Sunday, 19 February 2012


Bucharest now has a British pub quiz, organised to raise funds for a very good cause, the Casa Sperantei hospice, the first hospice in Romania and a cause very close to my heart. It is held in Mojo in the new old town four minutes on foot minutes from my flat but in what I feel is terra incognita. The new old town descended suddenly from the skies like the Orc in Sinbad and though I try to be pleased that I am at the centre of swinging Bucharest every time I turn from my little street Blanari into Str. Lipscani a little part of me dies.

My team usually does creditably, usually comes second or third and once we won. I suppose pub quizzes are now part of the British way of life and a very good one (fish and chips only dates back to around 1912) but this particular quiz is no longer my kind of thing. I shall give Casa Sperantei money but probably not attend the quiz again. The questions become less bookish each month and it takes far too long – from 7 to 10.30 or later. Whatever, this week the quiz brought to mind Julian Grenfell on the Battle of the Somme - 'Oh my dear, the noise, the people!' We were in second place but I left after what was only two and a half hours but seemed longer. There were 31 teams and marking answers took a very long time which the compère reading aloud Valentine’s Day  rhymes written by members of the audience starting Roses are Red for what seemed an eternity while we sat crushed together in the dark beery cellar.  The verses were relentlessly obscene and unfunny and one about paraplegics was sick. It was all reminiscent of what I suppose is the worst thing I can imagine: being back at school.

And maybe there is something about being in the proximity of so many British people. Or rather not the people who are fine but being back in the Britain I came here to escape of pop music, sports personalities, jovial classlessness and normalcy. Real life in all its insupportable dullness.

A curry with Barry and Alex who were on my team  would have been much nicer.
My Valentine poem was quite properly disallowed by the compère because it did not start Roses Are Red.

Diamonds are grey
Sapphires are blue
If I earned 90K
Could I go out with you?

The breezy compère holds things together well, with just a tad too much of the arrogance and exhibitionism you need to run a rowdy quiz. I loved it when Ksenia got on the stage and railed that the definition of borsch was wrong. She was magnificent and you saw why Germany failed to conquer the USSR. He put her down as I suppose he had to. I hold it against him too that he said Gandhi is someone whom everyone admires but this is not his fault but that of the zeitgeist.

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