08 03 2012 (day 33 of Boatwork)
"Don't you mean 'what is the only mammal that lays eggs?'" inquired my hapless spouse of the round gray Quizmaster running this week's Quiz night. She should not have done so.
The moment the question fell from her lips the room at cafe Espigone grew instantly quiet, as quiet as if some hapless poor Moroccan had just walked in the front door. One does not, one never ever, quizzes the Quizmaster at the weekly quiznight in Almerimar.
The quizmaster is omnipotent and all knowing. If a question does not make sense one accepts that the failing is one's own and one seeks meaning in the words of the enlightened master through greater concentration and meditation. It rarely works.
Welcome to Trivial Pursuit: Blood Sport Edition.
But back to the Budget Committee and her predicament. "Young lady" intoned the rich baritone of the aging female beachball holding the microphone "The question stated was this: what is the only animal that lays eggs. A mammal is NOT an animal so clearly that is not what I meant."
The Budget Committee sat down, her mouth clamped so tight I think she bruised her jaw.
Now this is just the beginning of the saga of BC v Quizmaster. At the end of the night we trade3 our answer sheets with our neighbours and mark each others' answers. The answer to the egg laying animal question was "duck billed platypus". Now a platypus does lay eggs and is clearly an animal. Equally clearly the platypus is a mammal.
Having learned her lesson the BC did not protest. Neither did anyone else.
Our Belgian friends once protested that the questions were too hard to understand. That night half the questions were on 1950s' and 1960s' BBC radio shows. "Madam" explained that night's quizmaster, "these questions are not for your kind. They are for the British".
One very good friend is convinced the players are plotting against him. He is convinced they deliberately arrive early to force him to take a different table than he normally takes. The flaw in his neurosis is that he always sits at the very same table every week. However the competitive juices do flow at quiznight.
Two weeks ago our quizmaster was Scottish which meant he could barely speak English and when he did no one could understand a word of it. At one point the room had him spell the words in his question but we could not figure out what letters he was saying.
There was one night however when, buoyed by a fit of colonial pique, we did dare to protest. The question was "what Canadian province has the same name as a breed of dog?". We allowed without comment the inference in the phrasing that Canadian provinces were somewhat less than the dogs after which they were named however we could not ignore the quizmaster's answer which was "Labrador".
Labrador? Labrador? The Canadian province of Labrador?
I rose ponderously on a point of privilege, quickly establishing my credentials and bona fides (62 years spent studying Canadian geography, steady C student and all of that sort of thing) and then apologized for having to hesitantly point out that sadly Labrador was not a province. My explanation continued to explain that while not itself a province Labrador did by happy coincidence form part of the province of Newfoundland which did oddly enough share its name with a breed of dog.
A tense silence followed my terse delivery. The brow of the quizmaster furled and unfurled, reddened, went pale and reddened again as the possibilities were sifted through. "Ahhhh, I see." began the quizmaster. "Well in that case your table may have a point for the answer 'Newfoundland'. The other tables will be bound by the official answer of 'Labrador'"
The matter disposed of, the quizmaster returned to delivering answers to the remaining questions.
Now what intrigued me about this question of Labradorian dogs was that three tables got the question right, by which I mean the wrong answer. Three tables answered "Labrador". Makes you wonder.
Revenge however comes next Wednesday. I am quizmaster.