FOR 10 points, and the grand prize, name the famous American author and humorist who uttered the following remark:
"Newcastle consists of a long street with a graveyard at one end with no bodies in it, and a gentleman's club at the other with no gentlemen in it".
Yes, you are probably wrong, apparently.
For years, people have assumed that the Twain story was true. Just about anybody who wrote about Newcastle or Hunter Street used the quotation, wryly enjoying the deprecating insinuation that Newcastle was a bit of a bumpkinville.
Even dyed-in-the-wool Novocastrians accepted the quote as a fair cop.
The assumption was so embedded in our civic psyche that nobody bothered to actually track down the original source.
Until Newcastle University archivist Gionni Di Gravio decided to nail the quote down.
Gionni was researching Twain's flying visit to Newcastle in December 1895, and was excited by the chance discovery of a letter the famous writer had sent to a Newcastle dentist, thanking him for pulling a painful tooth.
Twain had been on his way, by train, through Newcastle to Scone, where he was to read a new poem he had written about Australia.
It was a stinking hot day, he had a terrible toothache, and just enough time when the train paused in Newcastle to race up to the dental hospital run by the Wells brothers, on the corner of King and Bolton Streets.
The extraction done, Twain went on his way. The Scone visit was a success and the grateful author sent his note of thanks to the dentist.
The letter got folded into a dentistry book which, decades later, was bought by another Newcastle dentist, Jim Vidler.
Jim found the letter, helping set Gionni off on his own researches of Twain's Hunter visit, which inevitably involved the famous Hunter Street quote.
Gionni wasn't willing to take the story on trust, and wanted its precise origin.
The first reference he could find was by journalist and author, the late Alan Farrelly, in a 1968 book he wrote in collaboration with photographer Ron Morrison.
Gionni phoned Farrelly, but the newspaperman couldn't recall where the quote came from.
Another variant of the quote was found in an unpublished memoir by Mr R.L. Rundle, in Newcastle's local studies library.
This time a hospital was substituted for the gentlemen's club.
The source was said to have been a letter by Twain to a correspondent in San Francisco, so Gionni contacted the official archive of Mark Twain papers at the University of California. He thought the correspondent might have been Twain's nephew, Samuel Moffet, to whom he had often written.
But although there were letters from Australia in the right period, no reference to Newcastle could be found.
There was a diary note, however, that read:
"The scenery was various on the trip. That of Hawkesbury in the National Park region fine with spacious views of stream and lake imposingly framed in woody hills.
"Further along, flats, thinly covered with gum forests, with here and there the huts and cabins of small settlers engaged in raising children.
"Further along, an arid stretch now and then, and lifeless; then busy Newcastle, capital of the rich coal regions."
No big long street. No empty cemetery. No shortage of gentlemen.
Gionni isn't sure Twain never made the famous quote, but if he did, the source remains frustratingly unknown.
"Maybe somebody will turn up one day with a letter and solve the mystery," he said.
"But at the moment I suspect it's a Novocastrian myth.
"And a typical one, because we seem to love to run ourselves down."
Twain, Gionni pointed out, was hardly in town long enough to form much of an opinion, and he almost certainly wouldn't have had a chance to experience any "gentleman's club".
So the mystery remains, for now at least.