Juliette Bains: Questionable tactics at play during competitive pub quiz

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NAME a book by Gabriel García Márquez, with the title’s translation starting with a word beginning with ‘o’.

Come on, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Well, quite frankly no, as I was lost at García.

But around me there’s the sound of pens hitting paper, amongst hushed voices.

I look up to see a room full of incredibly smug-looking people, all basking in the warm glow of their superior knowledge.

I only glance up for a second though, just in case anyone notices the panic that’s set in and the look of shame rapidly spreading across my face.

It hasn’t taken long for the quizmaster, striding purposefully around the room, mic in hand, to make me feel about two inches tall.

Maybe it’s because it’s a Bank Holiday and nobody has to worry about work the next day, but the pub is full of people from all walks of life.

There’s the quiet couple in the corner, who aren’t taking it too seriously and look like they’ve just popped to the pub for a bit of a laugh.

Then there’s a huge table of, what can only be described as boffins, whose look of predatory eagerness is unmistakable – despite their best attempts to play it cool.

Right at the front, there’s a table of ladies who have made it half-way through bottle number two of Sauvignon Blanc before realising they’ve stumbled into the middle of what is shaping up to be quite a fiercely contested pub quiz.

As more people arrive, it gets so busy that chairs and tables are desperately being sourced from elsewhere so that the masses can secure their chance for gloating glory.

Some are even having to share tables – much to the displeasure of the regulars, who quickly size up their new tablemates to decide if these lowly amateurs might be the type to sneak a peek at their answers.

Meanwhile I seem to be squished against complete strangers on a sweaty sofa.

It’s not quite how I envisaged a relaxing Sunday evening, but nonetheless, I’m here and ready to do battle.

Putting the opening literature question to the back of my mind, I wait in hope that a 90’s girl band section is on the cards.

Sadly, it’s not and instead, there are more literature questions – Shakespeare, specifically.

I can hear people arguing about Macbeth and my team-mate, who studied English literature at university, is beginning to feel the pressure.

Beads of sweat are starting to form on his forehead as more and more blank spaces appear on our answer sheet.

Luckily, some friendly latecomers come to our rescue, bagging us a few more points.

Needless to say, we come last and win absolutely nothing in the raffle.

Despite my pitiful performance and the public humiliation, the weekly pub quiz is a ritual I can’t seem to deny myself.

I know I’m not going to win, yet every weekend, off I trundle to the pub with an air of enthusiasm, certain that this time, all the trivia stars will align and I’ll have my moment.

But then again, pub quizzes aren’t necessarily all about the glory (although one of these days, I would love to win).

Team rivalries aside, there’s a real sense of all being in it together and it’s one of the few times these days you’ll find yourself talking to complete strangers for most of the evening.

Although there is a competitive edge, for most of us it’s simply a chance to have a giggle as our intellectual shortcomings are laid so spectacularly bare and we’re united in cheerful ignorance.

But for those of you who find it a bit more difficult to admit defeat, the answer was One Hundred Years of Solitude.

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