OPINION: Happy Skippmas! Keith's quiz and festive laughs for all the family
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Evergreen columnist Keith Skipper unwraps his Christmas Eve parcel designed to keep that precious family glow alive throughout our much-anticipated holiday season
Mix those final preparations and relaxing moments with special quizzes coated in a distinctive Norfolk flavour or try your hand at more general teasers decked with festive images. Stir the imagination with ideas for competitions as you pull the curtains and settle in a favourite fireside chair.
Let gentle reflections and yarns work their old magic as you draw close and warm yourself at the hearth of remembrance. Christmas Eve – most potent date of the year for putting sentiment ahead of cynicism as many a grown-up mouths those cherished lines:
Let me be a child again, just for Christmas Eve,
Let me know the simple truths that little ones believe
Now we remember and squirm at excruciating “jokes” escaping out of crackers like: Why is Heaven like a bald man’s head? Because there’s no parting there … Where did Noah keep his bees? In his arkhives … Why is Eire richest country in the world? Because its capital is always Dublin. And can’t forget: What do angry mice send at this time of year? Crossmouse cards!
Plenty of scope, therefore, to add a spot or two of local culture to our ingredients.
Here’s the perfect aperitif, a little test to unravel Norfolk locations from these seasonal clues and then add one or two of your own to the selection before checking my answers at foot of the page:
1, This must be what Mother Christmas does with bells.
- 1 Doctors baffled by teenager's horrific long Covid symptoms
- 2 'Once in a lifetime catch' - man lands monster fish in Norfolk
- 3 Norfolk man amongst UK's 12 most wanted
- 4 Council leader arrested after suspected drink driving on Christmas Day
- 5 Pub near Dereham has its first winners of steak-eating challenge
- 6 Norfolk village named among poshest places to live in the UK
- 7 Revealed: Travelodge behind multi-million pound hotel development
- 8 Man threatened to petrol bomb ex-partner's home
- 9 Music-loving dad whose ashes were fired into festival crowd took own life
- 10 Hot tub wrecked after car smashes through garden wall from Wilkos car park
2. Now those elves are on thin ice.
3. What’s that noise from the children’s bedroom?
4. It takes three of these to get Santa Claus going..
5 .What are they doing with those Christmas trees?
6. I’ve bought a special present for my hungry pet badger.
7. Sounds like an invitation to tipsy carollers.
8. Holy crackers!
9. What shall I do with these awful socks?
10. It really is heavy snow here.
This one’s for stalwarts who pride themselves on being steeped in knowledge about their county. Ghosts of Norfolk Christmas past take centre stage in this serious test:
1. Who was the outstanding classics scholar born on Christmas Eve in East Ruston, near North Walsham, in 1759?
2..Which footballer signed for Norwich City for £20,000 from Lincoln City on Christmas Eve, 1971?
3. Breckland writer Michael Home was born at Great Hockham on Christmas Day in 1855. What was his real name?
4. Who made the first royal Christmas radio broadcast from Sandringham?
5. .Who wrote and sang Postman’s Lament, which began: “Did you ever feel sorry for the postman when it comes to Christmas Day?”.
6. Who retreated to the Ditchingham estate at Christmas time in 1882 to rewrite his first novel “Dawn”?
The old grey matter should be in top order by now1
Here’s the final Quizmas, a general test about the festive season. Treat yourself to an early mince pie or sausage roll if you get more than half correct
1.Where would you stand to wait for a “buss”?
2. Which Charles Dickens novel of 1861 opens on Christmas Eve?
3. Who outlawed Christmas pudding?
4. In which pantomime will you find Widow Twankey?
5. Which bird is traditionally eaten in Eastern Europe on Christmas Day?
6. Whose proboscis was uncommonly luminescent?
7. Vasco de Gama discovered it on Christmas Day in 1497 and named it accordingly. Today it’s a province of South Africa. Which one?
9. During the temporary truce in the First World War, the sound of which carol was heard being sung by German soldiers?
9. What is traditionally used to make a snowman’s nose?
10. Santa has eight reindeer. Name them all.
BEING FRANK Three five-year-olds were cast as Kings in a Norfolk school Nativity play. Presenting their gifts at the stable, the first said: “Gold,” the second: Myrrh,” and the third: “Frank sent this.”
EXCELLENT VALUE It was Christmas morning and the Norfolk family were plodding home from church in deep snow .There was a lot of complaining about the service. Dad thought the bells had been rung dreadfully Mum thought the hymns badly chosen. Elder son fell asleep during the sermon. His twin sister took exception to the prayers. The youngest lad suddenly chipped in : “ Don’t know what you’re all complaining about. I thought it was a rather good show for a penny!.”
MEMORY LAPSE Father Christmas in his Norwich grotto asks a little girl her name. She gives him a baleful stare and snorts: “I told you in Dereham this morning – and you have forgotten already!.”
LIGHT WORK A Norfolk woman noticed a string of her Christmas tree lights wouldn’t work. She checked the bulb one by one and found the dud one. She proudly told her family that she had done it “by a process of illumination.”
THE EYES HAVE IT Two young Norfolk shepherds are rehearsing for their Nativity play. They come in, kneel down and say nothing. Teacher suggests they might think of something nice to say about Baby Jesus. So they try again. They come in, kneel down – and one says: “He’s a bewtiful little boy and, dew yew know, I think he’re got yar eyes.”
TWO WISE WOMEN First Norfolk woman: “What dew yew reckun would hev happened if there hed bin three wise wimmun instead o’ three wise men?” .Second Norfolk woman: “Well, they would hev arsked for direckshuns to the stearble. They would hev got there on time. They would hev helped deliver that bearby. They would hev cleared the place up. They would hev bort sum sensible presents. And there would hev bin peace on earth.”
ONE WISE LAD A little lad saying his prayers passed on all the usual thankyous before exclaiming in a very loud voice ”And dunt fergit thass Christmas soon and I want that new bike. Amen!”, His mother looked up in shock and rebuked him: “There’s no need to shout. God is not deaf.” “No,” came the reply. “But gran downstairs is!.”
Norfolk locations: 1. Sheringham 2. Skeyton 3. Little Snoring 4. Hoe,Hoe,Hoe! 5. Trimingham 6. Brockdish 7. Lessingham 8. Pulham St Mary 9. Wereham 10. Winterton
Serious test: 1. Richard Porson. 2. Phil Hubbard 3. Christopher Bush 4. George V in 1932 from a little room under the stairs 5. Allan Smethurst, The Singing Postman 6.Henry Rider Haggard.
Final Quizmas: 1. Under the mistletoe – buss is a 16th century word for a kiss 2. Great Expectations 3. The Puritans, denouncing the pudding or “plum porridge” as “popish. They also claimed carols were evil chants 4. Aladdin. Widow Twankey is his mother 5. The goose, It used to be a traditional Christmas bird in Britain until the 16th century when the turkey first pushed it out of the oven 6. Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer 7. Natal 8. Silent Night 9. A carrot 10. Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Prancer and Vixen