It’s time once again for my Boxing Day Family Puzzler – a seasonal distraction now in its 11th year. As regular readers will know, this is the quiz where no-one is expected to know any of the answers.
The questions relate to events in the past 12 months – and all the solutions are numbers. This year, as a special treat in these troubled times, I’ve included bonus questions, raising the number from 20 to 23.
Contestants must simply use wisdom and judgement to come as close to the right figure as they can. Each player/team should write their guesses down before revealing them.
One mark for the closest answer and three if by coincidence, or brilliance, you get it spot on.
1) The British have an unfortunate reputation for not speaking foreign languages. In the past financial year, how much did the Brexit department pay the EU Council for interpreters?
2) The average salary for a male footballer in the Premier League is now a little over £2.64m a year. What is the average salary for a player in the Women’s Super League, according to analysis this year?
3) The mythical animal of the year is clearly the unicorn, inspiring vast amounts of single-horned merchandise. As of 20 December, a search for the word “unicorn” on the e-commerce site etsy.com produced how many different unicorn-inspired items?
4) The UK’s summer of 2018 was designated the equal hottest on record. July was particularly sunny. How many hours and minutes of sunshine did the UK enjoy on an average July day this year?
5) The Harry Potter phenomenon shows no sign of a let-up, with the new film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, released last month. It cost $200m (£158m) to make. How much, in dollars, did it recoup at the box office in the first 72 hours?
6) The fastest lap in Formula 1 history was set in 2004 at Monza by Juan Pablo Montoya… until this year. At the same circuit, in September, 38-year-old Kimi Raikkonen amazed the motor-racing world by completing a lap more quickly than anyone ever. In miles per hour, what was the Finn’s average speed?
7) US President Donald Trump’s tendency to say things that prove not entirely accurate has led the Washington Post to set up a fact-checking service. According to that site, how many untrue statements did the president make on the day of a Republican rally in Houston, Texas, on 22 October?
8) The BBC thriller Bodyguard became the most watched drama in television history this year. What proportion of people in the UK watched at least some of it, according to official figures?
9) Every possible precaution was taken to ensure the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding went smoothly. Police identified 54 women whose obsession with the royals saw them classified as potential “stalkers”. How many men were similarly identified?
10) The gaming sensation of 2018 is the multiplayer shooter (and floss-dancer) game Fortnite. A survey of 1,000 players asked if they had ever skipped school or work to participate. What proportion of students admitted they had missed lessons to play?
11) Welsh table tennis player Anna Hursey was the youngest competitor at the Commonwealth Games, on Australia’s Gold Coast this year, at just 11. How old was the oldest competitor, a Canadian shooter?
12) Despite concerns about pub closures, this year saw a record number of alcohol licences operating in England and Wales. The council with the largest number of places where you can buy and drink booze turns out to be Westminster. How many places?
13) Following the Brexit vote, one type of job has boomed – Whitehall civil servants. On average, how many extra bureaucrat posts have been created in Westminster each week since the referendum?
14) In early March, blustery weather meant a quarter of UK energy was being produced by wind turbines. Across 2018, how many homes do experts calculate are now powered by the wind?
15) The chancellor announced an extra £400m for English schools in the Budget in October. How much did he announce for potholes?
16) There was drama at Crufts dog show in Birmingham when an animal rights protester was wrestled to the ground live on TV just seconds after whippet Collooney Tartan Tease was crowned best in show. How many dogs competed for the top prize?
17) Alongside the football World Cup in Russia this summer, video gamers held their own virtual version. The final of the Fifa eWorld Cup, held at London’s O2 Arena, saw Mosaad Aldossary, from Saudi Arabia, clinch the $250,000 (£198,000) top prize. According to the organisers, how many players participated in the competition?
18) The average congregation at a Church of England church on a Sunday has fallen to just 28 people. But it’s a different story at Christmas. How many people attended Anglican services in England on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year?
19) It’s no ordinary bottle of whisky. How much, in sterling, did a bottle of 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami sell for in October?
20) Supplies of oat milk ran short this year, following a big rise in people seeking alternatives to dairy. According to a government survey, what proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds say they have an adverse reaction to cows’ milk?
21) The England football team’s first World Cup match against Tunisia was watched by 65.8% of TV viewers. What proportion of viewers in Iceland watched their country’s first World Cup game, against Argentina?
22) On the second day of Christmas my true love gave me two turtle doves. But in the UK, they are an endangered species. This year a government report suggested a 98% fall in numbers since 1970. If right, how many breeding pairs are left?
23) According to a survey this year, the cheapest city to buy a Christmas tree is Prague, where a six-footer costs about €11 (£9.92). What is the equivalent price of a tree in Dublin, in euros?
Answers at the bottom
4) 7 hours and 44 minutes
14) 14.48 million
17) 20 million
18) 2.68 million
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