Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gearing up for Brain of Bath

It’s quiz time again. And more specifically, the high-powered mental challenge that is Brain of Bath 2011.

Tonight the great and good of the city (plus a team from The Bath Chronicle) assemble in – yes, you guessed it – the Assembly Rooms to stretch their collective brains, show off their general knowledge and raise funds for homelessness charity Julian House.

Without blowing our own trumpet too much, the Chronicle team has done pretty well at Brain of Bath over the years. Indeed, the glittering cut-glass trophy has taken pride of place in the newsroom since last summer, and we won’t be giving it up without a fight.

At the start of every Brain of Bath the organiser, Cecil Weir of Julian House, gives out a dire warning: in the event of any dispute about the answers, he is always right.

And that’s the way it should be. Quizzes are about facts, not opinions. There can be no argument, for example, about who invented lemon curd. But you can bicker till the cows come home about why they ever bothered.

Of course, not everything in Brain of Bath depends entirely on general knowledge. A regular favourite is the so-called Smells Round.

How can things smell round, you may well ask. Well, you may ask, but no one will laugh.

The hard-working assistants dash round the tables and dish out 10 little plastic pots per team. In their past life they were 35mm film containers. The pots, not the assistants. Pay attention at the back.

In each pot is a cotton pad doused in smell, and when the teams open them a veritable symphony of aromas wafts skywards.

Gorgonzola mingles with Brut 33, aniseed dukes it out with Dettol. For a brief five minutes the Assembly Rooms smell like an explosion in an essential oils factory, and then calm is restored.

It’s only after the answers are read out that you realise that you’d never make it as a wine-taster. What you thought was banana is actually celery, and what you were convinced was Marmite turns out to be Chanel Number 5.

To make things even more difficult, there’s the Sport Round.

Now you might think that a newspaper would have an unfair advantage here, what with a crack team of sports writers at our beck and call.

But the sports guys are generally washing their hair on Brain of Bath night, and it’s up to the rest of us news/features/general dogsbody types to prove the old saying: You either know that you know nothing about sport, or you think you know something about sport, but you don’t.

Throw in a bit of internecine rivalry – solicitors vs accountants, Bath Chronicle vs regular pub quiz haunt the St James Wine Vaults – and you’ve got a recipe for a great night out. May the best team win – if they haven’t already.

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