Don’t women "do" quizzes? Confronted with a room full of 56 male students and just 16 girls for the 18 team-strong iQuiz final at Birmingham’s splendid Ikon Gallery on Tuesday, two thoughts occurred: 1. I’ve been in more fragrant-smelling rooms. 2. Don’t girls want a free two-week trek around the western USA just for answering a few quiz questions – albeit set by i’s fiendish quizmaster, Simon O’Hagan?
I asked "Kent", the only female-heavy team in the room, for an explanation. Boys were just "more competitive about sad things", they deadpanned, an unimpeachable argument which they helped prove by finishing second-last.
I was going to write that students really have changed since my day, given how earnest the room was, and how restrained they were with the free bar. However, the Kent girls redeemed themselves by telling me on the train home that they’d found a Broad St bar where drinks cost 90p, and that the party had been in their room 'til 4am!
In the hotel check-out queue, the distinctly fragrant, still drunk businesswoman behind me was on the phone to a colleague. "Um, do you have my coat?" she began sheepishly, moving on to: "Any idea how I got this bruise on my face? Was it when we were dirty dancing, or... after? It was fun though, yeah? Fun?" she convinced herself, before completing her verbal walk of shame: "So, we are good then aren’t we? We’re OK today, yes?" It was a call men simply don’t make.
So, on Valentine’s Day, it’s good to know "romance" isn’t dead. And, to remind ourselves that Dr John Gray was really on to something when he wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.