Friday, July 08, 2005

fun and fear

John, Steve, Dana and I brace ourselves for another round of questions

Monday night was the regular quiz night at the New Sydney Hotel in Bathurst Street. It's organized by the Irish Association but the questions aren't necessarily Irish. However since it was July Fourth I thought there could be an American theme.

My sister Julie had downloaded a couple of pages from a website -- information about American states and about all the Presidents and Vice Presidents in US history. I looked through them but my days of studying were decades gone and I thought to myself "I'll never remember all this."

We joined Steve & Dana at the pub, followed by John - he's an architect who plays cricket, so we were relying on him for any questions about architecture or test matches.

As usual the questions were a mix of easy, hard and very hard. We didn't do as well on the entertainment questions as we hoped, and the sports questions made a mess of us. But there were a couple of questions on American themes.

The first one was a question about which of the boroughs of New York was on the mainland. Steve lived most of his life in the Big Apple and knew it was the Bronx.

Then they asked for either of the two states that are geometrically regular, meaning they look perfectly rectangular on a map. A thunderbolt seemed to strike the top of my head. "I saw this just this afternoon," I groaned, clenching my fists against my forehead like a cliche of deep thought.

Suddenly the clouds cleared. "Wyoming and Colorado", I cried.

Funny the way memory works sometimes.

Wednesday night we were faced with a dilemma. There was an Wurlitzer concert on at Linmor Hall with a visiting organist, but there was also a performance by Circus Quirkus at Wrest Point.

Seeing we were strapped for cash this week, the fact that the circus tickets were free was a point in its favour and we ended up down at Wrest Point.

It was quite an amazing show -- the traditional arts of acrobatics, juggling, tumbling and clowning are still as impressive as they ever were, and some of these guys were really good at it. I've never seen anybody juggle a table with their feet before.

The audience especially went wild for the three African acrobats whose high-energy act was greeted with thunderous applause.

A less happy moment was arriving home from work Thursday night and turning on the television to see the devastating consequences of a series of bombs that had gone off in London.

The scenes of shocked and wounded travellers, reports that army officers were posted on rooftops with binoculars, and journalists saying they could only get to the scene by bicycle due to the chaos in the streets ... it was all uncomfortably reminiscent of the H.G. Wells original novel of War of the Worlds.

Memories welled up of similar shocking news from the past. The Port Arthur shootings. The Twin Towers. Felt very unsettled as the death toll mounted and the details about the bomb blasts came in.

I went to bed and tried not to think about it. It was a cold night and burrowing down into the blankets I managed to get to sleep in the end.


No comments: