Europhiles v. Relatives
I’m a bit of Europhile myself on the QT, so I leant a little towards Douglas Thomson, Khuram Rashid and captain Mark Seager. On the other hand, two of the Relatives, husband and wife Hamish and Davina Galloway are, I think, closer to my own vintage, and so, together with Davina’s son Nick Latham they were also deserving of my support. Or, to put it another way, I was sharing the jinx around equally for this show. Everything to play for and nothing to lose, because nobody goes home after just one show. Let’s get on with it, then.
Round One _ What’s the Connection?
The Relatives began the game choosing Twisted Flax. The Teletubbies appeared, and possible link overload precluded any chance for me of going for a 5 pointer. I had it with a tub of Vitalite – altogether (to the tune of The Israelites) – Oh – oh – Vitalite!. They all feature the sun with a face in it, I suggested. The third clue - Nuclear Power? No thanks – confirmed it. Incidentally when I was a lad I helped out on a milk round, and one of the houses in Grosvenor Road in Hanwell always had a VW camper van parked outside it, which had the same sign in its rear window, except that it was in German. Atomkraft? Nein Danke. Why I’ve never forgotten that I cannot possibly say. The last clue was the Flag of Argentina, with its Sol de Mayo. The Relatives just weren’t there, and went for circles, while the Europhiles said the sun was the connection which was enough for a bonus. Victoria asked a question which I cannot believe that I have never asked myself (although I haven’t)- why would the Vitalite sun wear sunglasses – to protect itself from what? Itself? The Euros opted for Water, and received New Year: 1 am – Chinese New Year: 1am – at this point I was barking up the wrong tree with pub closing hours – Diwali: 1 am didn’t help, but Novermber 5th: Midnight – certainly did. I guessed that this was ‘no more fireworks’ time in the UK. The Euros just didn’t have it, but the Rels were happy to take back the bonus on that one. For their second set they opted for Eye of Horus. Flattened note didn’t help any of us. However the second clue – Polyommatus Icarus I knew. It’s the scientific name of the butterfly commonly known, appropriately enough, as the common blue. I wasn’t confident enough to nail my colours to the mast just yet, but blue was certainly in my thinking. The third clue was Hugh Laurie’s Sporting Prize, and we know that Hugh Laurie won a Cambridge blue for rowing. So blue seemed right. The last clue of rare steak gave it to the Rels, who had judiciously hung on until they could get the right answer. Two Reeds gave the music question to the Euros. I think it fell right for them as well. Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that Motorhead should be written Motörhead, but the Rels did, and off just two clues they had groups whose names should be written with an umlaut. Great shöut. Oh dear, Davina of the Rels flirted with disaster by failing to voice the second vowel of Horned Viper. In the end though they understood a set of pictures all connected with the name Watson. This left the Euros with Lion. Now, this was a tricky set where the meaning of the words was unconnected, but the words themselves were – so we had Goran Ivanišević – United Arab Emirates – unimaginative – verisimilitude. Neither team had the fact that each clue is either – vowel – consonant – vowel – consonant etc. or vice versa. One of those ‘staring you in the face’ sets that you just are not going to get. This mean that at the end of the first round the Euros led with 4 to the Rels’ 3.
Round Two – What Comes Fourth?
The Rels kicked off with Eye of Horus, and a lovely set, if you’re an Olympic Games fan. 2000 Beijing actually gave me a big clue, because I knew that the runner up city for the location of the 2000 Olympics was Beijing. Which, working forwards, would give 2012: Paris. Now, I didn’t know that in 2004, Rome was the runner up city, but I was sticking with my answer. Toronto 2008 confirmed I had a five pointer. Neither team really quite had a handle on it. So the Euros picked two reeds and uncovered a set of pictures for their pains. The first was Laa-Laa of the tellytubbies. The second turned out to be scree. The last was Hawaii. Now, if you had the second two you had a chance – but I didn’t. Neither team had the double vowel connection, which would have been solved with the word kangaroo. Once again Davina invited bad luck by leaving the second vowel of horned viper unvoiced. I will admit that I didn’t have it from Edward Richard George, but I started to have an inkling with James Harold, and at Leonard James I shouted ‘Margaret Hilda!’ at the screen. They didn’t hear me, and in fact neither team had the answer. They are first and middle names of successive Prime Ministers – Heath, Wilson – Callaghan and then Thatcher. Round Two is often the round that sorts the men out from the goats, or the sheep from the boys, or whatever, and it was certainly giving all sorts of problems to our teams. Now, Twisted Flax gave me a second five pointer. Michael Rosen was a Children’s Laureate, so I thought that if in doubt, go for the current one, and so offered Malorie Blackman. The Euros took another, Anthony Browne, to be certain. And then gave the correct answer. Water gave the Rels Guanaco. I didn’t get a five pointer on this. However Llama for the second clue did prompt me to chance my arm with Bactrian Camel, that being the next but one largest of the camelids. That was right, and the Rels took it after being given Dromedary for the third clue. Left with no choice but Lion, the Rels took Zinedine Zidane – Kaká – and at this point began barking up the world footballer of the year tree, when they should have been looking at its neighbour, the most expensive transfer tree. This let the Rels in for a bonus, and after Cristiano Ronaldo they knew that the next highest transfer record was set by Gareth Bale. That was enough to bring the gap between the teams back to one point, as the Euros had 7 to the Rels’ 6.
Round Three – The Connecting Walls
The Euros plumped for the Lion wall. They probably wished that they’d gone the other way. From early doors they saw a set of words which, when preceding the word – City make up the name of a fictional city, but just couldn’t isolate the right ones. To be honest they struggled to see any of the other sets, and when time ran out none of the lines had been resolved. When they were, the Euros saw that Mark – Jam – Fields and Hill can each follow the word Strawberry, Chantilly – Princess – Downton and Blonde they guessed as types of lace. A set of diamond cuts followed in the shape of cushion – emerald – pear and oval, which left the cities – in this case Sin – Gotham – Dark and Cloud. So at least 4 points had been salvaged, and whatever happened they wouldn’t be looking down the barrel of a 9 point deficit going into the vowels.
I did think that the Water wall was perhaps slightly kinder than the previous, but the Rels couldn’t untangle it. That might be the first time that neither team has untangled any of the lines on their walls in the same show. The Rels certainly could see at least two of the categories, but they just wouldn’t resolve. Once the whole wall was resolved they quickly saw that Monk – Tatum – Peterson and Waller was a set of jazz pianists. Wizard – Bard – Psion and Paladin none of us knew as Dungeons and Dragons character classes. I bet my old mate KD Johnson had that one if he was watching. They’d known there was a whisky set there which just wouldn’t quite untangle for them. This consisted of Mac – Galore – a Go Go – Priest. Off the point completely, it was interesting to see Galore and A Go Go both being part of this set. Whisky Galore is of course that perfect Ealing (yay, Ealing!)comedy based on the book by Compton Mackenzie. When it was released in France it was titled Whisky A Go Go - after the famous Paris nightclub. This left another set which again, they had nearly but not quite untangled, Powerbook – Performa – Lisa – Newton – all former Apple products. All of which meant that with 3 points, the Rels now trailed the Euros by 9 to 11.
Alright, this wasn’t the highest scoring round we’ve ever seen, but it was close and interesting. The first set was Japanese cities, and it fell 3 – 0 to the Euros. They were suddenly very much in the driving seat, and the Rels needed a good set of their own. Euphemisms for Go To The Lavatory followed and fell 2 apiece. Scarf wearers fell 3- 1 to the Rels, and that was it. Incidentally, there was some fine black humour in the choice of Isadora Duncan as a famous scarf wearer, bearing in mind the manner of her death. The wall round had been a long one, so those three vowel categories were all we had time for. This sealed a victory for the Euros, by 17 to 14. Good game.