Mr Al-Khapoun's Christmas Quiz, 1997

The other day, as Mr Al-Khapoun, of the Philistine/Liberace Organisation, was preparing to unleash his annual Christmas Quiz on an astonished world, there was a sharp report from his computer. The screen turned pink, the modem began to blow bubbles, and an entire romantic novel emerged from the printer. It appears that Mr Al-Khatraz had been writing a Barbara Cartland emulator. The resulting crash took two days to recover from, and has left Mr Al-Khapoun in a mean mood. In particular he says that Mr Al-Khatraz had better watch out when he pulls his Christmas cracker. The immediate victims of Mr Al-Khapoun's mood, however, are those who accept his invitation to identify the authors of the extracts below, and if possible the works in question. All the quotations are in the original language: translations, by Mr Al-Khapoun, have been provided where this is not English. No entry fee. Money back if not satisfied.
  1. Polling day arrived. Once more that afternoon the express had been stopped at Hakluyt Station, for a large party including an elderly Royal Princess was assembling for three days' shooting, and dinner, not less stately than before, was almost over when Henry came in with the news of the result of the election: the Labour candidate had got in with a substantial majority.


  2.      `Ah! I think I must read you some of Osborne's poetry some day; under seal of secrecy, remember; but I really fancy they are almost as good as Mrs Hemans'.'

    To be nearly as good as Mrs Hemans' was saying as much to the young ladies of that day, as saying that poetry is nearly as good as Tennyson's would be in this. Molly looked up with eager interest.

         `Mr Osborne Hamley? Does your son write poetry?'

         `Yes. I really think I may say he is a poet. He is a very brilliant, clever young man, and quite hopes to get a fellowship at Trinity. He says he is sure to be high up among the wranglers and that he expects to get one of the Chancellor's medals. That is his likeness - the one hanging against the wall behind you'


  3.                       Hochgewölbte Blätterkronen,
                          Baldachine von Smaragd,
                          Kinder ihr aus fernen Zonen,
                          Saget mir, warum ihr klagt?

    [High-piled crowns of leaves, emerald baldaquins: you children from far lands, tell me, why are you weeping?]


  4. Imperial Bankquet Hall

    `The Refuge'

    on Thursday at 12:30 prompt

    Professor Barrington






    The Rev. Joe Philpot PLO

    (Late absconding secretary of the light refreshment fund)

    Will take the chair and anything else
    he can lay his hands on.

    At The End Of The Lecture


    And carried out according to the
    Marquis of Queensbury's Rules.

    A Collection will be took up
    in aid of the cost of printing


  5. I like to think that some time between 1992 and 1997 somebody will have looked up this memoir, and will have forced on the world his inevitable and startling conclusions. And I have reasons for believing that this will be so. You realise that the reading-room into which Soames was projected by the Devil was in all respects precisely as it will be on the afternoon of June 3rd, 1997. You realise, therefore, that on that afternoon, when it comes round, there the self-same crowd will be, and there Soames too will be, punctually, he and they doing precisely what they did before.


  6. Libri proibiti non ce n'erano. Ma c'era, per esempio, una comune edizione degli Essais de Montaigne. -Questo è francese, non è vero?- esclamò il podestà, strizzando l'occhio, come a dire che non cercassi d'ingannarlo. -Ma è un francese antico, don Luigi!- Già, Montaigne, uno di quelli della Rivoluzione francese-. Faticai a convincerlo che non si poteva considerarlo un autore pericoloso: il maestro sapeva il fatto suo e sorrideva compiaciuto, perchè intendessi che se mi lasciava il libro, che avrebbe dovuto sequestrarmi, era per un atto di particolare benevolenza e di solidarietà tra uomini di cultura.

    [There weren't any banned books. But there was, for instance, an ordinary edition of the Essais of Montaigne. ``This is in French, isn't it?'' announced the magistrate, squinting at me to make sure I wasn't trying to fool him. ``But old French, Mr Luigi!'' ``Yes, I know, Montaigne, one of those people at the French Revolution.'' I laboured to convince him that he couldn't be considered a dangerous author, but the magistrate knew his ground and smiled smugly, letting me know that if he allowed me to keep this book, which he ought to have confiscated, it was as a special privilege granted by one man of culture to another.]


  7. The undergraduates of Oxford used Paddington, and so did Public Schools at Eton, Radley, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, Malvern and the now extinct Weymouth College; hunting people got out at Badminton; carpet manufacturers at Kidderminster; coal owners at Cardiff; jewellers at Birmingham; valetudinarians at Torquay, Leamington, Cheltenham, Tenbury Wells and Tenby; sailors at Plymouth, Devonport and Falmouth; organists used it for the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, Hereford or Gloucester. The Welsh who seem so often to be in trains, use it all the time.


  8. Passé. Fini. Ici le ciel est clair. La météo l'avait prédit. ``Ciel un quart couvert de cirrus.'' La météo? Les isobares? Les ``Systèmes nuageux'' du professeur Borjsen? Un ciel de fête populaire: oui. Un ciel de 14 Juillet. Il fallait dire: ``A Malaga c'est jour de fête!'' Chaque habitant possède dix mille mètres de ciel pur sur lui. Un ciel qui va jusqu'aux cirrus.

    [Past. Done. Here the sky is clear. The met office had predicted that. ``One-fourth cloud cover, cirrus''. The met office? Isobars? The ``Cloudy systems'' of Professor Borjsen. A Bank Holiday sky, that's more like it; a 14th of July sky. They should have said ``At Malaga, it's a holiday.'' Every inhabitant has ten thousand metres of clean sky above him, going all the way to the cirrus.]


  9.                       Eve finds the Chief, like restless ghost,
                          Still hovering near his treasure lost;
                          For though his haughty heart deny
                          A parting meeting to his eye,
                          Still fondly strains his anxious ear,
                          The accents of her voice to hear,
                          And inly did he curse the breeze
                          That waked to sound the rustling trees.
                          But hark! what mingles in the strain?
                          It is the harp of Allan-bane,
                          That wakes its measures slow and high,
                          Attuned to sacred minstrelsy.
                          What melting voice attends the strings!


  10.                       I sigh, fair injured stranger! for thy fate,
                                    But what shall sighs avail thee? Thy poor heart,
                          'Mid all the `pomp and circumstance' of state,
                                    Shivers in nakedness. Unbidden, start

                          Sad recollections of Hope's garish dream,
                                    That shaped a seraph form, and named it Love,
                          Its hues gay-varying, as the orient beam
                                    Varies the neck of Cytherea's dove.


  11. And there was Takeshi in the back of a strange oversize American car, locked in, being borne through the streets of Shinjuku southward, crossing the Expressway, into Roppongi, expecting street mines, storms of automatic-weapon fire, convinced he had stumbled into the middle of some Japanese gang-war drama with a couple of gaijin bit players in it.