Notes from West London · Trivia

Played 3, Won 3

Last week (“Things we might never do again”) I mentioned a Quiz Night at my daughter’s primary school. It took place in October and was the last such event that I am likely to attend. She is due to move to secondary school (senior school or High School if you prefer) next September, so our day-to-day association with her current place of education (which my son also attended) will end after nine years. In previous years I have competed twice in the school’s annual Quiz Night and our teams won both times. The reward for winning included organizing the following year’s event.

The first win was in 2011, as one of a team of ten. We organized the event in 2012 and part of my contribution was a round of questions based on Dead Pubs in the local area. (Earlier this year I created this Blog Post based on it.) In 2013, having been blamed (rather disproportionately in my view) for edging my previous team into first place, when an honourable second would have been so much less time-consuming for all of us, I arranged to compete in a smaller team, no more than four of us. I would turn up late, leave early, and not risk winning again. Things turned out differently. At the end of Round One none of my supposed team-mates had shown up and I was invited by one of my favourite school mums to join her team instead. It would have been rude not to, for so many reasons. There were seven of us, and we won, without me contributing either to Round One or to any of the “Table Rounds” – things like identifying flavours of crisps, or recognizing celebrities from tiny black and white pictures. We organized the following year’s event, which was even more fun than the previous time. Again I received a disproportionate amount of blame (or should that be credit?) for the team’s victory. The only real downside to being involved in the 2014 quiz was missing out on the last ever gig by the Rutles on the same night. Two of us wondered if we could take the night off and leave it to the rest of the team but we did the decent thing and turned up. I had, at least, seen the Rutles a couple of times before.

In May 2015 I attended as an observer, having been asked for my opinion about a few of the rounds while they were being drafted. I missed the next two quizzes, partly because the timings had changed (the quiz was moved from May back to October) and because I was too disorganized to get a ticket in time. This year, my final chance to compete, I was organized enough to get a ticket, and turned up on the night with a vague arrangement to be part of a team full of people I had never quizzed with before. Our team captain was competing for the tenth and last time, and she had never won.

At the half-way stage we were outside the top three, somewhere mid-table in a field of nine. With one round to go we had taken the lead, and we held on through that final round to win by four points. It was a team effort. Once again the rest of the team did the heavy lifting in identifying flavours of crisps and recognizing tiny black and white photos, although I was the only one to spot Joseph Stalin from a picture taken during his student days. I was also the only one who knew what Carabao is (an energy drink – they’re the sponsors of the League Cup this season), who Manny Pacquiao is (a very famous Filipino boxer) and to guess “irrational number” for the question “In maths what is the name for any number that cannot be expressed as a simple fraction?” It was a well thought-out quiz, and featured some of my all-time favourite questions, including “What is the chemical symbol for Tungsten?” I had used it one of my rounds in 2014. (The answer is “W”.)

Victory was made all the sweeter by a change in the rules that we suggested years ago: the winning team does not have to arrange the following year’s event. Our team captain was (how can I put this?) rather excited at winning. She has since described it to my wife as the best thing that has happened in all her years associated with the school. I was happy to be a part of it and can move on with a quizzing record that reads “Played 3, Won 3”. We even learnt a few things. The country with the longest coastline in the world is Canada. Tom Holland plays the role of Spider-Man in the most recently released film in the franchise (I really should have got that one). And Gordon, from the Thomas the Tank Engine series, is blue.



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