

Compiled by Olav Bjortomt With illustrations by Dan Murrell

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This article first appeared in the 17 December 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2007

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No peace after progress

How the death of the industrial way of life gave us choice – and stoked resentment and fear.

Now that the making of useful and necessary things in Britain is only a shadow of what it once was, we can see more clearly the effects of the Manufacturing Age. The cost was high to the producers of prodigious wealth; a ten-year difference in life expectancy remains between people living in the richest areas and those in Glasgow. The (fleeting, it now seems) visitation of industrialism has made life more comfortable and its dismantling has liberated millions from choiceless occupations. The legacy is one of spectacular improvement, unequally shared.

Perhaps the most dramatic experience of the 20th century was the suddenness with which profligate plenty replaced a skinflint subsistence. Was it the speed of this that distracted us from wondering why, instead of the secure sustenance that generations of needy people had asked of an unyielding economic system, we were offered a promiscuous spillage of goods, promoted with quasi-religious zeal by the converts of a capitalism that had previously delivered to most of its captive workers a life of penury? Such a rapid reversal might have alerted us to changes beneath the surface that elided losses incurred.

The greatest of these was certainly not the extinction of the industrial way of life itself, release from which has been an unqualified blessing. But the transition from relentlessly work-driven lives (in the 1950s, two-thirds of Britain’s workers were still manual labourers) was marked by perfunctory obituaries for the disintegration of industrial communities, with no acknowledgement that, for a century and a half, they had represented the inescapable destiny of the people they sheltered.

Even less recognition was given to the fortitude with which they had borne a long, coercive labour. A way of life, buried without ceremony in the unmarked grave of progress, could not be mourned; and this has generated some social pathologies of our time: resentment over an arbitrary obliteration of industry, disengagement from a party of labour by those it called, like feudal lords, its “own people”, loss of memory of the economic migrants we also were, passing from the goad of industry into the pastures of consumption, and thence into the liberating servitude of technology.

Grief makes no judgement on the intrinsic value of what is lost. Absence of the known and familiar is the object of melancholy in its own right, even if replaced by something immeasurably better. Objectively, there was little to mourn in the vanished industrial way of life: insufficiency and humiliation, malice of overseer and manager, officiousness of poor-law administrator and means-test man. Male industrial workers exhausted in body and spirit, instead of protecting those for whom the power of their hands was the only shelter against destitution, visited similar punishment on their wives and children. There is nothing to be lamented in an end to the penitential life of women, scrubbing not only the red tiles of the kitchen floor, but even an arc of pavement outside the front door; their interception of men on payday before wages were wasted on beer and oblivion; the clenching against joyless invasion of their bodies in the boozy aftermath. But it was the only life they knew, and they adhered to it with grim stoicism and even pride.

There is much to be said for their resistance. The fragile lattice formed by women’s arms was often the only safety net against destitution. Trade unions and friendly and burial societies that shielded folk from economic violence foreshadowed the welfare state and the National Health Service.

The life of labouring people in Britain was strikingly homogeneous, despite diversity of occupation, dialect and local sensibility. There was the same collective experience: terraced house with parlour reserved for celebration or mourning; the three-piece suite, plaster figure on a stand behind the window, chenille curtain against the draught, engraving of The Stag at Bay on the wall; the deal table and Windsor chairs in the living room, the mantelpiece a domestic shrine with clock, candlesticks and pictures of soldiers smiling before they died; the music of cinders falling through the bars in the grate; cheerless bedrooms where husband and wife slept in high connubial state, more bier than bed, where sexual enjoyment was ritually sacrificed as flowers of frost formed on the inside of the window.

And everywhere photographs: wraithlike children with ringlets or in sailor suits, fated never to grow up; weddings in the back garden, a bouquet of lilies and a grandmother in boots and astrakhan hat; the smudged features of a kinsman no one can now identify. Identical memories, too: the shotgun wedding in the dingy finery of a Co-op hall; the funeral tableau around the grave, amid ominous inscriptions of “Sleeping where no shadows fall”; queues outside the ocean-going Savoy or Tivoli to watch Gone With the Wind; the pub where “Vilia” or “The Last Rose of Summer” was hammered out on a discordant piano.

The opening up of such sombre lives might have been expected to call forth cries of gratitude. Instead, a synthetic joy has emanated largely from the same sources that, until recently, offered people grudging survival only, the change of tune outsourced to producers of manufactured delight, purveyors of contrived euphoria to the people – a different order of industrial artefact from the shoes, utensils and textiles of another era.

***

A more authentic popular res­ponse exists beneath the official psalmody, a persistent murmur of discontent and powerlessness. Anger and aggression swirl around like dust and waste paper in the streets of our affluent, unequal society. As long-term recipients of the contempt of our betters, we know how to despise the vulnerable – people incapable of work, the poor, the timid and the fearful, those addicted to drugs and alcohol. Sullen resentment tarnishes the wealth of the world, a conviction that somebody else is getting the advantages that ought to be “ours” by right and by merit.

Rancour appears among those “left behind” in neighbourhoods besieged by unknown tongues and foreign accents: people who never voted for unchosen change, as all political options are locked up in a consensus of elites. “Give us back our country!”
they cry; even though that country is not in the custody of those from whom they would reclaim it. There was no space for the working class to grieve over its own dissolution. If, as E P Thompson said, that class was present at its own making, it was certainly not complicit in its own undoing.

Grief denied in individuals leads to damaging psychological disorders. There is no reason to believe that this differs for those bereaved of a known way of living. The working class has been colonised, as was the peasantry in the early industrial era. When the values, beliefs and myths of indigenous peoples are laid waste, these lose meaning, and people go to grieve in city slums and die from alcohol, drugs and other forms of self-inflicted violence. Though the dominant culture’s erasure of the manufacturing way of life in Britain was less intense than the colonial ruin of ancient societies, this subculture was equally unceremoniously broken. It is a question of degree. The ravages of drugs and alcohol and self-harm in silent former pit villages and derelict factory towns show convergence with other ruined cultures elsewhere in the world.

Depression is a symptom of repressed grief: here is the connection between unfinished mourning and popular resentment at having been cheated out of our fair share, our due, our place in the world. If we are unable to discern our own possible fate in suffering people now, this is perhaps a result of estrangement from unresolved wrongs in our own past. Nothing was ever explained. Globalisation occurred under a kind of social laissez-faire: no political education made the world more comprehensible to the disaffected and disregarded, people of small account to those who take decisions on their behalf and in their name.

Anyone who protested against our passage into this changed world was criminalised, called “wrecker” and “extremist”. The miners’ strike of 1984 was the symbol of this: their doomed fight to preserve a dignity achieved in pain and violence was presented by the merchants of deliverance not only as retrograde, but also as an act of outlawry. Resistance to compulsory change was derided as a response of nostalgics protecting the indefensible, when the whole world was on the brink of a new life. Early in her tenure of Downing Street, Margaret Thatcher, that sybil and prophet who knew about these things, warned that Britain would become “a less cosy, more abrasive” place: a vision confirmed by the Battle of Orgreave – redolent of civil war – and the anguish of Hillsborough.

It is too late to grieve now. Scar tissue has healed over the untreated wound. Though no one expects the ruling classes to understand the distress of perpetual “modernisation”, the leaders of labour might have been able to recognise capitalism’s realm of freedom and a gaudy consumerism that concealed hardening competitiveness and the growth of a crueller, more bitter society.

The ills of this best of all worlds, its excessive wealth and extreme inequality, are on show in hushed thoroughfares of London, shuttered sites of “inward investment”, where the only sound is the faint melody of assets appreciating; while elsewhere, people wait for charitable tins of denutrified substances to feed their family, or sit under a grubby duvet, a Styrofoam cup beseeching the pence of passers-by.

Unresolved feelings about industrialism, enforced with great harshness and abolished with equal contempt for those who served it, are certainly related to the stylish savagery of contemporary life. The alibi that present-day evils are an expression of “human nature” is a poor apology for what is clearly the nature – restless and opportunistic – of a social and economic system that has, so far at least, outwitted its opponents at every turn.

Jeremy Seabrook’s book “The Song of the Shirt” (C Hurst & Co) won the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing 2016

This article first appeared in the 23 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Divided Britain