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Torfaen Tales

The Quiz

We were having a lovely, relaxing holiday, a week away from the usual bustle and toil of our busy lives. A chance to catch some Turkish sun before the onset of our Welsh winter. Joanne had been eager to show off the apartment she’d bought six months previously. We’d known each other for years, had even shared a flat together when younger. Being on holiday together was very much like a return to our younger days. The only reminder of the real world was the constant ringing of Jo’s mobile phone. Her daughter with every question under the sun: “Mam! Where’s the key to the shed?” “Mam! Did you buy me that leather jacket?” And this morning: “Mam! Where were you last night?” Jo had neglected to take her mobile with her on purpose.

“Sorry if you were worried, love,” she said with a wink in my direction. “I must have forgotten to take my phone with me. Yes, we are going out again tonight. There’s a quiz being held at one of the pubs on the seafront. You know what brain boxes me and Sarah are, we’re bound to win. Yes, I’ll keep a look out for those blue trainers for you. Quite how I’m going to get all this stuff home I’ve no idea, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Gotta go now, love. ‘Bye!”

Joanne clicked the handset shut. “That daughter of mine, she gives me earache!”

I nodded and grinned, knowing full well that Jo enjoyed being needed despite her protests.

Yes, we’d seen a pub quiz advertised while heading for the beach yesterday morning. Obviously aimed at the British tourist contingency.

After another day of sun, sea and shopping we headed back to the apartment to glam ourselves up for the evening ahead. Then off to the pub for a meal before the quiz.

It took us a little while to find the right pub. The town is a maze of little alleys, each looking much the same. But eventually we saw the familiar sign.

We looked around while waiting for our meal.

“Not many here yet,” observed Jo.

She was right. But as nine o’clock drew near, the pub suddenly filled with an assortment of people.

We went to the table to register.

“What’s your team name?”

“Um, the Welsh Wonders,” I offered. It was the only thing I could think of, and Jo was unable to think of anything at all.

“You’re new here,” said the woman, studying us over half-moon spectacles. “Anyway, you’ll soon get to know the others. Many of them live here.”

But first the serious business of the quiz. Our spectacled lady read out the questions in a stern voice. She demanded total silence. Contestants were not allowed to move from their tables for the duration of the quiz. It took about half an hour. The questions called upon every aspect of general knowledge, from geography, history and sport to popular culture and nature.

Finally we were allowed to put our pens down, and after we’d handed in our answer sheet Jo made a dash for the Ladies.

“If I’d known I would have gone earlier,” she said with a pained expression.

We decided to mingle with the other contestants.

“Yes, Lionel and I have been living here since we retired,” said a lady with bouffant hair and bright red lipstick. She barely looked fifty, and her husband although grey-haired also seemed too young to be 65 or over. “We have three apartments which we rent out,” he said. “It’s a good life. Doesn’t get very cold here even in the depths of winter, and when it gets too hot in July and August we head back to the UK.”

Our bespectacled quiz mistress tapped a glass to order silence. “I have the results,” she announced sternly. “First prize, The Brains Trust. Second, The Oxbridge OAPs.”

I glanced at Jo. “We’ve got to be in there somewhere,” she said with a frown.

I nodded.

“Third, The Bournemouth Set,” announced Mrs Specs.

“I guess we’re just not as clever as we thought,” I whispered to Jo. She pursed her lips, disappointed.

“And the Booby Prize for the lowest score goes to …. The Welsh Wonders!”

We took it in good part. Well, we had little choice. We accepted our certificate to boisterous applause and much ribbing about the level of Welsh intelligence.

“Never mind,” said Mrs Red Lips. “I expect you’ll improve with practice.”

We decided to go belly dancing the following night.

By Karenne Griffin

Last Modified on: 05-11-2015

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