I had a problem. No one else could help me and I knew I could find them.
I put the call out.
They came from far and wide. A band of mercenaries, nameless (apart from David Blacker) and answering to no one (except their wives, bosses, parents and people they felt a bit intimidated by) their mission was to win the Colombo pub quiz. A and K had insisted we went, even though we were flying back to London later that night.
I did a dummy run the previous week, entering a team that deliberately did badly, just to recce the scene, spot the weak areas and analyse the other teams. This time we meant business. We were the Crak Squad. There was:
Me, RD. - The "Hannibal" of the team. I made the calls, got people together, then largely sat in the background, pretending that I didn't know the answers to anything. My specialist subjects of drums, drummers and Superdry clothing are yet to come up I admit, but I'm ready.
C - Her. She kind of shouts when needed, when not needed, and scowls a lot. Useful in arguments and disputes. Her specialist subject is the workings of a woman's mind.
A and K - Deadly with their wit, intelligence and knowledge, after spending many of their recent years sitting in front of a TV honing their minds, particularly where things like cartoons and Hannah Monfuckingtana are concerned. K had spent much of the day "revising" by reading that day's newspapers. She was taking things seriously. They're particularly fond of David Blacker, a matter of some concern to me.
David Blacker - Brad Pitt regularly asks him for fashion and womanising advice, Errol Brown from Hot Chocolate often seeks his hair advice and The Stig goes to him for driving lessons. He was the first choice to play John McClane in Die Hard but, on his way to the first day's filming, the dashboard in his car melted so they got in Bruce Willis instead. Oh, and he's good in quizzes as he knows lots of stuff.
The Chinaman - No one knows why he's called this but he's definitely not Chinese. A mine of information on useless things, useless unless you want to enter a pub quiz or something. He plays bass, likes The Police and, with all those facts floating around in his head, should really write a book or two sometime.
RW - A friend of David Blacker's with a certified IQ of 327, though he maintains that the test was fixed and it should be 329. RW played that saxophone solo on Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty but forgot to fill in the form as he as leaving and so gets no royalties.
The others - There were more people, floating around and offering vital information at crucial times. They must not be forgotten. But I've kind of forgotten their names.
The quizmasters arrived and announced the week's categories. For the second week in a row my specialist subject hadn't come up but I remained quietly confident. There was a section called "cartoons" and, with A and K in the team, this was like having a section called "tattoos, football and what Posh Spice ate for breakfast" then remembering that David Beckham was a team member.
We started the quiz with the history section, a cornucopia of titillating puzzlers leaning towards the historic among us. I kept quiet, preferring to let others have some of the limelight for a change. The Chinaman was able to tell us that King George III was the King in charge when the Brits arrived in Sri Lanka and said it with a certain air of confidence that made me feel he looked good in the glowing evening light of the Barefoot garden.
The science round was a good opportunity for RW and K to prove their prowess in areas scientific. And that they did. There were questions about iron filings and magnets, about Moby Dick, the size of planets and the periodic table. It will surprise you but I wasn't so strong on this round. It mattered not as RW and K did their thing. K proving that she pays attention at school and RW proving that he should probably get out more.
The round entitled "buildings" was another goodish one for us. They showed us pictures of famous buildings around the world and had to identify them. I feigned dumbness here and pretended that I only knew the Petronas Towers picture. It seemed fair on the others.
There was a section called "Mervyn" with questions on Dr Mervyn Silva. I was rather pleased that I knew that the chap who
After some debate we decided to play our joker in the cartoon section. I was confident on this, the others didn't share my feelings but went with it. They weren't to know about A and K's expertise in this area, not to mention my own, and we triumphed, scoring a complete ten points, which was doubled to twenty. I knew Johnny Bravo and Dexter's Laboratory myself even. That's how strong we were.
Things looked good as we entered the final round, that of movies, in the lead.
Well bugger me. The movies round showed us a bunch of screenshots of "foreign" language films and we had to name the film. I thought we were doomed but hadn't counted on David Blacker and RW's knowledge of obscure subtitled flicks. I was hoping that Christiane F would make an appearance but it didn't. Of course the definition of "foreign" is slightly subjective and there was some shouting when one of the answers was announced and one team thought that the particular film was in English and therefore not "foreign". I guess it all depends where you come from.
As the final round's scores were announced our team's were left until last. We needed to get more than two points to win the competition and walk off with the grand prize of several million of your Sri Lankan Rupees. The announcement came:
There was whooping and ahollering aplenty as we ended up taking the prize, not to mention the esteem, honour and sheer prestige. A and K were seriously delighted and now think David Blacker's even more cool than before.
Like one of those boxers, or Murali even, retiring at their peak we paid our bills, accepted the congratulations and cheering and headed off into the night. Some hours later myself and A and K were on the Sri Lankan Airlines plane, trying to get the entertainment system to work and getting annoyed that there was no service from the aircrew.
Was it a dream? Were we really there?
If you've got a quiz and if you know how to find them......