Travelling and Poking About

Guilty Pleasures: Learning Lists!

April 3, 2015


I’ve always intended to participate in the Travel Link Up but never managed it. A group of the coolest people in the world do it, and though that should be all the encouragement I need, I never got around to it. All of a sudden it always seems to be the eighth and I’m out for another month. Seriously. Emma does it. Rebecca does it. Kelly does it. Kat does it. Angie does it. Polly does it. See how funking cool it is?

Then one night I had half a bottle of wine and decided to finally get it out of my system.

Guilty pleasures. That is the theme. That could be anything. I read a story the other day where a rather distinguished gentleman would use his overseas travel-for-work time to get his crossdressing out of his system, when his wife wouldn’t know. But he was so distressed at having to throw away all the beautiful clothing at the end of each trip he had to tell her.  (They weren’t the same size, unfortunately. Always a terrifying thought, that. That your husband might be too afraid to tell you he’s a cross dresser and end up secretly stretching your favourite bras out. The ones that cost a lot and are hard to find and hold you just right without any back fat fucking it up).

However, before you get excited, mine isn’t that interesting. It’s incredibly dull, in fact. I bloody love learning arbitrary lists of facts. Frankie! You dense fuck, this is a travel link up. What has this got to do with travel? Well, you drunk interjector, you, I learn flags of all the countries. I learn the capital cities of Europe, all the countries of Africa on the map. Fuck, I even know the capital cities of all the states of the USA (Shout out to you, Baton Rouge, Columbus and Raleigh! You were my Everest).

Sometimes, after a hard few hours blogging, I will even treat myself to an online quiz of these geographical lists. Just a little online perk. No one need know I’m not working. I’ll go to and if I’m rather drunk or tired, I’ll choose something easy. Like naming the 50 states of America. The trick there is to not forget Delaware. I learnt that early. I know fuck all about what Delaware does, what they stand for and who lives there, but I’m Del-Aware, if you will. I’ll get that quiz right every damned time.

I’ve been through all the ceremonial counties of England. The Monarchs of England. The Presidents of America. The countries of the Pacific (more difficult than you’d think for someone from the region, you don’t necessarily know growing up what’s a country on its own and what’s actually part of something else).  For flags I’ve used many different quiz websites, but the best one I knew no longer exists. Sad face. This one is good.  Sporcle has this. This has multi-choice. I always hang myself from getting a perfect score on these things with a split second deliberation on whether that’s the Bahrain or Qatar flag. It’s so intense.

You see? I fucking love it. It’s the rush when you learn a whole new list. I’ve even learnt all the plays of Shakespeare. Though I say that, while histories and tragedies are committed to memory forever, I still have little difficulty remembering all the comedies. Whatever. I’ll get there. I even got in trouble at work once (many years ago) for learning capital cities when I should have been designing business cards for farmers.

I really do this for no reason. At one point I had a reason. I was part of a stellar pub quiz team in New Zealand. Every week we would win a $100 bar tab to enjoy on Friday night at the pub and my flag knowledge was often a nice part of our winning score. It gave us an edge. God knows who made those pub quizzes but they always included flags. Once I even remember a question where you had to identify Eritrea on a map. I could fucking do that. I was glorious. Now I live in England though, and I have NO outlet for this useless information overload. It’s now absolutely pointless, but I’m addicted.

The best I can hope for is that I’m stopped by a roving camera crew doing one of those people-on-the-street questionnaires, where they attempt to test the public in hope of showing how thick the average fecker is. I remember Oprah did one once to prove that most Americans on a particular patch of pavement near her studio couldn’t name their first five presidents, but random people in India could. Washington, Adams, Jefferson Madison, Monroe. Oprah! Please come to London and validate my boring life choices. Or, if you’re feeling really generous, please give me money so I can travel to all the interesting places I’ve listed needlessly. Actually, that’s better. Let’s go with that second one, instead.

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