Back in early 1988 my dear old friend, the late Neville Evans, took me to my first quiz in the Railway Club in Port Talbot, which is just one of the things I thank his memory for. Now, as part of the Thursday evening there was always a raffle, the prize for which would be a chicken dinner, or, to be more precise, a whole frozen chicken, along with a hamper of fruit, veg and tins of various bits and pieces. Not a bad prize, not that I ever won it. Well, Neville had a very distinctive sense of humour, and I distinctly remember one evening while we were sitting waiting for the quiz to begin, the steward started making his way around selling tickets for the raffle. Sitting at the table next to ours were two ladies who were very good examples of the genre which used to be called ‘old dears’. As the steward was on his way round, we overheard them discussing how much they wanted to win the dinner. Neville couldn’t resist leaning over and saying,
”I really wouldn’t buy any tickets if I were you, dear. You see, the raffle is fixed. One of the regulars wins it every week. “ Cue tuts from the ladies, and thus emboldened Neville continued, “In fact, it’s actually my turn to win this week. So I’d save your money if I were you. Just a friendly warning.”
The ladies made various shocked noises between themselves, but in the end after a hushed discussion they decided that he was obviously trying to wind them up – which he was – and bought their tickets anyway.
All of which would have been just good clean fun, only . . . well, the fact is that you can believe it or not, but Neville did actually win the raffle that night. As soon as he got up to receive the prize there were loud, vociferous, and surprisingly graphic protests from the old dears. In the end, Neville ended up presenting them with the prize, this whole situation being of his own making.
None of this has much to do with the price of tea, but I did remember the incident with a wry smile this evening, while I was waiting for John to arrive at the quiz. There was quite a large team whom I’d never seen before, sitting right by the table I’d chosen, and they were quite chatty. They seemed surprised when they thought I was playing on my own, and only slightly less when I said that there were actually going to be two of us. Now, bearing in mind that this is just an ordinary pub quiz, and John and I have won most times that we’ve played in it, I did give serious consideration to telling them that it didn’t matter how many we had because the quiz is fixed every week for a different team to win, and it’s our turn to win. Well, as I said, I considered doing it, but as you can see from the Neville anecdote, such things can often backfire on you, so I didn’t say anything. Which proved to be a good decision, since we lost. Karmic payback, I suppose.