Ah, Friday. Even without any Mastermind on the telly it’s a lovely prospect which stretches ahead of us. Not that I mind doing it at all, but this is the first weekend this month when I haven’t had a quiz needing to be compiled for the week. Time was that being without a quiz to compile would actually make me a little depressed.Not now. I like putting the quizzes together, and I like being the question master in the club, but I’m more than happy to just fit in as and when needed.
I suppose it’s an example of how we mellow as we get older. I did my first quiz as question master in the Aberavon Rugby Club back in the summer of 1995. I enjoyed it so much that I would have gladly done it every week, and for years I used to chafe at the bit when it wasn’t my turn. I never minded when it was Brian’s turn, because Brian was, and is, a terrific question master, and his quizzes were always fun to play in. However, and this rather shames me to say it now, I had quite a bit of scorn for other question masters who would take their turn back then, especially if they gave wrong answers, or if they couldn’t phrase their questions clearly, of if they asked a lot of stuff which nobody knew, and nobody would ever want to know. I hope I’m a lot nicer and more tolerant now.
As I say, I don’t ache to be QM every week any more, and if other people want to come in and do a quiz, then fantastic, the more the merrier, and I’ll gladly fit in whenever I’m needed. But there still come times during the year when our semi regulars haven’t got a quiz ready, or don’t want to do them, and Brian and I take the burden upon ourselves. Which is how I ended up doing a double stint last Thursday and yesterday.
During the course of the last couple of weeks I found myself reflecting a little on the way my attitude towards setting the quiz has changed. Back in the day, as it were, my only real guiding principle for putting a set of questions together was to produce a quiz which I would like to play in myself. Actually, come to think of it, that’s not a bad guiding principle at all. But I do tend to worry about the quizzes more now than I used to do. The problem is that I find myself consciously avoiding asking things. For example – I try not to ask too many questions that I know that I’ve asked in the club in the past. I try to avoid asking too many of what I think of as hard questions. I try to avoid asking too many questions from my own favourite subjects. I try to avoid asking too many questions which will exclude the younger team. I try to avoid asking too many questions that will exclude the older teams. I try to avoid asking too many questions that will preclude an educated guess. I try to exclude asking too many questions that can only be guessed. The only problem is that you end up excluding so many potential questions that you’re not left with a great deal you actually can ask !
Well, I think the level was just about right yesterday. All the rounds consisted of 10 questions, and a couple had more than 10 points available. The lowest score for any of the rounds was 4 points, and I think there were only about 3 or 4 full houses from any of the teams all evening. So the evidence from that is that the level was probably judged just about right. I mention this because I did the same quiz at school in the staffroom today, and I told the room what the winning and average scores had been. To some surprise. Some of my colleagues seemed just a little surprised that I bother to think about it when it’s done. Which considering how much you are expected to reflect upon and evaluate your performance in our profession is something of a surprise.
If I had a time machine, well, actually there’s lots of things I’d do with a time machine first, but eventually I’d go back to 1995, and listen to one of my first quizzes for the club. I hope my reaction would be – not bad, but I do a better quiz now. The trouble is that I have a sneaking suspicion that I’d ending up wondering why my quizzes were so much better then than they are now.