Do you remember the day that you became a quizzer? Can you pinpoint that first moment when you realized that a quiz was more than just a set of questions and answers? I invite you to share your reminiscences, and to start the ball rolling, I’ll kick off.
I guess that the seeds were sown for me by television when I was a child. We were a household where the television was always on, and we weren’t the most discerning of viewers. Well, there were only 3 channels in those days. Whenever a quiz show was on – and we watched everything from University Challenge – and when it started, Mastermind – to Sale of the Century. The unwritten rule in the house was that if you knew the answer then you tried to be the first to shout it out. You could only claim it if you answered before anyone else, and especially, before the team or contestant in the studio. The first quiz competition I ever participated in was the Elthorne High School Sixth Form Mastermind competition in 1981, which is a little ironic. However that was just another seed sown. The quiz which made me into a quizzer happened 7 years later, in 1988.
A couple of days after my son was born in January of 1988 a friend of Mary’s family, called Neville, unexpectedly popped around to take me out to wet the baby’s head, and he took me to the quiz night in the Railway Club in Port Talbot – not to be confused with the old Rail and Transport Club. The night actually consisted of two quizzes. The first was open to the whole bar, and the question master, Noel, just shouted out questions, with anybody being able to put up their hand and try to answer. The prize was a ticket which enabled you to something like 30p off a pint, and once you had 3 tickets, that was your lot.
Now, that was fun in itself, but the second quiz was a lot better. In this Neville and I joined the question master from the first quiz, Noel, and two other guys I got to know quite well over the next few years, Bertie and Donald. Bertie knew a lot of answers, but not to the questions being asked unfortunately. Donald knew one answer – Danny Blanchflower – and he trotted this out religiously until one day he was asked who the captain of the 1961 Spurs Double winning team was. He answered Dave Mackay, I think. The five of us made up a team and played against another five guys from the club, with a set of questions asked by a guy called Nigel. The format and standard was that of a good league quiz. I loved it, possibly because we won, but I think I’d have enjoyed it almost as much if we’d lost. On the way home I told Nev that I would be available next week if needed. I suppose you could say I’ve been available ever since.
It was probably just pure good luck that took me to that quiz at that time. For one thing, going to that particular quiz taught me several things. Firstly, that I was quite good at quizzes already. Secondly, it taught me that other people were better. More importantly it showed me just how much I was going to enjoy playing in quizzes. Even more importantly than that it brought me some great friends. Noel was the first very good quizzer I met. He invited me to play for the Railway Club in the resurrected Port Talbot Quiz League a few weeks after my debut, and that’s when I first played with Allan Coombs, one of the finest, and nicest quizzers South Wales has ever produced.
Playing in the Port Talbot League for a couple of years until it folded, and in other single quizzes and quiz competitions with Allan, Noel, Nev, Barry, Bob and later on, John, was the best quiz education I would have ever hoped for, and if anybody were ever to turn around and say that they’ve learned something about quizzing from playing in the same team with me now, then it would make me a very happy man. Sadly both Nev and Allan have passed away in the last few years. Noel moved away and we lost contact, and if I’ve seen Bob twice in the last ten years, then I certainly haven’t seen him more. Barry and I went to Newport together most Mondays between last Bridgend league season ending and this one starting, and of course if John and I don’t go to at least one quiz together then it’s a bad week. So it’s nice that, even if I never go to the Railway Club any more – and I’ll be honest, I don’t know if they ever do a quiz any more anyway – there is that kind of continuity with my quizzing roots.
So that’s my first pub quiz. Maybe your first experience of quizzing was something similar – or maybe not. If you’ve an interesting ( alright, even if it’s not very interesting) story to tell, why not share it here?