Lately Nigel and I have been watching a British quiz show called Only Connect. Quiz shows are part and parcel of English TV, a piece of cultural television heritage that is popular, and that many Brits are (and I think justifiably) very proud of. The questions are incredibly esoteric and there is a distinct lack of melodrama. The quiz shows Mastermind and University Challenge are famously difficult and intimidating.
Participants on the show Only Connect are asked to find connections between seemingly random clues, such as "Newfoundland dogs, Joseph Stalin and Donald Duck." Topics range widely from complicated math to pop culture. The show takes its name from an E.M. Forster quote, from the novel Howard's End.
“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.”
There are 14 series of Only Connect available on YouTube, and Nigel and I have been making our way through them for the last several weeks. Every so often we get a question right, and it makes us feel smart. On one episode we watched recently there was a question that I knew the answer to because I'm a gardener. It was a progression where you have to fill in the blank for the fourth item.
1. Phloem 2. Cambium 3. Sapwood 4. ??????
Do you know what comes fourth and the connection between them?
Here's a link to the first episode of the current 14th series of Only Connect on YouTube, just in case you want to give it a try. You can find all the other episodes if you search. Nigel and I have found it to be addictive.
You can also check out the BBC's Only Connect webpage here. Oh, and I should point out, the people who win Only Connect get a trophy and bragging rights, but no money. Not a farthing.
Are you a reader? A TV watcher? Is there something you're addicted to, like we are to Only Connect?
Newfoundland dogs, Joseph Stalin and Donald Duck all had webbed feet.
And of course I'm sure you know the fourth item on that list is heartwood, and that they're tree layers.