Let’s Get Quizzical

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

Question Number One: “Three songs released within a 12-month period in the middle 80’s were all called ‘The Power of Love.’ Two hit #1 in UK, the other hit #1 in the US. Who sang those three songs?” I asked that question this last Wednesday at my local pub quiz, and was surprised that of the five teams playing, only one didn’t have any guesses at all, and two got all three correct. These are the level of questions I must come up with each week, and not just for Pop Music, but things I know relatively little about, like Shakespeare, the Human Body, all Sciences, Art, Computer Tech, World History, not to mention British History. It’s the Quiz Master’s job to appear to know more than anyone else in the room, when in fact, the only thing I’m probably more schooled at is performing in front of drunken patrons.

I probably should inquire more about the history of Pub Quizzes, for though they appear to have only caught on in the last decade or so, it probably goes back centuries. I remember participating in one in San Francisco about ten years ago, I’m guessing that because I remember the quiz mistress holding up a picture of the rapper 50 Cent, and I was the only one from my team who could identify him. Otherwise, I was fairly useless.

Taking over the gig at my local Shaftesbury Tavern seemed almost a natural progression, and I remember thinking if I didn’t get this one, I’d actually consider applying at other venues. I had became a regular Wednesday fixture there over the past year, since the pub was only about 100 yards down the road. Originally I just teamed up with Eileen, but she quickly enlisted a couple of her neighbours and friends who knew a lot of the stuff she and I didn’t. We were a pretty solid team until she became too ill to walk to the end of the road, though she did manage to play (but not every week) up until about two weeks before she passed away.

The quiz master was a lovely young American in his early 30’s, who’d come here to get his Ph.D (and succeeded), and was doing the quiz at three different venues a week to make a living. The problem he encountered was one that too often happens to anyone here that chooses to go about things the honest way. I read stories constantly in the Daily Mail (yet I go back for more) about either immigrants who make a complete mockery of the benefits system, and wind up housing a family of 16 in a £1 million house, or terrorists and other lawbreakers who claim that if they’re deported back to their native country, they’ll be killed. Those people are somehow allowed to stay, but this poor guy, whose only crime was a visa running out and not being able to nail a professorship within a few months after he’d gotten his degree, is told, “Sorry you gotta go,” Even worse is that while he’s still here, he’s not allowed to work for ANY form of compensation or he faces stiff fines. I’m sure the US is no less strict.

Yes, I feel bad taking a gig that was rightfully his, and certainly would never have thought about infringing on his territory had he not received The Ultimatum. Fortunately, both he and the club agreed I’d be a good replacement. Because I spent scads of money six years ago to get what’s called “Indefinite Stay” on my passport, I’m allowed to stay here without work permits, and the Stay is good for the rest of my life so long as I don’t leave UK for any longer than two years at any one stretch. I tried to help my quiz master buddy go the same route, but the process was going to take too long and he didn’t have the money. One of our female team mates offered to marry him, but that ploy doesn’t work that well here anymore. I actually WAS legitimately married when I applied for my indefinite stay, but the authorities were better impressed that I’d been here on work permits for seven years, and the big clincher, I’D PAID TAXES. That was the deal maker.

And while waiting for that “Great Gig In The Sky” (one of the most obnoxious recordings ever made, and the big reason why I may be the only Rock fan of my age group to never have bought “Dark Side of the Moon”), I have my Wednesdays booked as long as people show up. The Shaftesbury is a lovely venue which first opened in 1895, and has had its ups and downs, but they’re content with just being a neighborhood pub. They took out the big screen TV when the management decided they were tired of dealing with football punters. (Those last two words mean something entirely different here from “the designated player who kicks the ball away on 4th down!”) Without them, it’s kept the number of “incidents” way down!

What I was starting to say last paragraph was, I’ve had maybe two gigs on a Wednesday in the past year, so the chance of conflict is pretty minimal. It still leaves the weekends open for regular comedy gigs or any other social events. Even better is I’m learning a TON of (some useful) information just putting together forty questions, a picture round (10 pictures of people/places/things, all having a common thread but one), and a numbers round, where the team closest to sum of the total of the answers to three numbers-oriented questions wins the pot that each contestant has contributed £2 into.

For me, it’s a new way to be the center of attention, which I always tend to crave anyway. Oh, and the answers to the opening question: Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Jennifer Rush in the UK, Huey Lewis & The News in the US, but you knew that!!

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