Tuesday 17th May 2022 7.40 for 8.00 pm.
HLSI 11 South Grove N6 6BS
Entrance free. Booking not necessary.
After a gap of two years due to the pandemic, the annual battle of wits between the Highgate Society and HLSI returns, compered by John Plews of Ovation Productions/Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
The following article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of buzz:
This year Tuesday, 17th May is the date of one of the social highlights of the Highgate Society’s Calendar: the day that the Society competes with its neighbour the HLSI for possession of the Merry Mug.
“Merry” may accurately describe the atmosphere at this annual event but the competition, now in its fifth decade, is named after Isla Merry, a stalwart of both organisations, who used to run Burroughs, the shop which is now Gail’s. Today we find that the format that works best involves two teams of thirty or so members of each organisation, divided into sub-teams of tables of five or six.
Don’t be deterred. This is not Highgate’s answer to Mastermind or University Challenge. After a glass of wine participants form a table of their own choice, typically made up of friends and jovial strangers. Each table separately submits their answers to a set of ten rounds, each round containing eight questions. No scores are revealed for any individual table but the aggregate scores of the Highgate Society tables and the HLSI tables are totted up to discover which of the two is the winner.
We find tables that perform best and enjoy themselves most have members with complementary specialist knowledge in different fields. Runners keep a tally of correct answers for the two teams and running totals are projected onto the screen at the HLSI’s Victoria Hall. In each of the last ten years results have been too close to call until the final rounds.
So embarrassingly poor is Highgate residents’ knowledge of television programmes and of celebrities that the question setters no longer choose these as topics. In recent years the focus has been on archaeology, style, gardening and London’s heritage. A popular innovation, made possible by the use a projector, has been to include a number of picture rounds.
Answering 80 questions at a single setting would be too exhausting even for Highgate residents so the custom is to break for ten minutes halfway through. After an hour our aim is that participants’ brains have been pleasantly exercised, that they should return home pleased to have learned the answers to some interesting questions, made some new acquaintances and got to know at least one acquaintance well enough to count them as a friend.
Richard Webber and Stephen Panke