Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Hell, Yeah

According to a story in the Telegraph, new research suggests what anyone who has ever worked in a high-pressure job already knew: Swearing can be good for the workplace.

Yehuda Baruch, a management professor at the University of East Anglia business school, and graduate Stuart Jenkins, set out to study bad language and its place in the work environment.
Swearing, said Prof. Baruch in a university press release, was used as "a social phenomenon to reflect solidarity and enhance group cohesiveness, or as a psychological phenomenon to release stress."

Sorry, boss, you can't fire me for dropping the F-bomb; I was merely enhancing group cohesiveness.

Prof Baruch added: “We hope that this study will serve not only to acknowledge the part that swearing plays in our work and our lives, but also to indicate that leaders sometimes need to ‘think differently’, and be open to intriguing ideas.”

The full paper-- "Swearing at Work and Permissive Leadership Culture: When Anti-Social Becomes Social and Incivility Is Acceptable"--isn't available online, but there's an abstract here. It includes this wonderful passage: "[The] paper found it necessary to use swear words (avoiding usage of the explicit form); bearing in mind the purpose of the paper, the paper hopes that this will not cause offence to the readership of the journal."

Oh, go ahead and give us the explicit form. We're #*&%@! grown-ups.

Though Suicide Is Painless...
And so last night to the Bookbinders, a funky little pub in Jericho, which is a funky neighborhood along the canal in Oxford. It was a dark and rainy night, perfect for bundling up with some beer nuts and a pint of ale. My friend Richard and I had settled in at a table in the crowded pub when he detected some tell-tale change in the atmosphere: "Ah, it's pub quiz night," he announced. "Shall we have a go?"

I don't think we have these in the States, preferring to do our drinking in private and our brain-teasing while sitting on the couch in front of "Jeopardy" or "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?"

A pub quiz is a communal exam, and quite elaborate. Some in the crowd were taking it seriously. One guy looked like he had brought a reference book. People frequently dialed up friends on their mobile phones for help. I think the prize was more beer, with entry fees going to Amnesty International.

There were five or six sections to the answer sheet that Richard and I paid a pound each for. The quizmistress read questions over the PA in such categories as Current Events, Local Knowledge, Comedy. There was a visual round, where we had to identify book titles based on just a tiny section of the cover. (We knew one must be "The DaVinci Code." Shame we picked the one that was actually "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban.") There were audio cues too, 10 snippets of music whose composer or band we had to ID. (Richard was very strong on the classical and jazz; I snagged a Beck tune. Both of us nearly threw a clot trying--and failing-- to remember who did that catchy "Duh do-do-do" song from the '80s that was used in a VW commercial. [It was Trio.])

The final round was a sort of elimination, all-or-nothing thing: Get one question wrong and you'd lose all five points. The first question was: Which televised U.S. comedy ran longer: "M*A*S*H" or "Cheers"?

Do you know? We didn't.

Declare the Pennies on Your Eyes
I was glad to witness an actual pub quiz since I'd seen this story in the Daily Mail: The U.K. government is considering taxing pub quiz winnings. I think they could have a revolt on their hands.


suburbancorrespondent said...

Um...are you going to tell us? And while you're at it, "beer nuts"?

Arlene said...

M.A.S.H and we have pub nights all over DC.

mark from alexandria said...

Dang, Arlene, thats what I get for living across the river. The only pub quiz I have seen from Alexandria, is the one thats part of a storyline on Emmerdale. Where is the next local quiz?

Anonymous said...

There's a part of my beer addled memory that recalls stumbling into a Jericho pub not far from the University Press some 30 years ago. One room was fitted out with tiny chairs and tables to acomodate a clan of little people, long time employees of the Press. Could it have been Bookbinders? I've not found any mention of midgets and beer in Oxford despite the wonders of google. Mind you, as one of the walking wounded of the psychedelic revolution, its quite possible that this memory is right up there with lingering visions of tangerine trees and marmalade pies, but . . .

John Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Kelly said...

According to Wikipedia (the source for the pub quiz) there were 251 episodes of "M*A*S*H" and 273 episodes of "Cheers." So "Cheers" wins. (Of course someone could go into Wikipedia right now and reverse those numbers.)

The Bookbinders might have been a little people's pub. It is very near the OUP--hence, I assume, the name-- and there was a back room that I saw as I walked to the Gents. I'll have to ask next time I go--and study up for the next pub quiz.

Erin said...

There are definitely quiz nights at a few bars in DC, but I love quiz night here in London. It's a great way to meet people and have fun!