Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Quiz Night

Which planet, apart from Venus, has no moon? Who, because of his smallpox vaccine, is known as the father of immunization? Name all seven colours of the rainbow. Who illustrated A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh? Who led the peasants' revolt of 1381? Which artistic movement was Monet part of? What is the chemical symbol for Tungsten?

Saturday night was Quiz night, a fund-raising event at the school. I love quizzes and become insufferably competitive at the merest hint of one, so this was an evening I had been looking forward to. Inevitably we were running late so had to gulp down tea before whizzing over to the school hall on foot and wheel.

The quiz was excellent, with a good balance of questions, and we had a good team comprising of an airline pilot, social worker, paramedic and someone in publishing among others. Our table was covered in crisps and snacky type things as well as wine and soft-drinks. Unfortunately I was beginning to get bubbly in the chest so the joyous prospect of eating high fat content potato based nibbles was diminished for me. After the first couple of rounds it was clear that we were outclassed by Table 5 who were answering correctly, on average, a question per round more than we were. I discreetly surveilled them, looking for evidence of iPhone internet connection, but it appeared they were just clever and not cheating. Rats.

As we passed through Food and Drink, Music and Sport I felt my head begin to swim as the bubbling in my lungs required me to cough more and more. By the time we entered into the History round Polly was suggesting we leave, or at least that she pop home to get the cough-assist machine. William Wallace I snapped. Robert the Bruce someone countered. Who led the Scots at bloody Bannockburn? Little red dots floated around me as I tried to order my Scottish battles. Bruce, I conceded. No I was not going home and no I didn't want Polly going to get the cough-assist machine. The second she left we would be faced with a series of questions on nursery rhymes or balloon modelling or something.

The final round, General Knowledge, came at last. We were in a good position to take second place, Table 5 having romped away with it by knowing who designed the Spitfire, but we needed a good round. Could I remember the name of the fish, previously thought to be extinct, rediscovered in the Indian ocean in 1938? Could I buffalo. I knew I knew it, it was on the tip of my tongue. Cough cough. Despite my pathetic performance our team managed a dignified second after all, thanks, in part, to knowing in which year Queen Victoria died.

Flushed with success and a surfeit of carbon dioxide I made my way home with Polly. To my horror and confusion I found that I could barely steer the wheelchair. It seemed to take forever to travel the route we have walked (wheeled) countless times before. My balance was completely shot and I couldn't get my hand in the right position to use the joystick. Fortunately Jason, a friend, team mate and para-medic, had offered to help me since we had had to cancel the carers that night. My thanks to him and Polly or I would never have made it to bed and the reassuring hum of the BiPap.

Now what? Oh yes, answers, as if you need them. Thanks to Geoff who compiled the quiz.

Mercury. Edward Jenner. Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. E.H. Shepard. Watt Tyler. The Impressionists. W.

Robert the Bruce.

R. J. Mitchell. 1901. And the bloody fish was a Coelacanth, of course. (But you knew that, didn't you.)