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Sunday, July 29, 2012

LONDON POSTCARD

Sports pub provides for a delightful night


Staff writer

There are — believe it or not — a few instances of non-Olympic routines on display in England.

A sports pub I visited Thursday held its weekly "Quiz Night" for a small group of participants.

A man who appeared to be in his early 40s, sporting a well-trimmed beard, a horizontal-striped polo shirt, jeans and sneakers, ran the event.

There were 30 questions delivered to the customers, each one repeated twice. The small groups jotted down their answers on paper and moved on to the next one. Good, old-fashioned entertainment for trivia buffs.

Sample question: "On the TV puppet satire show 'Spitting Image,' what was former Prime Minister John Major's favorite food?"

Answer: Peas.

A large collection of nostalgic Arsenal F.C. photographs lined the walls, many dating back to the pre-World War II era.

Sipping beer and conversing in small groups, the quiz contest participants were friendly to the quiz master. He, on the other hand, reminded one of a longtime neighbor or one's favorite professor.

His voice delivered the questions in a smooth, straight-forward style, not unlike a TV newscaster, but without the pompous air that many of them seem to have.

Back to the questions . . .

"Which came first: the light bulb or the telephone," the quiz master asked.

The light bulb, he informed them, pointing out it was first used in 1841, followed by the phone in 1876.

Here's a question that elicited a few laughs — and rightfully so:

"The gas nitrous oxide is better known as _____?"

"Laughing gas," he told the participants. (I thought it was nitrogen. Oops!)

While the quiz show was going on, the big-screen TV switched from Olympic soccer coverage to prime-time news, including the straight-out-of-Hollywood-sounding name of Martin Patience, a BBC correspondent in Beijing.

Surprisingly, one question brought this reporter back to his Japanese studies from a few years ago.

"Which number from one to 10 is hachi in Japanese?" the quiz master asked.

Several wrong answers were blurted out. Then, an attractive, blonde-haired girl said, "eight," and she won a package of strawberry biscuits.



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