Expat Ramblings: The Pub Quiz

My list is getting shorter and shorter: Not only did I finally go to Stonehenge, I also took part in my first pub quiz last week! It took a while to find the right place for the right day, but there we were on a Sunday night, young, carefree and ready for all kinds of humiliation.

The barman wasn’t entirely sure about the starting time, and because pubs tend to be labyrinthine in their layout, it wasn’t clear how many people had come for the quiz. It’s odd that Kate Fox hasn’t dedicated a chapter to pub quizzes, because everything about it, including this lack of fuss, seems very English. After my run-in with the weird world of bingo, I was briefly scared I would have to make a public appearance of some sort, but after my friend explained the process, I had another drink and relaxed. This was already so much better than bingo: Everyone remains in their chosen corner of the pub, the questions are announced through a microphone, and in the end you hand in your answer sheet without ever having to say a word (not even “hooray” or anything similar if you’ve won: We never heard a peep from the winning team. We never even saw them.) It is strange that something so fundamentally bonding as a game played with a whole pub full of strangers is conducted in such an anonymous way. But hey! Socially impaired English people, I like your quizzes!

Somewhat surprisingly, people weren’t falling over themselves to have me on their pub quiz team, but they formed an orderly queue of two. For the purposes of the team name, my friend E felt Irish enough that day to qualify as foreign, so “2/3 foreign” we were. (Remind me to start a poll about acceptable pub quiz team names!) And although brave, we weren’t quite the professionals we tried to impersonate: There were a hairy 2 minutes in which we nearly quit after not entirely correctly hearing the quizmaster ask for 8 pounds per person to join. (“For a lousy food voucher as well! Let’s finish our drinks and WALK!” Huff. Righteous indignation!). It was a pound per person, and the guy had an accent. Cough.

The first round was a picture round, which was easy enough, if all South American flags didn’t look alike (my sincerest apologies to Argentina and Uruguay) and if I had actually watched TV at all in the last ten years. If there’s one thing we have learned it is this: We should all watch more TV. For knowledge! I also have to mention, because my teammates will be reading this, that I didn’t spot the cricketer. I did NOT. Spot the only cricketer. The shame.

After this, it went as I had feared: Lots of tv show presenters, soap opera characters and football coaches. I’d like to kid myself that we were just unlucky with the questions, but we probably just weren’t prepared. Any obscure football news item will now be read and memorized. Actually, let’s be honest: We just weren’t very good at this at all. Asked about 5 non-American actors who had won an Oscar over the last 30 years, all I could contribute was “What? He’s not American?!” We had also never realised that Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” has names of famous people in it. (A lot. Only 8 are still alive. Go!) And although we knew who the bad guy in Disney’s Pinocchio was, we invalidated the entire round by putting Australian convicts into French prisons. Well, you can’t know everything, but it would have helped to know something. Unfortunately, creativity is not rewarded in pub quizzes: When asked about the novelty hit single of The Monks, who we had never heard of, we came up with “Hey Hey, We’re The Monks,” which totally needs to get recorded and released immediately. There is also no song called “Yankee Yodel,” although there should be.

So, we had fun. So much so that we decided to give it another go a few days later, but again, people seemed reluctant to play with me. I wonder why?! I know… German stuff! I’ll look at all the pictures of all cricket players past and present! I’ll buy you a drink! Come baaaaack!

But right now, I have some catching up to do:

By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

9 replies on “Expat Ramblings: The Pub Quiz”


In my city, pub quizzes are such a feature that several pubs will organise one for you as an event – the questions and everything, all you have to do is show up with your group. Why yes, that is our next work night out, why do you ask?

Sounds like fun! I haven’t been to a pub quiz in ages. As far as I’m concerned, the best ones are the ones that offer spot prizes for the funniest or most ridiculous answers :) Also most of the ones I’ve been to had a prize for the most inventive team name, which can get pretty competitive :)

Yeah, sometimes you see them called “Trivia Night” or “Quiz Night,” but they’re around! I have a friend in Spokane who is the host of one occasionally. There’s also a brewery here that sometimes does it. I know there are other cities where it’s a regular thing, but like everything else it seems, Great Falls is slow to catch on. We get there… just 5 years behind everyone else, haha.

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