We accidentally went to a pub quiz last night. None of us really were planning to go to one, but it just happened that the pub we were at decided to put one on.
The questions were a slightly odd mixture – celebrity gossip combined with very obscure trivia, so we weren’t really expecting to do very well. And, indeed, we didn’t, scoring only 16 out of 25. We stopped paying attention to the quiz, and didn’t even hear the announcer asking for the scored answer sheets back in.
So, it was slightly annoying, ten minutes later, when the winning team was announced. And their score. Sixteen, of course. Arse. Half of that £50 could have been ours!
Or, the perils of knowing a little on a lot of subjects.
Say, hypothetically, you were considering auditioning for a popular TV quiz show, confident in your general knowledge. However, the hypothetical quiz show in question requires you to also answer questions on a few specific topics – let’s call them, for the sake of argument, “Specialist Subjects”. What sort of things would you pick, and why would you pick them?
It’s nearly Yuletide, and all shall rejoice. For Yuletide means: the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper. Hurrah!
If you’ve never seen it before: the General Knowledge Paper is both an exam paper, and one of the hardest general knowledge quizzes around. Its questions are succinct, cryptic, and intriguing, and range over huge areas of knowledge.* On a quick run through it today, I reckon I scored about 32 points out of 360;** doing particularly well on London and Russians. Answers probably include I. P. Pavlov, Martin Chuzzlewit, Greyfriars School and Waterloo – unless I’m deliberately trying to confuse you.
* so much so that my friend K claims it isn’t a general knowledge quiz at all, because the answers are that obscure.
** There are 180 questions; you score 2 points per answer.
Every year at Christmas I read the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper, try to solve it, and score about 10%. Which is, let’s face it, pretty poor.
I’ve mentioned it before, I think; it’s basically a general knowledge quiz. An incredibly difficult one. It has 100 questions, divided into ten sections. Each section has a theme, but you’re not usually told what the theme is; you have to work it out from the answers. The questions, too, are extremely terse indeed.
It’s hard to answer, but I had a feeling it must be pretty damn hard to write, too. So I thought I’d have a go at my own: a quiz, in the style of a King William’s College section. Ten questions. See if you can answer any of them, or work out what the connection is.
(the worrying thing is, I know exactly which regular readers have a chance of getting any of them)
- starred in an Office training video
- later moved to the Yorkshire Dales
- might have had a band in the family
- collapsed when connected to the Matrix
- later had a lottery-winning wife
- built steam engines
- was James Kent-Smith
- went through a film without being named
- couldn’t believe what happened to his patients
- had travelled before, inside his own head.
If you have any idea of any of the answers, get in touch. It does all fit together, I promise.
Back in December, I briefly mentioned the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper, and ever since I’ve received hits from people searching for the answers. I had, indeed, posted three of the answers, but hadn’t mentioned which questions they were the answers too. The full answers have now been published, though,* and I’m pleased to find that all the answers I posted here were indeed correct. One of them (“In 1906, who benefited, through his far-eastern mediation, from a Nordic inventor’s bequest?”) needed a bit of research into Nobel Peace Prize winners; but the other two I spotted (“Which man in holy orders had a first edition of his own revolutionary theory of the heavens presented to him on his deathbed?” and “What is the Drain?”) I thought were really rather obvious “everyone will know those” questions, so I wasn’t really bothered about posting the answers to them here.
Still. Three right out of a hundred – it’s a bit rubbish, really!
* you can still get the questions from The Guardian or the school itself, at time of writing.
So, Big Dave has left, in a cloud of adulation and office stationery, getting ready to move house over the break. Everything is booked, and everything is ready to go, and when I get back after Christmas I will have someone new to share the office with.
Things have been a little strange lately, and not just because of Dave. Work has been very stressful, and other things have been very stressful too. I see someone and I want to try to help them, to save them from themself and from dangerous people, but I know they would not accept my help. The stress of all this, and all the work that has been piling on me at the office, makes me want to curl up for a thousand years, not sleeping, just dormant. A bit like King Arthur, maybe.
Talking of King Arthur, here’s more Susan Cooper:
For Drake is no longer sleeping in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may
not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you.
Now especially since man has the strength to destroy this world, it is the responsibility of man to keep
it alive, it all its beauty and marvellous joy.
Maybe that should be my epigram for the coming year. In the meantime, I’m going to occupy myself with the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper. I might only get a handful of answers,* but it will keep me busy for a while.
* which may or may not include “Copernicus”, “Theodore Roosevelt”, and “The Waterloo and City Line”. That’s how random they are. Feel free to guess what questions I think those are the answers to.