Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Eating of the Spoils

The Benefits of Winning Certain Quizzes

Sunday saw myself return to Sho'ditch House to consume the £150 winnings from a previous quiz we had won on the same day I had returned spotty and disorderly in both mind and body from Budapest.

Steve Furst, him off the Orange cinema ads, was doing the quizmaster duties since Richard "Cocaine both helped and hindered my career" Bacon had somehow forgotten he had a radio show on FiveLive to do at the same time. However, Furst was brilliant and far better than Bacon would have been (my opinion, but 'tis my blog). And brilliant in the way that increasingly sozzled presenters are.

Of course, to keep us cynical meeja types happy he told us of the best and worst of the roster of guest stars that he had worked with, whilst selling that certain coloured mobile phone brand. The late and dearly departed Roy Scheider was "lovely", while apparently Carrie Fisher had emptied her hotel room mini-bar as if she had assumed the form of a locust swarm and charged it to her agency. The most heinous of them all was a certain star of the film Splash. Daryl Hannah was deemed "VILE". An absolute prima donna, she had gone out the day before filming and spent her entire wardrobe budget only to turn up the next day in her own scruffy jeans without any of the pre-purchased clothes. I mean, the cunning cheek of the silly one-eyed mermaid!

He was also fully aware of the need to sell himself and self-deprecate in equal measure too, announcing every one of his ventures as barely seen, except for Little Britain, naturally, and pleading with us to see him do proper stand-up. At least nine times.

On asking the bona fide question, was Charlotte Church's chatshow any good? A lone voice rose amongst the geese-like melee. "I was a researcher on it ... we asked for you to come on," piped up a typical-looking Hoxton habitue. It was as if he was proud of this fact. No, he was proud and announcing it to the rest of the room. Giving him a shotgun-load of disdain in his excessively moisturised face, Furst replied: "Liar! If you had asked for me I would have gone on. I am a complete WHORE and will do anything for money". (The answer was "No". Good quiz question).

As for the questions, set by Mr MIA Bacon himself, they were good. Good as in there was nowt twatty or silly about the set content and avid TV and trivia fans would be suitably rewarded, though the title of the quiz, a "television quiz", certainly came into disrepute when the round on celebrity authored books was announced (ok, let's just put down Victoria Beckham and Jordan for everything we're not sure about). Plus, it wasn't too bad coping with the rounds on Richard Bacon and Steve Furst themselves. And the "TV themes nicked off my iPod" ending was a nice touch. "YES!!" I screamed in triumph when I realised I had correctly identified Animal Magic. Those of an elder vintage may yawn at such a pathetically easy question, but remember, I was but protein floating in the cosmos for the vast majority of its broadcast run.

I overheard our jovial and friendly team of markers - it was a swap-your-sheets kind of affair - opine at regular intervals with words like "Oh, they must work in comedy" and "They must work in TV they're so good!". I should have replied: "Nope, I just tend to write and read a lot of quiz questions, and have done so for many many years. I have to come plunder this venue for its glorious food options, cotton buds and hand towels". But no. Keep it like a secret. Look enigmatic and masterly. The team next to us must have come from Kudos, the makers of Life on Mars, seeing as they leapt up in unified glee at the very mention of Harry from Spooks and the magical name 'Sam Tyler'. They certainly looked like people who had made telly for a long time. Though they visibly swooned when they saw my knowledge of how Sam Tyler came by his name appeared on our paper (can't be bothered to link that one; go search and find yourself, my interesting trivia-inclined readers, wander and discover, my blahdeeblahblah). Sometimes, you can derive a very odd sense of satisfaction from impressing far older complete media-denizen strangers with general knowledge. This was one of those mildly splendid occasions.

It was one of those quizzes where nuggets of shameful information would make themselves useful and reveal yourself as pure weirdo. There is something disgraceful and embarrassing about getting the weekly magazine in which Colleen McLoughlin blesses and honours our world with a column rammed full of as much insight and wit as you'd expect from Wayne Rooney's sweetheart (I overruled my teammate Marianna and said it was Grazia, and not the likes of Now or Hello), but then again I was glad I didn't identify Jodie Marsh from the first sentence of her autobiography. The most annoyed I got was not putting down Lenny Beige for Steve Furst's comedic alter-ego. Like, duh. Of course it was. And I was soooo very irked at not getting The Farm. Where else would Ron Jeremy, Flavor Flav and Keith Harris & Orville the Duck have collided? Actually, don't answer that for fear of outraging public decency.

And though I may have said it before, the great thing about playing against people who aren't quizzers is that you will get stuff like the fictional setting for Heartbeat and they won't have the faintest because they live in another social dimension. They will, of course, get the kind of cool stuff you expect them to - which in the quiz world have come to be known as 'Quiz Blogger questions'* - but that's the advantage of having a foot, or at least a teeny tiny toe, in both camps. You will win (by about 8 points in this instance), or do very well, because of the double exposure. Quizzing against non-quizzers in the confines of a mega-trendy private members club is fun I can heartily recommend. Don't it make ya jealous and all Incredible Hulk green with envy?

However, sometimes you have to restrain yourself from taking advantage so regularly. Last night there was another GK quiz on the top floor and I decided not to go because you have to leave some quizzes fallow, just to keep them alive (if you know what I mean).

Anyway, I also had the lingering fear that the person who hands out the winning vouchers might get suspicious too, not to mention bloody tired, of giving us free food and booze all the time. She is all smiles and bonhomie now, but after the fourth or fifth time? Hmmmm...

Winning is more than worth it, however. Even if your £150 won't even cover the dinner bill. After eating the to-die-for salmon starter (and I mean, it is the greatest salmon starter in the world), I had a mountain of suckling pig in Budapest-big portions served with roast taters, cauliflower cheese and zucchini fritti. It was very good, even if all the skin did not corrupt and crackle like it is meant to. Dessert was ginger pannacotta with sable biscotto. 'Twas alright. I knew I should have gone for the tart. Man, I never fail to get the wrong puddings.

But then again you don't just come for the food (and the Peugeot salt and pepper pots - so beautifully crafted we have attempted to devise clever and fox-worthy ploys resulting in their being removed to our homes where they obviously belong. Though they really should have wheels. Being produced by Peugeot an' all). There's the fabulous 'spot the famous members' game. Watch and recognise the celebrity wildlife.

Having spied Dave Gorman in the bar, we decamped to the canteen area (think rustic-urban) and sat close to a family-style banquet, the children and 45-year-old children of which took great delight in chucking bits of bread at all and sundry, one ten-year-old girl scoring an impressive direct hit on a waiter's left ear. This food skirmish ebbed and flowed throughout the course of the meal, and at no point did the cool-as-cucumber staff try to intercede and threaten some sort of sanction. I then saw why. The centre-most pair was none other than Sam Taylor-Wood and hubbie Jay Jopling, the golden couple of the British art world (Nigella and Charles don't count cos Nigella cooks don't she?). Taylor-Wood stood out, looking far smaller in real life because famous and slightly famous people always do, because she was the only woman of similar age who was not wearing an overwhelming amount of the colour black. Because when you are well off and wish to retain the hip cachet you so effortlessly coddled in your youth, you must clothe yourself in it. It's the law. Apparently.

Ekow Eshun, wife and his cute toddler son with the most adorable afro you are ever likely to see (set off by the Miu Miu handbag swinging softly by his head) then dropped by to meet and greet and mwa-mwa-mwa. It made me wonder how did I end up in a place like this? Oh wait, it's because one of my friends was one of the first intake of members and has been regularly inviting me back, so I can win him free food. It is a fair trade, methinks. You're being used like a common prostitute or some sort of deadly secret weapon, yes, but you do get nourished. I mean, ShoHo is better than your regular Wetherspoons. That I can say for sure.

After the food phase had been completed, we went to the bar to play Cluedo (I am banned from playing any knowledge-based board games against my non-quiz friends), which I still cannot understand (I mean, I said it had six not nine rooms in a recent quiz, with some deranged certainty) and am fated never to win at ("Can't we play Scrabble" I ask; friends reply "NO"). There we saw Fergus Henderson, bespectacled master of offal, and that bloke who used to read the news on the Big Breakfast, and thus I was satisfied with my celeb-recog-haul. It was a good spread today, I reckoned. A very good spread. Then, after three games characterised by my pure bewilderment (why is the 'revolver' called a revolver when the playing piece is a musket? Eh eh?) and attempt to read the Independent on Sunday, and a double macchiato, we left a bit after 7, returning to our ordinary lives. 'Tis never less than pleasant to see how the upper echelons of uber-cool society waste their time. And, naturally, use quiz to eat and drink like they do. There ain't no such thing as 'useless information' when it can be used in such a way. Makes me laugh sometimes just to think of it. Oh, it's 'useless' eh? How would you like to see a photo of the colossal rib-eye steak I won thanks to quiz? (Man, I should have gone for the steak. I never fail to get the wrong main courses).

Definition of 'QB questions': People coming up to me in person or remarking in an email saying "I knew/know you will/would get this question right". Examples include the Rock Paper Scissors world champion at the Transatlantic GP, which I did not get, oh tragedy of tragedies (Eric), the Manga question about Tezuka in the Flemish individuals (Phil) and a couple of indie-rock/obscure music ones in Rob's latest 200-question quiz (as cited by Rob). They have a certain pattern, I'm sure you'll agree.


Blogger Kali said...

You must have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of trivia...

Do you?

9:24 AM  
Blogger That Quiz Guy said...

Um, maybe. It comes and goes.

9:54 AM  

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