Monday, 30 May 2011

Should You Offer To Give Away An Answer - Even if you really want to ?

I think that I would have been about 7 or 8 years old when this happened, and I’ve always remembered it. I had been sent on a message to the staff room in my junior school in Hanwell, Ealing, one break time. The form was that you went to the door, knocked, and then waited. And waited. Outside the door were another three or four kids, some of whom were waiting for the telling off that they had been promised. A bit like the scene in the film Kes, now I come to think of it, however, I digress. Outside I saw Matthew, who was a year older than me, and a friend of my brother. He confided to me that he had also been sent on a message, and it made a nice change for him because he was usually one of the boys being sent for a telling off.

OK, so the door eventually opened, and Miss F. ( name withheld in case a superinjunction has been taken out without me knowing it ) stuck her head out. Miss F. could be a very stern, indeed , frightening teacher when the Force was with her, which was often. She took one look at Matthew, fixing him with her mesmeric gaze, before saying words to the effect of – not you again – what have you done this time ? – Matthew was understandably like a rabbit caught in the glare of the headlights of the oncoming juggernaut of Miss F’s personality, and he just stood there, saying nothing. So I chipped in with – He’s not in trouble miss, he’s just got a message – “. I broke off as she turned the full force of her ire upon me, and then in a voice literally dripping with scorn she told me to shut up – speak only when spoken to, and that nobody was interested in what I had to say. I’ve never forgotten it.

Right – one , two , three , we’re back in the room. John’s back from Hong Kong in the next day or so, which means that I won’t have to face the dilemma of what to do when I go to the Dyffryn Arms on my own any more for the foreseeable future. Not that its been a huge problem for the last 2 Sundays. As it worked out both yesterday and last Sunday evening I went down on my own, and certainly enjoyed myself as much as you could expect to when you’re playing on your own. It helped that I have all of the questions right , and only two of the pictures wrong in the first quiz, and then all of the pictures right and only a couple of the questions wrong last night. However that’s not really why I’m posting this. Last night’s quiz was a good quiz, with a really nice mixture of toughies, and not so toughies. Being the Sunday before a Bank Holiday there were more teams playing than you often get, and so my normal table was already taken. There were no invites to join another team. As a result I sat in the other side of the pub from where we normally sit, next to a team I didn’t really know at all.

They were struggling a bit. They did pretty poorly in the first half of the quiz, and then I could hear them agonizing over some of the answers for the picture handout, and for the second half of the quiz. I so desperately wanted to try to help them out, but the moment I opened my mouth it was as if I could feel the vitriolic words of Miss F. all over again. I kept trying to tell myself - if they want help – they’ll ask for it. In the end I thought – stuff it – if I offer an answer they could take it, they could ignore it, or they could tell me to shove off, but I’ll never know if I don’t say. So I told them that the rugby playing , Masterchef winning, Strictly Come Dancing finalist , who is a team captain on A Question of Sport is Matt Dawson. Which was graciously accepted, and so were a couple of picture answers, and friendly relations were maintained until the end of the quiz. Which was great, and, I hasten to add, did not materially affect the overall results, or the destination of the prizes.

But I don’t know, am I being unnecessarily sensitive by even worrying about this in the first place ? I mean, I don’t recall ever getting cold shouldered by another team on the odd occasions when I, or a member of my team, has offered another team an answer that they’re struggling for . Yet I do worry that it could happen. Take last night – the team to which I gave a couple of answers, and with which I then chatted were perfectly nice and decent people, but its not impossible that they might have seen my offer of answers as interfering, and even patronizing. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if there is a generally held and recognized quiz etiquette regarding this sort of thing – perhaps other people have had bad experiences they wouldn’t mind sharing with the rest of us ? Over to you.


Ben Dutton said...

I think I've told this story in your blog comments before, but here it is again:

I was at a quiz on my own, and heard a team struggling. I gave them an answer, which they took. Then I gave them one more and they told me to sod off, and not keep bothering them. They didn't need my help to win. They came sixth, I think, out of about ten teams.

On the flip side, one of the best quiz teams I ever joined came about because, again, on my own, I offered an answer, was asked for a second, then invited to join the team. I quizzed with that line-up for three years, and we won an awful lot.

Londinius said...

Hi Ben

It is hard, isn't it ? Its one thing if you're actually asked for help , but another if you're not. Yet as you say it can be a very positive thing if you pick the right team . Its picking the right team to help - now that's the difficult thing.


DanielFullard said...

I tend not to as I do not like receiving answers by myself in any way whether it be directly or accidentally overhearing

Ben Dutton said...

Just thought I'd send you this link to a report on the BBC News Site: