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

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Administrator

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Teleradiology s...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Administrator - Out of Hours

£19000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Telera...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Office Administrator - Full or Part Time

£14600 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 2003 the company...

Day In a Page

Read Next
V&A museum in London  

Celebrating the cultural impact of PR at the V&A

Danny Rogers
 

Daily catch-up: will this be the election result? And other Questions To Which The Answer Is No

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn