Try my EXTRA tricky trivia quiz…it could drive you Christmas crackers!

HERE’S my annual seasonal gift to Views From The Mallorca Pier readers – a quiz that’ll separate the Christmas turkeys from the Yuletide masterminds.

So grab yourself a mince pie and pop the bubbly to get your mind fizzing over these 70 teasing questions…but beware: in each section there’s one question that’s EXTRA tricky, because none of the multiple-choice, optional answers are correct.

No prizes, except the glory of claiming you’re the brightest bauble on the Christmas tree.

But you’ll have to wait until next Friday, December 26, to find out, because that’s when I’ll publish the solution.

So get cracking with a trivia quiz that will drive you Christmas crackers!


MILI-BLAND: The Labour leader did little to convince he is the UK's Prime Minister-in-waiting

ED MILIBAND…what’s he eating? – See Question 3

1 – FORMER US President Bill Clinton made headlines in 2014, by calling present White House incumbent, Barack Obama, what?

a) A fun guy; b) A ‘wuss’; c) A golf nut

2 – WHICH 69-year-old theatrical ‘aristo’ became the new ‘face’ of cosmetics giant, L’Oreal?

a) Dame Helen Mirren; b) Dame Diana Rigg; c) Dame Julie Andrews

3 – BRITAIN’S Labour leader, Ed Miliband, suffered his most embarrassing moment of the year when photo’d making a mess of eating what?

a) A McDonald’s cheeseburger; b) A great British fry-up breakfast; c) A bacon sandwich

 4 – The Japanese tipple, Yamazaki, was voted the world’s best what?

a) Beer; b) Sake rice wine; c) Sherry

5WHO said Prince Harry told her to ‘F*** off’, after she asked him to look after her handbag on a visit to Buckingham Palace?

a) His sister-in-law, Kate; b) Sharon Osbourne; c) Angelina Jolie

 6THE Chinese New Year starts on February 19 celebrates what creature?

a) Sheep; b) Dragon; c) Tiger

7WHICH gobbledygook gabbler won the Plain English Campaign’s 2014 Foot In The Mouth award?

a) Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson; b) London Mayor’s Boris Johnson; c) Comedian Russell Brand


Groucho Marx - See Question 8

GROUCHO MARX…were his dying words witty? – See Question 9

8 – WHAT creature was Robert Burns referring to in his poem that starts, ‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie…’?

a) Mouse; b) Louse; c) Grouse

9 – WHICH wit’s dying words were, ‘Either the wallpaper goes or I do’?

a) P.G. Wodehouse; b) Groucho Marx; c) Oscar Wilde

10 – WHICH Shakespearean king pleaded, ‘A horse, a horse – my kingdom for a horse.’

a) King Lear; b) King John; c) Henry V

11 – WHICH kiddies’ character was created by Michael Bond?

a) Paddington Bear; b) Rupert Bear; c) Yogi Bear

12 – WHAT nursery rhyme provided the first words ever recorded on the gramophone by its inventor, Thomas Edison?

a) Jack & Jill; b) Mary Had A Little Lamb; b); c) Three Blind Mice

13 – BY was name was the Oliver Mellors better known?

a) The Count of Monte Cristo; b) Tarzan; c) Lady Chatterley’s Lover

14 – Which fictional detective had a cleverer brother called Mycroft?

a) Sherlock Holmes; b) Columbo; c) Miss Marple


Mars Bar - See Question XX

MARS BAR…was it invented in 1941? – See Question 17

15 – WHAT is the last letter of the Greek alphabet?

a) Epsilon; b) Omega; c) Zeta

16 – WHAT’S the name of Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

a) Miriam; b) Deborah; c) Amanda

17 – WHAT type of sweet did Mars and Murrie develop in 1941?

a) Mars Bar; b) Chewing gum; c) M&Ms

18 – In human anatomy, how is the epidermis better known?

a) Skin; b) Ear lobe; c) Finger nail

19 – THE letter K is the chemical symbol for what element?

a) Sulphur; b) Potassium; c) Krypton

20 – WHO would wear a hat called a toque?

a) Chef; b) French Foreign Legionnaire; c) Cardinal

21 – FEBRUARY is the shortest month, but what’s the longest?

a) August; b) October; c) December   


Postman Pat & his black-and-white cat - See Question XX

POSTMAN PAT & HIS CAT…but what’s the pussy’s name? – See Question 23

22 – WHICH Hollywood legend created a best-selling salad dressing?

a) Paul Newman; b) Robert Redford; c) Sylvester Stallone

23 – WHAT’S the name of Postman Pat’s black and white cat?

a) Bess; b) Jess; c) Tess

24 – MONTY Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is the most requested song at what events?

a) Baptisms; b) Weddings; c) Funerals

25 – WHICH band performed the first tune on BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1964?

a) The Rolling Stones; b) The Beatles; c) The Who 

26 – WHAT colour is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

a) Red; b) Yellow; c) Green 

27 – IN which real-life UK county is fictional Downton Abbey?

a) West Yorkshire; b) North Yorkshire; c) South Yorkshire

28 – WHICH movie hero’s sexy sidekick is Felicity Shagwell?

a) Ironman; b) Spiderman; c) Captain America


Berlin Wall...but when did it go up - See Question XX

BERLIN WALL came down in 1989…but when did it go up – See Question 35

29 – WHICH English king was crowned on Christmas Day?

a) William I (The Conqueror); b) Edward II; c) Henry III

30 – WHICH ancient city was once known as Byzantium?

a) Rome; b) Athens; c) Istanbul 

31 – WHICH US President once said, ‘You can tell a lot about a fellow by the way he eats jellybeans’?

a) Gerald Ford; b) Lyndon Johnson; c) Ronald Reagan

32 – WHICH saint’s day falls on Boxing Day, December 26?

a) Francis; b) Luke; c) Bartholomew 

33 – SCI-FI writer L. Ron Hubbard created which religious cult?

a) Scientology; b) The Moonies; c) Jehovah’s Witnesses 

34 – WHAT was England’s first overseas colony?

a) Virginia; b) Newfoundland; c) Bermuda

35 – THE Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but in what year did it go up?

a) 1951; b) 1961; c) 1971


Spain's Queen Letizia...but what was her job? - See Question XX

SPAIN’S QUEEN LETIZIA…but what was her job? – See Question 40

36 – IF you arrived at El Prat Airport, where in Spain would you be?

a) Madrid; b) Barcelona; c) San Sebastian

37 – WHAT part of Captain Robert Jenkins’ anatomy did the Spanish cut off to cause a nine-year war with Britain?

a) Ear; b) Testicles; c) Nose

38 – EVERY Eurozone state’s banknotes have a letter on them to denote their origin, but which one identifies Spain’s euros?

a) S; b) V; c) E

39 – FROM where did the Spanish Armada set sail to attack England in 1588?

a) La Coruna; b) Seville; c) Bilbao

40 – Before marrying into the Royal Family, Queen Letizia did what job?

a) Air hostess; b) Page 3 girl; c) Dentist 

41 – How many states border Spain?

a) One; b) Two; c) Three 

42 – Which of the following isn’t a Spanish holiday hot spot?

a) Costa Calida; b) Costa Smeralda; c) Costa de la Luz


MUNICH'S OKTOBER BEER FEST...but in what month does it start?

MUNICH’S OKTOBER BEER FEST…but in what month does it start?

43 – WHICH European mini state has been ruled by the Grimaldi dynasty for over 700 years?

a) San Remo; b) Monaco; c) San Marino 

44 – WHICH British city has a district called Splott?

a) Cardiff; b) Plymouth; c) Newcastle

45 – WHICH is the greatest in size of North America’s Great Lakes?

a) Michigan; b) Erie; c) Superior

46 – IN which month does Munich’s beer-guzzling Oktoberfest begin?

a) September; b) October; c) November 

47 – WHAT is Saudi Arabia’s longest river?

a) Tigris; b) Euphrates; c) Nile

48 – NUUK is the capital of what island?

a) Iceland; b) Greenland; c) Madagascar

49 – WHAT sea has no coastline?

a) Aral; b) Coral; c) Sargasso


DAVID BECKHAM...he played for which lowly team - See Question XX

DAVID BECKHAM…he once played for which lowly team – See Question XX

50 – WHAT colour is the bull’s-eye on a standard dartboard?

a) Gold/yellow; b) Red; c) White

51 – IN a pack of cards, which king doesn’t sport a moustache?

a) Hearts; b) Diamonds; c) Clubs

52 – WHICH were the first teams to compete in an international cricket match?

a) England & Australia; b) India & England; c) USA & Canada 

53 – SOCCER legend, David Beckham, was briefly a star in which lowly side?

a) Millwall; b) Preston North End; c) Leyton Orient 

54 – WHICH motor racing circuit is nicknamed The Brickyard?

a) Indianapolis: b) Silverstone; c) Brands Hatch?

55 – THE soccer anthem, You’ll Never Walk, comes from which musical?

a) South Pacific; b) West Side Story; c) Carousel 

56 – WHICH tennis belle has a grunt of 101 decibels – louder than a lion’s roar?

a) Anna Kournikova; b) Maria Sharapova; c) Serena Williams


PRINCE WILLIAM...what did he study at uni? - See Question XX

PRINCE WILLIAM…what did he study at uni? – See Question 62

57 – WHAT was Jimmy Wales’s great, Internet invention?

a) Google; b) Face Book; c) Wikipedia 

58 – WHAT product’s performance is measured in SPFs?

a) Condoms; b) Suntan lotions; c) Mobile phones 

59 – WHAT metal’s chemical symbol is Sn?

a) Tin; b) Lead; c) Aluminium

60 – LENTIGINES is the medical term for what skin condition?

a) Blackheads; b) Acne; c) Freckles

61 – HOW many ounces are in a British imperial pound?

a) 10; b) 12; c) 14 

62 – PRINCE William has a university degree in what subject?

a) History of art; b) Geography; c) Astrophysics  

63 – THE Moon is approximately how many miles from Earth?

a) 240,000; b) 320,000; c) 410,000


HALLEY'S COMET...but how often does it appear? - See Question XX

HALLEY’S COMET…but how often does it appear? – See Question 66

64 – THE adult human body has what number of bones?

a) 206; b) 216; c) 226

65 – ACCORDING to the BBC how many rooms are in Buckingham Palace?

a) 375; b) 575; c) 775

66 – HALLEY’S Comet appears every how many years?

a) 46; b) 56; c) 66 

67 – EU-approved bananas must have how many sides?

a) 4; b) 5; c) 6 

68 – HOW many love-making positions are described in the Karma Sutra, the world’s oldest sex guide?

a) 64; b) 69; c) 72

69 – IN the acclaimed exhibit by artist Paul Cummins, about how many ceramic poppies were planted at the Tower of London to commemorate each British soldier lost in WW1?

a) 770,000; b) 880,000; c) 990,000 

70– HOW many people does the bible say Jesus feed with five loaves and two fishes?

a) 5,000; b) 6,000; c) 7,000




Men can be morons, but women can’t throw and they’re quiz show ditherers

PUTTING up the Christmas decorations, I placed two chairs on either side of the French window to string the fairy lights across the top of the pelmet and down each side of the drapes.

The gap between the chairs was a tad under two metres – easily jumpable, in my humble estimation, though a view not entirely shared by my lady wife, whose name escapes me.

‘Are you crazy?’ she queried, an inflection of disbelief in her tone. ‘You’ll break your neck.’

If ever the gauntlet of challenge was cast down, those words were it.

So I duly made the defiant leap, missed the second chair by a big toe’s length and fell on my…er, nether regions, emitting an involuntary ‘Ouch!’

Feigning unhurt and disguising the bolt of pain searing through my body, I got to my feet, ignored the look of exasperation writ large on Mrs. A’s face, climbed on chair No.2 and completed the chore in womanly fashion.

This small act of masculine hubris was, however, an example of what scientists have recently labelled Male Idiot Theory (MIT), whereby men take the sort of risks – occasionally lethal – that don’t even cross the minds of females.

Evidence it exists has been drawn from a 20-year study of the Darwin Awards, an annual review of the craziest ways people have perished, which revealed almost 90 per cent were ‘won’ by men.

GETTING THE POINT: One man gets a sharp reminder of the dangers of running with bulls

GETTING THE POINT: One man gets a sharp reminder of the dangers of running with bulls

Named after naturalist Charles Darwin, whose survival-of-the-fittest research revolutionised evolutionary thought, it recognises those who have inadvertently improved the human gene pool by eliminating themselves from it by acts of monumental folly.

Writing in the Christmas edition of The British Medical Journal, Australian boffins admit they’re puzzled why men are willing to take unnecessary risks and wonder whether it’s driven by an irresponsible rite of passage or the pursuit of masculine social esteem – the so-called ‘bragging rights’ factor.

Examples cited included a man who decided to steal a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death, and the terrorist who unthinkingly opened his own letter bomb on its return-to-sender, after he posted it with insufficient stamps.

Then there was the bloke who shot himself in the head with the ‘spy pen’ gun, just to show his friend it worked, and the thief attempting to nick a steel hawser from a lift shaft – unbolting it while standing in said lift, which then plummeted to the ground, killing him.

Dr Dennis Lendrem, of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, explains, ‘Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and sometimes final.

‘According to MIT many of the differences in risk-seeking behaviour, emergency department admissions, and mortality may be explained by the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.’

WORDS FAIL: Apparently, warning signs are for wimps in this animal fan's opinion

WORDS FAIL: Apparently, warning signs are for wimps in this animal fan’s opinion

There can be little doubt Darwin Award winners seem to make little or no attempt at risk assessment. They just do it anyway and in some cases, the intelligence of the award winner borders the moronic.

Lendrem also cited the role booze can play in making fellas feel invincible, as in the instance of the inebriated trio engaged in a variation of Russian roulette, alternately taking shots of alcohol, then stamping on an unexploded land mine.

Inevitably, the mine detonated, demolishing the bar they were in and killed all three.

Not quite a Darwin Awards contender, but worthy of mention, was the man who slipped when using a belt sander as an auto-erotic sex aid and lost a testicle.

Only quick thinking saved the remaining one, as he repaired his scrotum with a staple gun.

In a modest effort to balance the gender books, it’s my belief males learned to react instinctively – even if occasionally inanely – from the dawn of time, taking on woolly mammoths with a simple wooden spear to bring home dinner, while fending off sabre-toothed tigers.

Don’t forget, either, it was mainly blokes who had to go to war – Joan of Arc being one of the rare exceptions (but she was French, which speaks volumes about Frenchmen) – and dauntlessly sailed the seven seas to expand knowledge of the then known world.

It was Christopher, not Christine, Columbus who discovered the Americas and Captain James, not Jemima, Cook, who found an entire continent existed beyond Africa.

I could rattle on about the derring-do of us mere blokes, even if they’re occasionally tinged with lunacy, like Paris’s abduction of Helen – whose fair face launched a thousand blips, let alone ships – and caused the destruction of Troy, according to the Trojan Horse tale.

THIS'LL FIX IT: Six floors up and the aircon unit is here's how a real man mends it

THIS’LL FIX IT: Six floors up and the aircon unit is loose…so here’s how a real man mends it

But let’s be clear: males and females are hardwired differently. And that’s evident from early development, which is why my six grandsons believe they’re Spiderman and my lone granddaughter is busy combing My Little Pony’s tail.

I also believe blokes get a raw deal nowadays, evidenced by a succession of TV ads portraying males at feckless twerps, like a recent Samsung commercial for a plug-in gizmo called an Evolution Kit, which even women panned as ‘sexist’.

Then there’s all this nonsense about fellas not being ‘multi-taskers’. Well, let me tell you that while I’m writing this, I’m also eating a tuna baguette, drinking copious cups of tea, answering the phone and organising my pencils in order of the sharpest.

Not that I haven’t the highest regard for the opposite gender. After all, my wife is a woman, so was my mother, as is my daughter. And females make far more interesting conversation companions than men, unless you want to limit chat to sport, sex, cars and more sport.

But, generally speaking, how many women can throw a ball straight? And have you noticed how so many of them dither on telly quiz shows, wracking their brains, getting the right answer, then talking themselves into the wrong one? That’s providing they don’t run out of time.

Conclusion: we blokes can be idiots, but at least we’re decisive.

I rest my case.

PS: Don’t miss my tricky trivia Christmas Eve quiz in Wednesday’s blog – that’ll sort out the girls from the boys!

Silence isn’t so golden if we’re driven to keep our mouths shut out of fear

THE other day an email arrived in my inbox, accusing me of being a ‘neo-con’.

I’ve been called far worse and really didn’t take it as the insult intended, largely because the missive spewed such far-Left drivel, it might have been lifted from the Socialist Workers Party’s hymn sheet.

Just for the record, the sender ended by advising me to ‘keep your neo-con views to yourself.’

‘Nuff said. Except the post slated by whoever hides behind the nom de plume, DemoFan, was my call for Britain’s politicos to emphasise the positive side of immigration and stop playing the UK Independence Party at its favourite game.

By any measure my piece was ‘neo-lib’, perhaps a reprise from my days as a Gucci socialist (failed) and hardly ‘neo-con’, an Americanism that came to prominence as a barb aimed at President G. ‘Dubya’ Bush’s cronies.

But what got my goat was being told to shut up by someone, I guess, who’d take to the barricades at the drop of a Stop The War Coalition hint or an invite to a CND jamboree in Trafalgar Square, if, indeed, there are still enough members left in it to fill the fountain.

LET HIM SPOUT: So-called hate preachers, like Andjem Choudary,  should be given air time to condemn themselves from their own mouths

LET HIM SPOUT: So-called hate preachers, like Andjem Choudary, should be given air time to condemn themselves from their own mouths

Clearly, DemoFan’s versions of democracy’s saintliest virtue, the freedom of speech, is that it was okay to say what you liked, so long as its mantra echoed his. And any philosophy falling short of that is taboo, fascist or – as in my case – ‘neo-con’.

Yet, if I were to categorise myself it would be as a ‘free-thinker’, hidebound by politically correct rules imposed on Western society by the real fascists: a hardline, censorious liberal elite who have strangled public debate in ways more reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984 vision of Big Brother’s Thought Police.

That notion occurred last week when I read a YouGov survey, which reported that 41% of Brits don’t feel free to air their opinions and that Britain, home to the Mother of Parliaments, has developed a ‘culture of silence’.

Of course, I realise that stat includes headbangers who believe Hitler should be beatified as St. Adolf, others on a day out from the funny farm and a few, token Flat Earthers. But it also encompasses many with mainstream opinions on techy topics, such as immigration, religion, ethics and their political preferences (admittedly, it takes some guts to fess up to voting Lib-Dem nowadays).

For the record, the poll also said 40% felt they could sound off at will and 17%, who reckon there’s too much freedom anyway.

Nonetheless, in a so-called free society, it’s worrisome that two out of five citizens keep their thoughts to themselves out of a dread they may hurt someone’s feelings, perhaps prompt a Twitterstorm and get their Facebook page trolled.

The largest proportion of the self-censored (38%) said they feared speaking up in case they uttered something illegal, while 28% stayed silent because they couldn’t stomach criticism. A further 10% thought airing their ideas might damage their careers prospects.

However, of all those polled, an overwhelming majority (77%) agreed on one point: too much protection is given by officialdom and the media to religious believers from ideas and arguments which might offend them.

In its summary of the survey, the New Culture Forum, which commissioned it, pointed a particularly scathing finger at universities, where it claimed free speech ‘is carefully monitored, not by the state or the campus administration, but by the students.’

It added, ‘Student unions now see the mental wellbeing of the student body as a reason to ban anything from a pop song to a reading group.’

ON THE LEASH: The report rapped students' unions for the control they exercise on campuses

FREEDOM TO SPEAK? The report rapped students’ unions for the ‘mind’ control they exercise on campuses

Since today’s generation of undergrads – many of whom love nothing better than a juicy demo and a chance to kick those fascist lackeys, the police – will deliver tomorrow’s leaders, I can only surmise more Big Brothers are rolling off the production line.

So, while we quite rightly have laws banning hate speech and incitement to racism, we’re in danger of stifling legitimate argument, not because it might cause actual bodily harm, but because someone, somewhere might be offended.

Britain once had a proud tradition of allowing people to speak their minds, often a shrewd ruse to suss out the real odium peddlers, who’d damn themselves from their own mouths.

But when the BBC announced that British National Party leader, Nick Griffin – a real, live neo-Nazi – was to appear on its flagship political forum, Question Time, a tidalwave of outrage nearly quashed the broadcast.

To their credit, the Beeb bravely stuck to its script, the BNP nasty duly appeared and got the pillorying his despicable views richly deserved.

That example is one of the exceptions rather than the rule, because invariably received wisdom is to gag debate, which is Home Secretary Theresa May’s policy, as she seeks to ban extremists from TV, like the so-called hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

I’d say: bring them on and let’s hear their obnoxious ravings, so we’re all aware of what degree of danger they pose.

The Establishment, though, doesn’t subscribe to the view people are capable of making up their own minds, so silence is foisted on them.

PUBLISHED & DAMNED: Instead of defending Salmon Rushdie from a death sentence fatwa, Britain's Establishment attacked the writer

PUBLISHED & DAMNED: Instead of defending Salmon Rushdie from a death sentence fatwa, Britain’s Establishment attacked the writer

Such was the case when Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses hit the bookshelves in 1988, provoking a fatwa death sentence from Iran’s then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. Yet, instead condemning a gross and medieval assault on a long-prized Western freedom, the great and good cravenly attacked Rushdie.

Nor did the fabled, fearless British Press cover itself in glory, when not a single Fleet Street newspaper dared reproduce the ‘Mohammed Cartoons’, after an obscure Danish daily sparked worldwide debate on whether founders of the great religions could be satirised.

Yet, when a ComRes poll early last year asked what freedom people prized most, freedom of speech topped the list by a country mile.

Clearly, the public subscribed to the notion, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – a quote wrongly attributed to Voltaire and actually the words of his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall – and that is a plucky and noble sentiment.

More’s the pity, then, the Establishment is too cowardly to share it.

Plebs 2, Toffs 0 – rare victories for the ruled against our snotty rulers

THERE’S a hoary adage in this weird, old words business, ‘When in doubt, leave out.’

The advice is – invariably sound, in my humble experience – that if something wasn’t provable beyond a reasonable doubt, you dropped it like a hot brick, unless you had a fetish for appearing before bewigged m’lords in libel courts.

Andrew Mitchell, the UK Coalition government’s former Chief Whip, is a prime example of the ‘doubt dictum’ ignored and it’s cost him – so far – £3-million for the privilege of abusing his privilege.

Brimming with hubris, he committed legal hara-kiri by suing The Sun newspaper for libel, after it leaked details of the words – and particularly the slur, ‘f***ing pleb’ – Mitchell used in a ruckus with police, when the plods refused to open the gates of Downing Street so he could wheel his push-bike through them.

In court proceedings of what became dubbed the Plebgate Scandal the scales were tipped by the contemporaneous notes of the reporting officer, a PC Rowland, whom the judge, Mr. Justice Mitting, believed on the basis the copper was…er…too thick to have made it up.

In his summing up of the case, the judge said the officer was ‘not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent, on the spur of the moment, an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper.’

ON YER BIKE! Ex-Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, loses a £3M libel case...because cops wouldn't open a gate for his pushbike

ON YER BIKE! Ex-Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, loses a £3M libel case…because he lost his rag, after cops wouldn’t open the Downing Streets gate for his pushbike

While this speaks volumes about the intellect of a section of London’s Metropolitan constabulary, it also illuminates how utterly insulated from reality and real people – if, indeed, coppers qualify as such – those who believe they were born to rule truly are.

Mitchell, rich enough to take the huge libel fees hit, remains unrepentant and unabashed, continuing to think he is a ruler, not a ruled.

It’s a fault-line in the minds of many of the arrogant elite, too consumed with the aphrodisiacs of wealth and power. So it’s no bad thing that, from time to time, they’re reminded of their human frailties by we of the hoi poloi.

Adam Boulton, Sky TV’s Political Editor, recounts an anecdote of another brought to earth with a humiliating bump: one-time Conservative head honcho, Michael Howard.

Once stopped in his tracks by a PC from going through a barred door, the then Home Secretary stomped, ‘Do you know who I am?’

Showing commendable cool and cheeky defiance in the face of his self-proclaimed better, the policeman merely clicked on his radio and said, ‘Er, Sarge, we got a bloke here who doesn’t know who he is.’

TAXI TANTRUM: Former UK minister, David Mellor - seen here with his partner, Lady Cobham - lost his cool with a London cabbie

TAXI TANTRUM: Former UK minister, David Mellor – seen here with his partner, Lady Cobham – climbed down after he lost his cool with a London cabbie

Last week rage similarly did for fallen Tory grandee, David Mellor, who appeared ‘tired and emotional’ – Private Eye magazine’s euphemism for alcoholically challenged – when launching a foul-mouthed rant at a taxi driver during a ride home from a bash at Buckingham Palace with his partner, Lady Cobham.

Furious at the route they were on, he called the cabbie ‘a sweaty, stupid little sh*t and smart a*se’, adding, ‘Shut the f*** up’ and, for the autobiographical one-upmanship, ‘I’ve been in the Cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel – you think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?’

Alas for the arrogant Mellor, in 1992 forced to resign as Heritage Minister after his month-long holiday in Marbella as guest of the daughter of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s paymaster made headlines, the canny cabbie taped the exchange, which appeared – you’ve guessed it – in The Sun.

At least Mellor, who is to broadcasting what your truly is to astrophysics, had the good grace to apologise for his tirade the following day, presumably his champagne goggles having faded.

However, it’s still my earnest hope that London’s 25,000 Hackney carriage drivers will blacklist Mellor and even Transylvanian minicab drivers will switch off their sat-navs if he ever chances into their back seats and turn his 20-minute hop from Westminster to Chelsea into a five-hour tour round the M25.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a grudging admiration for coppers and cabbies, since they wield the power to represent the revenge of the have-nots against ludicrously vain authority figures, too bumptious for their boots.

But, borrowing from Karl Marx, sometimes it is the massed ranks of the proletariat, coupled with the wonders of 21st Century social media that does for those who use their position to do unto others, even if the others are higher up the greasy pole.

OFF LIMITS: Top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten paid the price for slagging off President Obama's daughters, Sasha (left) and Malia

OFF LIMITS: Top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten, paid the price for slagging off President Obama’s daughters, Sasha (left) and Malia

Just such an example was the American public’s response to top Republican aide, Elizabeth Lauten’s vicious attack on President Barack Obama’s daughters, Malia, 16, and 13-year-old Sasha, press-ganged into appearing with their dad on TV at the tradition ‘spare-a-turkey’ Thanksgiving Day ceremony.

Typically bored and glum as teenagers are, the girls trundled through the motions of doing their bit, but certainly didn’t deserve Lauten’s eviscerating insults, posted on her Facebook page (since deleted).

‘Dear Sasha and Malia,’ she wrote patronisingly. ‘I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.

‘Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the good role model department.’

The post went on to advise the girls to ‘rise to the occasion and act like being in the White House matters to you.’

And, to twist the knife of spite a further turn, Lauten added, ‘Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.’

Frankly, the girls were clad far more appropriately than I’ve seen many teenagers.

And, while their father isn’t necessarily at the top of many folks’ Christmas card lists, his children are off limits – a point rammed home to Lauten by an avalanche of on-line condemnation the silly woman richly deserved.

After prayerful reflection and probably much prodding from her Republican Party bosses, a contrite Lauten apologised and quit, saying she ‘had judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager.’

So power to the people – even coppers and cabbies – in showing up our egotistical betters as being less than half our equals.

Obama’s rank smell off defeat is the West’s most unwanted fragrance

CONGRATS this week to oddball scientist, Christian Poincheval, for an invention which, if not mind-blowing, should certainly improve the winds of any environment he inhabits.

So ashamed of the odours emitting from his derrière, the flatulently-challenged Frenchman has created a pill to make farts (sorry, but there’s no other word for it) far less objectionable, with bouffée aux chocolat and attar of roses highly recommended.

A consignment of the wonder drug might be welcome at the White House, where the air is rank with the stench of defeatism, after the latest round of talks with Iran over the ayatollahs’ A-bomb ambitions unsurprisingly ground to another impasse.

On reflection, impasse is probably a misnomer if you’re a member of Tehran’s Team Jihadi and its camp-followers in Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other motley bigots, ever willing to perform acts of mass destruction on behalf of their patrons, the saintly mullahs.

Because Christmas – even if they think it’s a pagan festival – has come early for them. And it is hugely due to the magnanimity of lame-duck President Barack Obama, who continues to achieve the near-impossible feat of buddying up to the West’s worst foes, whilst making enemies of the West’s best friends.

PEACENIK PRESIDENT: But Obama is seen a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token leader

LAME-DUCK LEADER: Obama is seen a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token president by every AK47-toting jihadi

In defiance of ultimatums dating back over 12 years to fess up to the truth behind its multi-billion-dollar nuclear agenda, in Vienna last week Iran once again danced rings round negotiators from the UN Security Council permanent members: America, Britain, France, Russia and China, plus Germany, the so-called P5+1.

By all means send your International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to see our bustling bazaars, admire our wondrous mosques and the ancient ruins of Persepolis, said the smiley Iranians.

The IAEA tourists might even be lucky enough to see dissenters’ corpses dangling from cranes or the regular, pro-regime demos, so well choreographed sceptics might be inclined to believe they aren’t quite as ‘spontaneous’ as the local, state-controlled media reports.

But let’s forget any silly notions about UN watchdogs taking a peek at our subterranean atomic secrets – all purely for domestic electricity purposes, of course.

Okay, IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano, is furious, demanding Iran ‘provides timely access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel,’ and wants an explanation about explosives tests that could be used to develop nuclear detonators.

But, after a dozen years of conflabs, what’s the rush? So why don’t we just forget that November 24 deadline for these ‘final talks’ we set last January – after the last round of ‘final talks’ failed – and take a time-out until, say, next July before we chat again?

Meanwhile, our tens of thousands of centrifuges will continue to spin, we’ll avoid any messy, new sanctions Obama’s Republican rivals want foisted on us and thanks again for lifting that ban on us selling oil and unfreezing our overseas billions.

All agreed? Great! So adios, ciao, toodle-pip or whatever they say in Farsi. Oh, and have a nice day.

The only plus is that US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has racked up so many Air Miles visiting the five plonkers+one, he can afford unlimited tickets on Richard Branson’s £100,000-a-seat rocket ship, should it’s ever be deemed space-worthy.

PLAYING HARD BALL: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khemenei, is a  Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant

PLAYING HARD BALL: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khemenei, is a Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant

If I’m sounding flippant over a situation so dire as this, when the sponsor-in-chief of world terrorism is winning yet more time to weave its web of evil, I make no apologies. Because this never-ending charade has become the mother of all diplomatic farces.

The responsibility lies at the feet of two men: a dithery American president, who – whether he likes it or not – speaks for the free world, and his adversary, a religious fanatic, hell bent on resurrecting the ancient Persian Empire’s influence anywhere he can get it to take root in today’s incendiary Middle East.

With his peacenik default setting, Obama’s messianic belief he could end all conflicts has morphed into a perilous vision of a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, token presidency, derided by every AK47-toting jihadi.

To underline his detachment from reality, the other day he fired his Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, viewed by Oval Office confidants as having fallen under the spell of America’s military, who recognise apathy when they see it.

In contrast, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khemenei, is a hardline Islamo-fascist, rapidly imposing his Shia extremist ideology across the Levant – from Tehran to Beirut, Baghdad and beyond – by means of ruthless violence and toxic, diplomatic blackmail.

One man seeks only to placate his foe; the other only to subjugate or annihilate all who oppose his pitiless ambition. And you don’t need me to identify which is which.

BITING BACK: Yukiya Amano, the IAEA boss, is furious Iran's time-wasting and failure to come clean about its atomic ambitions

BITING BACK: Yukiya Amano, the IAEA boss, is furious Iran’s time-wasting and failure to come clean about its atomic ambitions

So imagine the nightmare scenario that would unfold from a thermonuclear Iran, which once used unarmed children as cannon-fodder to test the whereabouts of minefields in the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with their tiny feet.

Israel – a Western democracy if not by location in the cauldron of hate – is already on notice from Iran’s former president, the odious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that it will be ‘wiped off the map’, so would have no recourse but to retaliate in nuclear like for like or take pre-emptive action.

Saudi Arabia, like Israel a snubbed US ally, would seek its own Armageddon weapon to protect the Sunni Islamic states from Shia vengeance and probably turn to Pakistan for an off-the-shelf A-Bomb.

Teheran’s proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon – which last week boasted it had received the latest Fateh-class, Iranian missiles – and Hamas in Gaza would be further embolden by Obama’s inertia to pose an even greater, real and present danger to Egypt and the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq would continue to burn while Obama fiddles and the self-styled Islamic State would continue to attract wannabe jihadis from its international reservoir of psychotic talent, if only to defend the Sunni cause against rampant Shiites.

If these are not sobering enough thoughts, add to them the direct threat to the West from the snaking tentacles of Iran’s Republican Guard, prompting and funding terror attacks in our homelands by its covert agents or egging on ‘lone wolf’ self-starters.

However, one ray of hope is on the horizon: Obama, the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time, has less than two years to serve.

The only doubt is whether we can survive that long.

Forget out-UKIPing UKIP – play up the plus side of immigration instead

ACCORDING to my doctor, there are two sorts of cholesterol: the goody variety, HDL, which makes us purr like a Rolls-Royce, and naughty LDL, which clogs up the blood vessels of those with a lusty appetite for animal fats.

Likewise, there are two, principle types of immigration: talented, educated incomers, who help make the host nation richer, and those at the fag-end of the earning scale, who do the low-skilled, heavy-lifting.

Like it or not, every post-modern economy need a dollop of each, from degree-burnished graduates to oil the gears of industry, the professions and City, to those who’ll serve minimum-wage hard time in jobs beneath the dignity of work-shy locals, like the 100 Hungarians to be employed by sandwich-maker Greencore in Northampton.

But how much of each commodity is tolerable is the question driving politicians across the industrialised West to distraction.

In the USA a debate rages about President Obama’s call to decriminalise ‘wetback’ illegals – ‘wetbacks’ because they crossed the Rio Grande to reach their promised land – while Europe wrestles with porous borders inflicted by the Schengen Agreement.

Meanwhile, Calais’s mayor chides Britain for having a benefit system so generous that’s it turned the drab Channel port into a magnet for stateless Asians and Africans, looking to hitch an illicit ride to Dover.

Hardly surprising, then, immigration has become the most emotive of buzzwords and a dark spectre haunting the UK’s 2015 general election.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Party boss Nigel Farage (left) congratulates Mark Reckless on his return to parliament - as UKIP's second MP

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Party boss Nigel Farage (left) congratulates Mark Reckless on his comeback to parliament – as UKIP’s second MP

Predictably, it once again played into the UK Independence Party’s clutches in Thursday’s Rochester by-election, when Tory defector, Mark Reckless, reclaimed his old seat to become the archly anti-EU party’s second MP, after Douglas Carswell held Clacton.

Whether Nigel Farage’s purple bandwagon gathers further momentum by next May 7 is a matter of intense debate.

What’s clear, though, is UKIP’s anti-politics populism strikes a chord with a section of the electorate heartily disaffected with the snotty Westminster elite’s belief it rules by divine right.

Meanwhile, as Clacton and now Rochester has proven, even rabid Tory Euro sceptics are realising it’s a waste of hustings time trying to outstrip UKIP’s Little Englander agenda.

And Labour’s latest wheeze, newly unveiled by shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, is one of the feeblest attempts yet at playing to the gallery’s fears about Johnny Foreigner.

After months of inertia and leader Ed Miliband’s ratings plummeting like a thermometer outside an igloo, the party that opened the floodgates to unfettered immigration is now calling for Britain’s border police to be boosted by 1,000 extra personnel.

This, says Cooper, can be funded by charging a £10 ‘entrance fee’ to incomers. Except – as the Home Office was delighted to enlighten her – thanks to the European Union’s visa-waiver scheme, the moolah raised will hire just 59 immigration cops.

MENTAL ARITHMETIC: Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, discovers Labour's immigration sums don't add up

MENTAL ARITHMETIC: Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, discovers Labour’s immigration sums don’t add up

Similarly inane is Labour’s plan to stop migrants claiming benefits until they’ve been in Britain for two years, not the current ceiling of three months.

This, of course, would require an EU treaty change, by which time piglets will take off from Heathrow’s tenth runway, alongside the usual procession of Jumbos.

What gets forgotten, overlooked and ignored, however, is that the great immigration debate in Britain is several centuries old and every wave – from Farage’s French Huguenot, lace-making ancestors to Irish navvy canal-builders, Jewish tailors and West Indian NHS recruits – met with vehement hostility before they melted into the fabric of British society.

Even Enoch Powell, UKIP’s spiritual godfather and best remembered for his notorious, 1968 anti-immigration ‘rivers of blood’ speech, once played a leading role in wooing Commonwealth citizens to settle in the UK to fill staff shortages in the health and public transport sectors.

Today, UKIP is banging Powell’s drum and giving a disingenuous, one-dimensional picture of greedy, grasping, benefit-scrounging foreigners – of which there are undoubtedly an untold number – for whom Britain is a land of give and take…the nation gives and they take.

And this demi-truth is resonating, especially in deprived areas where immigration has had a detrimental impact on housing, schooling and jobs, because successive governments have serially failed for decades to heed the warning signs.

Only now has their folly been rumbled and the three major parties – that’s if the Lib-Dems still qualify as one – are playing catch-up, though they don’t stand a snowball in Hades’ chance of out-UKIPing UKIP.

However, obscured by Farage’s scare tactics is a multi-faceted image of immigration, one in which business cries out for talent that can only be sources from abroad and industries, like farming, which needs minimum-wage labour to bring in crops that defy automated harvesting.

The recent report from University College London (UCL), then, makes uneasy reading for the anti-EU, anti-immigration lobby, because rather than draining Britain’s exchequer, European migrants made a net contribution of £20bn to it between 2000 and 2011.

UKIP GODFATHER: The late Enoch Powell - famed for his notorious 'rivers of blood' speech - was responsible for a wave of immigration into Britain

UKIP GODFATHER: The late Enoch Powell – famed for his notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech – was responsible for a wave of immigration into Britain

If there is a downside, don’t blame the Czech nannies, Spanish nurses or Polish plumbers drawn to the UK because of high unemployment in their own states, but non-EU migrants who, according to UCL, cost Britain £120bn in 1995-2011.

Even this huge sum, though, should be put into context, because it’s dwarfed by UK nationals, who cost the country £591bn over the same time frame.

So, at the risk of sounding neo-liberal, I suggest that much of what Farage peddles is selective twaddle as he and his mavericks ride a wave of xenophobia on a balloon of hot air.

That in no way diminish the glaring fact that the putrid edifice of the EU – not its peoples – is in drastic need of reform and there should be no further empire-building by an unelected commission and its clique of Europrats, who mainly serve no useful purpose but their own.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to renegotiate Britain’s terms of EU membership and put them to a referendum in 2017 should he be re-elected next spring.

If Europe’s leaders ignore his rational arguments Britain will quit, UKIP will be cock-a-hoop and parties beyond the EU’s fringe – especially France’s far-Right National Front – will be further embolden to copycat Farage.

So UKIP’s second by-election win on the spin spells trouble not just for the UK’s political elite, but for all those at the helm of every nation in Europe.

Brussels take note…and beware.

Qatar: the West’s best of ‘frenemies’ – it buys our arms and funds world terror

IF money talks, then the pipsqueak, maverick emirate of Qatar has a voice like a foghorn.

However, it isn’t the ear-splitting volume of what’s bellowed that matters, it’s the mixed messages emanating from the capital, Doha, that beggar belief.

Because Qatar parrots from two scripts: one echoes the mantra of pro-Western, freewheeling capitalism; the other promotes a credo of anti-Western extremism, manifest in colossal financial support to terrorist franchises fomenting Sunni Islamist violence throughout the hellhole of the Middle East.

So, even by the Gulf’s duplicitous standards, few states are shot full of as many contradictions as Qatar, per capital the world’s third richest country – after Luxemburg and Norway – according to the International Monetary Fund.

Covering less than 4,500 sand-strewn square miles, its population of 1.8 million includes only 288,000 Qataris, the rest being expats and bonded foreign labourers, there to serve the absolute monarchy of the Al Thani clan and make the statelet prosper.

And prosper is an understatement. Sitting on the globe’s largest natural gas field and oil reserves conservatively estimated at 25 billion barrels, Qatar can indulge its sovereign wealth fund’s whims in a vast hash of investments.

They range from an airline and the TV channel, Al Jazeera – whose propaganda stretches far beyond the Middle East to Europe and the USA – to gargantuan chunks of international conglomerates.

JEWEL IN THE CROWN: Harrods is a flagship bauble in Qatar's huge investment portfolio

JEWEL IN THE CROWN: Harrods, the London store for the super rich, is a flagship bauble in Qatar’s huge investment portfolio

The £100-billion Qatari Investment Authority (QIA), for instance, includes in its share portfolio huge stakes in Volkswagen, Siemens, Harrods, The London Shard, Heathrow Airport, Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, Royal Dutch Shell, Tiffany, Sainsbury’s, BlackBerry, Barclays Bank and a cluster of other stellar institutions.

Currently, the QIA is trying to buy London’s Canary Wharf, though so far its overtures have been rebuffed.

But, with £25-billion a year flooding in from energy sales, Qatar can punch multiple times above its miniscule weight and uses its vast wealth to exert disproportionate influence in all manner of subversive ways.

That’s why the mini-emirate is the cuckoo in the nest of international affairs.

Under the autocratic rule of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who seized control of the country from his father, Khalifa, in 1995, Qatar’s brand rapidly expanded and it’s been further burnished by Hamad’s son, Tamim, who took over in 2013.

The 33-year-old emir has continued the deceit of being the West’s best of ‘frenemies’ by continuing to buy in Western expertise, weaponry and commercial assets, while exporting extremist Wahabbi Islam anywhere opportunity presents itself.

WORLD CUP WINNER: Tamim al-Thani, the young emir of Qatar, plays host to FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter

WORLD CUP WINNER: Tamim al-Thani, the young emir of Qatar, plays host to FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter

Though not official regime policy, Qatar gives a nod and wink to its host of obscenely rich citizens’ generosity to Al-Qaeda offshoots throughout the war-torn region and provides sanctuary to reviled hate preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The spiritual guru of the terror franchise – whose followers praise the Islamic State’s (IS) barbarities in Iraq and Syria as ‘great victories – once told Al Jazeera of his admiration for Hitler’s genocide of the Jews, vowing, ‘Allah willing, next time it will be at the hands of [we] believers.’

However, Qatar’s recurrent problem is misreading the runes, never more naively than in believing the Arab Spring would somehow herald an era of Sharia sunshine to replace the people’s yen for accountable democracy.

Despite Doha’s best efforts to prop up Egypt’s brief, Muslim Brotherhood government, the army’s counter-coup put paid to it.

A similar strategic cock-up besets Qatar in post-Gaddafi Libya, where it bankrolls Libyan Dawn, a bunch of jihadi thugs busy lining their own pockets through oil piracy in Tripoli.

Ditto meddling in Syria, where the emirate’s middlemen fund the Al Qaeda-linked cutthroats of Jabhat al-Nusra, only to have seen them seriously squeezed between forces loyal to the Al Assad tyranny and IS’s savages.

And Qataris could hardly hide their embarrassment when the Afghan Taliban were invited to open an office in Doha, only to hoist their inflammatory black flag over the building.

Then there’s the emirate’s funding of Hamas – long branded a ‘terrorist entity’ throughout the West – whose leaders purloined Qatar’s £250-million gift ‘to ease Gaza’s suffering’ to buy arms and build the network of terror tunnels which Israel destroyed in Operation Protective Edge.

Meanwhile, a six-star Doha hotel suite is where Hamas’s political supremo, Khaled Meshaal, calls home, counting his estimated £1.6-billion fortune, while his people scavenge through the ruins of their war-ravaged dwellings for the bare necessities of life.

It was reportedly at Meshaal’s request that Qatar allied itself with Turkey and laid down conditions for a ceasefire with Israel that heavily favoured Hamas…until, that is, Egypt pour scorn on them and sorted out a truce that reflected reality.

WORLD CUP LOSER: Qatar soccer chief, Mohamed bin Hammam, said to have paid out millions to secure the oily emirate's soccer fortune

WORLD CUP LOSER: Qatar’s disgraced ex-soccer chief, Mohamed bin Hammam, reportedly paid out millions to secure sport’s greatest prize for the oily emirate

However, the emirate’s mule-headed determination to stamp its authority on anything and everything in the Middle East still knows no bounds, whatever the neighbours say.

And several can barely contain their rage over Qatar’s obsession with its revolutionary buddies, however impeccably Islamic they are.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha and, in July, Bahrain detained three Qatari as spies.

Still, there was some good news for Doha last week when FIFA – who else, when money talks so loudly? – dismissed accusations Qatar had ‘bought’ the 2022 World Cup, despite an Everest of circumstantial evidence that the emirate’s disgraced soccer sheikh, Mohamed bin Hammam, secretly paid millions to buy the votes of football officials worldwide.

The sweeteners, claim FIFA insiders, were doled out not to influence the destination of the Cup, but for bin Hammam – now banned from the game for life – to replace the smug Swiss, Sepp Blatter, as soccer’s unassailable supremo.

Qatar, though, is not out of the dock yet.

Instead, it faces stinging condemnation over its ruthless treatment meted out to poor emigrant worker, at least 1,000 of whom have died while working on the £77-billion World Cup construction sites. And that horrific number is expected to reach 4,000 by the time the tourney kicks off in eight years’ time.

Most scathing is a report by Amnesty International, which stated workers were effectively slave labour, forced to work 14-hour days for months on end, without wages, in temperatures of up to 45C/113F, and without adequate access to water, safety equipment or medical care.

But, as the Qataris might say, that’s a small price to pay for the kudos of being the first Arab state to host the World Cup.