Tailor made quizzes
Sick of doing quizzes that ask ‘what’s the capital of Albania?’ You either know it or you don’t, and either way there’s no fun. A really good question should be one you can work out, a challenge you enjoy even if you don’t get the answer in the end. For example:
‘Who did Dawn Tinsley and Tim Canterbury work for between 2001 and 2003?'
While you’re thinking about that, here’s the deal:
You are organising a quiz for your company/sporting team/charity night/etc.
I will lovingly craft you a personally-tailored quiz that will get your teams scratching their heads, racking their brains and punching the air in silent triumph when they work out an answer. (As I say, the whole point is that people should get the answer, but have an interesting time on the way there.) The questions will have had a great deal of thought put into them. They won’t have been assembled the way most bog-standard quizzes are assembled, i.e. downloaded from the internet. (Capital of Albania, anyone?)
Various combinations of rounds are possible (general knowledge, music, film, etc, the last two provided by various types of techno-cleverness should you so desire). The exact set-up depends on your budget – I can simply email a list of questions for you to read out, or turn up and compere the evening for you, or even provide a celebrity compere to do the job with me. This might be an Archers star, or possibly the woman who provides the voice of London’s Tube system. She will treat the winning team to a private recital of their favourite station name. If you’re really clever she might even throw in a ‘Mind the Gap’.
PS – if you want to stick with boring questions, it’s Tirana.
PPS – if you want another interesting one: ‘There are six of them. One is longer than the other five. They were invented in 1924 by Sir Frank Dyson, who was then the Astronomer Royal. What are they?' Email me for the answer if you’re stuck.
Other pages in this section...
Inspired by my book Walk the Lines: the London Underground - Overground, each of these trivia-packed walks uncovers London’s history by following a section of a Tube line ... at street level.
Aural delights from the world of trivia
On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.
I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.