Almanac Life: Special Subject – ‘Revolver’

It was in my Year 10 English class that I first realised that I may have an aptitude for retaining useless trivia. Our teacher, the physically imposing Mr Rogers, was discussing American history, slavery, and their relationship to our text The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “I don’t suppose anyone knows when the American Civil War ended?” he asked rhetorically. Into the silent air of the classroom, I blurted out “1865”. A surprised Mr Rogers inquired as to how I knew such a detail. “I have absolutely no idea,” I responded a little regretfully; for I knew even then that if I only I had the ability to apply this knack to my studies. To paraphrase Maxwell Smart: ‘If only he could have used his genius for something productive, instead of something useless.’


As trivia became a hobby, the game Trivial Pursuit seemed to be invented for me. The first time I played, my mate Crawf and I teamed up to circumnavigate the board twice before anyone else could get a look in. I cannot recall the question, but the final answer ‘Stump Jump Plough’ confirmed this momentous performance. Trivia nights were especially enjoyable affairs, the definite highlight being the night – en route to see the great Shane Macgowan at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda – my mates and I stopped off for a few pre-show beers at a Port Melbourne pub. Stumbling upon a trivia competition in the bar, ninety minutes later we were $1000 better off. Seeking to reap a greater financial reward from trivial pursuits, I once tried out for Sale of the Century, and passed the audition, only for the show to be cancelled shortly after. It was a sign that television and I were not meant for each other.


These days my favourite quiz programs are the more serious Mastermind, hosted by Jennifer Byrne, and Tom Gleeson’s lowbrow Hard Quiz. Both of these shows include a ‘special subject’ category, in which the contestant is quizzed on a pet topic of their choosing. I admit that I find the former show more challenging and cerebral. Watching lately, I have pondered what I would choose as my personal subject should I appear on the program. A cricket theme, perhaps? Or maybe the film Apocalypse Now, which I have watched upwards of twenty times. Politics, a topic which I once devoured but now find indigestible? No, it would probably be something music-based: definitely involving The Beatles, and most probably their ground-breaking album Revolver.



In my mind’s eye, when I take to the Mastermind stage, and sit myself down in the comfortable seat across from Jennifer, she asks me why I chose Revolver, (which, for those playing along at home, was released on 5 August 1966). I respond that the album has permeated through my life since my father purchased it for me when I was only nine years old. (Note to Julia Zemiro and the Rockwiz team: Revolver was my first ever album). To prove that I can hold a conversation, I airily add that Here There and Everywhere is the track that my wife and I chose as our wedding song. Formalities dispensed with, she launches into the questions, and I answer in a confident and knowing manner.


There will be easy inquiries, that I may or may not choose to bat back over Jen’s head before she can even finish asking the question. “Who designed the cov…?” “Klaus Voorman”, I would respond authoritatively. She might mention George Harrison’s sitar on Love You To, and think she could trap me with a curly one: “On which Beatles song did the sitar first appear?” I would not even pause before declaring it to be Norwegian Wood. Jennifer’s questioning might extend to asking at what number Revolver was ranked in 2003 in Rolling Stone’s Greatest 500 Albums of All Time. “Number 3”, I would answer pithily, while believing in my heart that it is a superior album to both Sgt Pepper and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. There might be questions regarding alternative song titles, which I could answer without missing a beat. Jennifer would congratulate me when the session finished. I have decided that twelve points would be a breeze, fourteen or more if I could answer every question without hesitating.


The general knowledge round would be more difficult. However, if I could handle the glare of the studio lights, I reckon I might just perform ok.


More from Smokie HERE


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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. What’s your favourite colour Smoke?

    Nice one. I completely suck at trivia. I can’t even work out those “Get It?” quizzes at the back of one of the weekend magazine lift-outs. I can’t even remember which lift out!! Hopeless.

    But I can remember numbers – phone numbers, log-in numbers, my ABN, the number of fingers on my hand etc.

  2. Rulebook says

    Smokie unfortunately I am only useful if it’s a subject which interests me don’t lose to many footy or cricket debates but was known to go ok on the radio re quizzes being banned on 7 different stations at once for winning to often is my record.A mates company we’re sponsoring,5aa at one stage and Wayne was invited in to the studio there was a list of prize pigs named I was number,2 Wayne burst out laughing seeing my name and said I can assure you,Malcolm will be pissed off he isn’t numero uno that only produced a wry grin and shake of the head from the aa employee thank you

  3. Jason Buffier says

    Great read. Fantastic album too – I still play it on vinyl from time to time.
    My mates and I have regularly discussed how different our lives could have been if we had an in-depth knowledge of financial markets, rather than late 1970’s Scanlens Rugby League cards.

    Being able to supply an answer or win and argument in the public bar (remember those?) without resorting to Google carries a certain social cachet, rather than a path to monetary wealth. I know which I’d prefer.

    Well played Smokie.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Good one, Smokie! So much so that I wanted even more connected with your knowledge of the album, which I believe has strong claims to being the best popular music album ever.

  5. Superb yarn about a superb album Smokie. Gee, $1000 would be a good earn now let alone back when you collected it! After years of switching in my head between Sgt Pepper’s, the White Album and Revolver I reckon I, too, have finally settled on the latter as the best Beatles’ album.

    Disappointing about Sale of the Century and especially missing out on the guaranteed Bruce and Walsh jewellers stick-pin.

  6. E.regnans says

    Love it, Smokie.

    I was a bit later to Revolver. (Revolver! Another great play on language). In a 3KZ/ Gold 104 house, I had a fair grounding in the Beatles’ hit singles. Reckon I must have been about 15 years old when Mum first got the Revolver CD.

    We’ve been running a zoom quiz each weekend around the Good Weekend trivia questions with 5 or 6 others. I fancied my chances early. But after six or eight weeks I’ve been exposed as “fair-to-middling.”
    Looking forward to your appearance on the TV quiz circuit.

    Tell me that you’ve got everything you want…

  7. Chris Daley says

    ……. everybody seems to think I’m lazy,
    I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy…….

  8. Roger Lowrey says

    Great yarn Smokie. Revolver was one of their many great albums. Bloody over talented over achieving bastards!

    I couldn’t decide on my special subject but it would be a close call between Fawlty Towers, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Geelong Football Club and Kingston Town’s Cox Plates.


  9. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Smokie…COVID has seen me repair my stereo read two Beatles books and listen to all their albums as I read the stories. I found a book in my late mother’s pile and wish was still here to get her thoughts on that time. Loved your story… but I am like Dips without any financial counting aptitude! So far after constant replaying Rubber Soul and Revolver are my faves too. Plus I have watched three documentaries. Am so in Beatlemania and after last night, St Kilda mania again…

  10. Tom Gleeson;s Hard Quiz; lowbrow !?!?!

    I have no knowledge/interest in The Beatles. Aussie music, Aussie cricket, Aussie politics, VFA/VFL of the 1970’s are bread and butter. I have many more areas of interest, so i’m happy to be involved in trivia.


  11. 10pm is bed time for us old blokes over here in Hutt River Province under Mark the Magnificent. Time for the ABC Nightlife quiz with Tony Delroy (sorry Philip Clark – we don’t like change over here under Gina the Good). We happily embrace other Australians so long as it doesn’t require the physical presence of any. We love to listen to the quaint phrases of the Fritzy Freemen of South Australia and the mumbling Queenslanders (open your mouth when you talk Darren).
    I often get to Question 5 before falling asleep.
    I’m with Yvette. Rubber Soul a short half head from Revolver. The White Album would have been great as a single album. Lots of self indulgent noise. Rather like my Almanac comments. Onya Smoke.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Smokester, I banned myself from the various kinder/school/footy club trivia nights that seemed to come up weekly in my parts, after I gained a reputation for taking it all too seriously. As the night wore on, my team just chucked the answer sheet at me while they opened another bottle of New Zealand white and another thingo of tzatziki. They were still happy to accept their shares of the winner’s prize hamper.

    But I’d only rate my Beatles knowledge as slightly above average. I don’t believe that Ormond Primary has ever had a question about The Ramones or SANFL History 1970-1979.

  13. Thanks for your comments, all. Much appreciated!!

  14. Michael Crawford says

    Great Australian invention from 1876? Stump jump plough. Everyone knows that! LOL.

    Darren, I would have had you on my ‘phone a friend’ shortlist for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Except, for the most part, we both knew the same useless trivial information. Except for music.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    A Beach Boys album in the top 3 albums of all time?? Surely not.

    Great piece Smokie. I now find myself the quizmaster at trivia nights more often than attending. Would love to have you at one of our Queenscliff Brewhouse trivia nights, but who knows when that will be able to happen.

  16. Ripper Smoke. Double-whammy. Trivia. Music. Two great loves.

    We are a trivia household. The kids love the challenge. We have a bit of a COVID ritual going. Watching the denouement of The Chase from 5.45. First 45 minutes is amazingly slow TV.

    Starter question for 10: have you noticed Goliath losing his cool from time to time recently?

  17. It all comes back to the stump jump plough! I wonder what the more recent Australian editions of Trivial Pursuit have; black box flight recorder or wifi perhaps?

    Luke, Pet Sounds is a masterpiece – stylistically, vocally and otherwise. God Only Knows is on another level and that’s just one song…of course the style of music might just not be your bag, which is understandable too. Be good to chat music with you and Smoke next time we get to the NFA…or maybe even a trivia night could be a goer?

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