Photographic Competition

Were you too late or too shy to enter the international Mensa photographic competition? Well, we are launching our own competition! We are looking for photographs of famous or unusual landmarks within the East Midlands region. These may or may not include people (but please ask their permission if so) and may or may not be taken at Mensa events. Each photograph should be accompanied by no more than 100 words describing what it is.

Photos can either be digital or scanned and should be submitted via email to We regret there is no postal facility to enter. The closing date is 31st August 2006 and entries will be judged by the three Empress Editors. Our intention is then to display all entries at the Diamond to showcase our region. Please do not enter if you do not give permission for your photograph to go on display.

We have three prizes up for grabs. 1st prize of £30 vouchers, 2nd prize £20 vouchers and 3rd prize £10 vouchers. These will be Leisure Vouchers which can be redeemed at a multitude of hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.

What are you waiting for? Get snapping!

Regional Rove 2006

Following the success of last years Regional Rove we're doing it again over the spring bank holiday.

Events start on the evening of Friday 26th in the south of the region and carry right through to Monday 29th in the north.

Follow the rove around the region, or just join in as and where you fancy.

See the events pages for details.

Regional News

We have a jam-packed issue this month so I'll keep my Regional News column short. If you enjoy our social events then we have organised another "Regional Rove" over the late May bank holiday weekend with parties, walks, sightseeing and activities throughout our region. The idea is that you can combine them all travelling from Herts in the south to Notts in the north or just dip into one or two events as time allows. Family and friends are welcome.

Thanks to everyone who has kindly offered help at the Diamond. Hopefully this will allow Andy Farrell and myself to enjoy the gathering after our three years of organising it! Please contact me on [Phone Number] or [Email] if you are coming along to the Diamond and can spare an hour or so to help out.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to attend our social events then do consider taking part in our photographic competition. Details are on the front page and on our web site at We have some super prizes to win.

Maxine Bates

Regional Officer

20 Questions (No. 56)

The currencies from the March quiz were peso, sucre, cedi, dalasi, won, pound, zaire, rial or lira, escudo, lek, dinar, dirham, rupee, riel, kwacha, rand, lempira, gourde, rupiah and shilling with lots of entries from Roger Plant of Nottingham, Geraldine Ellis of Nottingham, Alan Tonks of Mansfield, Rita Beeson of Kempston, Alex Foster of Derby, Christine Barradell of Leicester, Marilyn Clark of Nottingham, Ron Britton of Notts, Geoff Ward of Lincoln, L Garfield of Nottingham, Michael Warren of Derby, Matt Francis of Hertford, R O'Dare of Melton Mowbray, Bob Hellen of Herts, Joyce Ellis-Croft of Northampton, June FitzGibbon of Lincolnshire, Peter Bromage of Derby, Janie Comber of Milton Keynes, Chris Impey of Tring, Melvyn Hayes of Northants, Carol Wheatcroft of Derby, Glyn Parry of Watford, Paul Gilbey of Watford, Andy Cole of Cleethorpes, S Blacklock of High Wycombe, Una Adams of Corby, Elaine Yates of Rickmansworth, David Seddon of Hertfordshire, David Heaton of Ponefract, Peter Edwards of Hertfordshire and Margaret Easter of Harpenden. Margaret was first out of the hat and wins a Mensa Diamond edition mug. Well done!

Are we going to receive any entries to this month's quiz or are you all too embarrassed to admit to being a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest!? Answers to '20 Questions (No. 56)', [Address], to arrive by 20th May please.

1. Which barefooted chanteuse sang her way to success for the UK in 1967?

2. Which country won the first ever Eurovision Song Contest?

3. What is the maximum number of performers allowed on stage?

4. Who were "Rock Bottom" in 1977?

5. How many times have Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest?

6. Which country was the first to score a hat trick of "nil point"?

7. What colour costumes did Belle And The Devotions wear to represent the UK in 1984?

8. Which position did Cliff Richard attain with "Congratulations" in 1968?

9. Who provided the interval entertainment in 1974?

10. Which building did Norway sing about in 1980?

11. In which two years did Johnny Logan win for Ireland?

12. Bucks Fizz consisted of Cheryl Baker, Bobby G, Mike Nolan and who else?

13. Which instrument did German entry Nicole play on stage in 1982?

14. How old was the youngest ever winner of the Eurovision Song Contest?

15. Who represented the UK in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest?

16. Who designed the dress of chain linked gold discs worn by Gina G in 1996?

17. Was UK entry Bardo a male, female, duo or group?

18. Which girl group represented the Ukraine and won in 2004?

19. Which country did Celine Dion represent in 1988?

20. Which sporting venue will be used to stage the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens?

Events and Meetings

In the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus, the expectation is that all non-online events listed here are susceptible to being cancelled, if not already marked as such. If you intend participating in any event listed here, please contact the event organiser beforehand to confirm that the event is still on.

Notts News

On Fri 5th May at 8:00pm - 5OTM

Lots happening this month! Starting with our regular get together at the Vat & Fiddle pub. Look for the yellow Mblem on the table, but I can't guarantee we'll be in our usual spot to the left of the bar as the venue is undergoing refurbishment.

On Wed 10th May at 7:00pm - Chicks & Flicks

Meet us for our other regular, "chicks & flicks" inside the doors to the Cornerhouse in the city centre from where we'll dine at Nando's restaurant before watching a film at Cineworld. We have discount at both venues so a cheap night out!

On Fri 19th May at 7:30pm - British Meal

Following the success of our St Patrick's Day dinner we're returning to the Bridge Centre in Langley Mill for their "Taste of Britain" meal. This comprises Welsh rarebit, lamb shank, apricot sponge, English cheeses and coffee for a good value £15.95 per head. Please book with me on a first come, first served basis.

On Sat 20th May at 7:00pm - Eurovision Party

The following night I'm hosting a Eurovision Party at my home. Come and watch the Eurovision Song Contest live on TV, dress in the national costume of a participating country or take part in the sweepstake. (I'll see if I can make it a hat trick!) Call me for directions and to let me know you're coming.

Regional Rove

On Sun 28th May at 7:00pm - Wine Tasting Party

The following weekend I'm hosting another party as part of our "Regional Rove". This time it has a wine theme. Guess the origin of a variety of wines. There will be free tasters for drivers or those not too keen on wine or it's £5 per person for five full glasses. A buffet will be provided. Please confirm attendance by 24th to help catering.

Regional Rove

On Mon 29th May at 11:00am - Treasure Hunt

Blow away the cobwebs the following morning with a treasure hunt around Nottingham city centre starting at 11.00 am from the entrance to the castle and finishing for lunch at Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem pub, the oldest inn in England. The treasure hunt costs only £1 per person with a prize for the winner(s).

On Tue 30th May at 7:30pm - Postcode Pubcrawl

Finally we have our "Postcode Pubcrawl" event. Join us for steak night at The Ernehale, Nottingham Road, Arnold. This is a Wetherspoon venue and the full menu is also available for non-steak eaters. Look for the Mblem in the no-smoking section.

I'm on [Phone Number] or [Email].

Ciao for now!

Maxine Bates

Peak District

On Sun 21st May at 11:00am - Country Walk

Join me for a 6-mile walk in the countryside through Monsal Dale. Starting point is the Pay & Display car park at Monsal Head and can be found on the B6465 out of Ashford-In-The-Water. Walking boots and walking pole recommended. Planning to stop for lunch in Ashford-In-The-Water. E-mail [Email] for details.

Mark Sloan


On Thu 11th May at 7:00pm - Pub

Join us at The Priory pub in Loughborough for a drink and a chat. We thought it might be nice to share holiday/travel stories so please feel bring along any snaps. Tel: [Phone Number] for directions.

Crystal Abel


On Wed 17th May at 7:30pm - 3WOTM

Our usual third Wednesday of the month meeting is at the Standing Order on Irongate in Derby. At the March meeting two years ago, which coincided with St. Patrick's Day, they were giving away Guinness pens. At the St. Patrick's Day meal at Langley Mill this year I won a Guinness pen so you can compare my new toy with the old one.

On Wed 24th May at 7:30pm - Pub Crawl

One week later, I want to try out the pubs in Westwood, of which place no one has ever heard. In fact, it's the village I moved to at Christmas but I'm too shy to go alone into any of the three pubs in the village so will at least one kind soul in Mensa please come and keep me company and then I can find out what they're like? I certainly cannot promise an evening of undiluted excitement and pleasure but if it becomes too bad we can always go up to the Hole in the Wall at Underwood. More info on [Phone Number] or [Email]

Bernard Briggs


On Sat 13th May at 7:30pm - Ten Pin Bowling

Come along to Hollywood Bowl at the Meridian Leisure Park in Leicester for a game of ten-pin bowling. Booking lane on arrival so meet promptly by the booking desk. £4 per game. Free car parking available. For directions email [Email] or phone [Phone Number].

Regional Rove

On Sun 28th May at 3:30pm - EcoHouse

A visit to the internationally renowned EcoHouse off Hinckley Road, Leicester. The EcoHouse demonstrates hundreds of environmental features and ideas to make your home and garden greener. £2 Entrance charge. Light refreshments available from the cafe. Annual fundraising plant sale in the organic gardens. Let me know if you're coming on [Email] or [Phone Number]

Rebecca Mawby

Northants NNotes

On Thu 25th May at 8:00pm - Pub

This month's Roadshow venue is the Talbot Inn in Meadow Road, Kettering - where, according to legend, the Rolling Stones once got drunk before a gig at the nearby cinema. I doubt if you'll find any famous faces there tonight, but there will be a few tellers of tall tales in the lounge.

As ever, look for the Mensa Mag on a table. Directions and further information from me on [Phone Number] or [Email].

Ian Sargent

Milton Keynes

On Thu 4th May at 8:00pm - FTh: Movable Feast

Continuing our First Thursday Eating Meetings at La Tasca in Xscape - see for details. Meet in bar just before 8pm. Booking essential by Tuesday 2nd - contact Jo at [Email], or [Phone Number] / [Phone Number] for directions/ encouragement.

Regional Rove

On Sat 27th May at 8:00pm - Games & social

Join us "At Home" for the MK leg of "Regional Rove": an informal social evening with board games and buffet. Contact Jo or Chris for address, directions & further info, [Phone Number]. Soft drinks provided but BYOB. NSI, Cats in residence, LONA or can provide B&B, hotel, YHA info.

Regional Rove

On Sun 28th May at 11:00am - Sky diving

Ever fancied flying? You can do it at Airkix in MK - see for details/terms & conditions. Cost £40, places limited so first come, first served. Please book with Chris by 23rd May latest, [Email] / [Phone Number] / [Phone Number].

Regional Rove

On Sun 28th May at 1:00pm - Lunch

Whether you've been skydiving or just enjoyed a lie-in, join us at Nando's at the front of Xscape from 1 pm. Decide on afternoon activities - rock climbing, snowboarding, or for the less energetic, a film or some leisurely shopping. Contact Jo as above for directions/ encouragement.

Jo Sidebottom & Chris Lonsbrough

Luton & Dunstable

On Sat 13th May at 8:00pm - Q is for Quintessential

Q is for a meal at the Quintessential Italian restaurant, Graziano's. See for details. Book your place with me by Monday 8th, contacts as below.

On Sat 20th May at 11:00am - R is for Ramble and pub lunch

R is for Ramble and pub lunch. Join us for an exhilarating 4 mile walk around the village of Aldbury. Our guide book says "This is an easy walk in which you can enjoy the hills without the climbing! The wooded hillside of Ashridge and the bare slopes of Pitstone Hill are particularly impressive and the beech clad Aldbury Nower is a delight - as is the Ridgeway Path that passes through it".

There are some slopes and the area can be muddy so stout footwear is a good idea. Well behaved dogs and children are welcome! We will be bringing ours!

We meet outside the Greyhound pub in Aldbury. There is parking outside the pub or just down the road in the recreation area. The village is 2.5 miles from Tring station and is also signposted off the B4506 from Berkhamsted. Afterwards collect a stamp for your passport and stay on for a drink or pub lunch in the Greyhound or The Valiant Trooper ( both allow dogs but can be a little smoky) Contact me on [Phone Number] or [Email] for more details, directions, encouragement etc.

Tara Morgan


On Wed 10th May at 8:30pm - Pub quiz

We've been competing at the monthly quiz at the Plume of Feathers, Little Wymondley, for a few months now and even won on the first two occasions! So why not come and help the regulars defend our honour? Food also available. The pub is in Little Wymondley village and is served by bus 101 (Luton - Hitchin - Stevenage). Ring Richard on [Phone Number] or Helen on [Phone Number] for further details and encouragement!

On Tue 16th May at 7:30pm - Pub meal

Pub meal at the Lytton Arms, Old Knebworth (about 1 mile east of Knebworth village and railway station - no evening bus service). Good food and plenty of real ales available! Ring Helen on [Phone Number] for further details and encouragement.

On Every Friday at Evening - Cinema

I go to the cinema (Cineworld) in Stevenage Leisure Park (16 screen) on Friday evenings; if you wish to join me please call me on [Phone Number] or [Phone Number]. There is usually plenty of choice! Stevenage Leisure Centre is next to Stevenage station, which is also served by local bus services.

Helen Rees

Regional Rove

On Fri 26th May at 7:30pm - Party

We start this year's Regional Rove at my place in Letchworth with a party; the theme of which will be "World food and English drink", which also allows us to celebrate the start of English Wine Week! I'll provide food, BYOB (which doesn't have to be alcoholic but must be from England!). LONA. For further details and encouragement, please contact me on [Phone Number]. The house is about ten minutes' walk from Letchworth railway station and the town centre (for local bus services).

Regional Rove

On Sat 27th May at 10:30am - Country walk

We continue the Regional Rove with a six mile country walk starting and finishing at Ayot St Lawrence, which is about two miles west of Welwyn. Meet by the church at 10.30 (OS grid reference 195169, Explorer sheet 182) and we will have a pub lunch at the Brocket Arms pub when we finish the walk. Ayot St Lawrence is also the location of "Shaw's Corner", the former home of George Bernard Shaw, which we can visit after lunch. No public transport available (nearest stations Welwyn North, 2 1/2 miles away, or Harpenden, 3 miles away); if anyone needs a lift please contact me. For further details and encouragement please call me on [Phone Number].

Richard Allen

High Wycombe

On Thu 18th May at 7:45pm - Eat Thai

Well it is May and thankfully Spring is here with lighter nights and warmer weather. Do come along to Eat Thai and tell us about your plans for the bank holiday and the Summer.

Next month I hope to organise a walk in the Bucks countryside as well as an eating meeting. I'd welcome your suggestions for future meetings.

Contact me at [Email] or by phone on [Phone Number].

Alistair Blackett

St Albans

On Sun 7th May at 7:30pm - FSuOTM

Come along to my place, [Address], and do something different of a Sunday evening - crosswords completed, live music, historic Snorbens (is there a local dialect? - discuss) and more. Entry by rattling the letterbox loudly! Encouragement etc on [Phone Number] /[Email]

Alex Bell

Regulars - see main mag for details

Thu 4th May8:00pmRoystonFThOTMDan Ormsby

Thu 11th May9:00pmHarlestone2ThOTMIan Sargent

Wed 17th May8:00pmMilton Keynes3WOTMJo Sidebottom

Fri 19th May7:30pmHertingfordburynot LFOTM* Richard Allen

Wed 31st May7:45pmBerkhamstedWhite Horse PubJenny Habib

*Hertingfordbury meeting moved forward one week from normal to avoid clash with Regional Rove.

St Patrick's Day Dinner

Picture of two members at the dinner. One is wearing a tall hat that looks like a pint of guinness.

Having discovered that the Bridge Centre near my home in Langley Mill, Notts, was holding an Irish meal to celebrate St Patrick's Day I advertised this as a Mensa event. 10 of the 54 attendees were Mensans and we had our own candlelit table complete with orange, green and white linen and flowers. The staff were also attired in the colours of the Irish flag and there were banners and flags decorating the walls.

First course was homemade potato soup with soda bread. Yummy! The main course was a huge serving of beef and Guinness pie accompanied with colcannon. Dessert was Kerry apple cake with cream and some sort of small red berries - we couldn't decide what they were! By this time we were all feeling rather full but there was more to come! Beautifully arranged platters of Irish cheese and biscuits arrived and we spent some time trying to guess the type. Finally someone had made a huge St Patrick's Day cake which was cut up and shared around the room. It was the lightest sponge cake I've ever eaten! After all this gluttony some of us couldn't even manage a coffee!

Throughout the evening there was an optional Irish themed quiz to complete and after the meal some optional singing of appropriate songs including Molly Malone, Danny Boy and The Wild Rover. We had also each been given a raffle ticket with prizes of Guinness T-shirts and pens up for grabs. An evening of good food and good company for a bargain £15.50 and the drinks at the bar were reasonably priced too. The staff at the Bridge Centre were very welcoming so we'll be back. Why not join us for their "Taste of Britain" meal on 19th May?

by Maxine Bates

Charity begins... with Mensans!

Following the death of popular Derby member Charles Vermes a collection was held in lieu of flowers and £55 was donated to Cancer Research UK. Thanks to those friends who gave generously to this worthwhile charity in his memory.

To raise money for the same cause, Nottingham members Helen Dunn and Maxine Bates will be taking part in the 5 km 'Race For Life' on Sunday 30th July. All sponsorship is gratefully received and every penny goes towards finding cures for all forms of this terrible disease. You can sponsor them easily and directly via their web sites at or As the promoters Tesco say "every little helps"!

Our next regional event will be a charity 'winter ball' in aid of Cancer Research UK and will take place at the Rutland Square Hotel in Nottingham on Saturday 17th February 2007. Mark the date in next year's diary and see the East Midlands Mensa web site or future issues of Empress for full details.

We are aware there are hundreds of worthwhile charities but feel cancer has touched many people's lives. We hope you will agree and try to support us.

Meet Chris

Portrait photograph of Chris Lonsbrough
Chris Lonsbrough (aka Bunnyman to some)
50 and a little bit. The little bit says "Hello".
Made in Sussex and delivered to Brighton before it got Posh, which is very odd as both halves of my parentage hail from Yorkshire. Currently in front of a keyboard. The keyboard is in Milton Keynes.
Significant other called the Other Jo.
When did you join Mensa?
First time round in the early 80's. Rejoined late 90's when life got boring.
Why did you join?
First time, to see if I could. Second time, to see if I'd be let back in...
Do you have any hobbies/interests?
The odd one or two. One or two of them are very odd. Such as things Subterranean including tube trains. And things Fortean. And Chickens. And old movie projectors. And Real Ale. And Sheep. And Pub Signs. And old Theatres. And Canals. (Hint: one or two of these might be a spoof).
What's your occupation?
Audiovisual support for a University. Unfortunately it's in London at the end of a railway and back again. Daily. Yawn.
Jointly owned by two cats. They pay me in mice which are not necessarily dead. In the middle of the night.
Favourite place?
Small Greek islands.
Favourite drink?
Another one of those please. (But not Lager) Gin known to be especially welcome.
Most annoying habit?
Talking rubbish loudly in Pubs. Could be related to favourite drink.
Claims to Fame?
Being dubbed "Bunnyman" by means of an arcane and spiritous ceremony unique to old dark houses and the Queen's dining table. Creeping into Roedean School by the back door. Appearing on a dodgy TV Dating show.
Most embarrassing moment?
The incident with the Aardvaark. It's an easy mistake. Honest, Guv.


In my first four editions of this newletter, I put a "Useless Information" graphic on the front page with "facts" lifted from an list circulating on the internet. Now the problem with labelling any piece of information "useless" is that of course, it takes no account of quizzes.

One evening on holiday recently, my quiz team was tying for first place with one question to go and the question came up "What is the name for a pregnant goldfish?". Recalling the cover of the August 2004 Empress, I volunteered "Twit" and we duly won the bottle of bubbly.

But is it true? Well, at first glance, the notion is rather undermined by the fact that goldfish don't get pregnant. However, they do get egg-laden and "Twirp", "Twit", "Twerp" and others seem to be rarely used words for egg-laden (or "ripe") fish, although none appear to be recognised by any bona fide dictionary.1

When is a word not a word? If enough people believe a word to have a particular meaning, then does it have that meaning even if nobody ever casually uses the word in its supposed context?

What if it's literally true that a pregnant goldfish is called a "twit" even though a pregnant goldfish is a physical impossiblity? It's no more impossible than, say, a creature that is half man and half horse, which we call a Centaur. Is a modern internet myth worth less than an ancient Greek one?

Nick Stimpson

1 Information taken from "The Straight Dope" at