The Magic of 1888

Every quiz team has their stock answers to that question they just don’t know. Apparently, if in doubt, TVs Eggheads always go for ‘Pacific’. I’m assuming this is because it’s (a) big, and (b) got a lot of stuff in it. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much useless unless it’s a geography question.

The Royal Blokes* stock answer is 1888, which is good for a lot more subjects than you would think. It’s also Big Ron’s favourite year, which I feel needs some explanation.

Big Ron* is not big, but he is called Ron and he’s Little Fella’s* dad. He also worked for a company that, so legend has it, was founded in 1888. Why this would make it his favourite year is lost in the mists of time, but (take it from me) it does.

Just like there’s lots of stuff in the Pacific, lots of stuff happened in 1888 and lots of people were born/married/died/lived through [delete as appropriate] that year – which is why it’s such a wonderful answer – usually.

Now, at last weeks quiz, we were being soundly being beaten by The Halfwits (not their chosen team name, but if all four of you blatantly spend the entire quiz on the phone, you deserve what people call you). However, a storming final round (TV & Film – probably best subject) saw us tie for second place. Cue the tie break.

This particular quiz we sent up Cpt. America*, because it was his birthday – The question was “When was Margot Fonteyn born?”

The teams sum of knowledge of ballet dancers is that they are dancers (usually of ballet), most probably of Russian extraction, one of them was named after a horse and they get strangled by car wheels. None of this, you will admit, is particularly useful. Enter Big Ron’s favourite year – only 31 years out, so not a bad guess. Unfortunately, the other tied team went for 1921, which against an actual answer of 1919 is bloody good – good enough to relegate us to third anyway.

Still, it was a better answer than Pacific!

Footnote – Isadora Duncan’s scarf got trapped in the wire spoked wheels of a car while she was driving and she broke her neck, Nijinsky was the last horse to win the Triple Crown (2,000 Guineas, Derby and St. Ledger in the same year) in 1970 and 1888 is also the longest year when expressed in Roman Numerals – MDCCCLXXXVIII.

*see cast list for explanation


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