I always like the idea of a pub quiz. What could be better than getting together in a pub with like-minded people to exercise the old grey matter over a couple of hearty ales? Well, quite a lot, if the truth be told.
A new, dynamic young publican has taken over the village pub and given it a bit of a revamp. By this I mean there are actually people in it. The old publican, a dour Mancunian, was never enormously keen on visitors. He would sit behind his bar, curiously shaped like a fortress and watch Channel 4 News. Woe betide anyone coming in and trying to get served.
It's a difficult balance, the whole country pub thing. You either go very poncy and price out the locals while unsuccessfully attempting to provide what you think a night out in London might look like. Or you do the American Werewolf in London theme where only locals (and by that they mean you must have had ancestors in the village before the year 1200) may drink. It's tricky to find that elusive middle ground.
Our new publican, John, has had a very good stab at it. He knocked down the fortress and opened up the bar. He welcomes families, dogs... even ramblers sometimes. He has decent beer and a chef who informs you, if asked, that everything on his menu is "minging" when it's actually very decent fare. John also does his best to attract people to the pub – he has curry nights and pie nights and... quiz nights. That's where we came in.
News had spread that I had recently filmed Celebrity Mastermind, and I was much in demand. Friends organised two teams, and I was inveigled into one of these. Confidence was high. We had myself, a barrister, a scientist and two avid Grazia readers. What could go wrong? At first, nothing. We had already tackled the most tricky issue – our name. We went for Losers Keepers, a terrible play on the name of the pub, The Keepers Arms, but we were quite chuffed with it, until we marked another team called 664 The Neighbour of the Beast and realised that ours was a bit pants.
For the first three rounds, however, things went well and we were actually in the lead. Beer flowed freely and spirits were high at our table. Then the fall – a couple of rounds involving football and Christmas songs – and we were scuppered.
The real torpedo to our festive Belgrano was when we had to fill out the lines from "The Twelve Days of Christmas". We managed five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree, but got all the rest hopelessly out of order. The problem was (try it) that whatever order we chose, it sounded right. We eventually came second to last. How the mighty had fallen.
Fortunately for us, there was an even thicker team called Team of Fun. At least we weren't right at the bottom. We couldn't see this other team as it was in the next room, but a lone golden labrador kept staring at me intently through the door. I prayed that he wasn't the Team of Fun, congratulating himself on how well he had done.
The quiz over and the beer drunk, we all staggered out of the pub into the freezing night. The dog bowls had iced over and the Team of Fun had to smash one with his nose to get a drink. Everyone hugged and kissed and laughed before retiring to their cosy Christmas beds.
This was the kind of thing that I moved down here for, eight years ago. It just takes a little time to fit in. We'll be allowed into the shop in 2015.
Celebrity Mastermind is on BBC1 on 6 January