Friday night saw the 5th almost annual Mostly Bookbrains Quiznight hosted by yours truly, alongside Mark and Nicki, owners of Mostly Books indie bookshop in Abingdon. We had 12 teams taking part which was brilliant. My daughter’s old primary school generously donated hire of their hall for the event to help us maximise profits – all of which are going to a wonderful local charity:
OASIS Online, Oxfordshire Autistic Society.
One of the joys after the quiz for me, is going through everyone’s answer sheets looking for the funny and enterprising answers to share with you. Here are a few gems …
We had a whole round about animals in literature, and asked for the name of Hermione’s cat in the Harry Potter books – The answer is Crookshanks; several put Tiddles – not very J.K.R.
In the first and last lines round, we asked which recent-ish novel begins: “The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelled of clean washing and grass cuttings.” The answer was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Several teams put variations on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which although wrong is a good guess. My favourite was The Guernsey Potato Peelers Society!
In our WWI round, most teams did really well. One didn’t manage as many answers – but charmingly put at the top of their sheet “Like General Haig, we tried …” – Aah!
I was really surprised in our News and Anniversaries round. Explaining the 150th anniversary of The Castle of Otranto by Walpole, the first ‘Gothic’ novel, I chatted away saying – and of course this book features in Northanger Abbey (which had been an answer in a previous round. Our lot are normally quick off the mark when I make a mistake – but I got away with it! The book Catherine keeps mentioning in Northanger Abbey is of course The Mysteries of Udolfo by Ann Radcliffe as any fule kno.
One of our picture rounds showed parts of covers from recent (auto)biographies. Anjelica Huston was variously identified as: Björk, P.J.Harvey, Cher, Lady Gaga and model Penelope Tree.
Mike Rutherford, from rock band Genesis and Mike & the Mechanics was a hard one, especially as I cut the book’s title off the top of the photo (The Living Years – title of a Mechanics song) Teams gave answers including: Viggo Mortensen, Rannulph Fiennes (x3), Pete Townsend (x2), Ralph Fiennes, and just Fiennes. Just one team got the poor man right – but you do need an occasional stinker in a quiz to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Right back at the beginning of the quiz, I’d asked another slightly convoluted Harry Potter question (you can guarantee that my literary quizzes will end up having several HP and Bond questions – they just sort of slip in and I don’t realise until it’s all printed up and ready to go – excuses!). Anyway – I asked which HP character was renamed Tom Elvis Jedusor in the French editions? The answer is Voldemort – aka Tom Marvolo Riddle which is an anagram of I am Lord Voldemort. In French it’s Je suis Voldemort. Most teams got (or guessed) the right answer.
The best answer of the night came in the Heroes and Villains round. We asked for the full name of James Bond’s arch nemesis who had been played by Donald Pleasance (left – in You only live twice), Charles Grey, Telly Savalas and Max Von Sydow. Two teams put – Henry Blofeld – the veteran cricket commentator affectionately known as ‘Blowers’.
The best question (IMHO) that I dreamed up also came in this round – It was simply – which leg had Long John Silver lost in Treasure Island. A 50:50 chance – and the answers came out exactly that too! Groans from every team that put ‘right’. I quote from the book: “His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder he carried a crutch, which he managed with wonderful dexterity, hopping about upon it like a bird. He was very tall and strong, with a face as big as a ham – plain and pale, but intelligent and smiling.”
It was good to know that all our teams’ punctuation skills were up to the challenge though. In our Non-Fiction round, we offered a bonus point to teams getting the comma in the title of Lynne Truss’s book in the right place. Everyone got it right.
Last year, I worried that I’d made the quiz a little too hard, but I think it was on balance slightly easier this time. The team that came last got just under 65%. The winners got 80%. I may have a break next year as I found it so hard to think up new questions…
Finally, I hear you ask – who won? Well, it was returning champions ‘Queen Equizabeth I’. Their captain is none other than your friend and mine, Simon Thomas of Stuck in a Book. Well done Simon’s team!