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“The family that quizzes together …”

You may have heard the old expression, “The family that prays together stays together”. I had never heard of it when I came across this alternative take, the tagline to Roger Corman’s 1970 movie “Bloody Mama”: “The family that slays together stays together”. It was the kind of low-budget cult classic that played regularly at the old Scala Cinema in the early 1980s, when it was still located in Charlotte Street. I read the tagline on one of their iconic poster-sized monthly schedules, but never saw the film.

As a family we have used variations of this phrase for many years, usually offering an opening line that cannot be rhymed easily. When we went through a phase of playing the card game Uno last year we might say, “The family that plays Uno together … well you know the rest”. Good luck finding a rhyme to complete the expression.

This Blog is home to hundreds of pieces about Trivia and Quiz Questions, reflecting my own interest in such things, but as mentioned in this piece, I am an occasional rather than a regular quizzer. Until last week, the last pub quiz I took part in was in 2018. That earlier piece noted that my daughter is now using online Trivia challenges and she has dramatically improved her knowledge of world geography.

With the school holidays upon us, and a nearby pub offering a light-hearted Monday Night Quiz that finishes before 9.30pm, we attended our first full Quiz Night as a family last week. Part of the attraction was the free pizza that you get for booking a table beforehand. We were also keen to see how we would compare with teams full of adults.

We won, in a three-way tie with two other teams. The prize was a £50 bar tab, to be spent that night. I suggested that the three teams share the proceeds, but was out-voted by our competitors and the quiz master, so there was a tie-break question: “What is the population of Poland?” The nearest answer would win the whole prize. I guessed 40 million. The other teams guessed 6.5 million and 41 million. The correct answer is just under 38 million, so we were the overall winners. I knew about the £50 bar tab but didn’t know about the rollover prize, several months’ worth of entrance fees which had grown to £800. The winning team nominates one person to answer one question to win the whole pot. I was nominated and had to answer the following: “In which month does the Bridgewater Festival take place?” There was an accompanying picture looking like an autumn or winter scene. I guessed October. I was one month out (it’s November) so the pot rolled over for another week.

We didn’t know how to spend our £50 tab. We would have ordered more pizza but the kitchen had just closed. We couldn’t trade it for the money we had already spent at the bar. My children are 15 and 17 and (unlike me at their age) do not drink. My wife drinks very little. I could have done my best to glug £50-worth of booze but suggested buying a bottle of champagne with the proceeds instead, to share with the other joint winners. The pub didn’t stock any, they had some kind of English sparkling wine at £46 a bottle instead. That didn’t seem like a worthwhile use of our winnings, so I bought drinks for one of the other winning teams (the third winning team had made a hasty exit), there was lots of J2O and crisps for my wife and children, and I had a couple more beers and a malt whisky. I overspent the bar tab by 40p.

We returned two nights ago, even better prepared than previously. I had spent a few hours during the week improving my knowledge of flags and world geography by taking the same Jetpunk quizzes repeatedly. I set up a bar tab when we arrived, so that if we won we could trade it against our winnings. Not over-confidence, you understand, but just in case. We won again, by a few points. We even won a bonus 3 points by tasting and identifying a small glass of mystery beer, entirely by chance. It was Fuller’s Frontier, which I had never tasted. In fact, I always thought it was called “Fronter”. I had been misreading it for years. The rollover prize had grown to something like £850. I was unable to answer the following question: “When was John Smiths Bitter first brewed?” I guessed the 1970s, but was 120 years out. It was the 1850s.

We were able to use our £50 bar tab to pay for the drinks and pizzas we had already ordered. The kitchen was still open, so we ordered even more pizza, more drinks, and underspent by £2.30. We were done for the night. We considered buying two packets of crisps but that seemed rather petty.

We hope to do it all again next Monday. After all, you know what they say: “The family that quizzes together …”

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