Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Aug 28 2017 01:00PM

Among Britain’s many contributions to world culture, the pub quiz – a trivia bowl stripped of the unpleasantly stressful requirement to buzz in before the other team -- ranks high. You grab a pencil and a couple of friends, head down to the local watering-hole, and prepare for glory or humiliation, depending on how good you are at remembering random geography facts, the records of your favorite cricket teams, or the titles of obscure Elton John songs.

Copious supplies of beer and crisps (that’s potato chips on this side of the pond) may or may not assist in the endeavor. Prizes – sometimes just more beer and crisps – are awarded to the teams with the highest point totals.

I love this stuff. So you can imagine the wail of disappointment with which I greeted the news that a Jane Austen Pub Quiz is taking place this Thursday in a place too far away for me to reach it. In England, in fact, at an Oxford pub called The Head of the River.

The Oxford branch of the Society of Young Publishers, which hosts professional and social events for people new to the world of publishing, is sponsoring this joyous chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of two of the greatest aspects of Britishness. They promise fabulous prizes and, appropriately enough, a matchmaking service for those arriving without a team of fellow Janeites. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jane Austen must be in want of a pub quiz!” they say. “Join us to sort your Darcys from your Dashwoods,” they add.

I may cry.

I do not currently have plans to be in Oxford on Thursday. But if a Young Publisher would like to send me a plane ticket, I could be persuaded.

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