A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… well, last night in a pub…

It’s been a while since Pub Quiz Man had an outing. But last night, he was back with a vengeance and ready for a fresh adventure. Unfortunately, what had sounded like being a fairly large team had dwindled over the previous 48 hours to just me and my friend Becky. But everyone else missed out – not just on the quiz element, but on one of the most strangley hilarious nights I’ve ever witnessed.

To cut a long story short, there’s a big pub quiz on Monday nights a one of our nearby hostelries; it’s hugely popular, but very difficult to win, and the prizes are, frankly, a bit crap (open a mystery box – you might win some money! Or a tin of tuna! Or, er, nothing at all!). So the discovery of another pub nearby also doing a Monday night quiz – but this one with a definite cash prize, wooo!! – made us think it was time to try a new challenge.

We’d been tipped off the quiz started at 8, so Becky and I both arrived about half 7, had a drink and a chat and noted how strangely quiet and empty the pub was, considering there was a quiz imminent. It transpired the quiz was actually at 9, not 8, so we just kept chatting and psyched ourselves up for it. At about five past nine, with still no sign of anything happening, we checked with the bar staff – yes, there was a quiz on. About ten minutes later, the quiz master came round to explain how it worked for our benefit. Worryingly, his explanation took in several different variations of rounds, extra rounds, odd puzzles and so on, culminating with the words, “and then eventually, we finish sometime around Friday morning…”

And then we finally got started. Quite early on, we noticed the quiz master’s gentle, whispering tone, wich was kind of reminiscent of David Attenborough commentating on a snooker match. We also noticed some slightly ridiculous questions, none more so than the first question of the first round. The round was entitled ‘Star Wars’, and the opening question was: “which series of films is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?” I almost wondered if it was a trick question, and considered putting the Lethal Weapon films as our answer…

Well, we got off to a fine start and at one point were even in the lead. However, a double whammy of sport (mostly about American football and baseball, two sports that are very much non-mainstream in the UK) and history left us struggling somewhat. Then came a round in which a correct answer would give you another point but an incorrect answer would see you lose a point – but you had the option of not answering any of the questions if you wanted. All the while, the quiz master continued to very quietly come out with random announcements like, “and here’s question number two, which comes after question number one and occurs just before question three, although it’s still a long way off question eight…”

Finally, all the points were added up and, out of the seven or so teams taking part, we were pretty much slap bang in the middle. However, two teams had finished with the same score and were set a tie-break question, which caused some controversy as the quiz master struggled to do the maths and work out who was closer due to forgetting that BC years were further back in time than AD years. So well done, winning team. But wait – there’s more. Despite the fact that one team had apparently just won, we were then asked another question – what is the capacity of Wembley Stadium for an American football match?* – and everyone put forward an answer. At which point, the team who came closest got to choose from two cups and win what was under the one they picked. And so, it came to pass that the apparent “winners” of the quiz didn’t seem to actually win anything, while some other people who’d taken a lucky guess at one question walked off with the princely sum of £19.

All in all then, it was a confusing and frequently surreal evening, and by the end of it Becky and I still had no idea what had just happened. But we had laughed a lot and enjoyed the competitive element – even if we still had no idea how the quiz actually worked – and I suspect there may be a return visit soon. Maybe we’ll just keep going back until we actually understand it.

* 86,000 – in case you ever get that question in your own local made-up-as-it-goes-along pub quiz.

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