Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Only Connect!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

  Sorry I haven’t been writing my blog much lately. The truth is, in my new world of attempting to be a non-smoker, writing anything is very difficult. Some people say that their weak moments, having stopped smoking, are when they drink or go to parties or go on holiday. I seem to be the opposite. Fun stuff is all fine and distracting; I don’t mind not smoking when I’m having a nice time. But sitting down at a keyboard (which feels like work, even when it’s just writing a blog or sending an email), or anything with a vague hint of stress about it, immediately makes my fingers itch.

  So: I haven’t been writing any more than I absolutely have to! I’ll have got the hang of it soon…

  In the meantime: ONLY CONNECT IS BACK ON MONDAY. Usual slot: 8.30pm, BBC Four. The first episode is a good one, very gripping. I thought so, anyway; hope you enjoy it if you watch.

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NomadUK at 3:43 pm on August 25th, 2012


(And—do quit smoking. I’ve watched my youngest son do it; it was hard for him, but he seems to have kicked it. You—and everyone who cares about you—will thank you for it in years to come. Hang in there.)

Ken Singtone at 4:22 pm on August 25th, 2012

Perhaps, next time you feel a bit anxious, you could remember that there are plenty of us who would love to reach out of that computer screen and give you a big hug.  Of course, now that you are engaged, imagining that might leave you feeling bad in other ways.  You’ll just have to imagine that we all look just like David.  Then you can say, “sorry David, I didn’t realise you had so many twin brothers, I thought that it was you.”

It’s great that you are not smoking.  You’re such a nice person that you’ll still be loved whatever, (certainly by me), but having seen relatives suffer rather unpleasant ends from smoking related diseases that I would not even wish upon enemies, I do rather hope you succeed.

The Tim at 7:09 pm on August 26th, 2012

Look forward to seeing your engagement ring.

paul benjafield at 10:11 pm on August 26th, 2012

being in the media i presume that u back freedom of expression..i hate only connect but shall tune in to watch the 1st “gripping” episode. on a more postive note again i presume u will be playing the wospe and wish u the very best of luck and hope the poker gods will shine on u and your cards.

palladian at 11:23 pm on August 26th, 2012

40 years a smoker. Cigars mostly. I now have a 70% stenosis of the main artery to my left leg. Crippled with pain, barely able to walk 20 yds. Surgery may save the leg, then again it may not.

Of course I might just have an embolism at any moment and drop dead before even finishing thi…....

Don’t smoke! Be told! x

Mr D at 2:40 pm on August 27th, 2012

Can you send me a signed photo please Victoria?

Victoria Coren at 5:29 pm on August 27th, 2012

Sorry Mr D, I never send signed photos. They’re for.. you know.. Hollywood stars. I’d feel silly But thanks for asking.

Donald at 8:21 pm on August 27th, 2012

Hi Victoria, good to see you back. The show was well contested and you were very engaging as always.

My thoughts on the smoking issue pretty much correspond with those of previous posters. Hope your resistance holds up during TV appearances; I suspect you’ll have to buy your Percy Piglets for them by the crate.

All the very best in your efforts to quit.

The Tim at 8:42 pm on August 27th, 2012

It’s great to have the new online walls back, even though I do find ‘Nope, try again!’, ‘No, I’m afraid not’ (or is it ‘frayed knot’ for whipping your contestants with? - I’m not sure.) and ‘Come on now, you can do better than that!’ very off-putting…

Stanley J. Serxner at 5:39 pm on August 28th, 2012

Re: B & P A. Games 2006:
P. 279: “...letter from American president Benjamin Franklin…..”  Franklin was not an American president. P. 144 Minging.  I’ve heard, years ago, the expression “Nothing’s lower than mong - whale shit.”  In the USA.

Phil at 6:33 pm on August 28th, 2012

Great to see OC back - Mondays haven’t been the same without it.

I just caught the last five seconds of a rather fine trailer for it the other night (“there won’t be any horses preserved in cognac”) - do you know if it’s online, by any chance?

DaveP at 2:56 am on August 29th, 2012

Living in the USA means I can’t watch the show and consequently have no idea how it played out. But I enjoy doing the walls online and in this case I found them very different in difficulty. I breezed through 161 in about 15 seconds, whereas despite having three attempts at 162 and recognizing the “donna” and “guitar” themes early I didn’t even come close. Did other people find their levels similarly disparate or was it just coincidence that I knew more about one than the other?

David B at 7:06 pm on August 29th, 2012

@DaveP, the walls that appear in the real broadcast show are the ones marked ‘Play Along’.

To placate the marauding hordes that chant “What do we want? More grids!” outside OC Towers day and night, we’re releasing two web-exclusive walls (marked ‘Game Wall’) every week that have also been written by the official question writing team. These are just for your enjoyment and won’t appear on the television.

IN ADDITION we’re publishing two walls a week that have been submitted to us from fans of the show (you can do the same at None of these are ‘balanced’ pairs and some will be naturally easier than others.

And if anyone says that the grids on the TV show aren’t perfectly balanced pairs, I’ll see them in the car park outside. Bring your own rolling pin.

Farmer Don at 9:40 pm on August 30th, 2012

Good Luck with quitting smoking. You can do it!!

ramona at 11:15 pm on August 30th, 2012

I am also trying to quit, and I FEEL YOUR PAIN! (and I can also relate to smoking whilst writing, this is how I write all my uni essays!) But definitely keep going, at the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious ex-smoker, I feel so much better for it, I can breathe better etc. etc. I watched Only Connect (for the first time, I’m ashamed to say) tonight, a repeat, I think and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yay!

The Tim at 6:14 pm on September 3rd, 2012

Could I possibly book a seat to see Dave and David battle it out with rolling pins? In all fairness the walls are as even as they can be - everyone I know has said they’ve had mixed results - clearly once you get a couple of groups it’s much easier.

David B at 12:14 am on September 4th, 2012

@Tim, another thing that can make one wall look easier than the other is when the team luck out in their combination choices. As you may realise, most walls are constructed so that there are 5 possibilities but only the right 4 make a group. Sometimes the teams will hit the correct four very quickly and, unknowingly, avoid the red herring, at which point my head hits the desk. Both walls in a pair are matched so that they have the same style of red herrings, but luck can make one wall look easier.

Of course, most other times the team will have the wrong 5 to start with or lose heart before they’ve tried out all the combinations and go onto a different connection. At this point, I reach for the brandy, sit back in the leatherette reclining chair and chuckle gently. My work is done.

Clive at 3:58 pm on September 4th, 2012

Try chronium piccolate for beating cravings, admittedly I use the pills to beat sugar cravings, but they prob work for cigs too. Solgar do ‘em.

Funny thing about any kind of drugs are how they lie to you; when you partake you feel like master of the universe and really strong, when in fact they are weakening you in the long run. So you justify reasons why you need your drug of choice to ‘pull through’, what’s more they fit into the work-reward equation where if you’ve given up for a bit, you ‘reward’ yourself with drug of choice, justifying it in some way. I was hooked on sugar, manifested in enticing choccie bars, for years.

Colin Gerard at 3:17 am on September 6th, 2012

It’s 4am in Ealing. I’m going to be skint for a few weeks having used ex girlfriends birthdays to play online roulette.  I’m on my way to the all night store to get some smokes. A catfight is going on but I’ll leave them to it as the tabby craps in my garden alot…comeuppance at last.
Vikki, I have recently bookmarked your blog. This is akin to a close relationship in my eyes. So I’ll be watching Connect from now on to lookout for any bad habits you may have which may jepordise things. I have told Mahmoud in the all night store to grass you up if sneak over this way to buy smokes on the sly.

Mark rowney at 12:22 pm on September 6th, 2012

You should do what I do. That is I always wear 5-6 patches at a time, but don’t drive, unless you’re on the way to Las Vegas. I also use the Electronic cigarette but only when I go to church. I find I can cleanse my Lungs at the same time as purifying my soul , while the congregation hope I go to Hell…..the bible according to Hunter S Thompson. 

Adrian at 7:07 pm on September 9th, 2012

Sounds great, fancy a pint?

The Tim at 9:08 am on September 12th, 2012

DavidB, I often sqirm at the rash tactics used by some of teams on the Connecting Wall - I have my own strategy which helps to make up for my lack of knowledge and I’ll keep it to myself in case I ever make it onto the show. There is of course some luck but it pays to be methodical and not to panic.

Pauline J at 8:29 pm on September 17th, 2012

I love Only Connect but it makes my husband furious every episode. He is dyslexic and when he tries to read the connecting walls it keeps changing camera angles so he loses track of the words. Can anything be done?

David B at 8:05 pm on September 21st, 2012

Pauline: there’s a couple of possibilities. You could ‘live pause’ the grid if you have the option to do that on Sky/Virgin or you can even pause a live broadcast on iPlayer.

Alternatively, you could also play the grid beforehand via the website at
The two grids for that show will usually be made available on the website a few hours before the TV show begins. They are marked in dark blue and labelled ‘Play Along’ walls. The computer version doesn’t animate in the same way as the television.

Being a TV show we have to animate our wall every 30 seconds or so to keep an eye on the teams and who’s saying what, but I hope one of these two methods will allow your husband to enjoy the programme more fully.

David, OC Question Editor

The Tim at 10:25 pm on October 8th, 2012

A question for DavidB on tonight’s show: why doesn’t Mary II count as queen of the UK whilst she ruled jointly with William III - after the kingdoms of England and Scotalnd had merged? I don’t doubt that you’re right - I just wondered if you could shed some light on this.

Sam at 11:19 pm on October 8th, 2012

There was a mistake on today’s Only Connect! (I’m going to apologise in advance for being one of ‘those’ people, it’s late and I’m a very bored student).

There have only been two female monarchs of the United Kingdom and not the three as stated tonight. The problem arose because it was said that Queen Anne was the first monarch of the United Kingdom. This is not true. The union between the monarchies of Scotland and England resulted in the Kingdom of Great Britain, not the United Kingdom of anything. The United Kingdom refers to the union of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

David B at 12:52 pm on October 9th, 2012

@Tim: The United Kingdom of Great Britain did not exist until the Acts of Union of 1706 and 1707. Mary II – co-monarch with William III – was separately Queen of England and Queen of Scotland.

David B at 9:50 pm on October 13th, 2012

Hi Sam, the term “United Kingdom” began when England (including Wales) and Scotland merged. Britannica says: “Scotland, ruled by an English monarch since 1603, formally was joined with England and Wales in 1707 to form the UNITED KINGDOM of Great Britain.”

Of course, later the UK included Ireland and then Northern Ireland only, but it’s still considered the UK throughout this period despite those changes.

The Tim at 9:16 pm on October 15th, 2012

Is it me or hasn’t anyone loaded up the latest online walls?

David B at 11:59 pm on October 16th, 2012

Tim, try pressing F5 to manually refresh the page or alternatively clear our your browser cache. This should force the data to reload - the new walls are available.

Olive Barnes at 8:23 pm on October 22nd, 2012

You gave five points tonight (22/10) for an incorrect answer. I know you don’t understand Rugby Union, but the Draughtsmen’s explanation of J Wilkinson (JW) being the 4th was wrong; they said Top points scorer as a place kicker in INTERNATIONAL rugby.  He isn’t. Dan Carter is.  JW is top points scorer in the Rugby World Cup, not quite the same thing at all.  It didn’t matter at the end, but as the programme is, I presume, recorded, couldn’t it have been sorted out?  In international rugby, the order is Carter, Wilko, Neil Jenkins and R O’Gara

Shona Wilson at 8:30 am on October 25th, 2012

Hi loved the show on Mon 22 oct and actually got some of the connections!!  I also loved your dress can you tell me where you got it from please

David B at 11:03 pm on October 25th, 2012

Hi Olive, you’re correct that they got the right answer for the wrong reason. However, the rules of the programme are that you just have to give the 4th in the sequence - you don’t have to justify your logic at all. If you get slightly the wrong reason or even if you’re on completely the wrong tack then it’s just your good luck.

As William G. Stewart used to say on Fifteen-to-One, ‘Guesses count’!

Regards, David (OC Question Editor)

Jon at 8:40 pm on October 29th, 2012

Still off the fags Victoria? Me too. 3 months now, but I really miss them. Please keep it up = you are an example to us all! Xx

Ken Umpleby at 2:45 am on November 13th, 2012

On one of the walls tonight, a sequence of four words was green, fledgling, raw and jejune. The last word concerns me. I used to use the word in the way in the way being suggested here, that was until I read Kingsley Amis’ The King’s English. He describes this use as “my favourite solecism of all time.” The word does not mean un-grown up or callow, but, rather, scanty, thin or fastlike. However, an up-to-date edition of the Shorter Oxford does give the meaning naive or simplistic, unlike my much older Longer Oxford which agrees with Amis. Is this a case of the misuse of a word becoming so prevalent that we now have to live with the solecism, like disinterested meaning uninterested or saying that you refute someone when you’re merely denying what they say?

David B at 3:55 pm on November 21st, 2012

The Shorter OED offers the following examples:

Trollope: “Jejune words and useless empty phrases…”
G. B. Shaw: “His jejune credulity as to the absolute value of his concepts.”

Victoria Coren

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