Saturday, 21 August 2010

Ring Rust

I suppose that you could say that this particular posting comes under the heading of displacement activity, that is, finding something, anything to do to avoid doing what you really should be doing at the time. Not that I would ever want you to think that posting on LAM is a chore. Come to think of it, what I should be doing – starting to compile the quiz for the rugby club for next Thursday night – isn’t a chore either. However I am currently in London, away from LAM mission control and my hundreds of quiz books and resources – honestly, its true, I really do have hundreds of quiz books and related resources – and so I’m umming and ahhing between making a start on researching the topical questions, or leaving it all for when I return in the middle of the week.

The rugby club quiz last Thursday was actually the first quiz I’d played in since before going to Spain. That made it a full fortnight between quizzes. Alright, I have gone for longer than that on occasions, but its not something I do if I can avoid it.

The question master for the evening was Clive. Clive is what I would call a good, safe pair of hands. When Clive does the quiz you can relax because you know that you’re not going to be asked too much beyond the sort of thing you’d normally expect in any pub quiz, but you’re going to get a couple of good’uns and headscratchers every other round. In short, a pretty good quiz to ease myself back in with. Clive very, very rarely ever uses any wrong’uns. However on Thursday night there was one question in the first round which made me rue forgetting the maxim – play the man and not the ball. The question went like this : -
“Who was the first person, to preside as Prime Minister, from the House of Lords ? “
Wow – thought I – difficult question that ! None of the team had a clue, but I knew for a fact that once upon a time I had actually asked a question in a quiz along the lines of if Robert Walpole was the first British PM, who was the second, and then given the teams a list of options to choose from. It came to me that the correct answer had been The Earl of Wilmington. Yes ! – I announced, the glint of victory in my eye – I know it ! , and we shoved the answer down on the paper.
Now, we had actually put down the correct answer to the question as asked. What we hadn’t done, though, was have the simple common sense to ask ourselves what Clive was doing asking such a difficult question. It just wasn’t the type of question that Clive would ask. Its not what I would call common quiz knowledge, and its not the sort of thing where you can pick the answer out of thin air through inspired guesswork. It never occurred to us to say that a far more likely question to ask would be – Who was the LAST person to preside as PM from the House of Lords ? All of which we realise when Clive gave his answer as Lord Salisbury ! I was too busy trying to be clever to put my question master’s hat on, and really think about what he was trying to ask us. OK, I’m not having a go at Clive. He takes more care over his quiz than many, and its more easy than you might think to write down – who was the first - when you mean – who was the last - or vice versa. I only make the point because it struck me at the time as maybe the equivalent of ring-rust on my part.

I’d like to share one last thing observation on the quiz if I may. There were two handouts, one of which was a set of 20 cryptic clues to the names of pop groups or artists. This one particularly tickled me –
Spanish heavyweight toilet - answer – Elton John.


Another Anne said...

Similar thing at one of the Grands Prix recently.

Everything pointed to the answer to the question being Cicero, except the fact that he was supposed to have said it in 4BC.

About 40 years too late, I thought, so I put Pliny.

And, of course, it was a typo for 44BC ...

Londinius said...

It really is true - you CAN know too much for your own good . As I said, I don't really blame Clive for it - its just one of those things that can heppen from time to time, and I should have smelt a rat when I realised how difficult the question - as it was asked - was.

How are you, anyway ?


Another Anne said...

Me? I'm fine, but still getting over having to spend a week working in Edinburgh and having another job that needs to be finished by Tuesday. Bring back the Chase so I can get paid for having FUN!!!

LisaH said...

..hmmm, memories of sitting in a Schools Challenge quiz match and being asked the product of the numbers from 1 to 10. I got as far as 8! in my head before a team-mate smelt a rat, buzzed in with 55 and was right.

Londinius said...

Hi Lisa

What with children's sense of what's fair and what's unfair, somehow I bet that made it even worse. I remember in a school quiz competition being asked how Icarus died. I launched into a long explanation of how he ignored Daedalus' warnings, flew too close to the sun, the wax holding the feathers together to make wings metled, and he plummetted to death in the sea. I was not given the point because I had not specifically used the word 'drowned' ! Technically a correct adjudication, but I would have thought that 'plummeted to death in the sea' covered it. Still, it only bothered me so much that I still remember the incident over 30 years later.


Another Anne said...

No, you wuz robbed there, David. People who fall into the sea from a great height don't necessarily drown, they die of multiple injuries consistent with hitting any other hard surface at high velocity.

Even if every other aspect of the myth is completely implausible ...