Monday, 27 October 2008

Knowledge comes but Wisdom Lingers

The Mail on Sunday gave away a free interactive Pub Quiz CD this week. Not the world's most intellectual offering but what does one expect from the Mail. That said there has been interest in quizzes for as long as I can remember and the Mail reflects this fact.

The quiz itself, though no doubt harmless, is cringingly banal at times, no doubt reflecting the Mail readership or perhaps even the British psyche. 'Please choose your teams name.' Choice includes the Mushy Peas, the Bitter Shandies and the Pork Scratchings. Does that really reflect pub team names or is the Mail trying to be funny or merely patronising. (The pub teams I know either have names simple beyond belief, for example, Two by Two or Sisters in Crime, alternatively some chose obscure names, for instance The Last Dials. the latter hopefully suggesting a team of brainboxes with a strange nom de plume, the origin of which is known only to themselves.

The Mail's questions vary in intensity from simply inane to quite taxing but the appeal is there and no doubt provide an escape from television trivia pouring from our screens. Plus the pattern is modern; multi choice questions so loved by modern examinations set the pattern. (Do the public realise multi choice exams cut down a teachers marking massively, thus their popularity in the academic world, its tick, tick, tick and the jobs done, or as my favourite uncle used to say, 'Bobs your uncle.' He wasn't actually called Bob but for five points, where did the saying come from?)

Three examples from the Mails offering.
Robert De Nero directed which film.
a The Good Shepherd b About a Boy c Frankenstein d Backdraft.
Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world is situated where?
a Africa b Siberia c China d Turkey.
Patsi Kensits second husband is a member of which band?
a Oasis b Simple Minds c Petshop Boys d Tears for Fears.
(See what I mean about the banality of the Mails questions!)
The earliest form of quiz I personally remember was sitting the Eleven Plus. (Quiz-To test the knowledge of by posing questions.) I still remember two of the questions.
George Washington was born, married and died in the house he built himself. Which one is incorrect?
Yesterday, today was tomorrow. True or false?
What exactly did right answers prove? I suppose they had some merit, though you had a one in three chance of getting them right anyway. Plus knowledge for its own sake seems pretty pointless. Alfred Lord Tennyson was a cut above all of us and he put it so well. 'Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.' There again I bet he was useless in pub quizzes. But I digress plus it wouldn't do for this blog to appear in any way intellectual!

In the non too distant past I was involved in setting quizzes to improve school moral. Teachers can be very competitive, sometimes to a questionable degree; they just love to win. I suppose that's why many become teachers, to be in charge and show how clever they are. Pub quiz teams have more than their fair share of teachers and it shows. Though they don't always win. Many pub quiz members 'swot up' all week prior to a quiz. How 'anoraky' is that!
For the less serious the easiest solution is a simple true or false format. At least you've got a fifty fifty chance of getting it right! Try the following for size. I set it many years ago when my brain powers were at their height!

Simply True or False
1 The 'Real McCoy' was a boxer in the 1890's and 1900's.
2 Turtles have no teeth.
3 Cat gut comes from cats.
4 If you were born on the 29th October, your star sign is Libra.
5 Persian soldiers were paid with donkeys in 1900
6 The Lily of the Valley is the National flower of Norway.
7 The Great Wall of China took 1700 years to build.
8 Aphrodite is the Roman goddess of love.
9 The first mechanical clock had no hands.
10 Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at six months.
11 The clock above the leading article in The Times always shows 5.30.
12 Charlotte was the youngest of the Bronte sisters.
13 The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long.
14 Originally the yo-yo was a Filipino jungle weapon.
15 Teddy bears were named after Theodore Roosevelt.
16 Dogs sweat through their paws.
17 Queen Elizabeth the Second was born at 17 bruton Street, London.
18 The wren is Britain's smallest bird.
19 "I shall hear in heaven" were the last words of Mozart.
20 A number of goats is called a tribe.
21 Bloomers are named after an American lady, a Mrs Bloomer.
22 And the Bowler Hat is named after an Englishman, Mr Bowler.
23 Roger Rabbit's wife is called Jessica.
24 And Andy Capp's wife is called Mo.
25 A walking camel lifts both feet on one side at the same time.

Finally I came across this quiz in an old book I bought in the Alnwick Railway Station bookshop. The quiz is at least eighty years old I suspect. Treat with care, they were just as clever as we are all those years ago. The only difference was, they didn't shout as loud.

A Very Simple Quiz for Very Clever People.
1 How long did the Hundred Years’ war Last?
2 In which month do the Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
3 In which country are Panama hats made?
4 From which country do we get Peruvian Balsam?
5 Which seabird has the zoological name Puffinus puffinus?
6 From which animal do we get catgut?
7 From which material are moleskin trousers made?
8 Where do Chinese gooseberries come from?
9 Louis the XVIII was the last one, but how many previous kings of France were called Louis?
10 What kind of creatures were the Canary Islands named after?
11 What was King George VI’s first name?
12 What colour is a purple finch?
13 In what season of the year does William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream take place?
14 What is a camel’s hair brush made of?
15 How long did the Thirty Year’s War last?

Anyone care for answers?


Clippy Mat said...

There HAS to be answers.
Just so I can pat myself on the back, or NOT as the case may be.

Clippy Mat said...

oh, you're a retired English teacher. Now I'm wondering, should it be, 'there HAVE to be answers.'