Pub quiz left me inconsolable

I had a disturbing experience in the Chestnut Tree. My ragged performance at the pub quiz left me distraught. At some unknown point over the last decade, the power of my brain had peaked. Now I realise, the only way is down. I can only hope to reduce the decline as much as possible. I sighed a long sigh, and an earthy dismay filled up my chest. The left corner of my mouth jutted over to one side as my lips pressed together, and my right eyebrow was raised. I will be 30 this year. Not to mention the body – gaining fat and beginning to lose hair from its head. It is not the body that bothers me, it is the mind. I am aware that bodies start to grow old almost as soon as they become adult. What is happening with my mind?

Question no.1 – Which nation shares its Patron Saint, St. Patrick, with Ireland?

Question no.2 – The name of which character in Moby Dick is also the name of an international high street chain?

Question no.3 – Which Arabic word is translated as elder, wise man or scholar?

Question no.4 – The Scottish, Nimzo-Indian and Sicilian are examples of what type of movement?

I know the answers to two of these questions and could take an intuitive guess at the other two.  As no other member of my Chesnut Tree team ventured an answer, I put the guesses down. Upon further reflection I altered my answers, as I was able to come up with more sensible answers. Or what I thought were more sensible answers. Perhaps I changed the answers simply because I had thought about the questions a bit longer, and therefore the alternative guesses were better thought-out? This was an error, as boiling a kettle for ten minutes does not make the water any hotter than boiling it for five minutes.

I have read Moby Dick and am familiar with its characters. At the Chesnut Tree I struggled to recall the names of any of them beyond Ishmael and Captain Ahab. Is there a chain of stores called Ahab’s? …I know, the answer must be Moby Dick’s Fish’n’Chips, although that does seem a little obvious.

I racked my brains for the solution to the question of the Nimzo-Indian, Sicilian and Scottish movements. I thought about politics… sport… Again, no-one could help me on this one. I came up with an inspired but wacky answer. These were all examples of… Independence Parties. Hmmm.

Of the other sixteen questions, we either knew the answer outright or had no chance whatsoever of getting the answer right. It was the above four questions that caused me grief. Internal, painful grief. Let me also tell you that I was not in this quiz to win it. That is the reserve of the braniacs and eggheads who frequent the pub quizzes, and invariably take home with them the bottle of plonk or meal voucher for two.

When the answers were read out I buried my head in my hands. I have studied chess and am familiar with these openings, how could the proverbial light bulb not have come on when the quizmaster said Nimzo-Indian?  What the hell is a Nimzo-Indian when it is not a chess opening?

Patrick is the Patron Saint of Nigeria as well as Ireland, and Sheikh is an Arabic word meaning elder, wise man, scholar. Impressively I had correctly guessed these answers. Disturbingly, I had rubbed them out and replaced them with ‘Scotland’ and ‘La-la’. What was wrong with me? Have I lost faith in myself? Confidence? I find it interesting that I would literally second-guess myself in this way.

Finally, imagine the large proverbial kick I administered to myself when I was reminded of a character called Starbuck from Moby Dick, also the name of a popular chain of coffee shops.

Inconsolable, I ordered another pint.


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