V&A TEAM: VIN GRANTHAM, NICKY BIRD, CHRISTIAAN JONKERS (CAPT.), TOM BIRD, STEPH BIRD, STEPH’S MUM FIONA, NICK PRITCHARD-GORDON
THE V&A QUIZ TEAM won last year, and we have won it before. I am embarrassed that we look like a cocky bunch of St Custard’s swots, who know things about books and history and stuff, and bring our own claret. But our Achilles’ Heel is popular culture; with no one under 40 our knowledge ended with the Tellytubbies. Jonkers, for instance, thinks TikTok is what a clock does.
Stonor’s great quizmaster John Powell sets the questions which are brainy and fair – designed to challenge clever dicks but not bamboozle the unlearned. We once had a chap on our team – Ernest Franklin – who failed to answer a single question. Partly due to drink as well as senescence (and doodling inanely on the tablecloth).
This year our team met at Leander for a pre-quiz drinky. Not something professionals do; they keep themselves in peak condition for the fray. Mrs P-G came too. We reminisced about our time in France together, on a V&A cricket tour, and agreed it would have been less furtive without her husband.
The Quiz Evening at the pavilion starts with a fish and chip dinner. I noted that novice contestants tried a quick peak at Google for the tallest spire in Europe (Ulm Minster), Adam Faith’s real name (Terence Wright) and the number of test wickets Bradman took (2). None of these questions actually came up. But, anyway, there is no internet reception so cheating is impossible.
We were an eclectic bunch, that became mildly less erudite as the evening progressed. Tom and Christiaan had brought classy Burgundy. Vin is more a quantity that quality man. But he’s couth and can distinguish Burgundy from Fairy Liquid, certainly early on.
I mentioned that I had just come back from Antwerp. Turned out that Jonkers has family there; his ancestors came from the rough end of Antwerp and then ended up over here to better themselves (if being in second-hand books is a step up). For a bookish man Jonkers is staggeringly bad at spelling. He was Team Captain and wrote down our answers. He has trouble with the simplest words. I’m no expert but ‘Peter the Grate’ looks wrong.
At 8.15 pm the dishes were cleared away and the match started. We had a debate whether we should deliberately throw the match – out of tact – or whether that would be patronising. I said we’d probably be beaten anyway, the opposing 6 tables looked brainy. So we went for it and were soon (just) in the lead with Nick P-G and Vin in particular fine form. Vin is not like most doctors, narrow and obsessed with stool, as his range of right answers proved – ‘Gleneagles’, ‘Pancreas’, ‘Angola’. Come the last round and we were unassailable. Oh dear. Guests like us should not grab the glittering prizes. But then we were penalised for fielding 7, one too many. There was a play-off question. Completely incomprehensible. Nick P-G shouted ‘24!’ – AND WON. We had done it again. Generously Nick shared the prizes with the losing team.
I drove Jonkers back to his home, refurbished at a cost of Dubai’s GDP. I had Vin and Nick in the car too and we suggested a tour of his wine cellar, but Jonkers declined, perhaps he wanted to watch Match of the Day.
Incidentally, there was a question in the quiz about football. Jonkers said it was the only time the topic of footy could be appropriately mentioned in the pavilion. The answer was ‘Burnley’ which Vin, Tom and Nick got right, and which Christiaan had never heard of.
By Nicky Bird