Wednesday, 17 February 2016


I like trivia quizzes, although I rarely get the opportunity to go to them. They seem to me a really fun way to spend an evening with people you don't necessarily know particularly well or have that much in common with. You become a team, you bond - although sometimes you fall out (there's someone in Canberra who still holds a grudge against me from pre-Internet days; my sin was to to supply what  was judged to be the wrong answer on the height of Mount Ainslie [even though it was later demonstrated that the fault was not mine; the night's judges were in possession of inaccurate figures]).

Anyway, I have recently acquired two useful bits of trivia that I am going to shore up here for future use.

The first is the original name of Donetzk, the capital of the Donbas region in Ukraine. Believe it or not, it is Hughesovska. The place was named after an Irish miner called John Hughes who set up iron-smelting works there in the 1870s

My second piece of trivia is possibly not as widely intriguing as my initial one. However, I spend a bit of time in Chagford in Devon and I like Evelyn Waugh, so it interests me, which is why I'm recording it - it is that Evelyn Waugh was staying at the Easton Court Hotel, Devon in the third week of Setember, 1931.

I got that last fact from an LRB review written by Terry Eagleton about a book by DJTaylor called The Prose Factory. The piece also contains a reference to:

"a wonderful description by a friend of Virginia Woolf's who arrived at her flat to find Woolf and Edith Sitwell, between whom relations were somewhat strained, sitting on the sofa together, 'like two praying mantises putting out delicate antennae to each other.'"

A letter writer in the same issue recalls Margery Allingham's description in The Longer View of the area of London in which the LRB has its offices:

"the web of little streets which floats out like a dusty cape around the neck of the Museum."

How nice to be reminded of Allingham's gifts. Now I'm going off in search of A Longer View.


  1. I took part in a pub quiz expecting a swift victory, then the quizmaster started speaking, in a nasal Ken Livingstonesque accent: "This section is called 21 - questions about the year 1921." I couldn't think of a single thing that had happened in 1921 and left with my tail between my legs.

    1. Do you not think it may have been a trick question & in fact nothing did happen in 1921?