Variety Show

Tonight a group of buddies and me will indulge in our inaugural quiz night of 2021. Facilitated by the miracle of Zoom software, the chairmanship skills of Scott Parker (of Northampton parish) and the creativity of it’s ne’er do well participants, these evenings ordinarily play out to a soundscape of laughter, live music and contestants asking “Can you repeat the question?”

Tapping into the British tradition of music hall variety shows, the music is provided on acoustic guitar by Tim Marrison and Ian Strachan, along with Scott Parker on electric guitar. Tim and my brother Ian usually entertaining us with self-written songs. Poetic laments heavily influenced by singer/songwriters James Taylor and Paddy McAloon, telling tales of Portugal, Mexico, love and existential torment.

Scott ordinarily treats the socially distanced crowd to accomplished performances of rock covers, such as Blur’s ‘Song 2’. I’m unsure if the Gateshead born and bred lad plays the anthems of signed bands as a consequence of not writing his own songs, or if he actually wrote ‘Song 2’. Irrespective, as with Tim and Ian’s musical contributions, his input is a key component to the clambake’s success.

Our Ian’s refrains can be on the dark side. Predominantly penned when he was going through his 2002 marriage split, they’re sonnets of woe relaying his disenchantment at that juncture of his life. His thought-provoking words painting a vivid, stark landscape of his then torment; along with ensuring that, as long as he keeps performing them, The Low Fell Noose Emporium will never go into liquidation.

Jeff Patterson, Mick Todd, Tony Scott and yours truly make up the evening’s main protagonists. Jeff is the brains of the outfit; although to be fair that’s not saying a great deal. The Shrewsbury based Mr P’s intellect so superior he won the last quiz of 2020 when not even participating in proceedings. In fact, I’d go as far as saying Benny from Crossroads would run him closer than the rest of us misfits.

As I’m a sore loser, during Jeff’s absence from the previous quiz night, I suggested we endeavour to railroad his chances in future quizzes by setting the questions in the Greek language. A flawed strategy not taking into account none of us speak Greek (apart from Jeff), my suggestion was unsurprisingly discarded immediately.

Being fluent in five languages, although sadly not Greek and (bizarrely) English, Mick is the linguist of the group. Deadpan of emotion, and hindered by his poor grasp of English, it’s sometimes difficult to read the Gateshead lad’s prevailing mood. However, if the quiz night is anything to go by, it’s something to do with crisps and beer.

A movie buff, particularly fond of film noir, Tony ordinarily provides a round of questions based upon all things celluloid. Well, not ALL things celluloid; that’d be ridiculous. After all, his set of inquiries would run for weeks, if not months, should he cover the topic with that level of granularity.

My contribution is an absurd ‘True of False’ round which is usually concludes the evening. I’d like to think that’s a sign participants find my silliness a whimsically apt way to bring an end to proceedings. Not that they’d be too stunned to proceed if I provided the set of queries prior to any other segments of our variety night.

An example of the aforementioned absurdity is as follows:-

True or False – During childbirth women expend enough energy to power a three-bedroomed semi-detached house for five days.

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