1. What is the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain,
the British Isles, and England?
United Kingdom used to cover approximately 90% of the world's
surface area, or all the pink bits on the maps, whichever was
greater. It's now a fancy name for Great Britain, which itself
consists of 6,289 islands (yes, somebody counted, and they included
rocks the waves don't quite wash over). The British Isles are
just the biggest rocks. England is that green and pleasant land
you see in coffee-table books under skies photoshopped a lovely
The United Kingdom includes the colonies; Inland Revenue still
considers all Americans to be grossly overdue on their tax returns.
Great Britain refers to those parts of the UK that tourists are
permitted to visit: London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford Street,
etc. England is linguistically interchangeable with Britain, and
the British Isles for that matter, unless you're from Scotland,
Wales or Northern Ireland. Nobody minds if you get them confused
It's all quite inexplicable without a Venn diagram, and we haven't
even mentioned Cool Britannia or the Isle of Man. In any case
the 'Great' was first put in Britain in an ad campaign for Sir
Reginald Tuttle's Entirely Delicious Pasties in Pittsburgh in
1911. It caught on famously
cavernous British Museum in London holds which cherished national
Prince Albert in the original can
Abbey Road, of Beatles fame. The whole road
A rare 'Rosetta Stone' containing parallel texts in Cockney, Geordie
An ancient mummified commuter from the Northern Line
Digital archive record of the world's oldest text message, 'HowRU?"
The preserved remains of Henry VIII's little-known first wife
Bitsy, drawn and quartered for dusting too vigorously
or what is 'Big Ben'?
Queen Victoria's affectionate pet name for her consort's private
The tower in the Palace of Westminster which members of Parliament
frequently climb to gawp at tourists.
The bell in the above-referenced tower
The clapper in the bell in the tower
The tall gentleman who winds the clock every month
so special about page 3 of The Sun?
It's where News Corporation proprietor Rupert Murdoch offers his
daily and much-appreciated apology for the rest of the paper
Ration Coupons for a nice cup of tea in an astute promotion which
appeals to those of the war generation
Daily breast self-exam instructions produced in conjunction with
the British mention the War, to which conflict are they referring?
The War of the Roses
First World War
Second World War, particularly before the Americans hot-rodded
in and stole their women
The Falklands Contretemps
someone breaks into Buckingham Palace. What are they trying to
Wish to have a nice cup of tea with the Queen but are unwilling
to fill out the proper forms
Overly enthusiastic collectors of porcelain thimbles; they heard
the Palace has a hoard never opened to the general public
Members of the Corgi Liberation Front
on the left. What's that all about?
The Romans, who built the original (and still best maintained)
road system in Britain, used to hold their weapons in their right
hands to greet contraflow traffic with the 'sword of friendliness',
so long as everyone else kept to the Highway Code. A side benefit
was that they could scratch with their free left hand should it
prove necessary. In fact some historians attribute the decline
if not the fall of the Roman Empire to the failure of the Legions
to enjoy a really satisfying scratch.
Because of the War
Technically they do drive on the right, just not their own right.
Just goes to show how polite they are
John's 'Candle in the Wind' was famously rewritten to commemorate
The passing of the Queen mother in 2002 at the age of 1001; now
an affectionate 'birthday song' with lyrics inspired by the Beaufort
scale referencing the force required to extinguish the candles
on her last birthday cake
Sad reminder of the slow decline of the British Empire but with
a new upbeat tempo
Bernie Taupin in-joke about Richard Harris's rendition of MacArthur
Grant was acting Prime Minister for three days in March 2002 while
Tony Blair was in hospital having his smile modified for wide-screen
digital television. True or false?
Britain it is necessary to purchase a special license to watch
TV. Why is this?
The BBC often shows cleavage in authentic detail in period dramas
The corporation is still defending itself against litigation arising
from the Great Storm of '87, prior to which their forecaster Michael
Fish predicted with typical British understatement "it will
get rather windy". Southeast England was devasted by the
loss of 15 million trees and the Isle of Wight, later lovingly
recreated by the National Trust in every particular
The license is only for the clicker/remote. 'Walkers' watch for
License fee pays for the upkeep of retired television personalities
such as Postman Pat, and a bungalow for Michael Fish at John O'Groats
Enforced raffle to pay for another terrestrial channel, as the
British only have 4 (5 if you count channel 5)
personality famously said "I have nothing to declare but
my genius" on entering the United States for the first time?
The effervescent Oscar Wilde. He then promptly ruined the effect
by plunking down 5 cartons of fags. And he was Irish
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, whose seeing eye dog still
has diplomatic immunity and cannot be prosecuted for the bondage
videos he frequently smuggles in
Victoria Beckham, innit
TV science presenter and writer Adam Hart Davis. His pink Brompton
is not allowed into the country anyway
WMD rendered palatable by the cool 'I hate Marmite' ad campaign
Kept the British navy afloat for centuries until the invention
of a proper sealant
The only substance known to kill mad cow disease on contact