Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Why am I back? For that matter, am I actually back in the first place?

Right, let’s start by saying one thing: we’d all have been a lot better off if covid 19 had never reared its ugly head. The deaths in the UK and abroad have been nothing less than tragedies. It has disrupted all of our lives, changed all of our lives, and even when this lockdown is over it’s very likely that what’s normal then, will be quite different from what was normal before. I am not in any way trying to trivialise this disaster.

Still, the lockdown has had some unexpected effects. As a teacher, I am not going to pretend that I haven’t had a lot more free time since the lockdown started. Yes, like all teachers I’m still conscientiously preparing resources, setting work, distributing it to all of my pupils, and marking it promptly then returning it to my pupils. But that doesn’t take all day and I’m not going to pretend that it does.

If you’ve been with LAM over the last few years, you might remember how there have been times when it has just abruptly stopped without warning. At times this has been due to my depression. I was first diagnosed in 2017, maybe 6 months after the school where I’d taught for 29 years was closed and amalgamated with two others. I was off work for 8 weeks, and with treatment I was able to return to work. It’s been a bumpy road since, with further bouts in 2018, and worst, in February 2019, which lasted until the Autumn. I went back onto medication, and the school paid for me to have counselling, for which I will always be grateful to them. Between starting in October, and finishing counselling in January something changed. Maybe it had just run its course naturally, and maybe it was totally due to counselling. Most likely it was a mixture of the two. But from the October half term right up until lockdown, I felt differently, which was most obvious at work. I wouldn’t say it’s easy there – it isn’t. It’s bloody difficult. But I was coping better, I was finding a better way to work with the more difficult kids, and glory be, I was actually enjoying some of my own lessons.

Concurrent with this, I’d pretty much stopped quizzing.

In one way this had been a gradual process, and in another it was a very abrupt process. It’s a couple of years now since I stopped going to quizzes on a Sunday night. Partly this was self preservation, having to work the next day, and partly because I didn’t need the grief from some of the knobheads you’d encounter when you won the quiz a couple of times in a row. I stopped playing in the Bridgend quiz league after the 2017 season. This was partly due to a relatively unpleasant 2016 AGM, and partly due to the fact that I’d got to the stage where I really didn’t like the kind of person I was when I was playing in the league. So essentially I was playing once a week in the rugby club, and in the annual Brain of Mensa competition.

This continued up until about the time I started counselling in October/November. I went to Vienna for a visit, and missed the quiz at the club. Then the next week I didn’t go because I was knackered. I’d hardly, if ever. Used that as an excuse not to go before. But the fact is that I’m not getting any younger, and if I’m going to be on my best the next day at school, then really and truly now I need to be in bed about an hour before the quiz ends sometimes. So I pretty much just sopped going back.

Do you know something? For the first time since 1988 I was not attending at least one quiz every week. Do you know something else? I didn’t miss it. Not at all.

I haven’t a problem filling my time at all. So much so that I started thinking – do I really need to write about UC and Mastermind in order to enjoy the shows? Well, I’m sure you can work out the answer to that one. So I stopped, and I’ve been concentrating on my drawing and painting more. Sadly the lockdown has done for my exhibition which was going to happen at Easter, but hey, there will be other opportunities in the future, hopefully.

Then about 10 days ago, my son asked me to do a video quiz for him and his sisters on Zoom. To be fair he gave me about 2 hours warning. I thoroughly enjoyed putting the questions together, and I thoroughly enjoyed being the quiz master. At the end they asked me to do a Mastermind quiz for them for the next weekend. I had to make specialist rounds for all of them on subjects about which I knew nothing in some cases, and again, I loved it. Then last night we had the Mastermind final. After watching, and enjoying Dave McBryan’s fine performance and win, I really, really wanted to talk about it with someone. So I bit the bullet, and wrote the review in the post before this one.

So that’s that. I’m not putting pressure on myself by saying that I’m going to be starting regular posting again. In fact I’m not even promising that this will not be the last ever post I make. But hey, just because you’ve fallen out of love with quizzing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be close friends, hopefully.


Martin said...


As a long-time reader who only knows you through this blog, it's so wonderful to hear you're doing well.

Of course I miss your write-ups of UC and Mastermind, particularly your laps of honour and combined specialist scores. I don't know if you realize it, but you've brought a lot of enjoyment to me, sat thousands of miles away, who only gets to watch UK quizzes a few days afterwards (and thus had to wait to read your write-up until then). But it's far, far more important that you're happy rather than making others happy. As they say when you get the safety briefing on a plane, put on your oxygen mask first before trying to help others.

Best wishes to you, and please post your paintings if you can when they're exhibited.

Peter Treanor said...

Hi,Dave,I’m delighted that you’re feeling well enough to comment on last nights Mastermind! I completely agree with everything that you said! Having said that I have been reading your blog for years and as I may not concur with you all the time,I always have found it incisive and informative.However as we say in Ireland,your health is your wealth,so look after yourself and express yourself if and when you feel like it! Best wishes,Peter Treanor.

Londinius said...

Blush! Thanks so much guys! It makes me so happy to see that any of the nonsense I come out with here brings a smile to someone's face now and again.Thanks also for your very kind personal words. It's a funny, pernicious beast is depression, and I'm not going to go making rash statements about having beaten it - it could come back. But at the moment, especially considering these strange times that we're living in, I'm doing well within myself. Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Hello David. It's lovely to read your blogs again but you must do what's right for you. If the process of writing the blog is more detrimental than the enjoyment of it then it's not the right thing to do

Londinius said...

Hi, and thanks for your kind comment. It's not so much that the process of writing is detrimental. Although having said that, I'm not sure exactly what it is! Thank you for your support, anyway - it means a lot.

Unknown said...

I wonder if you have encountered the online platform, WikiQuiz?

mawnanman said...

Hi David, I had noticed that LAM had become dormant and I've only just had another look to see if there's any action. I'm sorry to hear that you have had problems and glad that you have overcome them.
Regarding Mastermind - what on earth is going on? I think there is a new production company dealing with it now and there appears to be some engineering taking place. Without wishing to cast aspersions on the fairer sex, historically women formed a small proportion of the total number of entrants (perhaps they just aren't willing to put themselves out there?) but now every episode seems to have two men and two women participating. I haven't checked the length of time taken up by the asking of the questions but now they frequently appear to be unnecessarily long, with the result that on the specialist round it is now unusual for anyone to score any more than 10. Previously there would usually be at least a couple of competitors with a double figure score. Is this an attempt to weigh against expertise in the specialist subject?