Thursday, 30 August 2012

Destination Inner Swot

My father , whom I may have mentioned once or twice before in this very blog, was not a great quiz man. In fact of all my family, when we used to sit in the front of the telly watching quiz shows , he was the one who didn’t try shouting out the answers before the contestants. He just didn’t seem that interested. However, even my father had his little piece of trivia of which he thought himself to be the proud keeper, whose duty it was to disseminate this morsel to members of the general public. On several occasions I can remember him imparting this dubious gem to unsuspecting innocents, no matter what the actual subject of the conversation in hand was : -
”’Course, the closest that yer’ll ever get to the real Dracula was a man called Vlad the Impaler . . . used to go around impaling people. “
That was it. But the point is, that even as disinterested a person as my Dad had his little bit of trivia he had hoarded, and which he simply loved imparting to other people. Even my Dad had his own inner swot.

My theory – hmm, I’m sounding a little like Monty Python’s Miss Ann Elk here . She was the one who had the theory about the Brontosaurus, but I digress. My theory is that we all of us have an inner swot. Our inner swot is that part of us that will pick up and retain a tidbit of knowledge, and jealously keep it safe and secure in the hope that we will be able to parade it in front of others on an opportune occasion, thus impressing everyone, and earning universal admiration. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, I agree, but you can see where I’m coming from. As I said, my Dad was not an armchair participant in TV quizzes, but had any of them ever asked – Which prince of Wallachia was supposedly the prototype for Dracula ?- or some other variation on the same theme, he’d have trotted out his favourite fact, and he’d have been in his oils.

Now, my Dad’s inner swot was probably seriously underdeveloped, bearing in mind the fact that he had such an adherence to just this one specific factlet, and I’d suggest that even an average person has a little store of favourite facts like this one. Ok – we are now starting to head in the general direction of the point. Tonight is the quiz in the rugby club, and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be my turn. That’s why I put a quiz together today just in case. When I put a quiz together, I try to think, using my knowledge of many of the regulars who attend – what sort of thing might just appeal to the inner swot ? It doesn’t always work at all, but it does at least mean that you’re trying to put something together that might appeal.

Which I guess is part of the reason why the quiz I did in Spain last week didn’t really go off as well as I hoped. Not really knowing any of the participants very well, apart from the in laws, I had to take a wild stab at what might encourage the inner swots from their shells. So I put a few specifically Spanish questions in. Big mistake. They just weren’t interested. National bird of Spain ? Alright, so you’ve given me choices, but I just don’t care about the answer anyway. Paseo del Prado in Madrid ? What would I want to know about that for ?

I guess also that as well as questions and facts that can entice the inner swot from its shell, there are also questions that can send it into a coma. Probably it’s different questions which have this effect for different people. For me, it’s often the questions which start “In a recent survey . . . “

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