If you don't keep one eye on The X factor, forget about any pub quiz victories

There's too much reality TV at the moment to stay abreast of it all

Share
Related Topics

It was quiz night in my local pub the other night, and there's nothing quite like a pub quiz to leave you shame-faced about what you don't know.

The general knowledge rounds presented few problems. We were all right with naming obscure capital cities, and identifying characters from Shakespeare, and we even knew that the Roman God of Summer was Aestas. On history, we were equally sure-footed.

But when it came to the questions on what had happened just this past week in the realm of popular culture, we looked at each other blankly while all the other tables were scribbling away. You may say that it doesn't matter if you don't know who provoked a Twitter storm by appearing on TV without his wedding ring (I believe it was Ant, but it may have been Dec) or the name of the Premier League footballer going out with an X Factor judge (still don't know) or who left the jungle through ill health (someone called Brian Conley although I'm not sure what he does), but, to my mind, this ignorance is not bliss.

It's not just that it leaves you at a serious disadvantage if you're someone who takes part in one of the 22,000 pub quizzes that happen every week in Britain. It is the unsettling sense that there is a whole segment of modern life of which you don't have a basic grasp.

I don't want to spend too much time watching The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, and I certainly don't feel the need to read about Tulisa's boyfriend or Brian's medical state, but I think of it like office gossip: I want to know what's happening without going to the trouble of finding out. The problem is that there's just too much of it these days: too much reality TV, too many talent shows, too many judges throwing wobblies, too many contestants having breakdowns. And if you're not absolutely clear where one show starts and another ends, you might as well give up.

Millions and millions of people – across all demographics – seem to know this stuff, and yet here I am like a High Court judge faced with a reference to a rock star. Is it an age thing, I asked myself? Well, yes, as it turns out. My friend Marcus Berkmann, who is the undisputed king of the pub quiz both as contestant and question-setter, says that these days knowledge is a generational issue. “People who are 25 years old know very different things from those who are 50,” he says, adding that he has also had my experience of realising that, while we might be able to recognise Edgar Allen Poe, we are ignorant of something that happened five minutes ago.

In the end, we came fifth in the pub quiz, and left with a serious vow: not to devote more time to reality TV, but next time to get someone on our team under the age of 25. By the way, Marcus's favourite question of the moment: Alistair Cooke (of Letter to America fame) married Ruth Emerson in 1933. Who was the best man who failed to turn up at the wedding? I'll leave you with that. Answer tomorrow.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform