Fifty-six per cent of train journeys are for commuting, latest government figures show
Q: The media, particularly the BBC, like to refer to all train passengers as “commuters”.
What percentage of passenger journeys is made up by people commuting to and from work, as opposed to those travelling for business, leisure or other purposes?
John Jarman, Belper, Derbyshire
A: According to the latest government figures on rail passengers, 56 per cent of train journeys are for commuting (including education).
The next highest figure is 23 per cent for leisure, 10 per cent for business and five per cent each for shopping and “other”.
A survey in the spring of 2017 revealed that 83 per cent of passengers were satisfied overall with their last rail journey, with the lowest satisfaction (77 per cent) recorded by commuters.
Punctuality/reliability was by a long way the most common source of dissatisfaction.
Q: Why is it that the pilot of an aircraft sits in a “cockpit”?
Derek Fernyhough, by email
A: The word “cockpit” was first recorded in English in 1587 when it meant a pit for fighting cocks.
It later became used in the early 18th century in a naval context for a small area below deck from which the coxswain steered the boat.
The “cox” in that word came from another old meaning of the word “cock” which was a small boat.
From that, it was natural for the word “cockpit” also to be used, starting in 1914, for the area from which an aircraft was steered.
Eric Clapton was born on March 30, 1945
Q: Like Eric Clapton I was born on March 30, 1945 which was also the date of Good Friday that year.
I notice that Good Friday also falls on March 30 this year.
Have I missed any Good Friday birthdays in between?
Muriel Catchlove, Romsey, Hampshire
A: Your 11th birthday on March 30, 1956 was also on Good Friday.
After this year though you have a shorter time to wait.
It will happen again in 2029.
Have a good birthday!
And talking of which…
Boxing Day is commonly associated with the UK’s winter sales
Q: Is it true that Good Friday once fell on Boxing Day?
If it did, how was that possible?
C Pope, Isle of Wight
A: That’s an old teaser quiz question.
It happened in 1899 when a horse named Good Friday fell in the Thorneycroft Classic horse race at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day.
Warrants are only awarded by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles
Q: When a company holds a Royal Warrant it entitles them to display the royal coat of arms.
But what happens when the royal person who granted the warrant dies, or when the person to whom it has been granted dies?
Would goods in shops bearing the coat of arms then be recalled?
Alan J Underwood, Rhyl, Denbighshire
A: To obtain a Royal Warrant a company must have been supplying goods to the Royal Family for five of the past seven years, including the most recent year.
Warrants are only awarded by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles (and formerly by the Queen Mother).
A Royal Warrant is initially granted to a particular individual of a company for a specified period of up to five years.
Warrants are reviewed by the Royal Household Warrants Committee in the year before they are due to expire and a decision is taken on whether to renew them.
A warrant is also reviewed if the person to whom it was granted dies or leaves the business, or if the company goes bankrupt.
Warrants granted by the Queen Mother all ran out by 2007, which was five years after her death.
Shepherd’s crooks made by wood
Q: Where does the term “by hook or by crook” come from?
David Garbutt, by email
A: The expression is very ancient, dating back to at least the 14th century and over the years many supposed explanations for its origin have been offered, including a rather fanciful idea that it had something to do with a village called Crook and the Hook lighthouse, both in south-east Ireland.
The most likely origin was in by-laws specifying the means by which dead wood could be gathered and branches pulled down “by hook” or “by crook”, the latter referring to something similar to a shepherd’s crook.
Only much later did the modern meaning of “crook” become attached to the idiom, suggesting “by fair means (hook) or foul (crook).”
Remainer Nick Clegg was knighted in 2017 New Year’s Honours
Q: As we shake our heads over the knighthood for former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, I would like to know if it is within the authority of the monarch to say “no” to any particular nomination and if so has that authority ever been exercised?
Norman Rendle, Cardiff
A: In theory, I suppose, the Queen could veto any honour but in practice that never happens.
The honours system is overseen by the Cabinet Office Honours and Appointments Secretariat, with the Foreign Office drawing up awards for the Diplomatic Service and the Overseas List.
Orders for chivalry however are made by a personal decision of the Queen herself.
I believe the last time a British monarch refused to give assent to a decision by Parliament was something to do with arming the Scottish Militia in 1708.
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