Ok, then. Let me tell you about my quizzing week. Last Sunday was the final of the CIU Quiz in Derby. It was also Mary’s birthday. Oops. No, no, I hadn’t forgotten, but it was a little awkward. Opting to go to Derby anyway was what is technically known, in marital terms, as ‘pushing my luck’. The comedy of errors on our part that followed was, I suppose, a case of just desserts. Except that we didn’t get any dessert – or indeed any lunch at all. I’ll come to that in a moment or two.
You see, the basic problem was that in the last couple of years we’d set off from Neath at about half past seven. This meant that we arrived in Derby at about half eleven – some considerable time before the club opened. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice and friendly place, but not quite so nice from the outside. So this time we set off an hour later. It would probably have been alright too if I hadn’t missed the turn off for the right motorway off the M5. You see, it’s a journey I only make once a year, and a human sat nav I’m not. Ironically one of Mary’s presents was a sat nav for her car, but I digress. We turned round at Frankley Services, but not until we’d stopped for a coffee. We didn’t realize until we were just leaving the services that we’d missed the turning, you see, and by that time the damage was done. I don’t know if you’ve ever arrived late to such an event, keeping everybody waiting to start in the process, but it’s not a pleasant feeling, and not one I’d like to repeat any time soon.
We didn’t play at all badly throughout the whole quiz, and played particularly well in the first half. A couple of mistakes on TV, a mistake on Sport cost us chances of winning those rounds. Going into the last round we were in third behind eventual winners Maesglas A, and runners up, last year’s champions Ashford Road from Swindon. Dave, Daniel and the lads from Sunderland were a point behind us, and I think it was Gareth and the boys from Coventry who were also in with a shout of getting third as well. We dropped two points, and that was enough to ensure that we finished 5th, equal on points with the Coventry lads, but further out on the tiebreaker. The lads from Sunderland had a blinder in the last round, and took a deserved third.
Well, looking back on the experience I suppose it’s a case of what might have been. It would have been lovely to get back on the podium again after an absence of many years, especially with a team which has been hit by absences and withdrawals. Still, it was a pleasure to finally get to meet Daniel Fullard, of the excellent Quiz Addict blog face to face, even if our tardiness did mean that there wasn’t a lot of time for talking. Dave Cornish once again produced another excellent quiz, which was a pleasure to play in.
I know that it was our own fault – well, alright , my own fault as driver - that we were so late, but it was a bit of a bummer to find that nobody had left us anything at all out of the buffet other than a couple of cheese sandwiches, which were the worse for wear by the time we arrived. We probably have as long a journey as anybody else – longer than many, and when there is a long journey, then it’s not unreasonable to expect that some is going to be held up. I hadn’t brought anything to eat with me because I knew that we were going to be having a good buffet, if last year’s was anything to go by, and while I can usually go longer without eating without it affecting my diabetes too badly it’s not something I like to make a habit of. Oh well, these things happen, and it’s not like it affected my, or our performance, because it didn’t. We played as well as we could. Even so, unfortunately the lunch thing put a little bit of a dampener on an otherwise great occasion. I’m still looking forward to next year though.
By contrast, the next day, Monday, was the annual quiz for the Muriel Williams trophy in Bridgend. This is the traditional curtain raiser for the Bridgend Quiz League. It’s a night when teams get a chance to register for the League, the trophies for the previous season are presented, and everyone gets to play in a good quiz. Last year was the 40th anniversary of the League, and so we had Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbet as a special guest of honour. Well, there was nothing quite like that this year – 41st birthday – nope, it doesn’t have the same ring as 40th, however you say it. Nonetheless it was a well attended evening, hosted by the Tondu Rugby Club as well and as warmly as ever.
We’ve had a bit of a chequered history in the Muriel Quiz in the past few years. The first time I played, three years ago, we won with just the three of us in the team, Andrew, Neil and me. The year later we played a very strong team in the quiz, but still came second, and not a close second at that. Last year we were even further behind, in 4th or 5th if I remember correctly. This year it was different. We took a lead in the first round, and never relinquished it. It’s funny like that. You can have some evenings when the questions just fall for you, and others when no matter how hard you try you just keep falling further behind.
One great thing about the evening was hearing that the League has secured two sponsors for this season. Long before I ever started playing regularly in the league I put on record my admiration for the fact that the league has kept going while many, if not most, of those on the M4 corridor have shut up shop. Hopefully this sponsorship will help the league continue to flourish.
I’ve made the observation before that there’s no accounting for the reception a quiz receives in the club. You can use every ounce of your craft and skill, selecting only the very finest questions you can find, that you know will be well received in the club, then writing and rewriting the questions over and over again to ensure maximum clarity, and the whole thing can still go down like alead balloon. On the other hand you can literally throw the thing together in a couple of hours from start to finish, and it can go down an absolute storm. Go figure. Well, such a quiz was the one I put together for Thursday night. I was so pushed for time that not only did I use a general news question in every round ( all of which have appeared in this very blog), I also used news questions for each round’s sport question. I have never before downloaded a free picture quiz from the internet. You know me well enough by now, I’m a straightforward questions and answers guy, so I don’t like picture quizzes, but it’s expected down the rugby club, and my attitude is that if you’re going to do it at all, then do it with a good heart and put some time and effort into it. Well, I was prepared for the effort, but literally didn’t have the time, so stuff it, I downloaded one off a free quiz site.
You know what’s coming. It went down well. Too well actually. Yes, I know that I’m never satisfied, but maybe it would have been nice if someone had said words to the effect of – sorry, but that wasn’t up to your usual standard. The fact that it so obviously was probably says a lot about the kind of quizzes I put together when I’m really devoting time and energy to it.
Well, by way of a comparison point I have to do the quiz in the Dyffryn Arms tomorrow evening, and I do have a little bit more time for this one. So we’ll see how it goes. Hmm. . . I think I can feel a lead balloon coming on.