- 5 Aug 08, 05:08 PM
If you're anything like as trivial as me you'll fancy having a crack at these three Olympics-related questions. Are you ready? Turned your mobiles off? Seriously, don't cheat and I promise not to give the prize to somebody who lives around the corner but forget to tell you so you keep phoning in like lemons.
OK, first question: what have Kate Howey, Matthew Pinsent, Seb Coe and Lucinda Prior-Palmer got in common?
Second question: who's Lucinda Prior-Palmer?
Final question: what might British veteran swimmer Mark Foster do in Beijing that Aussie veteran swimmer Grant Hackett definitely won't?
Those who work for the British Olympic Association, are related to Prior-Palmer or actually know all those people (so we're probably only talking about Sir Steve Redgrave), will have got this one quite quickly.
One last clue for those still struggling: it's to do with flags, fireworks and performance artists.
Yes, that's right. All the people in the first question have been Team GB flag-bearers at the Olympic opening ceremony, which involves carrying a heavy flag into a crowded stadium, marching a bit and waving a lot.
It is also a massive honour, as it is decided by a team vote. So it's a bit like being elected school captain but with far less damage to your social life.
Judoka Howey got the nod in Athens and she was the first woman to be given the honour since Prior-Palmer (who was known as Lucinda Green at the time) since 1984, when Prior-Palmer/Green also won an equestrian silver.
Pinsent did it in Sydney and I can't remember/google who did it in Atlanta. I get the impression the British Olympic Association has eradicated all evidence we actually sent a team to the 1996 Games (with the honourable exception of Sirs Matt and Steve).
And to round up those links, Coe gave Prior-Palmer a helping hand in LA. Which is either very gallant or a bit sexist, depends on how you view these things, I suppose.
Which brings us to the final question: Aussie legend Hackett has flag-bearer pedigree in spades. He's been to two Games already, has won three gold medals and is liked by all and sundry for being a fair dinkum kind of chap. If he wanted the flag it would be his, everybody loves "Hacky".
The problem is, however, he is here for one reason and one reason only - to win a third straight 1500m gold. The opening ceremony is too "taxing on the legs" and binning it off is a "sacrifice that has to be made". So there.
Foster, on the other hand, is in a very different place.
Having made a late decision to come out of semi-retirement and give this Olympics lark one more crack, the 50m sprint specialist is determined to enjoy his fifth trip around the block.
Now I'm not saying he's been given the job yet but I am saying he's in the shake-up.
Each of the separate British teams competing in Beijing were asked to nominate a candidate. Those candidates were then discussed by the overall team's management and reduced to "four or five" strong candidates. I think the same interference in the electoral process prevented me from getting the top job at school.
Anyway, those names are sent back to the electorate and a decision will be announced at a reception at the British Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday. That do is at 1830 our time, so just after elevenses your time.
The plan is then to whisk the winner over to Tiananmen Square for a photo-shoot. Which will probably last all of five minutes before the police get involved.
Other names believed to still be in the hat are cycling's Chris Hoy and world champion gymnast Beth Tweddle. And I reckon a good outside bet would be super heavyweight boxer David Price.
Foster is still the favourite, though. He ticks the experience box in a big way, likes having his picture taken and doesn't actually have to swim that far.
In fact, a former swimming colleague of his told me: "I reckon Fozie would rather do the opening ceremony than his event."
He also brings a big 1970s Labour Party-style block vote with him. Poor old Beth or Pricey will need a lot of love from the smaller sports to take on the swimming massive.
But who do you think should be entrusted with the Union Flag? Rowing's Kath Grainger perhaps? Could Ben Ainslie be flown in for standard duties from Qingdao? Or maybe Marlon Devonish on an athletics union ticket?
You decide. Well, actually, you don't. So please don't call in or email us. And we haven't got any prizes to give you. It's just for fun.
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