Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Two Questions You Get Asked . . .

The huge benefit of having Easter so late this year has been the weather. In most years we'd have been back in school already, and that first week is traditionally one of gorgeous sunshine. So its been very nice to get the benefit for once. I've been out on the bike for getting on for an hour every day, and I've already seen 5 different species of early butterfly locally. Of course, every silver lining has its cloud. By which I mean barbecues.

I think I'd better qualify that. I have nothing against barbecued food per se. Granted, its not the healthiest stuff in the world, but not the sort of thing I'd lose any sleep over once in a while. No, its the whole rigmarole of it. We have a gas barbecue, and that's better than one you have to fuss about lighting, and waiting until the coals have all turned grey, or whatever it is you're supposed to do, but even so its a lot of potch. I think its really the regimented organised nature of it that I don't like so much. You can have one burger now, but don't take a sausage, they won't be done yet – don't even think about the chicken – salad is fine, but you can't take a corn on the cob yet – and so on and so forth.

Mind you, worse than that is the whole business of buying the actual stuff that you're going to cremate – sorry – cook. We go to a discount specialist, which means a car journey to Swansea. And of course, since we don't go there very often, We Have To Get Enough Stuff To Make It Worth Our While. So, as we were filling our second trolley this morning, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It was a colleague of mine from work, with her husband whom I've never met before. Pleasantries were exchanged, and then she said words to the effect of – Dave was the one who won Mastermind . - Now, please don't misunderstand me. I have absolutely no problem with being introduced in this way, in fact, lets be honest , I'm vain enough to enjoy it, but it did mean that I knew exactly what the husband was going to say. The first thing was of course - What was your subject ? Being a gentleman in his fifties, the second thing was – Have you met that, oh, what was his name now, Fred Housego ?

I'm not having a go at Fred here at all. No, its just the annoying thing is – no, I haven't ever met Fred Housego. And I'd really like to. If you include the Radio and Discovery channel versions of the show – and you should – then there have been 37 champions in total. Which means 36 other champions apart from myself. By my own reckoning I've met 17 of the others. All 15 who took part in Champion of Champions, along with Kevin and Ian. So what's so special about Fred ? Well, I was a bit of a nerdy kid in many ways – does that come as a shock ? Thought not. The earliest series I can remember watching was Elizabeth Horrocks' series in 1974 when I was 10. Elizabeth was the third champion . From then on I religiously watched every series right up until my university years, and even then still did when I could manage to. Of the early champions I really liked Sir David Hunt, oldest winner, and also the first ever Champion of Champions in 1982. I never met Sir David, and sadly never will now since he is no longer with us. However Fred was something special. A great deal has been made in the past over Fred's background as a London taxi driver, but the fact is that he was the first Champion not to come from one of the traditional profession. He spoke with an accent not a million miles from my own. But it really wasn't just that, though. Its incredibly difficult to project personality through that small screen when all you get to do is give a few personal details, and then answer some quiz questions, yet that kind of happened with Fred. Of all the Magnus champions I think a similar thing happened with Chris Hughes in 1983, and Chris I have met on a number of occasions. Its fair to say though, that Fred was my earliest quiz hero. So Fred, if by some slim chance you ever read this, I'll be in the South East again sometime in August. If you fancy meeting for a drink , then drop me a line. My round.

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