Nicholas Lezard: The challenge of Gail Trimble

The captain of the Corpus Christiteam isn't going to be easy to impress

Related Topics

The intellectual powerhouse that is Gail Trimble, captain of Corpus Christi's all-conquering University Challenge team, has divided the nation like no other figure since Margaret Thatcher. The profound difference is that not only is Ms Trimble demonstrably more knowledgeable than the Iron Lady, she is also, we suspect, a lot nicer.

Such scorn as she has suffered is really about nothing more than the man's fear of the clever woman. Personally speaking, I like clever women, and were I 20 years younger I would be using all the cunning at my command to get her phone number and ask her out on a date.

A date is, conventionally, an arrangement whereby a man sets aside some time to boast about his intellect and achievements to a woman, who then agrees to go to bed with him (or, in my experience, does not, but that's another story).

But a woman who has almost single-handedly hauled her team to glory by knowing a staggering amount of stuff isn't going to be easy to impress. And somehow I suspect that she isn't going to be wowed by extra-intellectual abilities, such as being able to do 1,000 keepy-uppies, balance lumps of sugar on the end of your nose, or do a convincing sound imitation of a cat being chased by a terrier, which are the kind of things that men less cerebrally gifted have traditionally done to woo the woman of their dreams.

No, the man who wins her heart is going to have to do some serious boning up. I would also strongly suggest not going to see a historical film, as Ms Trimble would be able to spot every single anachronism and deviation from accuracy. As she's a classical scholar, I would make a particular point of avoiding something like the film 300, which gets so many things wrong that she'll be in a grump for the rest of the evening.

It's like the old exam problem. Do you try and grasp the big picture, or do you concentrate on a narrow field? I have a hunch that she will probably know that the House of Hapsburg supplied all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1452 and 1740, that all non-trivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function have a real part 1/2, whatever that means (thank you, Wikipedia), and that Plenipotentiary won the Derby in 1834. She also would appear to know her history and if you know more state capitals of the US than she does I will come over to your restaurant table and eat my hat in front of you.

What you might have to go for is a plausible semblance of worldly wisdom. University of Life stuff. Anyone can pick up facts if they have spent, as by her own accounts Ms Trimble has, almost all their life reading. But has she worked out, as you have, that life is a meaningless journey in the howling void of eternity towards death, that our names will not live after us, and that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong?

Oh, wait. She knows Euripides off by heart, and Sophocles, and any other tragedian you can think of. I'd start practicing those keepy-uppies if I were you. Let me know how it goes.

React Now

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

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - PHP

£33000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas