kind of mental or physical addiction, are both irresistible and unsatisfying. By the standards of the genre, this one has something approaching the force of revelation. Answering silly questions suddenly seems less important than taking the trouble to ask a few.”
“Eye-watering, eyebrow-raising, terrific . . . moving slightly faster than your brain does, so that you haven’t quite absorbed the full import of one blissful item of trivial information before two or three more come along. Such fine and creative research genuinely deserves to be captured in print.”
“This UK bestseller redefines ‘common knowledge’ with factoids that will inform and entertain (or at least liven up your next cocktail party).”
FOREWORD | Stephen Fry
FO(U)R(E) Words | Alan Davies
INTRODUCTION | John Lloyd
How many wives did Henry VIII have?
How many nostrils have you got?
Where is the driest place on earth?
Where are you most likely to get caught in a hailstorm?
Where is the highest mountain?
What’s the name of the tallest mountain in the world?
What’s the largest living thing?
What’s the biggest thing a blue whale can swallow?
Which bird lays the smallest egg for its size?
How long can a chicken live without its head?
What has a three-second memory?
What’s the most dangerous animal that has ever lived?
Do marmots kill people?
How do lemmings die?
What do chameleons do?
How do polar bears disguise themselves?
How many galaxies are visible to the naked eye?
What man-made artefacts can be seen from the moon?
Which of these are Chinese inventions?
Where did Marco Polo come from?
What is Croatia’s most lasting contribution to world business?
Who introduced tobacco and potatoes to England?
Who invented the steam engine?
Who invented the telephone?
What’s quite interesting about Scotland, kilts, bagpipes, haggis, porridge, whisky and tartan?
Where does Chicken Tikka Masala come from?
Is French toast from France?
Who invented champagne?
Where was the guillotine invented?
Where was ‘La Marseillaise’ written?
How many prisoners were freed by the storming of the Bastille?
Who said, ‘Let them eat cake’?
How well do you know the Swiss?
What does a St Bernard carry round its neck?
What goes hunk-hunk?
What noise does the largest frog in the world make?
Which owl says ‘Tu-whit, tu-whoo’?
What did Darwin do to dead owls?
Can barnacles fly?
When does ‘ring-a-ring o’ roses’ date from?
What were Nelson’s last words?
Which eye did Nelson wear his eye-patch on?
How many senses does a human being have?
How many states of matter are there?
What is the normal state of glass?
Which metal is liquid at room temperature?
Which metal is the best conductor?
What’s the densest element?
Where do diamonds come from?
How do we measure earthquakes?
What’s the commonest material in the world?
What does the Moon smell like?
Does the Earth go round the Moon or the Moonround the Earth?
How many moons does the Earth have?
How many planets are there in the solar system?
How would you fly through an asteroid belt?
What’s in an atom?
What’s the main ingredient of air?
Where would you go for a lungful of ozone?
What colour is nicotine?
What speed does light travel at?
How do moths feel about flames?
How many legs does a centipede have?
How many toes has a two-toed sloth?
How many eyes does a no-eyed, big-eyed wolf spider have?
How many penises does a European earwig have?
Which animals are the best-endowed of all?
What’s a rhino’s horn made from?
Which African mammal kills more humans than any other?
Where do most tigers live?
What would you use to overpower a crocodile?
What is the bravest species of animal?
Name a poisonous snake.
What’s three times as dangerous as war?
What killed most sailors in an eighteenth-century sea battle?
Which war killed the highest proportion of British soldiers?
What’s the word for Napoleon’s most humiliating defeat?
Who blew the nose off the Sphinx?
What’s the name of the Piccadilly Circus statue in London?
What did Nero do while Rome burned?
What’s more likely: being killed by lightning or by an asteroid?
How many people died in the Great Fire of London?
How did Roman Emperors order the death of a gladiator?
What was interesting about the birth of Julius Caesar?
What’s a vomitorium for?
What did the Romans like to wear?
What happened to most people accused of witchcraft in England?
What is the Number of the Beast?
Where does the word ‘assassin’ come from?
Which crime did Burke and Hare commit?
What are chastity belts for?
What was Tutankhamun’s curse?
Where does the V-sign come from?
What did feminists do with their bras?
What colour is the universe?
What colour is Mars?
What colour is water?
What colour was the sky in ancient Greece?
How much of the Earth is water?
Which way does the bathwater go down the plughole?
What do camels store in their humps?
Where do camels come from?
Who is America named after?
How many states are there in the USA?
Who was the first American President?
What were George Washington’s false teeth made from?
Whose official motto is e pluribus unum?
Why do deaf Americans feel at home in Paris?
How do the Cherokee pronounce ‘Cherokee’?
What did Buffalo Bill do to buffaloes?
How does the US government care for its precious sequoia groves?
Where was baseball invented?
How did the game of rugby begin?
What’s the only sport invented entirely in the USA?
What do you call someone from the United States?
What was Billy the Kid’s real name?
What do we have Thomas Crapper to thank for?
What was Mozart’s middle name?
How did Mark Twain get his name?
What was the surname of the Swiss Family Robinson?
How did Nome in Alaska get its name?
What is the name of the capital city of Thailand?
What’s the world’s largest city?
What’s the largest lake in Canada?
What’s the single largest man-made structure on Earth?
How many times can you fold a piece of paper in half?
Where’s the coolest place in the universe?
When did the most recent Ice Age end?
Who lives in igloos?
Would you call someone an Eskimo?
How many words do Eskimos have for snow?
What did human beings evolve from?
Who coined the phrase ‘the survival of the fittest’?
Who invented the ball-point pen?
What do we use to write on a blackboard?
Where does the equals sign come from?
What did Robert Bunsen invent?
What’s made of celluloid?
Who invented rubber boots?
What Edison invention do English speakers use every day?
Was the first computer bug a real insect?
What is the most likely survivor of a nuclear war?
What’s the best use for Marmite?
Which is the hottest part of a chilli?
Where do tulips come from?
How many crocuses does it take to make a kilo of saffron?
What can you tell about a man from his shoe size?
What drives human sperm wild?
Why do racing cyclists shave their legs?
What was the first invention to break the sound barrier?
What kind of music charms snakes most?
What are violin strings made from?
What’s the best floor of a building to throw a cat from?
Why did the dodo die out?
What buries its head in the sand?
What’s at the middle of a pearl?
Where do gorillas sleep?
What’s the commonest bird in the world?
What’s the ‘sport of kings’?
What’s Britain’s smallest bird?
What animal are the Canary Islands named after?
What’s the smallest dog in the world?
How do dogs mate?
How did Catherine the Great die?
What surprised John Ruskin on his wedding night?
How long do your fingernails and hair grow after death?
What did Atlas carry on his shoulders?
How high is Cloud Nine?
What makes champagne fizz?
What shape is a raindrop?
What produces most of the earth’s oxygen?
What were First World War German uniforms made from?
What sophisticated mechanism enabled the first successful landing on an aircraft carrier at sea?
How many muscles do you have in your fingers?
Who discovered penicillin?
Is a virus a germ?
What causes stomach ulcers?
What does your appendix do?
What does your appendix do?
What is the worst thing to eat for tooth decay?
What are guinea pigs used for?
What was the first animal in space?
Which has the most neck bones, a mouse or a giraffe?
How long have the Celts lived in Britain?
Who was the first man to circumnavigate the globe?
Who was the first to claim that the Earth goes round the Sun?
Who invented the Theory of Relativity?
What shape did Columbus think the Earth was?
What shape did medieval people think the Earth was?
Who first discovered that the world was round?
Why do bees buzz?
What has the largest brain in comparison to its size?
How much of our brains do we use?
What colour is your brain?
What effect does alcohol have on brain cells?
What do dolphins drink?
What was James Bond’s favourite drink?
What shouldn’t you drink if you’re dehydrated?
What contains the most caffeine: a cup of tea or a cup of coffee?
Why was the dishwasher invented?
What kind of fruit are Jaffa Cakes made from?
What do digestive biscuits do?
How was Teflon discovered?
Which organisation invented Quaker Oats?
What shouldn’t you do twenty minutes after eating?
How does television damage your health?
What do newborn babies like best?
How much sleep should you have every night?
What will be the biggest killer in the world by 2030?
What illness do British doctors treat most often?
Is the answer to depression just to ‘walk it off’?
Which country has the world’s highest suicide rate?
Which uses more muscles, smiling or frowning?
Was Hitler a vegetarian?
Which nation invented the concentration camp?
In what year did World War II end?
Who was the most dangerous American in history?
What valuable commodity gives the US the legal right to seize foreign territory?
Which aeroplane won the Battle of Britain?
When did the last survivor of the Crimean War die?
How many dog years equal one human year?
How long is a day?
What’s the longest animal?
What happens if you cut an earthworm in half?
What’s the loudest thing in the ocean?
Why are flamingos pink?
What colour is a panther?
What makes an animal see red?
What colour were the original Oompa-Loompas?
What colour were Robin Hood’s tights?
What rhymes with orange?
What colour are carrots?
Do carrots help us see in the dark?
What do bananas grow on?
What is coffee made from?
Which of the following are berries?
Which of the following are nuts?
Who goes gathering nuts in May?
What’s inside a coconut?
What did Captain Cook give his men to cure scurvy?
Who discovered Australia?
What does ‘kangaroo’ mean in Aboriginal?
What is ‘pom’ short for?
What’s the biggest rock in the world?
What were boomerangs used for?
What’s wrong with this picture?
Which religion curses people by sticking pins into dolls?
What are you doing when you ‘do the Hokey-cokey’?
What’s the unluckiest date?
How many Wise Men visited Jesus?
Where does Santa Claus come from?
What do Bugs Bunny, Brer Rabbit and the Easter Bunny have in common?
What were Cinderella’s slippers made from?
Where do loofahs come from?
What’s the strongest wood?
What do you get if you suck your pencil?
Have you ever slid down a banister?
Where was the log cabin invented?
Where did Stone Age people live?
What was the first animal to be domesticated?
What was odd about Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer?
Where do turkeys come from?
Who was born by Immaculate Conception?
Was Jesus born in a stable?
How many commandments are there in the Bible?
How many sheep were there on Noah’s Ark?
Who’s the oldest man in the Bible?
Where were the first modern Olympics held?
Why is a marathon 26 miles and 385 yards long?
What does the Queen say to someone she’s knighted?
Why do Spaniards lisp?
Who was the first King of England?
What did they call the man who won the battle of Hastings?
Who fought at the battle of Culloden?
Which was the last country invaded by Scotland?
Where do Panama hats come from?
Can you name an Irish saint?
What nationality was the Duke of Wellington?
Who was Britain’s first Prime Minister?
Who invented the Penny Post?
What do you get when you’re 100 years old?
WHAT IS QUITE INTERESTING?
About John Lloyd and John Mitchinson