Saturday, 15 February 2014

Application to join the Grumpy Old Men

I know that I’ve been grumpy and grouchy this week. I do apologise, but I really can’t help it. I’ve been struggling, you see. I could feel myself coming down with flu on Monday evening during our League match against the Mackworth. It didn’t affect the outcome. The Mackworth are no mugs, but we hit a rich vein of form and saw out the win. But when I went to bed later that evening I started shivering uncontrollably, and it went on for about a quarter of an hour. I’ll be honest, I felt terrible all through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and only marginally better yesterday, and I know that I’m grumpy when I’m not well, I suppose that it probably didn’t make things any better for myself by insisting on going into work all week despite the illness. You see, I had my Year 11 GCSE class 4 times this week, and another hour after school as well, and I honestly couldn’t face losing up to 5 hours with them.

That’s my excuse for spending a lot of this week moaning about things which haven’t been worth moaning about, anyway. It didn’t necessarily get off to the best of starts on Sunday evening. John and I have been trying to find a permanent Sunday evening home for some time now, since we decided to knock it on the head at the Dyffryn Arms. My son Mikey suggested a place on Sunday evening, and we thought we’d done due diligence checking it when we rang up to check up whether it was on – what time – was it general knowledge etc.? What we didn’t check . . . well, you wouldn’t automatically think that you’d need to check if it’s a team, writing down quiz, would you? So we turned up, and found out it was a free for all, individual shouting out quiz.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the first quiz I ever went to regularly was just such a quiz. But. . . I was a lot more inexperienced then. It was my entry level drug, I suppose, and since then I’ve moved on to the hard stuff. Not only that, I really didn’t want to go drawing attention to myself that much. So I just answered everything nobody else could answer. Still won, mind, but at least it wasn’t quite as conspicuous.

Then there was Thursday. Now, Thursday’s setter is a semi regular now, and his output is, in my opinion, variable. His last quiz I really enjoyed, but this one – well, you may recall that I’ve outlined my theory that there are five basic flaws, any one of which on its own can sink a quiz. I think he committed three of these on Thursday. My hopes weren’t high when he took it upon himself to inform us ,
”Something over 75% of tonight’s questions were taken from a website called “Trivia For Kids””
My first reaction was – why? I’m sorry, but I firmly believe that you should use at least 5 – and more if possible – sources for an 80 question quiz. There was a preponderance of –est questions – longest, biggest etc. etc. Not the most interesting stuff you could ask, to be honest. On several occasions the answer was given along with the words ‘nobody had this one – I wasn’t really expecting anyone to get it right.” Oh really? Well why ask the bloody thing, then? It really isn’t supposed to be a contest between the question master and the teams, after all. Then there were those annoying questions where it is down to the QM’s interepretation. For example – Which is the world’s longest continually occupied city? Now, some QM’s will give you Damascus – and some will give you Jericho. If they are good enough to say ‘capital city’ then you know it’s Damascus. Otherwise you just have ti put one down, and hope. It relegates it to a guessing game.

In a similar vein, what would you say is the world’s longest Highway? Now, it is, I suppose, a question of definition. But the answer always given in quizzes is the Pan American Highway. Not this one. Now, maybe there are reasons why it wouldn’t be the Pan American , but the Trans Canadian? Come on. If it’s the longest national highway, then it’s Australian, not Canadian.

You see, I will admit to being a sore loser – although come to think of it, we had a draw on the actual questions. We’re never going to win picture quizzes, and I can’t let myself get worked up about such fripperies. But I can live with losing, in fact it can even be quite profitable in the long run, if you learn something you can use later on in another quiz, something which you’ll get right next time round. I can’t honestly think of anything which I can take forward from Thursday night which is likely to be of much use to me in any other quiz.

See – grumpy and grouchy. I did a Room 101 exercise with one of my classes this week, to try to get them using persuasive language devices to express opinion. Asked for an example, I gave this particular grump of mine.

Every time I go into my dentist he seems to have a different receptionist, and always what looks like a 16 or 17 year old school leaver. Now, I have nothing against school leavers. But you see the thing is, I’m sure that the dentist tells every single one of them to address all of the patients by their christian name straight from the off. And I’m sorry, but I find it rather disconcerting to have some, for want of a better word, kid who I’ve never seen before greeting me with the words ‘Hello David!’. I'm sorry, but when someone my own age or older does it, then it's a different matter, although if I' honest I still prefer something a little more formal on a first occasion. I long to turn round and say,
“Excuse me there a minute. Were you at school with me? No? Are we by any chance related? No? Are you a friend of my family? No? Well, it’s Mr. Bleedin’ Clark to you, then!”
Now, I never have and never would say such a thing because
a) It would be extremely rude
b) The dentist probably tells them to do this in the mistaken belief that it creates an atmosphere which puts patients at their ease – and
c) These kids work for dentists, and dentists have the power to hurt .
so I just put up with it.

I finished this rant, and the kids sat in thoughtful silence before one of them observed sagely,
”No offence, sir, but you are a bit of a grumpy old man, aren’t you?”
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.


George Millman said...

The receptionists at my dental practice do that as well, and personally I prefer it as I feel that it offers more opportunity to create a rapport between myself and them. I have nothing against formality, but I do feel that some situations are more formal than they need to be. When I was at sixth-form, I decided pretty much from the off that I was going to call the teachers by their first names, as I felt that as I was older than I had been, if I was going to learn anything from them I needed to have a more equal relationship with them. Possibly surprisingly, only one teacher objected, and I said to him, 'Very well - you can call me Mr Millman then.' And he did. I would have preferred to be on less formal terms with him, but if he wasn't prepared to do that, I felt that there would be no first names for either of us. It generally worked quite well.

I don't think it's so much about lack of respect or anything; I don't feel that respect is synonymous with a title, it comes from the attitude that you show people when they have shown you something to respect them for. In a situation like being at the dentist, you can sometimes feel a little apprehensive, and I find that having someone act in a friendly or reassuring way relaxes me a little. I'm sure it's just personal taste. You implied that the age gap makes a difference to you, and maybe when I'm older I'll feel that way as well. I'm 20, and I addressed you as Dave in the email contact that we had recently. If you'd rather I referred to you as Mr Clark I shall, but I don't entirely see what would be achieved by that.

By the way, the applications for the next series of Perfection are open, and I'm seriously considering going for it. I don't expect to win, but I haven't managed to get on a quiz show so far, and I think that the experience would be great. I'm not even especially good at quizzes, but I very much enjoy them. I'll let you know if I get on.

Londinius said...

Hi George

As you say, I think it's all in the context. Of course you call me Dave in this context, since that's what I've always signed myself in emails (I think).
I don't claim there's necessarily any logic, or even any reason behind my dislike of being called Dave by the dental receptionists - I'm not overly keen on older ones doing it either - it's juts one of those things that I really have a gut reaction against. Just gets under my skin - can't really explain it more than that.

The age gap - look, I'd be lying to you if I said that in that context, it doesn't matter to me. Doubtless it shouldn't, but it does. No great logic or sense behind it, it's just how I feel. Probably something to do with my advanced age, the concommitant crabbiness which goes with it, and being a teacher, I suppose. That's why it doesn't bother me in the slightest in a social context, I suppose.

Probably for the same reason I don't like being called 'mate' when being served in a pub, cafe or restaurant. Again, thinking logically it shouldn't make the slightest bit of difference whether it's a young or older person saying it, but I'm afraid that it does. That's not something I can defend, but it's how I feel and I am trying to be honest with you.

Hmm, I have a distinct feeling here of cans open and worms all over the floor.

Anyway, with regards for the application - go for it. Seriously, they need a full cross section of all ages and backgrounds - so why not you? You are right - appearing on a TV quiz is usually great fun. Well worth your time applying.

George Millman said...

Fair enough. It's all totally subjective, but we all have things that irritate us arbitrarily. I generally like to change people's attitudes to things though, encourage more open-mindedness towards things like that. I think generally we only have these feelings towards things because it's how we've been taught to feel; over time, attitudes can change.

I think I will get an application form for Perfection, but whether or not I actually go through with it we'll have to see about. I live nowhere near Glasgow, and I'm a very committed first-year student, so if auditions or filming dates clashed with my course I might have to pass it up on this occasion. But on the other hand, I have a reasonable amount of time off, so it's definitely worth looking into.

opaltiger said...

Would you mind outlining the five flaws you mentioned? (Or linking to somewhere you've done that in the past). I write a weekly pub quiz in Cambridge and I'm always looking for ways to improve. Specifically regarding putting in questions I don't expect anyone to get: I do this occasionally, because I really like being proved wrong.