Does money ruin everything ? It is a school of thought, certainly, although living without enough of it certainly isn’t much fun. I’ll tell you why I introduce this distasteful issue. It’s been popping in and out of my mind ever since Thursday evening. As you probably know, Thursday evening means the quiz in the rugby club. Now, I am one of the two most regular setters of the quiz, and take my share usually at least once a month, and it’s not unknown for me to make the quiz two weeks in a row. When I started doing this back in 1995, whoever put the quiz together and acted as question master would get three free pint tickets, and whoever acted as scorer would also get three free pint tickets. About ten years ago I introduced the idea that the question master could also act as scorer. This was not, you will appreciate, a desperate attempt to claim an extra three pints for myself – as I’ve said before I’m really not a drinker at all, in fact, I’m virtually teetotal. No, but the fact was that I found that I could get bored quite easily if I wasn’t scoring as well as being question master, and so if I scored as well, then whoever would otherwise have scored could play in the quiz. Everybody wins.
A little over a year ago a new steward took over in the rugby club. Now, I have no axe to grind as such, but she did decide to institute a new system. The tickets were done away with. Instead £12 is now put on a card behind the bar, to be shared between scorer and question master. If any money is left on the card at the end of the evening, well, that’s just hard lines. You can't hang on to it to be used at a later date, as you could do with the tickets. At the end of the day she is the steward, and if that’s the way she has decided to run the quiz, then that’s the way it is. I do have a couple of observations, though. Even at 1995 prices, £12 wouldn’t have bought 6 pints, so it’s a cut in real terms. On a more personal note, I don’t have three drinks in an evening, let alone six. When we had the tickets, this wasn’t a problem, since I could eke them out over the next couple of weeks. Not any more. I did mention that on the evenings I do the quiz, it would be far better for me if they’d just give me a fiver in my hand, which would represent a potential saving to the club of £7. I think that they thought I was joking. I wasn’t.
It was brought home to me on Thursday. Even though I had been question master for the previous two weeks, and even though I only had one drink on both of those evenings, last Thursday I still ended up with the choice of buying my own diet coke or going without. Money, or in this case another kind of remuneration, gets in the way. When I started compiling quizzes for the club I would have done it for nothing. I tell myself that I would still do it for nothing. But this is the thing. If for so long you are given something by way of a thank you for doing something, and then suddenly you are told - well, sorry, but we’re not quite as grateful as we used to be – or – sorry, but we don’t think your quizzes are worth quite as much as they used to be – you can’t help getting a little cheesed off about it. Well I can’t anyway.
I know that this is totally irrational. After all, as I say, I would do the quiz for nothing. The enjoyment I’ve had from the quiz for the last 17 years has paid for the effort I’ve put into making the quizzes many , many times over. But I couldn’t help thinking that the quiz must have made a lot of money for the club over the years. Believe me, I’ve been in there on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings when there’s nothing on, and the place is dead. I don’t know, it just seems silly to me to be creating a bit of bad feeling for the sake of a few pounds, when the quiz must be putting several thousand pounds in the till every year.
Still, if the club hadn’t introduced this new policy I might never have made up my mind to start using the quizzes from the club to make a little pin money from other sources. So every cloud has its silver lining, I suppose.