Greenbelt Bingo – explained

Yesterday, I mentioned my preoccupation with something called ‘Greenbelt Bingo’. It wasn’t bingo in the traditional sense of the word – it wasn’t about scoring a full house, more a list of things to do/find/observe, with point scores for each. It was the brainwave of my friend Caroline, a veteran Greenbelter, and much of its content was derived from a Facebook status posted a couple of days before the festival:

Greenbelt Bingo statusNote the 37 compressed comments – they were genius. 

[EDIT] Having posted this, Caroline’s sister Alison pointed out that it was a joint idea they’d had sometime ago – she just wasn’t part of the process of producing it as she’s currently working for Medair in the Middle East. Which is a pretty legitimate excuse really!

I then promptly forgot about this activity until I reached mainstage on the first night of the festival and saw Caroline – who promptly handed me a piece of paper, complete with list and rules:

Greenbelt Bingo Rules Not too onerous…

It was genius and a source of much amusement and debate. Friends who were not participating became intrigued and regularly asked to see what else was needed. There was competition amongst competitors (I love a good competition). There were additions – Clare Balding was worth 5 points, particularly as seeing her at the early morning Radio 2 broadcast required a 5.30am get-up. I pondered whether a boy, dressed as an alligator, unicycling would be worth. It even got mentioned at Last Orders – the nightly round up of Greenbelt’s best bits.

Without further ado, here’s my completed form as it looked at Monday lunchtime’s hand-in

Completed Greenbelt BingoJust after handing it over, I realised I’d neglected to add my name to it. Caroline replied that she’d know mine because I’d labelled it ‘Trainee Vicar’ – I explained this was more an illustration of a t-shirt I’d seen that I thoroughly disapproved of, rather than a naming device. However, mine was also obvious, given its highly annotated nature.

Point counting and prize awarding didn’t actually happen on Monday – it was only last night that I discovered I’d scored 71 points and was the winner! So I’ll have to remember that Caroline owes me a pint the next time I see her. Oh, and the debate hasn’t ended – last night’s Twitter feed was consumed with coming up with a family friendly version, and additional options for next year. One person even argued that as the winner, I should do the work. The jury’s out on that one…

Massive thanks to the Ely sisters and their genius initiative for adding a frisson of competitiveness to GB40!

Trivial Pursuit cannot be taken trivially

When you meet new people, it’s best not to let all aspects of your personality show immediately. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to do a slow release over a long period of time. For example, I usually don’t immediately tell people that I write this blog. Not that I’m ashamed, just that it might give people the wrong idea. Or, like the occasion when a friend introduced me to their friends as “This is Liz. Tomorrow she’s going hunting for defunct tube stations.” – I thought that was a bit much. [The friend objected to my complaints. He may have had a point, 18 months later, many of these people are very good friends of mine.]

In the case of Vicar School, it gets a bit complicated. On the one hand, you’re expected to share certain, personal details of your life immediately – like how you felt called to ordination, or the things you’re finding difficult in life at that precise moment in time. But on the other, you’re all training for an incredibly stereotyped vocation, and you really don’t want to (a) conform to stereotypes or (b) look too crazy.

Thus, I felt our third weekend residential was a suitable moment to bring my colourful slippers out into the open. This was a good plan. The comments (all positive) they garner would have felt like too much attention early on in the course. Plus, they don’t define my personality. Any earlier on and I’d simply have been ‘the girl with stripy slippers’.

Similarly, weekend away number five – the aforementioned finger painting with God retreat – seemed like an appropriate point at which to play Trivial Pursuit…

You might wonder why this should be such a watershed moment. Let me explain:

1.  I love Trivial Pursuit with a passion, possibly because of…

2.  I’m rather good at Trivial Pursuit (it involves knowledge of useless facts!)

3.  I’m very, very competitive when it comes to this particular game.

In Clutterbuck family legend, my tantrums at games lost or questions debated are well documented. “But I’m meant to win!” would be one phrase that gets regularly touted during our annual Christmas fixtures. I cope with the competitive side of things a lot better these days, but it’s still risky to play outside family circles.

On Saturday night, we found a stash of board games at the retreat centre. Two Trivial Pursuits were discovered, the later of which dated back to 1995, so it was feasible that a group of people in their 20s/30s would be able to make a decent attempt at its questions. I was very keen – possibly too keen. We were split along gender lines and an excellent game followed.

Luckily, I coped well. There were no paddies thrown (even when a question said Cuba was in the West Indies – it is in the Caribbean, it is not in the West Indies). No tears were shed and only once did I say something I truly regretted. Many will appreciate that the hardest category is ‘Sports and Hobbies’ – I can only get them right if they relate to tennis, the Olympics or the location of football World Cups. When the game being played is nearly 2 decades old, it becomes a lot harder. Freakishly getting a run of 3 orange questions correct, I uttered the words “let’s go for another orange one – if we get it right, we’ll really rub the boys’ faces in it!”. Yes Liz, that’s an excellent Christian attitude to have towards a friendly board game…

Oh, and at one point, it became strip Trivial Pursuit…

I know, it’s not very Vicar-like, and it is a very long story. Basically, a question was debated so heartily by the boys that one said to another “If it’s France, you have to play the rest of the game with your shirt off”. This was agreed to, and the answer was France. Awesome.


The boys were super-excited at the start of the game.
Our stripper was allowed to put his hoodie back on once the shirt was off.

Once we’d won (of course, the girls won), we spent nearly an hour simply being asked the questions. That, my friends, is my idea of heaven. I just need to acquire my own set, and then I’ll be all set for some Trivial Pursuit parties, to which you’re all welcome – just know that I’ll be upset if I don’t win… 

There is nothing trivial about Trivial Pursuit

I am the undisputed family Trivial Pursuit champion. No word of a lie. I’m also just a tad competitive. It’s also no lie that the Christmas Day game of Trivial Pursuit is one of my favourite parts of the festivities.

This year, as I’ve mentioned, we were in a random, slightly isolated cottage. Some of the Christmas essentials were brought over by my parents. (As an aside, my mother is one of a very small minority who would consider an advent wreath and a box of sherry glasses ‘essentials’.) However, they neglected to bring their set of the game, which is how we ended up with the list below – something I felt compelled to photograph in order to illustrate a number of things:

(i) My mother’s amazingly neat handwriting.
(ii) That my mother cannot spell ‘pursuit’.
(iii) The immense level of organisation that went into Christmas. There were many, many lists.
(iv) That for our family, Trivial Pursuit is as essential as a roasting tin for the turkey and potatoes…
[Incidentally, good job I photographed it. When packing up, Mum needed to know how many glasses had come from my sister’s and I was able to provide the evidence! Also, the flutes were of the champagne variety not the musical instrument.]

Anyway, we played one game, between two large teams of assorted aunts, parents, uncle-types, siblings, in-laws and the added option of ‘nominated grandparent’. (The grandparents didn’t want to be on a team so instead we could refer questions to them if needed.) Things didn’t get off to a good start, the team made up of my father (supreme nerd, except on the pink questions), uncle & two aunts had acquired three cheeses before my team (sibling, sibling-in-law & mother) even had one.

It’s ok though, I was spared the indignity of bursting into tears in defeat thanks to a great team effort. That’s what I so love about Trivial Pursuit, it’s utterly random. No one learns the kind of facts you need to know anywhere (unless you read the cards, which I most categorically do not!), it’s just a matter of what you’re into, whether you’re the kind of person who picks up facts and whether you can make marvellous jumps of logic and take educated guesses…

…like my moment, on the deciding question, where I correctly guessed which Ugandan was some boxing champion in the 1950’s. I don’t know many Ugandans, so suggested Idi Amin to my team-mates. As the only other suggestion (Archbishop Sentamu) seemed unlikely, we went with it and won. The perfect ending to a joyful Christmas day.

Feeling Scrabulous (With an important update!)

I have a confession…
I am (just a tad) competitive. Honestly, just a little bit. It doesn’t manifest itself often – except against my sister, or close friends, or total strangers… Ok. Maybe I’m very competitive.
This character trait (flaw?) is particularly an issue with board games. Take Trivial Pursuit for example, I am the undisputed family champion – well, at least the ‘dream team’ of me and my Dad are. As a teenager, on miserable family holidays in a caravan on a damp and dismal Yorkshire moor, board games were the entertainment of choice. (There was a TV, but who needs a TV when you’re on holiday, with your family, having enforced fun??) It was usually a choice between Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble. I always went for the former, and would often resort to tears if I didn’t get my way.
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t good at Scrabble, therefore I didn’t want to play. Even my little sister was better than me. I’d simply stare at the board in despair, thinking of all the words I could play “if only I had an A” or “if only there was an open T”. In fact, if you looked at the notebook that accompanies our set of Travel Scrabble, you’d see that I sat out of most of these matches and whiled away the time identifying the London bus routes that the different scores represented. If that’s not a truly pathetic image, I don’t what is!
It was therefore a great surprise to my sister, when she rang last Tuesday, to hear that I was in the middle of an online Scrabble game. I was bored, a friend made the suggestion and I figured it was about time I grew up and learned how to play it properly. So, for the last week I’ve been engaged (on and off) in this most wholesome of pursuits…
…I’ve still not won a game. Currently the score stands at 5-0. As my opponent helpfully pointed out after our last game, “you now need to win 6 in a row to beat me”. Thanks very much Mr Stating the Bloody Obvious! (Yesterday I think they realised that I wasn’t a very good loser, I’m just impressed it took them till game 4 to notice!)
Research has been conducted: The Wikipedia page is useful. (So is the dictionary tab on the online version, which I only discovered after loss #2.) Today the Guardian printed a cribsheet for Scrabble, which may or may not come in handy. I’m definitely improving. Today I scored my highest score so far (280) and was only beaten by 10 points.
In fact, I would’ve won, had my opponent – right in the closing stages – not succeeded in using all his tiles spelling a rather controversial word. I’m not going to write it, but see if you can spot in the picture below. Needless to say, he didn’t take Facebook up on their suggestion that he tell all his friends that he’d just scored 72 points in using it!
One day I will win and it will be a joyous experience. In the mean time I’m actually enjoying the challenge of it. It seems a much more worthwhile online activity than Facestalking or aimlessly floating from one page to another.
Only thing is, I’m realising my tactics won’t wash in the real world (no dictionary tab), so I’m definitely not ready to join the wholesome group of Scrabble players I found in the pub before church on Sunday. That was really a sweet sight to behold – bless Phil and his small group!
Update: My Scrabble mojo has clearly been flowing today. Beginning a new game this evening, I immediately used up all my letters, garnering an impressive 68 points (‘venites’ – thanks Latin lessons). My lead was overtaken, so my statement of “here begins my 6 game winning streak” was looking rather presumptuous. However, shrieks (and cackles) of joy could be heard across London (if not the country) as I played ‘eccrine’ – a discovery via the shuffle & dictionary functions – making 3 other words in the process, a total of 91 points if you please… My losing streak is finally over. Whoop!!