Last night, a night of grim weather and twisted trees howling in the winds, we had the Rotary Quiz at the Club. As previously reported, the Rotarians used to take my mother to the local garden centre and she drove them mad with armfuls of gardenias and trolley-loads of fuchsias, so I try to help them out where I can.
The Rotary Quiz takes place every six months, and involves pubs and Clubs from all across the county. The idea is this: each pub or Club plays as one big team, we chip in £3 a head, there are three rounds, sixty-five questions per round, and a Rotary chap acts as quizmaster.
Last night the rounds were Entertainment and Sport, Science and Nature, and General Knowledge. After each round, the quizmaster goes out into our hallway, stands between the doors to the Ladies’ and Gents, and makes a call to some sort of data collector. As such, we find out whether we’ve won on the night. There are some seventy teams playing all across Devon, the entry fees go to Rotary-supported charities which are working towards the eradication of polio and child poverty, and the Legion usually places around mid-table.
We’re enthusiastic and live in shades of trivia, but we don’t always have a doctor in the room, to save us from Science and Nature.
Our expectations of winning are not very high but we have a giggle and frankly, the more people we have attending the Rotary Quiz, the greater the number of drinks we serve across the bar – so it makes for a busy night at the Club.
I email my Movie Nighters and it gives them a rare chance to see that I don’t just stop at the waist, because finally I escape from behind the bar.
Of course, because I do Movie Night, any film-related question brings a wall of eyes to meet me, because surely I must know that the first person to refuse the Best Actor Oscar was George C. Scott, and that Ripley’s cat was called Jones.
There’s usually some sort of entertainment in the form of pronunciation. Our usual quizmaster has had some difficulties when it comes to names of actors and seafaring crimes (Miriam Margolyes’ surname being forced to rhyme with gargoyles, and piracy coming out as ‘pirracy’ are some of the more exciting examples), however, given that we often have to translate his questions into words we understand, we often get a second guess at the answers. Which is charitable, albeit utterly justified.
The wind crackled at the windows and several gusts swung the front door open, banging it against the handrail and pulling answers from the shocked assembly with ever louder, occasionally correct, guesses.
The village is filled with trees, although not so many as before last night. Several branches, conkers and leaves scuttled along the road. Some squirrels have become homeless. A few trees came down in the gale, and knocked out the electricity supply above my house. The Quiz Night crowd swelled as intrepid villagers made their way to the Legion for the sake of some warmth, light and cheap brandy in the absence of a power supply.
It was only around ten minutes after the Quiz finished that we discovered we’d come second in the immediate area. The full list won’t be out for some time.
When the full list of winners comes through, I can almost guarantee you now – it won’t just be me any more, we will all be thirty-something in Devon.
Naturally, having been loyal to my Legion from the moment I arrived, the end of the Quiz didn’t mean the end of my evening. I stayed and finished a numberless pint and chatted to my Chairman about the new toilets.
The builders have been in and torn out the accursedly stained urinals, and the bulging wooden cubicles from the ladies’. Their work is hidden behind black-out boards; we can’t see how far into the job they have progressed, and we must restrain ourselves from peeling back the plastic and tape because word has come through: the floor has rotten through.
The original job, no small task, was to remove the contents of the Ladies’ and Gents’, refit them, check for any leaks out towards the sewer system in the road, and install a disabled toilet. Now, they will need to replace the floor. We knew we were risking death as we slid across the water-logged short-pile carpet in the Ladies’, but we had no idea that we were so close to falling through to the centre of the earth.