Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vindolanda Digging Report Day two. And the Worst Pub Quiz in Great Britain

Bright sunny day again, fine weather for picking through more rocks.  One of the first ones I lifted up and turned over had this on the bottom side!

Yes, it is just what it appears to be, a Roman spear head.  Or rather, the iron shadow of one.  The actual spearhead was rather corroded and could not be salvaged.  This often happens in the upper layers.

Not long after I came up with a round stone disc.  It had obviously been worked into a nice shape, and may have had some faint graffiti on it.  (No rubbing the artifacts, sometimes you obliterate fine details).

Opinions vary as to whether this sort of object was a stone lid to some sort of container, or a rather large gaming counter.  This was a substantial specimen, so if this was an ancient poker chip I imagine was redeemable for two sheep and an evening with the slave girl of your choice.

Late in the day I came up with a small coin.  These are less exciting than you would think.  Fourth century coins were smaller than a penny, artistically mediocre, and of such low value that you needed a handful to buy a loaf of bread.

Since the dig report is a bit light I offer up the following as a travelogue add on.

It’s official you know.  In some sort of nationwide contest the Twice Brewed Inn was given the dubious honor of having the worst Pub Quiz in Great Britain.  It’s hard to say how they would rank on a world wide census but I am certain that they would be competitive.

I should mention that while I have some categorical deficiencies I am overall a dab hand at trivia.  On the flight over there was an opportunity to play against other passengers.  I logged on, played one round in which I outscored the next closest opponent by a 2:1 ratio.  After that the entire competitive field retired.

So I know a few things about a few things.

Brian, the genial publican of the Twice Brewed, freely admits that the Quiz is “not for purists”.  He claims it is primarily for the amusement of the Inn staff.  A secondary function seems to be systematically humbling the “mavens” from the Vindolanda team.

Penalty points are handed out with abandon, especially when any ruling of the quizmaster is questioned or even simply howled at.  On the other hand the official ban on cheating via smart phone devices is very loosely enforced.

It is very heavily oriented to music, not my strong suit at all.  And the songs, to which you are supposed to supply title and artist, are run together in an eclectic mash up without any indication of what number song it is on the answer sheet. 

Of course, sometimes clues are provided. There were five bonus points if you could identify what “recent movie” a certain song had appeared in.  “Recent” in this case was 11 years ago!

Another song was described as being “a very big hit last year”.  Nobody had ever heard of it so I risked a potential penalty point by asking: “where?”.  The answer---“Manchester”.  Presumably nowhere else.

After a while you become a bit paranoid, suspecting trickery at every turn.  One one song I was able to dredge up the title from some fossilized grey matter dealing with the early 1970s.  Certainly it was “Annie’s Song”, but darn it all, that did not sound like John Denver.  It sounded like someone with measurable testosterone levels.  (Turns out it was indeed Mr. Denver, presumably recording on a day when he had a moderate sinus infection).

But the overall tone of the quiz was actually set by the very first question. 

“What is the name of a young goat?”

The answer, and nothing else got the point, was arbitrarily ruled to be “Billy the Kidd”.

Despite all obstacles the Vindolanda team did prevail this night, after a fashion.  For no particular reason the second prize is a bottle of wine, an item that one might actually find useful under the appropriate circumstances.

First prize was a DVD of the royal wedding.   No, not the recent one, the previous Charles and Dianna event. 

I guess that also is regarded as a “recent movie”.

1 comment:

Jade said...

Hey Tim ! Its Jade :o) Just made it home and Catherine directed me to your blog.
I thought the quiz lived up to its name, which is a small something to be happy for !

Take care, and look forward to hearing about the finds in the week x