Last night I went to a pub quiz at Ye Olde White Bear as a bit of a farewell for Jess who I met on the Wales trip, cos she loves a good bit of a quiz, and occasionally I like to plunge a dipstick into my pool of ignorance to see if its at the same level. We also met her geographically stunted friend Chris, and so a happy trio we were.
We didn't get embarrassingly defeated – we got 25 / 51, and the winning team only had 34 – however the night revealed one or two important points to me:
1) America has 50 states, not 52. I suspected this after humming the New Model Army song “51st State” to myself, figuring it wasn't referring to Alaska or Hawaii.
2) The New Zealand flag only has 4 stars in its Southern Cross, not 5 as the Australian one does.
3) It seems all the British history I've managed to retain comes from episodes of Blackadder. I'm not kidding, I use it to get a general feel for when things happened, can work out some regal successions from it, have a reasonable handle on historical events, etc. Who ever said that memorising TV scripts would prove useless, eh ? The specific question in this case was “Which coin – worth 4 pennies – was taken out of circulation in the 16th century ?”. For lack of any other answer (a florin sounded too fancy for 4p), I said it was a Groat. I'd based this entirely on the fact that in Blackadder the Third Baldrick and Edmund have a bet for a groat that Edmund would be back to save Prince George's skin within minutes of being fired from the household. I figured that Baldrick, being a pauper/servant, would only have access to low value coins, and therefore a groat wouldn't be worth much. It did occur to me that George IV wasn't born until 1762, and therefore it wasn't going to be quite the right era, but we put it down anyway for lack of a better answer. And a groat it surely was ! As the Wikipedia article states, the groat was taken out of regular circulation in 1561, and was issued sporadically thereafter in 1792, 1795, 1800, between 1836 and 1855, and then a special minting in 1888… hence why Baldrick would have had one. However if that question ever comes up I shall be able to reveal the truth and bask in my own superiority, before then getting thrashed at the quiz and subsequently beaten up for being a smartarse.
The final bit of lemon juice in the wound was the “Snowball” question – you buy a ticket, and then after the quiz they draw one, then you go up & answer a question. If you get it right then you win the kitty, otherwise you get a fiver. The question was “What was Mel Gibson's character's name in the Lethal Weapon series?”, AND THE BLOKE DIDN'T GET IT !!! Aaaaaargh ! AND his ticket number was only 2 away from mine, as well. Cruel, cruel fate. I could have done with another hundred & seventy quid.