In mid-February 1986 I competed in the Amey Roadstone Corporation weekend chess tournament.
Whilst awaiting the start of the final game I recalled an incident from an event in Middlesborough in 1979.
Simon Webb had asked; “What does phobophobia mean?”
I replied with the witticism “Fear of stuttering.”
After the last round ended an impromptu game of Trivial Pursuit began with myself and Andrew Martin taking on B. Jacobs and J. Hodgson.
One of the questions that came up was “What is the fear of fear called?”
Because of Webb’s question seven years earlier I knew the answer. “Phobophobia!”, I exclaimed, and then added that I had just been thinking of this most unusual word.
On the morning of August 27th 2003 I was thinking about this coincidence and the rarity of the term.
That evening it cropped up as a question on a re-broadcast issue of The Weakest Link on BBC Prime.
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On 24th November 1987 the idea drifted into my head of forming a team with two other grandmasters and going on to the BBC’s quiz show, Masterteam.
I even imagined us being asked the question
“Which group of philosophers originated with Zeno and Chrysippus in Cyprus?”The answer is the Stoics.
At 5:35 p.m. the following day I watched Masterteam.
The two teams were The Galloway Grannies and Two’s Company, and this exact question was asked.
I was watching the show with Sheila Pinnock and I at once told her that I had been thinking about this question the day before, but she said that she did not believe me.
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I was watching Masterteam again on December 4th 1987 when the question was posed;
“In Milton’s Paradise Lost what name does he give the Capital of Hell?”
I had also fantasised about being asked that one.
The answer is Pandemonium.
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And on December 8th 1987 I was talking with Sheila Pinnock and Tony Blott at the former’s home.
Rob Jacks joined us and asked if we could help him with the answers to a massive quiz on pop music which one of his friends had set.
The first question he asked was :
“From which novel did Pink Floyd take the title The Piper at the Gates of Dawn?"
“The Wind in the Willows”, I immediately piped up.
Rob continued to rattle through the questions whilst on the TV in the background played the BBC 2 Pop Music show No Limits.
I had never seen it before.
The co-presenters were a boy and a girl whizzing around in a helicopter between some Royal
The show had a very nautical theme.
“Incidentally,” remarked the boy to the girl, about fifteen minutes after the above question was asked, “Do you know where the phrase ‘Messing about in boats’ comes from?”
She did not.
“The Wind in the Willows”, he informed her, as I could and indeed did inform the other people in the room.
Having already done so a quarter of an hour before.