- Which Victorian artist, who signed his early works JAG, was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and created works including “Dulce Domum” and “On Hampstead Hill?”
2. “It’s name beginning with the letter “p”, in which river, according to legend, did King Midas wash himself in order to remove the curse of everything he touched turning to gold?”
3. The Oscar winning 2018 documentary Free Solo is about which mountaineer?
4. “The musical instrument the Ondes Martenot was used by which French classical composer in works including his “Turangalila Symphony” and his opera “St Francis of Assisi”
5. “Which English actor is the partner of Taylor Swift?”
6. “Which German-born US anthropologist, whose works include “The Mind of Primitive Man” (1911), created the four-field subdivision of anthropology?”
7. “Which Welshman was winner of the World’s Strongest Man title in 1993?”
All quizzers have good days and bad days. Last November at the European Quizzing Championships, I was lying in 12th place with two rounds to go and then mentally disintegrated under pressure finishing about 40th.
June’s World Quizzing Championships represented a far worse day, missing the event completely to spend time in an MRI scanning machine, undergoing investigations for suspected Parkinson’s.
And so my primary ambition at yesterday’s British Quiz Championships was to enjoy myself. As one can imagine, there has been a lot of evaluating priorities in the last few months, and the concept that keeps emerging is that I should spend my life enjoying the things that I enjoy. And I really, really enjoy having questions fired at me.
Last Sunday, I quizzed for eleven straight hours at a Quiz League of London social.
On Tuesday I had two hours of old Final Chase questions fired at me at speed. Turns out that if you only answer “NASA” you have a decent chance of winning.
On Friday the fiance and I spent all day in a hotel room writing, filing and asking questions. Then we went to a fabulous dinner party with other quizzers, where repeatedly, I drunkenly said “Don’t forget Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is called Joe Allwyn”
There is an interesting debate to be had about whether serious quizzers should turn up to serious quizzes with a hangover. With my diagnosis, it is no longer a debate. Enjoy what you enjoy.
Yesterday’s British Quiz championships consisted of 240 written questions of varying difficulty all worth 1 point.
I sat down, read the questions and at various points thought…………
- “JAG? Does that mean his/her name has the initials AG? I think there is a painter called Atkinson Grimshaw”
2. “In 2009 i recorded hundreds of mythology questions onto a voice recorder, and would play them back on long car journeys. This was one of them. It definitely begins with “p”, is very obscure. It might just be “pactolus”.
3. “The surname is Wormald”
Half an hour later “Nope that’s the hot dancer who starred in the 2011 Footloose remake. Let’s guess at Hornold”
4. “Let’s try Olivier Messiaen on the grounds that whenever I’ve guessed him before, I’ve been wrong”
5. “As I have been telling other quizzers last night, the answer is Joe Allwyn”
6. “Ugh sociologists. All the academic quizbowl players will know this, whereas I only know three. Durkheim was French. Weber was German. I think the other one I’ve heard of is Franz Boas”
7. Get the fuck in. I only learnt this yesterday. Not Geoff Capes. Not Jamie Reeves. Not Eddie Hall. The years aren’t right. It is Gary Taylor.
People who ask us to compare Chasers to Eggheads seem unaware that Kevin and Pat, are two of the three greatest quizzers who have ever lived. To beat them in any format, it just absolutely has to be your day. Because realistically I’m still not in their league.
I had such a day yesterday. Not one of the above questions was in anything approaching a quiz comfort zone for me. I nailed all seven. As the quiz progressed, I instinctively knew I was doing really well. At the end of the quiz, the reality that I might be the British champion started to hit me. When I realised that I had won, I did what I had to do.
I retired to another room and wept for two hours.
The weeping. It had nothing to do with Parkinson’s. Although I am realistic enough to know that this was probably my one big shot at a major title.
It had everything to do with the fact that I have worked my bloody arse off for the last ten years, travelling around the country and indeed Europe just trying to compete, enjoy and improve. Despite operating at a high level for a number of years, I still field tweets telling me I’m shit at quizzing on a regular basis, and it is so wearying when any kind of honest response makes me sound like a self aggrandising twat. The Chase is a TV show. It’s not real life. In real life I quiz for self improvement, and the respect of a peer group whom I treasure. It isn’t remotely glamorous. It is gloriously fun.
And you hope, against hope, that just once, the stars will align, and it will be your day. If I had got any of the above seven questions wrong I would not be able to say that………….
For the next 12 months, I’m the f**king British Quiz Champion. Parkinson’s will not be able to take that away from me.