“Drake,” says Kev.
“Francis?” asks Jim.
“Sir,” replies Kev.
It’s the Sunday night pub quiz. The main claim to fame of this little pub in the middle of the Dorset countryside is that CJ from Eggheads pops in every so often, but other than that it’s a regular hangout for my dad, his quiz partner Kev and my brother on a Sunday night. Exchanges like this are commonplace – general knowledge is the currency and there’s no need for haggling. Well, maybe on the picture round, but that’s because we’re all rubbish at it. “Rene Zellwegger? Can’t see it, myself,” says Dad with a dismissive shake of his head. It turns out later that I’m right, and the point we’d have gained would have won us the quiz. “Rene Zellwegger’s got piggy eyes,” he chunters in the car on the way home. “That woman didn’t have piggy eyes.”
Quizmaster Andy is a genial kind of a chap with a rotund beer belly, a Westcountry accent and tribal tattoos down his arms. The tatts don’t fit with his personality, which is the smiley, mild-mannered teacher-type that nobody listens to. When faced with a roomful of quiz attendees he spends his whole time repeating questions – he’s grown so used to nobody paying attention that he does it automatically. He’ll get halfway through a sentence and without breaking stride go back to the beginning. “Who sailed on the – so, who sailed on the Pelican?” Just for good measure he’ll then spell the word he considers most likely to cause confusion. “That’s P-E-L-I-C-A-N.”
We’re not doing well tonight. Sneakily, Andy has put the theme from Downton Abbey into the TV theme music round. It’s one of my mum’s favourite programs, not least because she has the house to herself on the night that it airs – as Dad’s always out at the pub quiz.
“In the paralympics – so, in the paralympics, what’s the other name for Murderball?” Dad’s convinced it’s wheelchair basketball. When we find out at the end that it’s wheelchair rugby, Dad spends a good minute berating himself for his own stupidity while James, with admirable patience, points out that he said that at the time. “What?” says Dad, knitting his eyebrows and jerking his chin into his chest. “Well, I didn’t hear you. If I’d heard you I’d have agreed.” There’s no arguing with that. Jim shrugs and pushes his glasses back up his nose.
In the pop music round you can tell which questions Andy’s written himself as opposed to finding on the internet as he’ll announce how easy they are before reading them out and then give heavy clues after. “We’ve had this one before, but – thing is – can you remember it?” He chuckles to himself. “What name does musician Alecia Beth Moore – so, what name does musician Alecia Beth Moore perform under?” Jim writes ‘Pink’ immediately, but has barely finished forming the final K before Andy’s dropping heavy hints to the room. “She’s recent, yer, yep. She *definitely* had a hit in the last year …” Jim brings him to a stop, knowing that this round is the one that we’re making a killing on. “All right, Andy!” Andy chortles and moves on to the next question. “Ooh, this is an easy one …”