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Amazing Facts

Over the past three weeks, I have chosen 63 'statements' from Amazing Facts, a quiz I was given last Christmas. Themakers have given permission for me to share these statements with you on The Forum. Here are the answers in four parts!

33. Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times, three times to Richard Burton, Burton was Taylor’s first husband and also her fourth, after the death of Eddie Fisher in an air crash. The couple were married for a third time shortly before burton’s death.

FALSE. She was married eight times, twice to Burton. She first married when aged only 18, and her third husband, Mike Todd, died in an air crash. She left singer Fisher for Burton in 1964; they divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975 and divorced again in 1976.

34. Benjamin Franklin once proposed that the US national symbol should be a turkey.

TRUE. Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers and a true polymath. He was an important scientist and inventor as well as a politician and diplomat and an author of some note. The turkey idea wasn’t his best moment.

35 English is the second most-widely spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese.

FALSE.Second is Hindustani which incorporates Hindi and Urdu, and is the official language of both India and Pakistan. Third is Spanish, predominant in South America (except Brazil). English is fourth, but remains the most- learned second language.

36 While the city of Rome burned, the emperor Nero was singing and playing the violin at a wild party, hence ;fiddling while Rome burns’.

FALSE. He was over 30 miles away at the seaside. He hurried back to the city but the fire was out of control. Furthermore, violins weren’t developed for centuries-it is more likely that Nero played the bagpipes, which were popular in Rome.

37.Cartoon legend Bart Simpson is actually voiced by a woman.

TRUE. Cartwright voices a number of the Simpsons'characters, as well as Chuckie in 'Rugrats'. She was at the centre of a threatened strike by'The Simpsons' voice team, since then their salarys have risen astronomically.

38.A man who stole a pair of boots at knifepoint was convicted when he wore the boots to his trial.

TRUE. Charles Taylor from Witchita was that man. He stole the boots, worth $69, and then sat in court with his feet perched cockily on the desk. Taylor was sent to prison wearing just his socks.

39.Miguel Cervantes, the author of 'Don Quixote', lost his left hand as a soldier in the Spanish army.

TRUE. Cervantes was a soldier and lost his hand in service at the Battle of Lepanto. Four years later he was captured by pirates and held for five years. When did he find time to write?

40. Bee stings were once used as a cure for rheumatism.

TRUE. Most old books of natural cures will feature this odd remedy. perhaps the theory was that the bee sting hurt so much that the patient forgot he or she had rheumatism!

41.The original ‘source’ for Dracula was Vlad Tepes, or Drakul, a 15th century prince of Wallachia.

TRUE.He was known as Vlad the Impaler after he had 20,000 Turkish prisoners impaled on pikes during his wars against the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed 11. Vlad’s family was in exile in Transylvania for many years, hence the link with that region.

42. Quentin Tarantino got the idea for naming his gangsters after colours in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ from an idea (he later abandoned) in the original script for Marin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’.

FALSE. The earlier film, which did use the device, was ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’ (1979), nut Tarantino’s cult status has ensured that he is credited with the originality behind the device.

43. It is possible to sit in a deckchair and sunbathe on the beach in Paris in the summer.

TRUE. Every year the Paris-Plages turns one bank of the Seine into a sun-soaked chill-out zone for stressed city workers. 'it was the brainchild of Mayor Bertrand Delanoe and began in 2002.

44. Author Tony Hawkes sold half a million copies of a book recounting his travels around Ireland with a fridge.

TRUE. Hawks mad the journey after a drunken bet. His next book, conceived in similar circumstances, concerned his attempts to find and play tennis agains all 11 members of the Moldovian national football team.

45 The last execution for witchcraft in Britain took place as recently as 1910, when Deirdre Molloy was found guilty of poisoning her neighbours by means of witchcraft.

FALSE. Alice Molland was the last person hanged as a witch, as far back as 1686. Advances in science in the 18th century meant less credence was given to accusations of witchcraft.

46.Judi Dench won Oscars as royals in consecutive years, first playing Queen Victoria in 'Mrs Brown ' ( Best Actress1998 ) and then as Queen Elizabeth 1 in 'Shakespeare in Love' ( Best Supporting Actress, 1999 )

FALSE. She didn't win for 'Mrs Brown' ( beaten by Helen Hunt in 'As Good As It Gets'). Many thought the Academy tried to compensate by rewarding her the following year for an eight minute cameo as Queen Bess.

47.A woman once successfully sued a TV station after they forecast good weather. It rained, and the woman caught a cold.

TRUE. She received compensation for catching a chill and suffering 'undue stress' after the TV station got the weather forecast wrong, leading her to dress in appropriately. Amazingly this wasn't the USA, but Israel.

48. Contrary to popular belief, glass is a solid. Not a very thick liquid.

TRUE. Glass is an amorphous solid, which means it has an irregular structure, unlike crystalline solids which have a more orderly structure. The molecules, however,are not so disordered as to allow flow, which defines a liquid.

See Part 4 here

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