Monday, 30 July 2018

A few words about grammar ...

My latest piece in InPublishing will be familiar to many of my former and current trainees. It's a rant about mistakes, bad grammar and spelling and some tips on getting it right first time. Thanks to Hannah Thaxter, David Powles and Neil Hodgkinson for weighing in too. You can read it here

Friday, 27 July 2018

Time to tackle the newsquiz

There were some excellent scores in last week’s newsquiz. Toby Brown scored a personal best of 22. It was the same score posted by The Penmans with Daisy. Janet Boyle scored 21 as did Heather and Peter Clifton. Was it too easy? Here is this week’s quiz, hopefully a little more testing. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

Today's front pages
1. Prime Minister Theresa May is holding Brexit talks with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in which country today (Friday)?
2. After Brexit secretary Dominic Raab published the details of the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, ex-Brexit minister David Jones accused the Government of 'being prepared to write a ____ ____’. What are the two missing words?
3. Home Secretary Sajid Javid wrote to the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions 
over the prosecution of two British jihadis, saying the UK 'would not seek its usual assurance' that what would not be applied? 
4. Documents released by the National Archives revealed the aides risked having what thrown at them if they criticised Prime Minister John Major in the early 90s?
5. The Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won a commanding victory in the Pakistan elections. Who is the party’s leader?
6. Five people were charged over an acid-attack on a three-year-old boy which took place at what store in Worcester?
7. Facebook’s share price fell on Thursday by the biggest ever one-day drop in any company’s market value. To the nearest billion dollars, how much was wiped off its market value?
8. Which company’s television advert has been banned for comparing one of its product's nutritional value to a protein shake?
9. Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to do what?
10. Who told MPs that 'Alexandre Benalla was never my lover'?
11. Which motorway service station in England is the worst, according to a survey by travel watchdog Transport Focus?
12. What is at its closest point to Earth since 2003 and visible as a 'bright red star’? 
13. Twenty-nine-year-old Faisal Hussain shot dead a ten-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman in which city?
14. What did Sky News presenter Colin Brazier ‘politely’ ask friends and family to do at his wife’s funeral?
15. The European Court of Justice ruled that 'four trapezoidal bars aligned on a rectangular base’ did not merit protected status in the EU. How are the bars better known?
16. Around 1,500 people were evacuated and animals were locked away after a wildfire threatened which UK zoo?
17. Wildfires tore through which small resort town near Athens, killing at least 74 people and injuring almost 200?
18. Why was Tini Owens, 68, in the headlines?
19. What belonging to Donald Trump was destroyed by a pick axe?
20. A survey across the UK, US, Canada, Australia and India concluded that what was the most popular time for ordering takeaway food online?
21. Who returned to his roots with an intimate free concert for 300 people on Thursday night?
22. BBC Radio 1 pulled an interview after an online backlash when it announced who was going to appear on Charlie Sloth's show?
23. Which estate agent apologised after running an advert for a two-bedroom house for female students with 'reduced rent for special favours’?
24. Who said this week: 'I want to thank the medical staff at Macclesfield, Salford Royal and Alexandra hospitals. Believe me, without those people who gave me such great care I would not be sitting here today'? 
25. Eric Morecambe’s tongue twister about a football result came true at the weekend (sort of). What is it?

Answers here

Friday, 20 July 2018

Test your news knowledge with this week's quiz

There were some good scores in last week's newsquiz. The best was an impressive 21 by Andy Reed. The Penmans scored a powerful 20 - particularly good as they were without daughter Daisy. Other strong scores included 18 by Janet Boyle, 17 by Ginger ElvisToby Brown and the Tomes Family, 16.5 by Adam Batstone and Lucy Thorpe and 16 by Damon Wake. Here is this week's quiz - as usual 25 questions about the week. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 
They think it's all over ... it is now. 
How the French papers reported the World Cup
(Questions 11 and 12)
1. After meeting Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump clarified his position on Russian meddling in the election by saying: 'In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ____ instead of ____’. What are the two missing words. Half a point each.
2. After the summit in Helsinki Donald Trump said which country had strong and aggressive people who could start world war three?
3. On The Andrew Marr Show what did Prime Minister Theresa May say was the 'brutal suggestion' she was given by US President Donald Trump over Brexit?
4. In his resignation speech to the Commons Boris Johnson compared the 'miserable permanent limbo’ of the Chequers agreement to the ‘bright certainty’ and ‘great clarity’ that was laid out where 18 months ago?
5. Jacob Rees-Mogg described Boris Johnson’s resignation address as ‘the speech of a ____’? What is the missing word?
6. Which Tory MP laid into her own party's hardliners with 'gold-plated pensions’ and 'inherited wealth' who are pushing through 'their version of Brexit' with no regard for the 'hundreds of thousands of jobs' that may be lost?
7. Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said in a letter of apology: 'The Tories don’t deserve any luck, I’m so sorry I inadvertently granted them some.’ What did he do?
8. The Labour Party launched disciplinary action against the MP for Barking after a public confrontation in which she called Jeremy Corbyn an antisemitic racist. Who is she?
9. High Court judge Justice Mann awarded Sir Cliff Richard how much in damages in the case against the BBC for breaching his privacy?
10. The flat belonging to Sir Cliff Richard that was raided by South Yorkshire police and was filmed by the BBC was in which Berkshire village?
11. Who won the Golden Ball award for best player at the World Cup?
12. How many members of the Russian punk activist group Pussy Riot were jailed for 15 days for disrupting the World Cup final by running onto the pitch?
13. Annual profits at Sports Direct fell by 73 per cent after the firm took a £85.4 million hit on its holding in which high street retailer?
14. It was reported that which fashion label burns £28million worth of clothes every year to prevent them being sold at discount prices on the 'grey market' to the 'wrong people’?
15. Tests involving 112,000 people concluded that there was no evidence for the widely-held belief that taking what product gives protection from a heart attack, stroke or early death?
16. Which country picked up a Wimbledon title for the first time in 22 years?
17. Thomas Channon, 18, became the third British holidaymaker to die this year at the Eden Roc holiday complex in which resort?
18. Why were people living in the village of Innaarsuit evacuated?
19. Why was 64-year-old former Ukip councillor Stephen Searle in the headlines?
20. The recipe for which chocolate bar was changed for the first time in 100 years with 30 per cent less sugar?
21. Sir David Attenborough called on the people to take part in the world's biggest count of what?
22. Students at the University of Manchester have painted over a poem on a mural by which writer, saying he was racist?
23. The British Open is being held at which golf course?
24. The X Factor revealed three new judges who will sit alongside Simon Cowell in the next series. Name two of them.
25. The most famous book by Clive King, who died aged 94, was the 1963 story of a stone-age hunter living in modern-day Kent which sold more than two million copies. What was it called?

Friday, 13 July 2018

25 questions about the week's news

The top solo scorer in last week’s newsquiz was Kieran Corcoran with an impressive 18 points. The top team was the Penmans (including Daisy) with an amazing 21. It has been a busy old news week so there was certainly no shortage of stories for this week’s quiz. Here it is ... as usual 25 questions about the week. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

Over and out - England's semi-final defeat dominates Thursday's front pages
1. Who was appointed Brexit secretary after David Davis resigned from the Government?
2. In a letter, announcing his resignation as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said the UK was truly headed for what status?
3. New Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously held which Cabinet position?
4. Donald Trump arrived in the UK at which airport?
5. Before his visit to Europe, US President Donald Trump said: 'So I have Nato, I have the UK which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have ___. Frankly, ___ may be the easiest of them all.’ What is the missing word?
6. Conservative MP Michael Fabricant apologised for tweeting a cartoon image of Sadiq Khan being mounted by what?
7. Thailand's Prime Minister said the 12 schoolboys rescued from the caves had been given which drug to stop them from panicking?
8. Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, who broke English hearts by scoring the winning goal in the 109th minute of the World Cup semi-final, plays for which club?
9. Larissa Bell, 21, from Glasgow was filmed dancing on what following England’s World Cup victory against Sweden?
10. The FA was fined £50,000 after players Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Raheem Sterling wore 'unauthorised' what in the quarter final against Sweden?
11. Lord Carrington, who died this week at 99, resigned as Foreign Secretary in the 1980s after accepting full responsibility for what event which he later called the most sorrowful day of his political life?
12. Who is next in this sequence: 5. Keith Joseph 4. Kenneth Robinson 3. Anuerin Bevan 2. Norman Fowler? 
13. Why were Rick Stanton, John Volanthen and Jason Mallinson in the headlines?
14. Husnain Rashid, 32, was jailed for life for encouraging jihadists to launch a terror attack on who while at school?
15. How many planes were used to spell out the number 100 in the fly-past to celebrate the centenary of the RAF?
16. In a speech at the centenary fly-past the Queen said the RAF's hallmarks were 'tenacity, skill and ____’. What is the missing word?
17. Serena Williams was seeded 25 at Wimbledon but still made it through to Saturday’s singles final. Who will she play?
18. The information commissioner announced that Facebook is to be fined how much, the maximum amount possible, for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal?
19. Footballer Alan Gilzean, who died at 79, won 22 Scotland caps, scoring 12 goals, and also scored 133 goals in 439 games for which English club?
20. Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7billion (£3.6billion) in damages to 22 women who alleged that what caused them to develop ovarian cancer?
21. Which television and radio presenter was put into a medically induced coma after becoming unwell on a flight to Britain from the United States?
22. Who did American politician Sarah Palin call 'evil, exploitative and sick’ after he duped her into an interview by posing as a wounded military veteran?
23. Actor George Clooney was taken to hospital after he was knocked off his moped by a car on which island?
24. Who became the third member of his family to die in a motor racing accident?
25. Prince Harry’s christening present to his nephew Prince Louis was an £8,000 first edition copy of which book?

Answers here

Friday, 6 July 2018

The heat is on, so be cool and do the newsquiz

The top scorer in last week's newsquiz was Janet Boyle who romped home with a massive 20 points. Next was Gavin Devine with 15. Adam Batstone was flying solo and scored 14.5 on his own, pipping his usual co-quizzer Lucy Thorpe and her pals who posted 14 from Spain. Jamie Johnson also scored 14. Here is this week's quiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week's events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

England's penalty shootout victory dominated Wednesday's front pages
(Questions 8 and 9)
1. Seven Brexiteer ministers held a private meeting at the Foreign Office on Thursday ahead of the Cabinet session at Chequers. They included Boris Johnson, David Davis, Liam Fox and Michael Gove. Name two of the other three. Half a point for each.
2. Jaguar Land Rover told the Government that 'while its ____ and ____ are in the UK' at least 40,000 jobs would be at risk if Britain leaves the EU without a free trade deal. What are the two missing words?
3. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey apologised for misleading MPs and the public about what Government scheme?
4. A 50-year-old man whose claims started an investigation into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring has been charged with fraud and perverting the course of justice. For legal reason he is known only by what name?
5. What will controversially fly over Parliament Square next Friday after approval was granted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Greater London Authority?
6. Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess fell ill from reported exposure to the nerve agent Novichok at a house in which town?
7. The 12 boys trapped in the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai all play for Moo Pa Football Club. What is the club known as in English?
8. Who scored the final penalty for England in the shootout against Colombia?
9. Colombian footballers accused referee Mark Geiger of favouring England in the World Cup match. What nationality is Geiger?
10. Why was 28-year-old Lucy Letby in the headlines?
11. The Big NHS Singalong Live culminated in choirs singing which song in an attempt to break a world record to mark the service’s 70th anniversary?
12. Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose all removed what from their shelves because of concerns over listeria contamination?

13. Kayla Hanna, 20, was awarded £2,000 after security staff at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Belfast confiscated what from her?
14. A 16-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on which island?
15. A Lord Mayor branded Donald Trump a ‘wasteman’ and banned him from coming to which city?
16. Children’s TV pioneer Peter Firmin, who died age 89, said his favourite programme, of all those he made, featured small, pink, knitted, mouse-like creatures living on a blue moon, with neighbours including the Soup Dragon and the Froglets. What were they called?
17. Paedophile football coach George Ormond, who worked with Newcastle United’s youth players and sexually abused boys over three decades, was jailed for how many years?
18. Twelve British players started Wimbledon in the men's and women's singles draws but by the fourth day who was the only one remaining?
19. Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki complained to a Wimbledon umpire saying: 'I want to be here to focus on tennis, not ___ ___?’ What are the two missing words?
20. According to her daughter, Joan Callaghan had ‘ absolutely nothing to do' with what?
21. Alan Longmuir, who described himself as 'just a plumber from Edinburgh who got lucky’, has died age 70. He was the founding member of which chart-topping band?
22. Passengers on a Thomas Cook flight heading for Stansted were reportedly forced to wait for three hours on a sweltering plane without air conditioning, resulting in vomiting and fainting, at which airport?
23. Who said he was leaving the BBC after more than 30 years 'to do something a little different’?
24. Ofcom received 650 complaints about producers unnecessarily causing distress by showing a misleading video on which programme?
25. Who accompanied 16-year-old Chloe Robson to her school prom at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street, County Durham?

Answers here