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.