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What a puzzle

At the club meeting on Tuesday 23rd January Howard Mann stepped in at short notice to fill the speaker slot – and did not speak! 

Howard Mann pretending not to speak while compering the Rebus quiz

Rather, he hosted a quiz evening based upon the Rebus concept.  Rebus puzzles are basically little pictures, often made with letters and words, which cryptically represent a word, phrase, or saying.  It is the pattern or the sound or even the colours that suggest the solution to the puzzle.

Some examples are:


                   “an inside job


             “arch bishop


           “three men in a boat

We had five teams solving 30 of these puzzles and a further supplementary quiz sheet involving film titles to provide a tie break decider – which was in fact needed as teams B and C were equal top on the Rebus questions.  Finally, after the tie break quiz was taken into account, Team C came out on top, though by just one point.

Very well done David Swain, Ian Chapple, Roger Partington and Ken Stickland of Flitwick Vale Rotary Club.

For your interest, rebuses were very popular in the Middle Ages as a device associated with a person to whose name it punningly alludes.  The rebus of Bishop Walter Lyhart of Norwich (1446–1472) was that of a stag (or hart) lying down in a representation of water.

Rebuses were also employed in heraldic arms proper:  the coat of arms of the Borough of Congleton in Cheshire consists of a conger eel, a lion (in Latin, leo) and a tun (barrel). This word sequence "conger-leo-tun" enunciates the town's name.

Arms (crest) of Congleton An early seal of the Borough of Congleton

Some linguists believe that the Chinese developed their writing system according to the rebus principle, and Egyptian hieroglyphs sometimes used a similar system when there was no particular glyphs for an item they needed to depict.

What rebuses did for our Rotary Club, however, was to provide the highest quality of silence since the foundation of the Club, whilst the brains (!) were at work.  This was inevitably shattered by the groaning and gnashing of teeth after the correct answers were read out.

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