The Londoner Challenge

On Thursday night, I found myself on stage in the lecture theatre at the Museum of London taking part in a University Challenge style N v S v E v W quiz organised by London’s überwebsite Londonist. Having been asked to captain the North London team, I was seated in the traditional captain’s position of second from the right.

When I’d agreed to this I’d assumed that the other contestants would also be random people who maybe knew a bit about London. How wrong I was. Despite teams apparently being selected anonymously based on applicants’ love of their quadrant of the capital, we seemed to be facing teams with Mastermind finalists and people ranking in the top 20 in World Quiz leagues.

Andrew, Abby, me, Mark

There were two semi-finals, with the winners battling it out for overall glory. We were up first against Team East. It was a fairly one-sided affair. My team of Mark (our only hardcore quizzer), Abby, Andrew and myself won comfortably against East’s team, captained by the Londoneer’s Pete Stean.

The buzz around the auditorium was that Team South and Team West were the two top teams with Team South the out and out favourites thanks to the presence of Jesse Honey, the current World Quiz champion (who knew there was such a thing?) who was also the 2010 Mastermind champion, and Paul Steeples who is also a Mastermind finalist.

For my money (and this may have been because I was in the audience rather than under the spotlight), this was the marginally easier of the three contests. South beat West fairly comfortably in the end, although the margin wasn’t as big as ours.

Despite having posted the highest score so far, there was no question that we were the underdogs in the North v South final. We held our own early on, and were able to get our fair share of the starter questions, but eventually the superior general knowledge of Pete Watts’s (The Great Wen, Time Out) team came to the fore and they consistently scored more heavily when they got their bonus questions.

So, we lost the final, but I think we can be proud of ourselves for doing well against a team of serious quiz people. At least we knew that Hampstead was the deepest tube station on the network, though there were disappointingly no questions about the relative merits of Kilburn’s Sunday lunches or the status of local planning applications!

I believe Londonist will be publishing the questions at some stage, so I’ll add that link here and you can see how you would have done on the buzzer!

Starter for 10

We all know North London is beter than South London, right? But what about East and West London? Are we the bestest London of all?

Everyone’s favourite London website Londonist, together with the Museum of London, is going to find out in a University Challenge style quiz. And yours truly is captaining the North London team. Oh yes.

Each team will consist of five people (a captain, three others, and a stand-in). If you have a love of London trivia, are willing to sit on a stage in front of an audience and are free on the evening of 5 July, then hotdamnit you might just be what we need.

To volunteer, send an email to (NOT TO ME) before the end of Monday 25 June.

Use the subject line “Londoner Challenge”, followed by the quarter of the city you’d like to represent (north, south, east, or west). For example: Londoner Challenge North.

As a tie-breaker, please say why you think your quarter of London is the best. The most imaginative, funny or thoughtful answers, as chosen by the relevant team captain, will get the places.

So, lets see if we can’t prove that our love (and knowledge) of London exceeds those pesky rascals who live in postcodes that don’t start with N.

On the record with Londonist

On Monday morning I found myself in Hackney Wick – bit out of my usual patch. I was there with @BarnetEye to contribute to the Londonist Out Loud podcast, hosted by the hugely likeable and professional N Quentin Woolf.

It was a strange time to be talking all things London. The riots of Sunday night were of course fresh in everyone’s mind, but we obviously didn’t know that the situation was going to escalate later that day. So, we joined everyone else in speculating wildly about the context. At this stage I didn’t feel I had much to add given that north-west London had yet to feel any effects from the trouble. I would have had a lot more to say had we recorded on Tuesday morning, both about the damage and the social media implications.

The whole experience was fun – oddly, aside from the rioting there wasn’t a lot of other fascinating London news to discuss, but we seemed to cover a fair amount of ground.

If you want to listen to me ramble on riots, blogging, and communities then you can do so.