Today some friends and I went to the Sunday night pub quiz at the Micawbers Tavern (www.micawberstavern.com) on Pottergate, up the street from the Bird Cage. None of us had ever been to, or even seen, this pub. We arrived at 7:30 anticipating a crowd of people ready to participate, however there were only 3 people there when we arrived and one of them was the barman. Despite this I courageously walked up to the bar asked about the quiz and explained my project to the barman. I was told that there would, in fact, be a quiz if more than 12 people showed up to participate. Unfortunately, at the bar I was also met by and old ‘friend’, a older man I had met at another pub months ago who took a particular interest in me being that I was American and a “pretty girl”. After listening to his racial slurs and tales about his time in America in 1976, I slowly shifted my way back to the table.
My friends and I briefly discussed the effect that the recession had on pubs. My English friend said that before the recession many pubs exclusively served beer and that pub quizzes weren’t as common. However, he said the recession and pressure from chain pubs like Weatherspoons forced them to try and stay afloat by adding food menus and quiz nights. Pub quizzes are often held on slow nights of the week, like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they are meant to bring in business that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Soon after completing our discussion some more people arrived for the quiz and the barman was kind enough to introduce me to them, making my job of approaching the standoffish Englishmen a LOT easier! He introduced them to me as the team that almost always wins, alternating with one other loyal team. These two older men have attended the pub quiz at Micawbers Tavern and have attended pub quizzes in general off and on for they couldn’t remember how long. They told me that before they started going to Micawbers for the pub quiz they attended the pub quiz at the Rose Tavern, which I will be going to later this week, and they said that it had become too repetitive and that the quiz master got all the questions offline. They said that the Micawbers pub quiz was more interesting and more of a challenge than others they had been to. I thanked them for their information and wished them luck in the quiz and went back to the table.
I was soon approached by a member of another team, after dodging my old ‘friend’ as he tried caressing of my hair (EEK!). This women said she and her friends had just left the Rose pub (not to be confused with the Rose Tavern) and came to the Micawbers Tavern for a quiz that they liked more. She said that the Rose played too many new songs and that she and her friends weren’t good at naming songs before 2000. This was when we realized that we were not the target age group of the Micawbers quiz and that we would probably do miserably.
As she left the table the quiz master came to collect our money (one pound per person) and to distribute the answer sheet and picture round sheet. We immediately noticed that though we may not fair very well during the quiz, we would at least be entertained by our humorous quiz master. He was obviously not there for the extra money, but he instead really enjoyed being a quiz master.
We did quite well on the picture round of the quiz (they were pictures of Disney characters), however it went downhill from there. There was a brief moment of satisfaction when he listed 5 literature questions in the second round (two of which were dealing with 19th century writing, the period I am studying in one of my classes this semester). In the picture round and the first two rounds we got 25/60 points (2 points for each correct answer and one point if half the answer was right). Then the fourth round was the music round… and that did not go so well! We got 3/20 points on that round and were way behind our older competitors. The fourth and last round was unlike any round I have played at the Union pub quiz, it was a cryptic puzzle round where questions 1-9 hinted at the answer to number ten. The second question was “the name of the American Arizona football team and the St. Lewis baseball team are the same, what is the abbreviated nickname for a player on either team?” I was sooo happy I had watched the playoffs last year and knew that the nickname for player on the cardinals was a ‘card’. Another question asked for the name of a fish in the ray family and I guessed ‘skate’. By the time we got to question 10 we had no idea what these words had in common, the quiz master tried helping us out a bit because we were new but it was hopeless, we had no idea. We later found out that the answer to question 10 was “board” because each answer became another word when ‘board’ was added on the end, so there was ‘cardboard’, ‘skateboard’, ‘scoreboard’, and etc. I thought this round was incredibly clever and perfectly demonstrated the English fascination with words and puns.
After the quiz the quiz master approached us and told us he was also going around to a bunch of quizzes and writing a review of them in a local paper. I found this quite interesting and asked him what he had learned so far, he described one of the places he had been to and explained its good points and its bad points. I asked him how long he had been a quiz master and he said about 4 years and that he got into it when there was a change of ‘landlords’ and his friend, who was related to the person buying Micawbers Tavern, recommending him for the job.
Overall, I really enjoyed this pub quiz, even though our team came in last place. The Quiz master had us in stitches all night and I really liked the last round once it made sense to me. I would go back again, especially if my parents were able to come and visit.