The late David Marques was a fine rugby union second row forward who won 23 caps for England between 1956 and 1961. In one of the highlights of his international career he was selected to tour Australia and New Zealand with the 1959 British Lions touring team, a great side who were unlucky to lose the test series 3 – 1 to the All Blacks, due in no small part to the boot of Don Clarke. During one of the non test matches, David Marques was kicked in the face in an off the ball incident , and instead of flattening his attacker, he stood up and shook him by the hand. When his second row partner, Bill Mulcahy asked why he reacted in this way, he replied,
“You wouldn’t understand, Bill. I wanted him to feel a cad.”
While I’m in no way suggesting that what happened to me on Thursday night was anything like as magnificent as this, I couldn’t help bringing this to mind as I was walking home from the rugby club. If you were with me last week you’ll possibly have read my rant about the phone-cheating that was going on in the quiz last week. If you haven’t read it, well the last sentence tells you pretty much all you need to know. I won’t say that I was going into the club looking for a fight on Thursday, but I certainly was ready for a row if it happened.
The first round of ten questions was asked, the papers were collected in, and the scores were given. We scored, I think, either 8 or 9. The team who cheated on their phones last week scored a maximum 10. Alright, it did immediately cross my mind that they were cheating again, but then possibly not. I’m not so arrogant as to think that if my team can’t get a maximum in a given round, then its too hard for any other team to do so. However it did make me wary. I normally sit with my back to the other teams, but Anne of my team faces the rest, and as the next round started she said words to the effect of – look – there she goes with her phone again. Well, I resisted the temptation to turn around straight away, and we dashed off our answers to the round in double quick time. Then I turned round.
It was so blatant it was almost funny. One of their team was just sitting there, jabbing away at her phone. I stared. She didn’t look up, but the chap sitting next to her looked straight at me, almost as if to say – well, what are you looking at ? OK – you remember how your mother once told you that its rude to stare ? Well on Thursday night I was rude. I was very, very rude. Not in words, though, which I will admit would normally be my inclination. I just sat there and stared at the one who was using her phone. I stared at her, and I stared at the guy sitting next to her. He blinked first, and looked away. Then he looked back at me, and I shook my head sadly at him. He gave a sheepish grin. I shook my head again, and mouthed the word ‘cheating’. He looked down, and then nudged his oblivious teammate, and whispered something. She looked up, saw that I was staring at her, and looked away again. She also, though, shoved her phone back into her handbag.
We scored , I think, 9 out of 10 on the round. They scored 4. Even as early in the quiz as this, they wouldn’t have come back from this now even if they had scored a maximum on every remaining round – which they didn’t. For good measure I stared at her throughout the next round, but I think that she was already feeling ‘a cad’ , since she didn’t look over once, but neither did she get her phone out of her bag. A small victory ? Well, obviously I can’t help seeing it in those terms. It really, though, wasn’t about winning or losing the quiz as such. It was about teams recognising what is acceptable within even a social ‘fun’ quiz with no prizes, and what isn’t. Or put it another way, treating what is usually a great quiz with just a little bit of the respect it deserves.
As a postscript I did wonder whether anything would be said at the end of the quiz. I didn’t, certainly, and the other team left as they normally did, without mentioning the staring thing at all. I think, on reflection, that without singling out individuals I shall put the whole phone cheating issue on the table at the start of my own quiz in the club next week, and see if that provokes any comment or not. Watch this space for that one.