Nothing stays the same forever. I reflected some time ago on the relative paucity of charity quizzes in my local area in recent years. Back in the day, when I began my quiz career in the late 80s and early 90s they were a fairly regular occurrence in Port Talbot and surrounding district. The Bay View Club, the Seaside Labour and Social Club, the Gas Club, Aberavon Quins rugby club and other venues all held at least a couple a year, and when you added venues in Neath into the mix you wouldn’t have to let many months go by without playing in one if you wanted to. Well, some of the venues I’ve mentioned aren’t there any more, and some of them use other ways of raising money for causes. So when a charity quiz does come up, it’s something of the exception rather than the rule.
That’s why a week like last week, where I participated in two charity quizzes in three days, is something a little out of the ordinary these days. On Wednesday it was the evening of the annual May Day in Melincrythan charity quiz. I won’t go on about this one since I’ve mentioned it in the blog every year since 2009. But I will just say reiterate that this was the quiz that made me into a born again quizzer. I hadn’t attended a quiz in a good year or so before being asked to put a team of kids from my school into the 1994 quiz. We won, the itch had been scratched, and I was a quizzer again. The decision was made a couple of years back to rename the trophy the David Clark Mastermind 2008 Trophy, and ever since I’ve set the questions and hosted the quiz.
For I think the last three – and possibly four – years the trophy and the quiz have been won by a team led by the redoubtable Rob Merrill. I’ve mentioned Rob many times in the blog before, but if I remind you that Rob was joint runner up in Brain of Britain 2012 then that should give you an idea of his credentials. Last year I think his team had 100% of their answers correct. Does that mean the quiz I set was too easy? For them, yes, but for the rest of the teams, relatively few of whose members are quizzers in any way shape or form, I would argue no. On Wednesday Rob and the guys were unable to play, and so for the first time since the quiz was resurrected in 2007, the quiz was going to have a winning team that did not contain either me or Rob. As it was it came down to a struggle between two teams containing former friends from the old Neath Quiz League. The winners in the end were the Broken Wheel – who for several years have been the bridesmaids rather than the brides. A good fun evening – which to be honest was the only other thing apart from raising money for the May Day in Melincrythan Charity – which really mattered.
I wasn’t the question master for the quiz organized by the Friends of Coed Hirwaun Primary School on Friday evening. This was none other than Ken , of the Ken’s Quiz website. If you don’t know what I mean, click on the link below: -
There’s a lot of free quizzes and handouts on the site.
The team for whom I was guesting was called Three’s a Crowd, for the rather obvious reason that there were just three of us, and we were by some distance the smallest team there. We either top scored, or joint top scored all of the rounds apart from the pop music intros round, and had a fantastic performance on the pictures handout. In particular we benefited from a novel arrangement, whereby we were asked to guess the ages of all the people in the photographs – some of them, like Karl Marx, for example, had been dead for a very long time – and add them all up. The team whose total was closest to the correct answer would get a 10 point bonus. We were, I think, about 20 years out altogether, which is less than a year per photo, and so what had been a useful but by no means unassailable lead became unbeatable by the last round.
Sandwiched between these two charity quizzes was my turn as QM for the rugby club. Now, thereby hangs a tale. I compiled the two quizzes – the May Day quiz and this one for the rugby club – on Bank Holiday Monday, when I was suitably fresh, and had the time to spare. I’ve delivered at least one quiz a month in the club for the last 18 years, so I’ve probably done this a couple of hundred times in the past. For some reason, though, everything seemed to go wrong on Thursday night. Actually, scratch that. I seemed to go wrong. I kept reading out the quiz, and missing questions out of the rounds – jumping from question 4 to question 6, stumbling over a couple of the questions, getting one team’s score for one of the rounds completely wrong. None of which I can honestly say I’ve never done before, but not so often, and not all in the same quiz. And the harder I tried to pull myself together, the worse it got.
In mitigation, last week was a very hard and stressful one once I returned to work on Tuesday. I was ill last weekend, and while I’m much better than I was my chest is still not quite 100%. Julie, my Head of Department at work, has had it worse than I have, and hasn’t been in school all week, which has left it to me to manage two students and provide work for all of her classes. Last week was the last week of school for my year group – year 11, and as well as all of that I have been organizing and overseeing extra study sessions for them. In fact I did study and exam skills all day with them myself on Thursday, and that was a high energy session.Add that to the fact that I’d been QM just the previous evening as well. So I’m hoping that I was just knackered come last Thursday evening, and that was the excuse.
As a postscript, I had the best round of applause I think I’ve ever had in the quiz when I finished on Thursday night. I think that they were just all relieved that I’d managed to get through it in the end. Not as much as I was.