The Mensa Boys' weekend gatherings can be intimidating to anyone with an IQ of less than 160

An anthropologist, asked to submit the Mensa Boys to half-an-hour's professional scrutiny, would probably observe that various factors unite them

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The Independent Online

Although the Mensa Boys have a habit of referring to themselves as "a team" or even, with maximal irony, "a posse", their numbers are generally rather restricted. In fact, it is a rare Saturday afternoon when Simon's cottage, three miles outside Woodbridge, plays host to anyone other than his fast friends Julian and "JB". There are several reasons for this delimitation. One is that the part of Suffolk in which they live and work is not known for an abundance of intellectual types. The other is the atmosphere of these weekend gatherings, which can be a little intimidating to anyone with an IQ of less than 160.

It is not, as they are keen to assure occasional visitors, that the Mensa Boys are in any way exclusive; merely that like, inevitably, inclines to like – a winnowing process that, however hearty the welcome, usually leaves only Simon, Julian and JB listening to the former's highly eclectic CD collection (Cage, Bartok, Zappa etc), while reassembling their 1,000-piece jigsaws – under time constraints, naturally – or striving to become the first to compile a list of every British monarch since Alfred the Great from memory. Other diversions include criticising the participants of University Challenge ("Surely he's heard of President Taft?") and devising anagrams of the names of well-known novelists ("How about Martin Amis – 'A Smart Mini?'")

An anthropologist, asked to submit the Mensa Boys to half-an-hour's professional scrutiny, would probably observe that various factors unite them. Not only are they all in their late twenties or early thirties, but each pursues a somewhat rarefied form of employment. Simon, for example, works in the Suffolk County Archive; Julian undertakes editorial work for the Cambridge University Press. Then there is the undoubted fact that none of them has ever been seen in the company of a member of the opposite sex.

Why are there no Mensa Girls eagerly turning out the jigsaw boxes in Simon's lounge? Well, women, bitter experience has forced the boys reluctantly to concede, just don't think in the right way. It is a fact, for example, that they can't construct a syllogism or play chess in the absence of a chess board. Meanwhile, there is a great deal of all-male fun to be got out of composing clerihews inspired by members of the cabinet ("Michael Gove/Preferred crimson to mauve") or solving the Times Literary Supplement crossword without reference to Wikipedia.

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