London tour guides: from time to time they're full of bullshit, but on the whole they know their onions. The guys at Bullshit London, however, pride themselves on spouting fake trivia — leaving it up to the punters to sift for the the truth. Up for the challenge? Flex your London knowledge in this deceptive quiz.
1. Which of these statements about London legends is true?
a) More money has been made from retelling the deeds of Jack the Ripper than by retelling the stories of Shakespeare.
b) Chinatown near Soho was once legally a municipality of China. It had been given to China in exchange for British ownership of Hong Kong but was reclaimed by Benjamin Disraeli in 1876.
c) In the Museum of London's poll of the greatest Londoners of all time, Bruce Forsyth and Elton John were rated more important than Clement Attlee and Virginia Woolf.
d) Famous London actor Daniel Day Lewis once invited a homeless man from outside Holborn tube to share his home for the next year. The man in question, one David Trower, had thought the actor to be "extremely benevolent and interested in me". He went on to explain that "it turned out to simply be research for a role he was playing and I was asked to sign an NDA banning me for speaking about it for several years afterwards."
2. The Centre of London is….
a) Centre Point.
b) The pendulous dangling balls which hang underneath the statue of Charles I's horse near Trafalgar Square.
c) The Trocadero Centre.
d) Frazier Road, Lambeth North.
3. The Gherkin got its name because...
a) 'Gherkin' is Cockney rhyming slang for workin' (which is what people do there when they're not admiring the view).
b) It was originally supposed to be called The Cucumber (the Queen's favourite vegetable) but when the company building it got into a bit of a pickle over planning laws it was humorously renamed 'The Gherkin'.
c) It was part funded by behind the scenes sponsorship from McDonald's, who figured that people would think of their burgers every time they said the name of the building.
d) Because of its shape.
4. Which of these was NOT invented in London...
a) Bourbon biscuits.
b) Electric kettles.
c) Cash machines.
d) Awkward silence.
5. Which of these statements is true of the Oxo Tower?
a) It was where the royal family would imprison chefs whose gravy had a consistency which displeased them.
b) It's exactly as tall as the tallest structure that could possibly be built from Oxo cubes alone before they collapsed under their own weight.
c) It's not owned by the Oxo company.
d) It used to make 'long eggs'.
6. Which of these bears has never been found at the Tower of London?
a) A polar bear.
b) A grizzly bear.
c) Paddington Bear.
d) Barely any tourists.
7. Big Ben was possibly named after which of the following?
a) The psychic bear given to Queen Victoria by Peter the Great of Russia. This bear could apparently predict the results of football games with approximately 70% accuracy and was kept locked under Embankment Bridge, away from the bookies.
b) The smallest bell ringer at Westminster Palace. Ben Doherty was just over 4ft tall; consequently his colleagues found it very funny to make him ring the largest bell in the tower. He died of a heart attack aged only 22 and the bell was named in his honour.
c) The Boxer, Benjamin Caunt.
d) The politician Tony Benn whose mighty words of truth were said to 'ring like a bell'.
8. Which of these cities and towns is the largest by population?
a) The City of London.
9. Which of these statements about Westminster Abbey is most true?
a) The upkeep of the abbey is funded by proceeds from the Queen's swear jar.
b) One of its windows is made out of antique candy cane.
c) There are unpublished Shakespeare plays buried in the graveyard.
d) The eating of foreign cheese is forbidden on the grounds of the Abbey.
1:C While Jack the Ripper may have made more money posthumously than Shakespeare, exact figures are impossible to find. However, Elton John and Bruce Forsyth were indeed deemed more important than Virginia Woolf and Clement Attlee in a poll.
2: B and D. The centre of London is both the statue of Charles I (this is where the distance to London is always measured to and from — and there's a plaque there to that effect). Geographically the centre of London is in Lambeth North.
3: D. The Gherkin got its name because of its shape. In fact its original nickname was The Erotic Gherkin.
4: D. Awkward silence was not invented in London but the rest were. Awkward silence was actually invented in Judea and first occurs in the bible, Samuel, 18:27 where Saul told David if he wanted to marry his daughter, he must bring him 200 philistine foreskins... Here's more on how London invented our fave biscuits.
5: D. The Oxo Tower is not owned by the Oxo corporation but it did used to make 'long eggs' (big eggs made up of lot of normal size eggs which could then go through the centre of things like gala pies.
6: D. There have always been tourists at the Tower of London. Always have been, always will be.
7: C. Benjamin Caunt, the boxer. Well that's one theory anyway. It may also have been named after Benjamin Hall, who oversaw the Palace of Westminster's construction. A more accurate answer may be 'we'll never really know'.
8: B. Biggleswade has the largest population (about 13,000). The population of the City of London is only around 7,000. Horncastle has about 6,500. Flippingham is a made up place.
9: C. There are allegedly unpublished Shakespeare plays buried in the grave of Edmund Spenser, a poet and contemporary of his who is buried at Westminster Abbey. Shakespeare was alleged to have thrown some of his work into the coffin in tribute to the man's genius.
Book yourself onto a Bullshit London walking tour.