The next post will be on or before Thursday 28th February



The winner (and only entrant!) was DS Mackay of Glasgow, Scotland who got the last 3 questions right. He rightly assumed that no one would get the other 4, which one other would-be competitor described as ‘hard’. I have sent him signed copies of 2 of my novels as promised

1.Which world-famous band who sang in English had a name in a foreign language that included the imperative of the verb ‘to kiss’?

The band’s name could only translate as either ‘Kiss me Quickly’ or ‘Kiss my Arse’, and you’re right, it is the latter. The British-Irish punk band The Pogues started off in Kings Cross, London in 1982 and were then called The Pogue Mahones, an anglicised version of pog mo thoine which is Irish Gaelic for ‘kiss my arse’…

2. In which language does the word ‘dashuri’ mean ‘love’?

Albanian. Note also that if you are a foreigner, you can always make Albanians laugh with the rhyme dua grua which means ‘I want a woman’. Re which, see also Uncle Theo, the mental patient in Fellini’s 1973 comic masterpiece Amarcord, who climbs a tree and won’t come down, shouting in his desperation to the whole world Voglio la donna!

3. A Victorian author from London wrote a novel in which an obscure Cumbrian seaside village provided the romantic denouement. Give the name of the author, the novel and the seaside village

It was George Gissing, best known for ‘New Grub Street’, who wrote the fine ‘The Odd Women’ (1893) whose romantic climax takes place in Seascale, near Whitehaven, Cumbria. Gissing visited Seascale and the Lake District as a child. You might also have heard of Seascale in the context of it having an anomalous number of childhood leukaemias in the late 1970s, possibly on account of its proximity to the BNFL/ Sellafield nuclear facility. Note that the distinguished UK feminist press Virago printed 2 novels, both of them written by Victorian men and both sympathetic to women, one ‘The Odd Women’ and the other ‘Diana of the Crossways’ by George Meredith

4. Which US singer had 2 romantic hits which started with the words ‘Take’ and ‘More’ respectively. (Give away clue. One of his names sounds like a single letter of the alphabet)

It was Bobby Vee aka Robert Velline (1943-2016) whose two 1961 hits ‘Take Good Care of my Baby’ and ‘More Than I Can Say’ made it to numbers 3 and 4 in the UK Top 10. He was only 18 years old with both hits, and he was also my very favourite singer when I was aged 10 in 1961. That day many years ago when the late Bob Monkhouse smashed up one of my hero’s records on Radio Luxembourg’s ‘Smash Hits’, I was very angry. Sadly, Bobby Vee was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Bob Dylan once went public that Vee was ‘the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on stage with’. Be aware also, that being called Bobby in 1961 in the States was a big help if you were a celebrity male singer, as witness Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell and Bobby Darin (I hope you also noticed the 2 truncated Bobbys = Bobs= Dylan and Monkhouse above)

5.Why would a stick of celery have romantic associations (keep it clean)?

Celery along with chocolate, chilies and pomegranates, is recognised as an aphrodisiac food. It contains the steroid androstenone (also found in truffles) which explains why men since the 18th century, up to and including modern porn stars, have been guzzling celery to enhance their performance. Apparently, if a female pig inhales androstenone she immediately assumes the mating stance…

6. Which author of a famous sex manual filed for divorce claiming that the marriage had never been consummated?

It was the Englishwoman Marie Stopes (1880-1958) and she divorced her first husband who was a Canadian called Reginald Ruggles Gates. She published ‘Married Love or Love in Marriage’ in 1918 which included controversial material on contraception and it became an instant bestseller, though she was later taken to court by a Catholic professor. She lectured on paleobotany at University College, London and was the first female academic at Manchester University

7. Which self-professed anarchist believed that serious lovers should think in culinary gourmet terms?

Easy this, and the word ‘gourmet’ was the give-away clue. In 1972 Dr Alex Comfort (1920-2000) who was a doctor, novelist, anarchist and pacifist published ‘The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking’ which was another spectacular bestseller. Borrowing from the great oriental writers like Vatsyayana of the Kamasutra, he stressed that sexual foreplay was the be all and end all, and that asking your partner what they wanted and giving them it if possible, was the ideal. He quickly became known as Dr Sex, and his 30-year marriage broke up soon after. His second wife had been his (presumably secret) mistress for the previous 10 years

NB. There were only 7 questions as 7 is a more romantic number than 10…

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