They say that simple things please simple minds.
Over time the Byfords, who love playing parlour games such as Name In The Hat, a variation of it – sometimes known as Who Am I? – in which everyone is issued with a ‘sticky’ on their forehead on which is written the name of a historical figure or celebrity and then (by asking questions of the others) tries to guess who they are, or quizzes from the latest pub or newspaper quiz book – have developed a number of twists on them peculiar to ourselves that ‘add’ to the fun.
For me, the origin of this quirk sprang from a dinner party over three decades ago attended by my brother and I and our wives. After the meal we split into ‘pairs’ (never with one’s own spouse) and played the above-mentioned ‘sticky’ game. My brother’s wife was paired with another husband. Between them they prompted huge hilarity in the gathering.
At one point she had “Stalin” stuck to her forehead – every time it became their turn, her partner’s task was to tell her facts or associations that might lead her to identify whom she ‘was’. The winning pair of each round was that whose ‘name’ could first correctly identify him or herself. The rules of the game included a prohibition upon clues ‘given’ to the player/partner in question being too nakedly close to the actual name.
A fair amount of alcohol had been consumed by the time the game began which – for the benefit of any sober Ruster reading this – may help to explain, together with the ‘You Had To Be There’ aspect, why the course of the game in question caused such amusement on the night.
After three ‘rounds’ of the kind of clue you might expect, e.g. “Leader of Soviet Russia during WW2”, “Russian mass murderer”, “Russian leader with walrus-like moustache”, she was still miles from guessing the answer.
When it came to the pair’s next turn – in desperation – her partner, now exasperated and on the point of giving up the quest, tried “Rhymes with Balin …” and she still couldn’t get it [never mind the fact he was in breach of the rules].
Later it was his turn to be the ‘name’. The answer displayed upon his forehead was “Hereward The Wake”. Again, after two or three ‘rounds’ – beyond it having been established that his name had three words to it – he was nowhere near guessing the answer and, of course, this was adding to the fun.
It came to their turn once again. His partner tried “Third word … what you do first thing in the morning …”, to which his despairing answer came back “Oh, I don’t know … have a wank?”
But to my point of my post today.
Yesterday our contingent arrived at my father home for a 36-hour stay and not long afterwards my father’s current (South African) carer suggested we play a round or two of questions from the latest Pub Quiz book that I had gifted the family for Christmas and which we had used several times last week.
The twists the Byfords have added to our quizzes – and which enhance the complication and fun – are firstly, that we appoint a quizmaster (or mistress) who has absolute control over the game, a key principle of which is that the answer to each question asked is strictly the answer given in the book; and secondly, the next person to be asked a question gets two points if they give the correct answer: if they don’t, the question is offered in turn around the table, with the first person to give the correct answer being awarded a single bonus point.
I replied “Lady Jane Grey”.
This was officially pronounced incorrect and the question was offered (for a bonus point) to the other participants around the table in turn. Why had my answer been incorrect? In the quiz book the answer was stated as “Jane Grey”.
You might think “But hang on, you’d identified the correct lady …” but (the way the Byfords play quizzes) I had not given the correct answer as contained in the book. And ‘The Book Is King’.
Thus – if you get my drift – a new dimension is added to any quiz. When any question is put – and a 2 point answer given – it may not be the end of the scoring because, even if the given answer is ‘correct’, in our version it isn’t unless it is also ‘as per the book’.
Much noise and mirth results.
Here are some further actual examples of answers that were adjudged to be incorrect during last night’s quiz session:
What was the first name of the Goon Show character Seagoon? (“Neddie”): wrong because the book’s answer was “Ned”.
What are dried plums called? (“Prune”): wrong because the book’s answer was “Prunes”.
As I mentioned at the outset, simple things please simple minds …