So Dad, is London a different country to England? – Dad’s Diary

Ever played the Great Game of Britain board game? In a nutshell,  the object is to visit six places of interest in Britain which are on a railway map of the British Isles.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 12:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:32 pm
Do sharks have ears?

You have to start and finish in London, while using diversions to prevent others from reaching the capital quicker than you.

Ellen is not a big fan, as she has routinely been sent to Stornaway in the Western Isles of Scotland when on the verge of winning.

Stornaway, for those of you that haven't played the game, is the furthest station away from London.

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Having played the game regularly, you might be guilty of thinking Ellen's geography is generally good. And you'd be wrong.

Only the other day, we were playing a 'guess the capital city' game. 

'I'm not very good at that,' piped up Ells.

'You can't be that bad. What's the capital of Spain?


'No Ells, that's a country. It's Madrid. What's the capital of Wales?

'I don't know.'

'Yes you do, I'll give you a clue – I was a student there.'


'Okay Ells, you're right – you're not very good at this game.'

This sort of thing happens all the time. Recent quips from my 15-year-old daughter's mouth have included 'is the Isle of Wight really white?' and 'do you have to take a ferry to get to Scotland'.

But it's not just Ellen. This lack of geographical common sense seems remarkably commonplace among millennials.

My partner's 21-year-old daughter didn't know where Northern Ireland was on a map, and an 18-year-old girl where my partner works asked if Scotland was part of Britain. A friend of mine said her daughter, the same age as Ells, thought London was a different country to England.

Ellen has always kept me amused playing quizzes, long may it continue. Tension is another favourite of ours. You have to name 10 things of a certain category before the sands in the hour glass run empty.

The one which remains my favourite was Ellen being asked to name 10 animals with ears. Instantly, she replied: ‘Sharks and fish.’

Do these anecdotes ring any bells with you, dear reader? Are we raising a generation capable of doing wonderful things with new technologies, but  without basic knowledge about the UK?

It’s a sobering thought that if we were to have a second EU referendum, there are people old enough to vote in it who do not know what countries make up the UK or could accurately place them on a map. And people like that almost certainly voted in the first one

Nipples, spoons and being a 1D dad…

Talking of ridiculous answers to quiz questions, parents of toddlers need to know this …

Toddler girls grow up into teenage girls, and then you’ll have to start taking them to music concerts. What’s that got to do with quizzes, I hear you ask?

Well, teenage girls also like to test their knowledge of their favourite bands. And they might like to test your knowledge too. 

A flashback to a quiz I was once ‘given’ …

Ellen: Dad, do you want to do a One Direction quiz?

Me: I’d prefer to stick knitting needles up my nose.

E: That sounds painful. Question one – how many nipples does Harry Styles have?

M: Obviously not two, then. Four?

E (sounding surprised): Yes. Question two – which member of One Direction is afraid of spoons?

M: No-one is afraid of spoons, Ells. They’re just harmless pieces of cutlery – unless you stick them up your nose as well. I’ll say Liam.

E (even more surprised): Yes.

M: How many more questions are there?

E: 38.

M: Jolly good.

I got about half right - ‘you can go back to your knitting now, dad’ – but Ellen still didn’t think I was cool. And if I couldn’t pass the cool test due to my knowledge of a boy band’s phobia of everyday kitchen utensils, I’m not sure I ever will ...