Monday, 21 July 2014

On Being Virtuous, and Scottish Skin

I have tried to be virtuous today. Honestly. This is the first official day of the school holidays. Actually I should qualify that a little. When the dates for this school year came out, it transpired that we were actually supposed to be in school for today, and tomorrow was supposed to be the first day of the holidays. Now, rather than having to come in for just one day, which would have been in INSET day anyway, we worked several twilight sessions during the year after school. Not really worth mentioning, but there we are.

So as I said, I am trying to be virtuous this morning. I popped into the school because I didn’t finish reorganizing and tidying my stock room before the end of last week. However I couldn’t find anyone there, and the block was locked, so that has been put on hold until later in the week. I tried, at least.

Now, the basic problem is my legs. Let me explain that. I am very proud of my Scottish ancestry, but it does mean that one thing I seem to have inherited from my Scottish forbears ( you have forbears? That’s one more than Goldilocks – boom boom) one thing I seem to have inherited from them is my Scottish skin. My arms and face will eventually darken, given exposure to ultraviolet, but my legs? Never. They remain a flaccid bluey-white, obstinately refusing to tan even slightly. It looks pathetic. We’re off to Spain at the end of the month, and you have to wear shorts out there. I think they passed a law some time in the 70s. Alright, maybe it’s not compulsory, but trust me, in the summer, you need to wear shorts. So for the last three or four weeks I’ve been wearing them at every opportunity, exposing them to sunshine for all I’m worth. So far – nothing. Last week I even volunteered to accompany 70 odd kids to a theme park for the day to give me an opportunity to get my shorts on again. Result? It tipped down all day. The next day, last Thursday, I again volunteered for a 2 hour stint out on the field in what was ironically dubbed “Fun Day”. I endured two hours of blindingly hot sunshine, and at the end the only bit of my legs which looked even slightly red was where a wasp stung me.

Well, if at first and all that. So this morning, unable to tidy the stockroom I made the fateful decision to take a little exercise instead. A walk in Kenfig Pool Nature reserve would have the triple effect of letting me expose my legs for an hour or two, providing me with some exercise, and letting me see some of my favourite butterflies. I walked for about an hour and a quarter, and in that time I saw 9 species – meadow brown, gatekeeper, small blue, common blue, grayling, small white, speckled wood, peacock and red admiral. Thinking about it, you could probably write a whole article about butterfly names. One of my favourite ever connections went something like this: -

1) Who is Reina Sophia? (she isn’t any longer, but was then)
During the making of which film did Liz Taylor meet Richard Burton?
Which title, now born by the King of Spain, belonged to the ruler of an independent dukedom which was later absorbed into the French crown?
What is the connection between the last three answers?

The answers are : - The Queen of Spain – Cleopatra – The Duke of Burgundy – and the connection is that they have all had butterflies named after them. Now, granted that this is a very specialist connection set, and the guest setter who asked it didn’t receive the warmest round of applause at the end of the quiz, but it does illustrate my point.

Well, speaking of quizzes, which I really should be, you’ll be delighted to know that last night’s quiz, about which I wrote in my last post, went off rather well. I hadn’t realized it before Jess and I arrived, but the pub is one I’d played in through the Bridgend League a couple of times, and a very nice big pub it is too. It’s part of the Brains pub chain. I’m guessing that the chain originated with Brains’ Brewery in Cardiff, but according to their own publicity they now have over 250 pubs in Wales and the Midlands. Anyway, I mention this because the Twelve Knights,, our surviving ‘every-other-Sunday’ quiz pub, is also a Brains pub. So I expected a similar Redtooth quiz. In the Twelve Knights the format is that there is a picture round to start (only 10 pictures thank goodness – pictures and me do not get on, as I think I might have mentioned once or twice before) The next ten questions are all based on the news. For the next round, you are given two lists of five. It’s billed as a Family Fortunes round, but thankfully you’re not asked to predict what the five most popular answers were out of a 100 person survey to find the most popular names for dogs, and such like. For example, our most recent Twelve Knights quiz asked us – Name the last Five films to win the Best Picture Oscar which begin with the word ‘The’. Something that requires a bit of knowledge, I think you’ll agree. The next round gives you ten questions, each of which starts with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. The next round after that has 4 questions, and then asks for the connection. The last round of ten asks ten general knowledge questions. You can answer as many or as few as you like. If you answer all 10 correctly you get 15 points – a 5 point bonus being added to your 10. If you get any answer wrong, though, you get no points for the round at all. Good fun, actually.

So, as I said, I expected something similar last night. There was one difference I noticed straight away. The quiz in the Twelve Knights is always quite well attended, but last night this was of a whole different order. The place was packed. I’d estimate that there were between a dozen and fifteen large teams there. Now, the first round was just the same sort of Redtooth picture round as I expected, and then 10 questions on the news, but after that it was quite different. We had 30 mixed General Knowledge questions – a couple of which made you think, but most of which were perfectly straightforward. Then at the end we had one list of five – in this case a list of US TV shows, and were asked to write down the cities in which they are set.

So, going back to what I wrote yesterday, one of my concerns was that whenever you go to a new quiz, you’re always worried that it might be one of these places where a blind eye is turned to phone cheating. Well, Jess and I won last night with 51/55(two wrong answers were pictures, and the other two were news questions), and the runners up had 49/55. So on reflection I’d say that no, there probably wasn’t phone cheating going on.

Emboldened by our win, I had a little chat with the landlord who’d asked the quiz afterwards, about the quiz, and the format, and the fact that it’s similar in some ways to the Redtooth quiz in the Knights, but also different. What he told me was that the brewery send out the quizzes which they buy from Redtooth. When he gets the quiz, he uses the first two rounds, but then asks the rest as a straight GK quiz, and changes some of the questions, replacing some of them with his own, which he judges more suited to the regulars. You know, I’m all for that. He also won my approval when he gave the answer to this question: -
Who resigned from his post as Foreign Secretary last week? When he read out the answer he’d been given – Ken Clarke – there was a bit of an outcry, and he immediately responded with,
You’re right. Of course it’s William Hague. I don’t know why they’ve given Ken Clarke as the answer here.
Respect for that. So all in all I was very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed yesterday night’s quiz. OK – so the first prize was only 6 drinks tickets, as opposed to the £25 voucher from the Knights, but then it isn’t so much about the prizes anyway. So if you’re a regular in last night’s quiz, I can only apologise, but in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger – I’ll be back.

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