Friday, 2 November 2012

A Tale of Two Questions

Miss Simpson was not universally loved by the pupils of Elthorne High School in Hanwell between 1976 and 1982, my time at the school. I suppose that this was in part due to her position , since she was one of the Deputy Headteachers. Partly as well it may have been due to her very strict and disciplinarian manner. In all my time at the school I never heard any other pupil accusing her of being a good teacher. However I must pay tribute to her now, for something she said back when my friends and I were in the lower sixth form. I can’t remember the context , but she was running a lesson with some of us who were studying different A Level subjects, and she was making a point about thinking . She asked us this question : -
“What does this word say –“ and she wrote it on the board, “- PECTOPAH ?”
Now, if like me your answer was the phonetic equivalent of peck – toe – par , then I’m afraid that, like me, you are wrong. She went on to explain that although it looks like this word is written in the latin alphabet, it is actually in Cyrillic. The word is Russian for restaurant, and it’s pronounced . . . well, it’s pronounced ’ restaurant’. The point being that sometimes you have to think outside the box, I suppose.

Last night it was the turn of Dai Norwich to be question master in the club. Dai is one of our semi regulars, and I don’t think you could call him a serious quizzer. Which means that he usually asks at least a few questions that are a little bit, how should one put it, out there. Last night one of the questions he asked was this : -
“Which latin letter does the letter H stand for in the Cyrillic alphabet ? “
My initial reaction was – How the hell is anyone in here supposed to know that ? Then my second reaction was – Hang about a moment. I think that I might know the answer to that myself.- Dredging up the word pectopah I first went for T – then realized that T was already there in the middle, in the position that T in the latin alphabet would be. So , bearing in mind that the T is silent in the original French word restaurant, I went for N. We got the point . Thanks Miss Simpson.

I quote the question above as an example of the dangers of asking questions from left field. I say out of left field because I don’t recall ever being asked a question about letter equivalents in Cyrillic before. Now, if by some combination of circumstance like the one I described above, teams manage to answer correctly then it will be hailed as a great question. On the other hand, if, like I imagine most of the other teams, you haven’t a clue and are reduced to making a wild stab in the dark, then it will be hailed as a ridiculous question. Quizzers’ double standards ? Don’t get me started

In the interests of fairness I ought to pay tribute to another question Dai asked last night ,

”Which is the only song which reached the top 10 in the UK in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s ?”
– Great question – I thought – and why have I never heard it before ? We didn’t get the right answer. Dai gave the answer “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate. My admiration for the question, mind, is slightly tempered by the fact that I googled it this morning to check , and found that while it’s true that You Sexy Thing was in the top 10 in those three decades – so was John Lennon’s “Imagine” . We lost nothing because we didn’t even come up with that as an answer. But I do wonder if any of the other teams came up with Imagine . Well, it’s one of the pitfalls of making your own quiz that even if you take a lot of care you can end up making mistakes. I still think it’s a great question, as long as you say “Which two songs etc. etc. “ or give one and ask for the other one.

12 comments:

Topical Quiz said...

Great question on the top 10s but how did you find out Imagine was the other one and that there are only two of them?

Londinius said...

Hi Topical Quiz
When I’m checking questions after the fact I’m often too lazy to go much further than my PC. I googled Hot Chocolate sexy thing top 10 70s 80s 90s. I found several websites that quote the fact that this song was definitely in the UK top 10 in these three decades. One website mentioned that it was one of only two – Imagine being the other. Wikipedia has a page all about Imagine, and this quotes the chart positions it reached each time it was released. I verified this with the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. Now, it is possible that the sources I used on the net which said that these two were the only singles to reach the top 10 in all three of these decades could be wrong, and I wasn’t prepared to check through the singles book to find out. On the balance of probability I think it’s probably right, especially since I found nothing to contradict this.

Dave Bill said...

There is a similar question (can't remember the exact wording) - about a group who had chart hits in the 70's, 80's and 90's.. (#1, #2 and #1) - Each time the group had a 100% different line-up. Name the group? :)

HughTube said...

I suspect he expected people get the first question through 'Murder on the Orient Express' where a handkerchief initialled with an H found at the crime scene is an important plot point. It implicates three or four of the characters who have names beginning with H, but it actually belongs to the Russian princess Natalia Dragomiroff.

contentedofcheltenham said...

Can't believe people aren't falling over each other to answer Dave B's conundrum! I'm presuming the answer is the England World Cup squad in 1970 ('Back Home'), 1982 ('This Time') and 1990 ('World in Motion'). I remember checking that none of the '90 squad were also around in 1982 and would need to satisfy myself again, but it's a great question!

Topical Quiz said...

Thanks Londinius. I have checked my database and I think it is correct that there are only two 70s, 80s and 90s triple top tenner but I have found another equally good question. Which is the only song which reached the top 10 in the UK in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s ?

Dave Bill said...

Is it the three versions of Band Aid, 'Do They Know It's Christmas'?

Dave Bill said...

Scratch that, Band Aid II was 1989.

Topical Quiz said...

Any more guesses before I reveal the answer??

HughTube said...

'Do You Know it's Christmas' is surely right, as it was number one into January 1990.

Topical Quiz said...

That maybe so but it was a different version of the song each time. The actual answer is the same version by the same group each time.

Topical Quiz said...

The answer is 'The Power of Love' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood' which was a number one in 1984, reached number 10 in 1993 and number 6 in 2000.