Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Not playing for sheep stations

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There are quizzes and there are quizzes. Some are really challenging and some are walks in the park but, regardless of their difficulty, they present the only legitimate opportunity for me to use the large block of information in my head which would otherwise lie idle (probably around a pool, sipping cocktails through a long straw).

When it comes to difficulty, the annual quiz I used to co-write for Canberra Rep was never as impossible as QI, but certainly more challenging than your average breakfast radio quiz. Be that as it may, the radio quizzes are a good source of occasional free stuff if you can get through to be the contestant, and if you give enough correct answers.

Knowing my audience is pretty cluey, you should have no difficulty with this lot (answers at the bottom):
  1. What television cooking show returns to the screen this Sunday night?
  2. Where in your body would you find a cornea?
  3. Where would you find a ‘hospital corner”?
  4. Which team is currently at the bottom of the AFL ladder?
  5. (Music cue: excerpt of “Killer Queen”) Who recorded this song?
  6. Which city is hosting this year’s Olympic Games?
  7. How many carats are there in pure gold?
  8. What is the collective noun for a group of insects?
  9. Strawberries are the only fruit with its seeds on the outside: true or false?
  10. Who played “Bridget Jones” on the big screen?
Since we’ve been in Bendigo we’ve been tuning in to the local FM breakfast show.  The format is familiar – two announcers (one male, one female), a series of set-piece discussions, traffic reports (yes, they're short, but valuable!) and opportunities for listener participation.  The presentation isn’t as polished as a capital city show, but this is country Victoria and they're playing to a different spread of demographics.  The show includes a standard “ten questions in 60 seconds” quiz and we noticed that, between us, the family consistently scores very well, if not perfectly.  It’s not a very challenging quiz for us, so it was definitely time to bust out the speed-dialler and have a go.

If that wasn't enough, they’ve recently added a Gold Coast holiday to the prize on offer for getting all the answers correct.  We could really do with a proper holiday, but the budget says “no”.  The prospect of a free holiday made trying to get on air almost complusory.

So this morning the family was all set up with a list of zodiac sign dates and a computer standing by in the study, and we managed to get through to be the contestant.  I had the phone and everyone else was poised to contribute.  Our questions were the ones that appear at the top of this post.  

Since nobody in the family really follows any sport we were never going to know the answer to question 4.  I don’t actually care who’s leading the AFL ladder, so I certainly have no clue who’s at the bottom!  However, as that was question 4 there was time for someone to find the answer.  I said "pass", and my eldest minion raced off to Google it.

Everything else was a gimme and just as the announcer returned to question 4 my eldest scooted back into the room breathlessly hissing “G-W-S!”

This, dear readers, was what my brother-in-law will refer to as my “pod moment”.  Some years ago he missed out on a $1,000 prize on a radio quiz because he couldn’t recall the collective noun for a group of whales.  It was the only answer he didn't give correctly.  He knew the answer, he just couldn’t recall it and spit it out when he needed to.  He’s been kicking himself ever since.

Conscious of the seconds ticking away I madly tried to make sense of “G-W-S”.  What did that mean?  Thinking the team must be a recent addition to the AFL I blurted “Gold Coast”, because that starts with a "G" and quite possibly joined the AFL recently.

Like I said, I don’t follow AFL.

Nor, it turns out, does the announcer, who had the answer written down in front of her as “GWS / Gold Coast”, and she proceeded to tell us that we’d won!

A holiday!  Whooping and skipping in the kitchen ensued!

After a few moments of this the male announcer calmed us all down and asked whether I’d said “GWS” or “Gold Coast”.  I’ve played these sorts of games before, and I know that tone of voice.  It’s the one that says “I’m trying to work out if I need to deliver your very own Sarah Murdoch moment”.  My mind was spinning pretty rapidly: "this means I was wrong, and he’s just offered me two choices, one of which was the answer I gave, which means the other answer is correct, and if I just lie I can keep the prize!"  And, just as quickly, I thought that "every listener who heard me give the other answer will hate not just me, for lying, but the station too, for giving away the prize fraudulently".  There wasn’t really a choice.  I had to confirm my answer.

The word "pod" floated briefly through my brain, while the reality of a holiday having slipped from their grasp settled on the rest of the family.

For me it wasn’t much of a let-down.  In these games you start with nothing and, if you walk away with nothing, you’ve lost nothing.  But minions don’t think that way.  My eldest was briefly livid.  She had actually supplied the right answer and, by trying to interpret the answer (aka “being a smart-arse”), I’d lost her a holiday.  If I had simply said exactly what she said, without pausing to make sense of it, we would have had that prize safely in pocket.

It was actually pretty humbling to face up to the minions on this one.  Daddy screwed up.  We could have had a holiday, but now we can’t.  I’m sure I won’t hear the end of this one for some time to come, not even if we find another way to make it happen.

Still.  It made pretty good radio, and I think they’ll have me back.  In fact, as Mrs G suggested, they may even let my disgruntled minion play.  Tomorrow.  That could make terrific radio.


(with the exception of question 4, as given by me and accepted by a radio announcer – but not checked by me!)
  1. Master Chef
  2. The eye
  3. A bed.
  4. GWS / Greater Western Sydney
  5. Queen
  6. London
  7. 24
  8. A swarm
  9. True
  10. Renee Zellwegger


  1. I didn't even know there was a team called Greater Western Sydney...

    A lesson in clarity for the minions.

  2. Oh, she delivered exactly what she found, which was a ladder with all the teams expressed as abbreviations. Under the circumstances, giving the answer she delivered would have clinched it. I did the adult thing and tried to make sense of it instead of just passing it on. We live and learn.

    We also learned that somewhere, deep in NRL territory, somebody's trying to play a ball game with no crossbar. Who knew?


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