Lateral thinking test

You won't get far in the 21st Century if you don't learn to think outside the aardvark. Test your powers of lateral thinking with these classic questions. Select the white text with your cursor to reveal the answers.

1. A man lives on the top floor of a tall building. Every morning he takes the lift to the ground floor to leave for work. Upon his return, however, he can only travel halfway up in the lift and has to walk the rest of the way - unless it's raining. What is the explanation for this?


The answer is simple but deeply satisfying once you know it. Every evening when he gets home a fat lunatic gets on the lift at a middle floor, sits on him, and slaps his cheeks to the tune of Bonanza for the rest of the night. To avoid this he has to get out before the lunatic's floor and walk the rest of the way. However, he lives in that cool building off Stingray which is lowered into the ground for protection when under attack, or when it's raining. In the latter case he can simply walk onto the roof and drop down through the skylight to reach the top floor.

2. A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, 'I can't operate on this boy - for he is my son!!!' How can this possibly be?


Time travel. Because the surgeon refused to operate on his son, he died on the table before another surgeon could be found. Consumed with guilt, the father devoted the rest of his life to building a time machine to go back and put things right. Arriving back at the fateful day, he rushes to his son and puts him in his car to take him to a place of safety. Little did he know he was the one driving the death car.

alternative answer: the doctor and the 'father' in the car were Siamese twins, with two heads but only one dick

3. A man goes into a pub and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says 'Thankyou' and leaves. What is the explanation?


The man's toupee was on fire and he required the glass of water to extinguish the flames. By pulling the gun on him, the barman showed him the fragility of life and the emptiness of human vanity. He goes out resolved to be less shallow in future and to get into some kind of voluntary work.

4. A man is walking down a street dressed completely in black - black shoes, socks, trousers, pullover, gloves and a balaclava. Moreover the street is black and all the street lamps are turned off. A black car is driving towards him with its lights off - but somehow manages to stop in time. How???


It is KITT from Knight Rider

alternative answer:

Why do you assume the driver was a man? In fact, the driver was a woman and had stopped at random

alternative alternative answer:

Anyone dressed in that manner is clearly up to no good. In this case stopping in time could mean after running him over but in time to stop him breaking into someone's house

another good answer:

The driver was blind but sensed his way by making a batlike squeaking noise and listening to the echoes

5. A woman has incontestible proof that her sister murdered her husband. In court, however, the judge says, 'Although there can be no doubt that this woman is guilty, she cannot be punished.' Why?


Thanks to new EU human rights legislation, all murderers now have to be set free and given a medal and a slice of cake

6. Adolf and Eva lay dead on the floor in a puddle of water. Nearby was a broken bowl. How did they die?


I genuinely do know the answer to this one, annoying though it is. They were goldfish. Martin Bormann's goldfish, by the sound of things

7. One day Ron celebrated his birthday. Two days later his elder twin Jon celebrated his birthday. How was this possible?


Time travel. Goldfish. I forget this one. Probably just some tetchy twin trying to differentiate himself thing. 'Look, look, I combed my hair a different way to him, I'm a person in my own right.' 'Yeah. Wow. I can barely tell you're related now.' They're always pulling that shit and expecting you to care. 'It's perfectly simple, I'm the one who appears on Record Breakers, my brother is the one who got shot by the IRA.' 'Nope, still can't tell you apart.'

Siamese twins? They were Siamese twins but one of the heads was only noticed two days after being born? I'd better look this one up.

Real answer: some bollocks about the international dateline. Time travel was better

8. A man wakes up one morning, looks out of his window, and knows that he has caused the deaths of hundreds of people. How does he know?


He is TONY BLAIR and has neglected the health service

real answer:

The man is the janitor at that cool base out of Stingray and responsible for sinking it into the ground when under attack and raising it again afterwards. When he looks out of his window he sees solid rock and realises he has inadvertantly left it underground overnight and everyone has suffocated. Apart from him.

9. A man walks into his house, does not see sawdust, and screams in anguish. Why?


I dunno. He always does this. Everywhere he goes there's no sawdust, he screams. A sore trial it is to his friends and family. He's incontinent, that's it. All the way home on the bus he's been thinking, 'I can just make it to my front room where there's a lovely big pile of sawdust to make wet on. If by some mischance it has been swept away, I will have to wee myself.'

Either that or he's a lighthouse keeper. If they're not siamese twins or goldfish, it always turns out they're negligent lighthouse keepers. He was a lighthouse keeper and had set some ingenious wooden mechanical contrivance to keep the light going while he nipped out to the shops but it should have produced a pile of sawdust and now he knows it stopped working and he's killed lots of people. Or some such fuck.

10. A hunter aimed his gun carefully and fired. Seconds later, he realised his mistake. Minutes later, he was dead. Explain.


The man realised he was at a fancy dress party and that he had shot his two best friends in a zebra costume. The party was ruined and social obloquy awaited, so he turned the gun on himself

alternative answer:

He had aimed at a bird sitting on his own head

alternative alternative:

He shot across the international dateline and the bullet hit him in the back of the head

Oh, oh, wait, wait, I know. He was a SIAMESE TWIN and had aimed at his other head

I haven't really got a bollocks. But I thought of the answer to the sawdust one. Pinocchio. The man was Geppetto, Pinocchio's father, and that morning he had a fight with Pinocchio, and said, 'I'm sick of you, you never tidy your room, and you bring home strange mannequins, and the sawdust, everywhere you go you leave a trail of sawdust behind you, and you never sweep up after yourself, I think it's time you went.' And Pinocchio said, 'All right, I'll go then,' and he said 'Do,' and Pinocchio said, 'I will then,' and Geppetto said 'Fuck off, then, and take your sawdust with you.' And then he came home that night having forgotten all about it and expecting to find Pinocchio still slouching round the house and he sees there's no sawdust and he remembers and he's all like 'Nooo, my son, my son, he's gone, Jesus God, what have I done, how must I be punished, it's so empty, it's so empty without him and his sawdust, was it so much to take, a little sawdust, what I wouldn't give to have the sawdust back.'

11. A man is lying dead in a locked room. There is some jewellery on the floor, a rusty chandelier attached to the ceiling, and an open window. How did he die?


The man worked in the Stingray base. He ill-advisedly leaned his head out the window just as it was sinking into the ground and was decapitated

That would actually make a corking good question come to think of it. 'A man is found dead in a locked room with an open window, but his head is found on the roof several storeys up, and there is a trail of blood and stuff up the side of the building. What is happen?' I suppose you'd have to give some sort of clue such as, 'There is a note on his desk reading "Jonesy, you bastard, you nicked my parking space again, Troy."'

12. A bomber is flying a mission against an enemy position. When they reach the target, the bombadier orders the bomb doors open. They are opened. The bombadier then gives the order for the bomb to be released. They are released. However, the bomb does not hit the ground. How can this possibly be?


The pilot is in love with the bombardier. The bombardier shares his feelings but won't admit it. After dropping the bomb the pilot dives the plane steeply and catches the bomb deftly on one wing just to show off to him. The bombardier says, 'That isn't funny, stop it.' The pilot says, 'Admit you love me or I'll kill us all.' 'All right, damn it, I love you.' After that they feel too mellow to kill anyone so they take the bomb home with them and keep it in their front room

alternative answer:

The pilot and the bombardier are siamese twins and have to scramble madly back and forth between their various sets of controls. In the confusion something goes terribly awry and the bomb ends up in the pilot's seat

real answer:

They were bombing the SEA. It was an episode of Stingray

13. A man is found hanging in an empty locked room. There is a puddle of water on the floor. How did he die?


The aquatic baddies from Stingray killed him

alternative answer:

He was incontinent and there was no sawdust in the room. He was forced to wet the floor and then hung himself for shame.

14. Jack ate his brother and impregnated his sister, yet this was accepted as natural and he was not punished. How could this possibly be?


EU human rights act or a communist judge again. No, wait, I know this one. GOLDFISH! They were all goldfish again! Really. Or Belgians or something

15. A man turns on his radio, takes out a gun and shoots himself. Why?


That isn't even a question. Have you heard the radio nowadays?

16. A man turns on his television and realises he has just killed his cat. How?


The TV was in the bath, with the cat

(I just made that one up. It's a good one, though, isn't it?)

17. A man measures himself with a tape measure, sees he has grown five inches, and shoots himself. Why?


He was watching Tony Blair on television and realised he had an erection

18. John was married to Mary's sister, and yet Mary was not married to John's brother. How was this possible?


Siamese twins, on the international dateline. And John was a GOLDFISH

19. In the middle of a forest the body of a man is found wearing swimming trunks, snorkel and facemask. The nearest lake is 8 miles away and the sea is 50 miles away. How did he die?


Tory MP, kinky sex ritual gone wrong, strangled to death by a rentboy dressed as a squid

real answer:

The baddies from Stingray got him. Scooped him out of the ocean and dumped him out of one of their flying fish ships. Bastards.


20. A man enters into a shop and asks for something. The shopkeeper replies, "Four will cost you 2, ten will cost you 4, and one hundred will cost 12." What is the man buying?


Goldfish. Silverfish. Bits of navel lint. Fake nostril hairs. Siamese twins? I don't remember

21. A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year - yet they were not twins! How can this possibly be?


They were SIAMESE TWINS. Time travel. She 'had' them in the biblical sense. Goldfish

22. In the middle of a green field lie two pieces of coal, a carrot, and a scarf. How did they get there?


Fuck knows. I admit that even I, Hercule Poirot, do not know who did this thing. Instruct the airports to detain all Siamese twins and round up the usual goldfish

23. A tramp enters a surgeon's house and when he comes out is counting a large sum of money. Meanwhile the surgeon makes up a parcel and posts it. A man receives the parcel, opens it with one hand, smiles, wraps it up with one hand and sends it on to another man. When he receives it he also opens it one-handed and smiles. What is the explanation?


The surgeon's friends had bet him he would not lick a tramp's willy. The parcel contains photographic proof that he just has done so. The men open the parcel one-handed because they are masturbating.

alternative answer: they are siamese twins, joined at the hand

Wait wait wait! I really remember this one. This is a classic. Some time before the three men had been shipwrecked on a desert island together. They ran out of food and things looked bleak. One night, in the darkest hour, the baddies from Stingray crept up on shore and chopped an arm off two of them. The doctor was the only one who escaped this fate and has now taken pictures of himself licking a tramp's willy to cheer the others up

24. A man switches on his toaster and five seconds later takes out a gun and shoots himself. Why?


Unprovoked impulse of despair, don't you know. Over the course of his life a man makes toast 10,000 times and then suddenly can't do it any more. Same thing happened to a chap I was with in India, hung himself and left a note saying he couldn't face tying his shoelaces every morning. Shocking business, bad effect on the natives

alternative answer: The man was siamese twins. One head was suicidal, the other just fancied a piece of toast

alternative alternative answer: He was a lighthouse keeper. Switching on the toaster had blown a fuse and the light was on the same circuit. There was a pleasure cruiser due in just then and now all the passengers would be dashed to pieces on the rocks. Luckily he always carried a gun for just such an eventuality.

25. A man was walking downstairs in a building when he suddenly realised that his wife had just died. How can this possibly be?


Her severed head came bouncing down the staircase, with its last breath hissing, 'Avenge meeee.'

alternative answer: She was his Siamese twin, although they had disguised this fact in order to keep their incestuous union a secret. Whenever he went out he would keep his jacket slung jauntily over his shoulder to hide her head, and vice versa. Naturally when she died he would be the first to be apprised of the fact

alternative alternative answer: he had just stabbed her seventeen times because she said they had to go back up to change her dress again

alternative alternative alternative answer:

He was a lighthouse keeper. During a storm the batteries broke down and he had to keep the light going with a hand crank. After a while he had to go downstairs for a piss but suddenly remembered his wife was the captain of a trawler due in just then and would now be dead on the rocks

alternative alternative alternative etc answer:

He lived in that cool base off Stingray and through the staircase window he saw they had just sunk into the ground. He knew his wife was tending the roof garden and now would be the only one exposed to the Merman attack.


(Most of the questions were found on sites like this, this and this. The real answers can be found there too.)


© me 11/8/04