An interesting evening last night. My friend John suggested earlier in the week, after the story had come out in the paper, that it might be a good idea to give Bridgend a miss for a week or two. Now, I will admit that I am not, myself, the bravest of souls. I don't pretend to enjoy confrontation, and will often go out of my way to avoid it. However, this was a quiz, which makes it an entirely different kettle of mackerel. So I spoke to John yesterday afternoon, and we decided to stick to our original plan of going to the Pheasant in Penyfai, and take the consequences.
As it was we needn't have worried at all. As I walked in there were a few good natured cries of
"Ban him !" from some of those who'd seen the article, but the atmosphere was friendly, and the whole evening was filled with laughs and good humour.
What most struck me about the evening, though, was the prize for winning. As we finished with the highest combined score of the evening we were given the choice of prizes, one of them being a free cinema ticket for every member of the team. What an unusual prize, and what a refreshing change ! As it is we took them up on the offer without a second thought. There were five of us altogether, me, John, my daughter Phillippa, Welsh Rugby Union and Rugby League International John Devereaux, and his wife Alison, so that's actually a significant outlay as a prize.
It did set me thinking about the prizes which you see offered in quizzes. Apart from winning £1000 on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and my inscribed glass Rose Bowl for Mastermind, I've won a number of prizes during my two decades on the pub quiz circuit. By far the most common are cash prizes, and bottles of wine. I've shared in team quiz wins of up to £500 in special quiz competitions. The best cash prize for a straight, non-jackpot quiz was £100, in a pub in Neath, from which I was banned for winning the prize a couple of times. As for the wine, well, to be perfectly honest with you I hardly ever drink in the house, but its always nice to have something to be able to give visitors and guests. Much less common as prizes, although not completely unknown, are chocolates - always appreciated as an offering to Mrs. Clark for her uncomplaining sacrifices during her years as a quiz widow.
Actually, thinking about it there is one thing I've noticed regarding prizes. When I began quizzing, back in the dog end of the 1980s, it seemed like there was a charity quiz in either the Seaside Social and Labour Club, or the Bay View club, or the Aberavon Quins , every couple of months. The usual prize for these would be a large trophy for the club, and a smaller trophy each for the winning team. The charity quizzes don't seem to happen so much any more, which is a shame, and when they do happen the prize tends to be just the large trophy for the team. Actually I have no quibble with this since, after all, the less money spent on prizes, the more that goes to the charity.
So - what would be my ideal prize for winning a pub quiz ? Lets set a few boundaries here. This has to be a prize for an ordinary pub quiz, of the kind that would be run on the same day every week. Being realistic, I guess that the answer has to be - well, pretty much what you get at the moment. If you get a little bit of cash back, enough to cover the cost of a few drinks, and your petrol, then you probably can't ask a lot more. All of which means when you do win something out of the ordinary, like last night's cinema tickets, its just that little bit special.
A belated farewell to BBC2's The Battle of the Brains. I made up my mind about this series before it ended on Friday last, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. Its just so refreshing to see that the production company , Shine, have listened to the criticisms that were made of the first series, and responded with a second series that was leaner, slicker and , well, just plain better than the first series. Without wishing to be disrespectful to any of the teams, its probably fair to say that the overall quality of the teams as a whole has not been as impressive as it was in the first series. However, having said that , across the series there was quite a lot of talent on show. For example, I made it that three Mastermind winners were on show at different times - although one of them, Mastermind and Brain of Britain double winner Geoff Thomas, also appeared for a different team in the first series. So, my congratulations to everyone concerned with the show - I do hope that we get a third series in the not too distant future.