Let's get quizzical

I love a good pub quiz. It's surprising, though, that I still enjoy them as a pastime given my appalling track record of success in them of late. I mean, as a general rule of thumb in life, I only like doing things I am moderately good at. This is why I allocate such a generous portion of my time to whistling television theme tunes and making stew, in the place of, say, playing team sports or doing heavy lifting. I'm not usually one for self-development. I'd rather do something I've done umpteen times before and congratulate myself than take up a new challenge and be crap, then a bit sad. You might call this limiting. I call it 'logical'.

But pub quizzes are the exception to my rule. I am blithely optimistic about pub quizzes, like a second-time mother being wheeled into the labour ward. "Maybe this time we'll win!" I say cheerily. Most of these people look a pretty dim, and I've been reading the Metro quite carefully this week. Plus, I had salmon for lunch! We're going to ride that Omega 3 wave all the way to the prize pot, baby." Then three hours later I'm sobbing over a glass of wasabi peas, having discovered I know bupkis about flags of the world, photosynthesis, former barmaids of the Rovers' Return or indeed anything that matters.

Image: burnham-on-sea.com

The pressure of the team name alone is too much. Team names are an opportunity to compensate for your poor performance before you've poorly performed. But over time it gets harder, as the hilarious quiz team names of yesteryear lapse into tedious cliche. 'Universally Challenged' probably got rapturous applause when it was first used by Og and Ug at the Cavemen Arms. Meanwhile, the in-joke that seemed so droll when you wrote it down will become less and less funny each time the quizmaster reads out 'Sorry Tim, Mum says We've Got No Broccoli - seventh place' to a roomful of bemused silence. For uninspiring but solid names, you can always fall back on the old chestnut of inserting 'quiz' into rhyming phrases. Quiz Akabusi. Quiz team-a Aguilera. Bucks Quiz. Quizzee Rascal, to be down with the kids.

At this week's quiz, as always, i really thought things might be different. With a modest team of two, my boyfriend and I perfectly tessellated our opposite areas of expertise (him: politics, geography, transport; me: adverts, confectionary, pop hits of the noughties) and amazingly managed to come in second on the first points recap. Then second again in the second points recap. As we whizz confidently through the picture round and the guess-the-common-theme round, I start silently believing we are somehow going to win. It would be a triumph. There are only two of us, with an average age of 25. We'd go down in history! They'd have to put a special plaque up!

We didn't win. We came seventh. Apparently the rest of Muswell Hill has an encyclopaedic knowledge of racing horses and Frank Carson catchphrases like it's normal. But of course, despite the humiliating defeat, I enjoyed it. We also had a good team name - but I'm not telling you in case you nick it.