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Ask me another one.

 By Anthony Leyton  from Park - Life

I love pub quizzes. I think it’s because they combine my triplet interests in drinking, intellectual pedantry, and drinking. 

Interested in pub quizzes? a) The next Seventh Heaven at the Masons Arms is fast approaching – Tuesday 23 March.

b) These are the four most important things you can know…

Firkin, kilderkin, hogshead – beer barrels in ascending size order.
Libya’s flag – the only one to contain just one colour (green).
Elephants – the only animals with four knees.
St John’s Wood – the only tube station that doesn’t contain any of the letters of the word ‘mackerel’.

I love pub quizzes. I think it’s because they combine my triplet interests in drinking, intellectual pedantry, and drinking. Like cryptic crosswords, Vimto, and all-consuming mild pessimism, they’re a peculiarly British institution – not many other nationalities see the point of going out with friends for a drink and then eschewing any conversation in favour of listing the world’s five largest suspension bridges. (I recently took some Americans to a pub quiz. We’re no longer speaking.)

The beauty of the pub quiz is that it gives those of us whose brains function as repositories of useless knowledge a means of validating ourselves in public. I can’t drive, I have no idea how to fix the plumbing, I still need a maths book to work out a percentage. Ask me to name the capital cities of every post-Soviet country in Central Asia – I’m your man. I’m the kind of person who can pretty much ignore everything someone else says to me until they mention a trivia trigger word:

‘Our relationship is as dead as a doornail.’
‘Did you know that phrase was first used by Shakespeare in Henry VI Part II?’
‘I can’t believe you sometimes.’
‘No, really, Jack Cade says it in Act 4.’
‘You know nothing about romance.’
‘I know that 2.6 million pulped Mills & Boon novels were used to construct the M6 toll road.’

It’s like a bizarre kind of mating display; I expect women to swoon when I tell them almost everyone misuses the phrase ‘it’s the exception that proves the rule’. They don’t, of course, but that doesn’t bother me. As long as I can go home with a four-way share of a free dinner with wine (Mason’s Arms, Kensal Green), a £30 bar tab (the Florist, Bethnal Green), or at very least, a jar of cockles (the Prince George, Dalston), I’m happy.

It’s not the prize that matters, just the winning.

The most important thing about the Great British pub quiz? That it has to be genuine. Many pubs, twigging quiz nights pull in dozens of lucrative ale-quaffers, rope in agencies to provide questions then mechanically recited by a spot-spattered bar youth. A glimpse of a full-colour, pre-printed answer form or a professional-looking picture round and I’m outta there. A pub quiz must have soul. It needs a quizmaster who cares. It requires a photocopied answer sheet made by someone who can barely use a computer. It has to have questions coloured by the quizmaster’s own peculiar interests. It may have only existed since the 1970s, but unless there’s a sudden resurgence in Morris dancing, darts or cribbage, the pub quiz is one of the only true tavern-based folk traditions we’ve got left.

We have a duty to keep it going, people.

Seventh Heaven is £3 a head (maximum of seven per team).
See listing here.

This article was first published on the Park-Life blog  - From Park-Life.org, a blog for QP and the Kensals. Follow them at Twitter.com/ParkLifeBlog


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