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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Don't they know the correct answer?

MY APOLOGIES to anyone travelling through Cockermouth the other week who came across a demented-looking woman in a black car who was yelling “Halfway to Paradise!!” at no-one in particular.

I must explain that I don’t usually shout in public, but on that particular afternoon I was listening to the Tony James golden oldies show on Radio Cumbria and was offering him the answer to the win-a-Billy-Fury-CD competition. The fact that he couldn’t hear me made no difference. As an oldie myself, an admirer of the works of the late Mr Fury, and one whose memory holds an enormous store of trivia, I felt it was my duty to supply the answer. And, like thousands of other folk, I can’t resist a quiz.

There must be millions of us throughout the country who go home after a hard day’s work and bawl “Katherine of Aragon!” or “Parmesan!” or “Tristan da Cunha!” at Nicola, 19, a student from Kent, who is revealing her woeful lack of general knowledge to Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link.

We trivia fans are never happier than when offering advice to people who want to be millionaires but don’t look as though they are going to make it.

“Good grief!” we say. “Look at that - he’s used up two lifelines and he’s only on £8,000. He’s got no chance. Fancy thinking Carlisle is in Scotland. What do they teach them in schools these days?”

Of course, shouting at the television is an activity not just confined to quiz fans. Some people are even incapable of watching the news without having a rant.

Now deprived of the pleasure of shouting “bloody Tony Blair!” every time that gentleman appears, they have to confine themselves to giving general advice on a vast range of topics, on all of which they are an expert.

“Huh! I could have told them that,” they will say. “I’ve known that for years - they didn’t need to do a £250,000 survey to find that out,” Or sometimes it’s: “For goodness sake! I knew that would be a waste of time all along - they should have asked me!”

In the interests of domestic harmony, you have to resist asking why, if they know so much, they haven’t already been snapped up to provide advice for the United Nations or a Government think-tank.

Football fans are the worst. They can’t sit quietly and appreciate the match. They have to shout ‘free kick!’ or ‘penalty!’ as though there were not enough properly trained and qualified officials on the pitch. Then they give advice to the team manager as to which player he should have picked instead of the one who is a useless donkey; or who they should have got rid of during something called the transfer window. It is not worth pointing out to these experts that (a) they have never played professional football and (b) The team already has a manager who did and who therefore may know rather more about the subject.

My own shortcoming is shouting at signs which are mis-spelt or which have wrongly-positioned apostrophes. Only yesterday I had a quick rant when I spied a notice outside a farm which offered “free range egg’s for sale”. Grrr.

Anyway, I’ve got to go out in the car now. It’s just about time for the Tony James show and I might know the answer to this week’s competition.

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