Sunday 10 December 2023

An appropriate prize for winning the film quiz league?

Here’s a question for you. We’ve been playing in a monthly film quiz for the last couple of years. This year, 2023, the organisers decided that all points scored during the 11 quizzes of the year (no quiz in August) will go into a league and there will be a prize for the league winners at the end of the year. Alright, alright, I’m heading in the vague general direction of the question. The winners of each monthly quiz get free cinema tickets. But. . . we have no idea what the prize will be for winning the league. It may sound arrogant me wondering about prizes before the last quiz has been held, but, well, we have actually already won the league. Even if we don’t turn up on Wednesday we already have an unbeatable points total. Of course, we are going to turn up on Wednesday. Still, between our team there has been a lot of speculation about the question (told you). . . what would be an appropriate prize for winning the League?

Bear in mind that you get cinema tickets for winning just one of the monthly quizzes. So – I don’t know what’s going to happen. We are praying that it won’t be tickets to the pantomime which the venue is hosting. That would, frankly, be worse than no prize at all. Altogether now – Oh yes it would!

Mastermind - Heat 16 preview

What, preview time already? Hey, count yourselves lucky I’ve been ill then away for the last few days, or you would have had it even earlier.

So tomorrow night’s specialist subjects will be : -

Bridget Riley

The Winter Olympics 2002 – 2022

The Sitcoms of Peter Kay

The History of St. Albans

Going through them, I would say unless I have a lucky guess there’s really nothing for me in Bridget Reilly. A point if I’m lucky. The Winter Olympics. Now, the fact that this is limited to the Winter Olympics of the 21st century, that suggests that in depth knowledge of each event in each games is going to be required. (What’s that? In 2006 you took on the Summer Olympics – all of them, didn’t you, Dave? Well, alright, I did, but that was then and this is now.) Because I don’t think there’s going to be that much general in them I think maybe 1 or at most 2. As for the sitcoms of Peter Kay, well I’d say that this is the closest thing I have to a banker subject in this show, but even then my love of Phoenix Nights, Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere and Car Share are by no means guaranteed to bring much here. Let’s say a maximum of three. Finally, the History of St. Albans. Little chance of points here unless it asks about Verulamium, Francis Bacon, or my several times great uncle Jabez Rainbow, who was found guilty of trying to murder his mistress in a hotel in St. Albans by slitting her throat. She survived, and it was her testimony in his favour at the trial – apparently he was off his . .  . head on laudanum, that persuaded them to downgrade his original death sentence to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. And let’s be honest . . . they ain’t going to ask about him, are they?

So – 3 – 6 I would say. Pools forecast, I’d tear up your coupon if I were you.

Friday 8 December 2023

Popmaster Series 2 - Application form link

 Yes, dearly beloved, here t'is - a link to the application form for Popmasters. Tell 'em Dave sent you.

Popmasters Application form

Thursday 7 December 2023

University Challenge Round Two - Manchester v. Edinburgh

The Teams


Bluma De Los Reyes – White

Ilya Kullmann

Hiru Senehedheera (capt.)

Dan Grady


Matt Stafford

Frances Hadley

Arun Uttamchandani (capt.)

Matt McGovern

Alright, alright, it’s Thursday and the match was played days ago. Sorry. It’s been one of those weeks. So, a very interesting match on paper – Manchester made it a late,late show in their first round match. Seemingly out with the washing at 20 minutes they roared back to take it to a tie break and win. While Edinburgh achieved a rare 30+ score in their first match. You pays yer money and takes yer pick.

First blood to Edinburgh. Matt McGovern knew that the president of the USA at the time of substantial land gains, including the annexation of the Republic of Texas was James K. Polk. Bonuses on Crete, a island I am very fond of, brought them nothing. Ilya Kullmann knew his way around the lymphatic system for the next starter. Me? No, I was just as likely to have said Hanger Lane Gyratory System. People whose given name is the same as their surname produced a couple of bonuses. With the next starter both teams sat on their buzzers, failing to name a ballroom dance until Amol had practically given the answer, the waltz. None of them strictly fans I guess. Hiru Senehedheera took that one. Bonuses on time loops took us into the unfathomable world of video gaming, which Manchester returned from clutching one correct answer. Salt Water Ballads – poet laureate in 1930 – had to be John Masefield, didn’t it? Well, yes it did, but neither team got it. So none of them Strictly Come Poetry fans either. Construction material – and – embedded metal were enough to send Hiru Senehedheera racing for his buzzer to provide he correct answer of reinforced concrete. Types of chromatography brought two bonuses. So to the first picture starter. This showed an overhead view of central America, with the areas of various ethnic groups coloured in. Asked which ethnic group was indicated on what was clearly the Yucatan Peninsula I shouted ‘Mayans!’ and soon after Matt Stafford buzzed in with the same answer. More ethnic groups and polities on the map brought a timely full house to nail back a lot of the Manchester lead. Dan Grady knew that Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’ song that is one of the most sampled in history is La di da di. I remember their track ‘The Show’ (was it called that? Something like it.) Geographical panhandles brought Manchester just the one bonus. Still that was enough to give them a 70 – 35 lead at the 10 minute mark.

Neither team took the next starter. Not surprised. This one gave me my first non-sciences Baby Elephant Walk Moment of the series. The answer was syllable. Did I get it right? Sylla question – I didn’t even make it as far as the question mark. Dan Grady knew the astronomical term standard candle. A full house on artist Veronica Ryan stretched the lead. The next starter referenced the abolition of a centuries old civil service. That surely was China. Hiru Senehedheera thought so too and added ten more points to his team’s lead. Two bonuses on novels set in Berlin were taken. Ah, Berlin, my Mary Poppins destination. Practically perfect in every way. I studied Sartre’s ‘Les Mouches’ for my French A Level, so I knew that the Greek God referenced I the next question was Zeus, and so did Manchester’s excellent captain Hiru Senehedheera. What a contest he was having. The Physics bonuses that followed allowed the internal orchestra to start dum de dumming in full burst. I did notice that the answer to one of them was The Ultraviolet Catastrophe, another good name for a 70s Prog Rock group.  Still after that I guessed that the physicist giving his name to numerous research institutions might be Max ‘one short’ Planck.  I set off on my lap of honour, arthritic toes notwithstanding. For the music starter Matt McGovern recognised the elegant stylings of Judas Priest, a popular beat combo of years gone by. More in the same genre provided a much-needed full house. You had to hold your nerve with the next starter about a religious festival until the mention of Quechua, which pinpointed the country in question as Peru. Ilya Kullman took that one. Bonuses on the Peace of Westphalia did nothing for any of us. Nobody knew about delay lines in computers either. I guess they’re like ley lines, just slower. I got the next starter on cricket right – a rare occurrence for me – but Antigua and aggressive batting had to mean Sir Vivian Richards. Not a huge fan of cricket but I saw the great man bat against England at the Oval in 1984. Hiru Senehedheera – who else – took that one. Cultural figures in the Le Tigre song Hot Topic brought the score to 165 – 55 in Manchester’s favour.

Neither team could quite pinpoint the west country city of Truro for the next starter. Ilya Kullman knew a question about megakaryocytes – nope, me neither – when he heard one for the next starter. Youngest debuts for the England Men’s International soccer team proved to be very much to Manchester’s collective liking and they took a full house. The picture starter showed us an illustrated plate from years gone by showing a constellation.  It was a young woman and with hindsight I’d say that the big clue was the chain around her wrist. None of us could see it was Andromeda. Dan Grady just beat music specialist Frances Hadley to answer the musical term Picardy Third for the next starter. This earned the dubious prize of the picture bonuses of which they answered none correctly. Not surprised. Gawd alone knew what was in the designer’s mind when he created the pictures.  Captain Arun Attamchandani identified the scientific name for nail biting for the next starter. Surely Edinburgh were too far behind for a realistic comeback? Well, they took a lightning-fast full house on probability. Incidentally, my tactic of answering one to any what is the value of – questions brought me a bonus too. Medical specialist Ilya Kullmann came in quickly to answer the next question about muscle loss in diseases like cancer. Did you know that cli-fi is the genre of fiction dealing with climate change. If not, remember you heard it here first. As soon as Amol explained this I thought of ‘The Drowned World’. Which turned out to be the subject of the first question. Manchester took one bonus but it was all academic now and couldn’t affect the result of the match. Matt Stafford was first to buzz when he heard the term Althing and supplied the correct answer of Iceland. I will never forget the sightseeing trip I took from Reykjavik which went out to Thingvellir, where the Althing was held for centuries – a truly magical day. Bonuses around the word symposium put Edinburgh one question away from triple figures. I did not know that foible also means the weak point of a sword blade. Neither did anyone else. I did know that the flag with the white cross on a black background is the flag of St. Pirran. Nobody else did, and Edinburgh sadly lost five due to a incorrect interruption. Arun Attamchandani knew you can have arctic erns, foxes and hares (and rolls) for the next starter. Now on triple figures Edinburgh added one bonus on Royal Assassinations. Nobody knew about dysphemisms for the next starter. That was that. The match was gonged, and Manchester had won comfortably by 215 to 105.

It's a familiar story – you win the most buzzer races, you win the match. Edinburgh’s BCR was 61 which was actually better than Manchester’s 7, but they just didn’t have enough bonus sets to answer. Bad luck. Sometimes it ain’t your night.

How is Amol Doing?

He’s enjoying himself is our Amol, and good thing too for that sort of thing is infectious. He pounced on Hiru Senehedheera trying to nominate Dan Grady and not quite getting his name out at first. His first encouragement to Edinburgh was issued just after the 12th minute, so for once he was right that there was plenty of time left. Mind you, it can’t have done much for Edinburgh’ morale when he felt the need to repeat this after the next set. A couple of times the subtitle ‘Amol chuckles’ appeared and I don’t remember that happening with JP. Amol is doing it his way – good job too.

Interesting Fact that I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

1)   The technical term for biting your nails is onychophagia.

2)   The opposite of a euphemism is a dysphemisim

Baby Elephant Walk Moment

What word is this? Shakespeare uses it to mean ‘least portion’ for example in Macbeth’s tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow speech. The US poet Charles Olsen described it as “the king and pin of versification what rules and holds together the lines.” And in linguistic terminology it describes a prosodic phonological structure that can be closed or open, heavy or light.

See, it’s not just the Sciences. Theoretically this is the sort of question I should get, but once Amol had got as far as the word ‘prosodic’ all I could think of was dum de dumdum dum dum dum dum dumdum.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Mastermind First round Heat Fifteen

Hello there. Well, the last couple of shows have certainly been interesting, haven’t they? Alright, I’ll start the review before I say too much in this opening.

The poetry of Carol Ann Duffy was the subject offered by our first contender Kimia Etemadi. Thinking about it, of all the possible literary specialist subjects, poetry should probably come with a government health warning, more so than novels or plays. There’s no way I can think of to sugar coat this – Kimia didn’t have the kind of round she would have liked, and scored 3. Kimia, please don’t let it get you down. You came and you had a go – not many can say that. At the end of the day it’s only a game, as Magnus Magnusson used to say.

I’d managed 2 on Kimia’s subject. I didn’t know if I was in with a shout of getting any on Sharon Chambers’ subject, “The League of Gentlemen”. Back in the day I rarely watched it, although I did like the radio show. In the end I got a couple of easy ones. Sharon did a lot better, scoring a very respectable 8. Normally I would have thought that this would leave her a fair amount of work to do in GK, but after last week, well, anything was possible.

It’s been a little while since we saw a contender have an absolute barnstormer of a specialist round. Well, Graeme Barton gave us exactly that in his round on Nigel Mansell. This was a wonderful round by anyone’s standards. 13 asked and 13 answered correctly. Nothing phased him at all. It makes me feel almost ashamed to admit that I only had 3 on what I’d pegged as my banker round. However I was happy to take the money and run with this since it was already my highest aggregate  for 3 weeks.

Finishing the round was Matthew Harper. He was answering on Rene Magritte. Yes, I did add one to my score taking me to 10 for the aggregate. Matthew did a lot better than that. He ended in 3rd place at the turn around with a respectable 7. Putting that into perspective though it meant that he was 6 behind Graeme.

At the end of the day, you can only do your best and sometimes, whoever you are and however good you are, sometimes it just ain’t your night. Kimia, on returning to the chair, battled her way to the respectable 7 she needed to take double figures. She won points from me for smiling at Clive when she sat down for this second round, obviously accepting the slings and arrows with fortitude.

Matthew Harper needed to open the corridor of doubt to the remaining two contenders, and this would take a double figure GK score. Well, he certainly provided that, and then some. He added a rousing 13, to put him on the psychologically important score of 20.

Sometimes, as we’ve noted, it’s not your night. Sometimes, however, it most emphatically is your night. This is exactly what Sharon Chambers found. Fair play to Sharon, as she sat down for the GK round she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself. She certainly didn’t let any hint of nerves affect her performance. Sharon scored 16. I’ll say that again. Sharon scored 16. It’s not the highest GK score of the Clive Myrie era, but it must be in the top five or so. I think it’s the highest GK score of the series so far, but am willing to be corrected on this. A magnificent round. Sharon demonstrated that if you snap the answers out quickly, Clive’s speed of delivery increases, and this was a round that got faster and faster, and better and better. Beat that!

Well, Graeme Barton certainly tried. He didn’t need to equal Sharon’s 16, but he needed 11 and no passes to force a tie break, and 12 to win outright. It was desperately close. Graeme would get a couple right and seem to be building momentum, but then be foiled by the next question. He inched towards the line, but the white line of death beat him across the finish line. In the end, Graeme scored a good 10 for 23. Bad luck, sir.

Sharon was modest in her piece to camera, saying that her GK round went quite well. I was interested to hear her say that she plays in a pub quiz in Cardiff, not so very far away from LAM Towers. Well, Sharon, if you play like that I bet you win more often than you don’t. I wish you the very best of luck in the semi finals.


Kimia Etemadi

The poetry of Carol Ann Duffy







Sharon Chambers

The League of Gentlemen







Graeme Barton

Nigel Mansell







Matthew Harper

Rene Magritte








Sunday 3 December 2023

Twas on a Quizless Thursday

I mentioned in a previous post that the rugby club were, unforgivably in my opinion, holding a rugby match last Thursday.  This meant that there was no quiz. Which begs the question – what can you possibly do on a Thursday evening when there’s no quiz?

Well, in our particular case we went to Aberdare. Aberdare is a reasonably sized town and about forty minutes’ drive from Port Talbot, but more importantly it’s where my middle daughter Zara lives with her partner Matt. There’s no reason why you should, but you might possibly recall a post a couple of months ago about going there and playing as a ringer in the quiz at her local. Zara and Matt had been away in Essex, so I thought we were all going round to see her because they came back on Thursday. Nope. Now, I have no doubt this is all due to my lack of attention or my dreadful hearing, but I didn’t know that the point of it was to take three of my grandchildren to the Christmas parade.

I wouldn’t have made a fuss if I had known. But the fact is that the older I get, the less and less I like this sort of thing and the crowds that they generate. And the noise.

My hearing has noticeably deteriorated over the last fifteen years or more. If a pupil at the back answers or asks a question in class I have to go and stand right by them to have a chance of understanding them. Okay. Now, in the last few weeks, since the half term holiday, my mood has taken a bit of a dive. Oddly it stared during the holiday. I was an 8 week half term before that, and though I say it myself I think that I’d coped very well. I was tired, yes, but not noticeably down. I put this down to medication and the fact that I am planning to retire from teaching in July. OK. Now, Lisbon has been on my bucket list since before lockdown, but while I was there it was just like I wasn’t there. I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel anything really. I was just going through the motions. Since coming back my mood has got a bit worse. I’ve felt a familiar sese of dread driving into school. Normally when I feel that I manage to get it under control before morning break. But there’s been a couple of times I haven’t.

Now, getting back to the point, along with the deterioration in my mood there’s been the tinnitus. I’ve always had tinnitus for as long as I can remember. It’s like someone going ‘eeeeeeeeeee’ in my ears, but I’ve only really noticed it at odd moments. But in the last few weeks it has become so ‘loud’ inside my head that it’s really hard to zone out of it. By the last lesson of the day it’s unbearable. So, if all else fails, go to the Doctor. He’s upped my medication and referred me to the audiologist. Hopefully I’ll get seen before Christmas. But I’m not holding my breath.

So coming back to Thursday, as it was I was knackered after a day’s work, a contributory factor being that I’d only driven to Aberdare and back the day before to feed Tommy (that’s Zara’s cat, not her partner). Nonetheless, I behaved myself as well as I could for as long as I could. Thankfully the parade was mercifully short – one fire engine, two marching bands, and er. . . well there wasn’t a lot more, let’s put it that way. We went into the covered market, to look at a shop which has the exquisite good taste to sell my pictures and prints. The plan was that we would stop at a McDonalds on the way home, but by about quarter past 8 my battery was flat. My ears were ringing, and all I wanted was to go home. My third daughter wanted to take my youngest grandson straight home to bed and I gratefully volunteered. I was so tired when I’d dropped them off that I went straight home to bed without any supper, and serve me right.

So it turns out that there are worse things than a Christmas themed quiz after all.

Mastermind Heat Fifteen Preview

The story so far: a fortnight ago I scored a measly aggregate of four on specialist. Last week I outdid myself and ended up with three – mind you, I should be glad it wasn’t zero. So what are the prospects of me ending up with 2 or worse this time out?

Tomorrow night’s subjects are:-

The Poetry of Dame Carol Ann Duffy

The League of Gentlemen

Nigel Mansell

Rene Magritte

On first glance this looks a better bet for me than the last two weeks. he banker subject, if there is one, is probably Nigel Mansell. I don’t follow Formula 1 so much now, but back in the 80s ad early 90s, Nigel’s heyday, I was a big fan. I reckon about 3 if I’m lucky.

Carol Ann Duffy – well it all depends which poems are referenced, but any that have been in the WJEC English literature GCSE anthology a any time over the last quarter of a century ought to give m a shout. Possibly 2.

The League of Gentlemen. I was never a fan of the TV show – sorry about that, I did like the original radio show though. It’s the sort of subject where I might surprise myself by sneaking a point.

Ditto Rene Magritte. I only know about him what everyone else knows, but that might be enough to bring me a point.

So we’re looking at an aggregate of around 7 if things go to plan. Not great but a hell of a lot better than 3.