“What…? What…?” I ask crossly. “That is what it says here. ‘What is the largest port in Basra? Iraq. I am merely reading what it says on the sheet.”
“Basra is in Iraq!”
“Yes but for all I know, Basra could also be some – some historic regional area or something. For which Iraq is the chief port. Like in… er well there is ‘Washington’ the state and ‘Washington’ the city. And the place on Tyneside,” I add, helpfully.
There is more booing. Neil, who is wearing a suit and has therefore been drafted in to help me read the quiz, suggests we skip this question. I gesture frantically to the Foxy Barmaid for another free pint of beer. We move to a controversy about chromosomes.
“There are twenty-three pairs,” I insist. “It says so on the sheet.”
“There are not thirty-two. I mean – I know you’re from Norfolk…”
“We’ll accept thirty-two,” concedes Neil. He is weak. The LTLP and Mrs Short Tony, who also does science, glare at us. I realise that I have drunk half of my free pint already. I wave at the Foxy Barmaid to be ready for the next one.
The next question is in French. This throws me a bit. The following one is in Italian, which I am more comfortable with as it is ‘names of pizzas’. I place my empty glass under the pump in order to be helpful.
“Thanks for your help tonight,” the Well-Spoken Barman offers at the end. I reply that I enjoyed it very much but would perhaps not want to do it every time. Somebody approaches me to play the banjo at the Church Fete next year.