Archive for September, 2012

Egg(head) on Face

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Some of you already know that, along with a few chums, I recently auditioned for the BBC quiz show Eggheads.

Southampton Hospital Radio is sixty years old this year, so Chairman Steve thought it would be a jolly wheeze to enter: he assembled a collective of the station’s geekiest finest minds, nagged us until we filled in our application forms, and put our entry in.

About a million years later – or at least six months – we were called for audition, and this indeed was where we went last Saturday. Chairman Steve, Rockin’ Rob, Neil (who is also called Guy) and yours truly (accompanied by Neil (wiacG)’s good lady), caught a horribly early train packed with already-drunk football supporters and headed for the Nation’s Capital.

We got to London a bit earlier than necessary so we took the indirect route to the TV building, browsing through an open-air book market on the way. We should have browsed more thoroughly, as will become apparent. Anyway, once we arrived, we found we were one of four teams being auditioned – two of the other teams had only brought three of their five members with them, so we didn’t feel too bad about having left our number five, Gary (who doesn’t have a daft nickname…yet) behind – he couldn’t get the day off work.

Once the audition proper started, the first thing that happened was an individual written quiz: I won’t tell you the real questions as I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the two hundred pages of legal documents we signed, we said that we wouldn’t. But to give you a flavour, one of them was something like “Which American crime writer wrote I, Alex Cross?” As that was one of the books we’d all browsed about thirty minutes earlier, you’d think that would’ve been easy…you’d think wrong, we all had to guess, and it transpired that we all guessed wrong. Another question was similar to “To which island group does Sark belong?” to which I originally put the right answer, then crossed it out and put something else. But first prize for numb-nuttery, at least in this round, went to my answer to a question similar to “What does the S in USA stand for?” Of course I knew the answer (the real question was, if anything, even easier than that), but I totally failed to RTFQ and answered “United”.

Perhaps in some future quiz, I’ll be asked “What does the F in RTFQ stand for?” I’ll probably get that wrong too…the correct answer is of course “flipping”.

Next up was a mini game of Eggheads between the four teams. The first round was Films and TV, so we nominated Chairman Steve, who’s probably seen more films than the rest of us put together. The question was to identify a film from which a particular quote came – he had one of those blank moments where you know the answer but for some reason say the wrong thing. Ah well. Two of the other teams lost a person that round too.

Next up was Food and Drink, which I’d already claimed as my number one sepcialist subject, so I stood up, answered my question correctly, and sat down. At least it wasn’t a whitewash. The next round was Sport, so we put in Neil (who is also called Guy). They asked him possibly the only sports question in the whole world that he didn’t know the answer to, but he put in an inspired guess and was right.

Round four was Science – I wanted to take it as my second-claim sepcial subject, and as there were only four of us, one was going to have to go twice, so I could have done. But Rockin’ Rob hadn’t been yet, and got the question right, so it was lucky I didn’t.

The last individual round was Music: Had Gary (who doesn’t have a daft nickname…yet) been there, he would’ve been our music expert, but Neil (who is also called Guy) stepped up to the plate and answered brilliantly, so we were fine. Three out of the four of us through to the final round!

In short, we won.

The final part of the day involved each team doing a piece to camera about how interesting we are, and what an enthralling episode of Eggheads it would make if we were picked. If we’re shortlisted, we should hear in the next couple of weeks.

Once we left, Neil (who is also called Guy) headed off to join his lady for a day’s research into his main sepcialist subject, Real Ale Pubs of London. We tried to tell him that isn’t a round in Eggheads, but he went anyway. Rockin’ Rob had to get home because he was playing a gig that night, I needed to get home because I had a toilet to mend, and Chairman Steve isn’t safe to be left out on his own, so the three of us headed back to Waterloo. We had a thirty minute wait for our train, so we stopped for a drink and a go on the pub quiz machine.

We played two games of Eggheads on the quiz machine. We lost dramatically both times.

A New Generation

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

I promised you a better picture of my generator when one was available…here y’go then…

Generator running

Generation Game

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

I’ve been considering buying a generator.

I’ve thought for a while that it would be a useful adjunct to the caravan; if nothing else to keep the battery topped up – and therefore enable us to run the lights, radio, telly etc – while we’re on a remote site without electricity. I only recently realised that it would be just as useful during the winter “no caravanning” period – the storage site where the caravan lives has no mains, so a generator would enable me to use power tools, and the Hoover, for those out-of-season maintenance jobs, as well as keeping a maintenance charge in the leisure battery.

The problem is that a generator worth having was always too expen$ive for the benefit it would bring. Even a small good quality generator like one of these:

runs into several hundred, even second hand.

So I started thinking, what would my ideal generator be? after all, if it’s never going to be any more than a wish, I may as well be wishing for the best.

  1. Runs on propane gas. Most or all small generators run on either petrol or two-stroke: Since my car uses diesel, that would mean carrying another type of fuel only for the generator. Whereas I always have a cylinder of propane in the caravan. Petrol engines can be converted to run on propane (and so can two-stroke, although it’s a right fiddle), but the conversion kit alone costs more than I was prepared to pay for the whole thing.
  2. Small enough to be easily transportable: seems obvious but a so-so generator that you’ve got with you is more useful than a brilliant one that you left at home because it’s too big to lug around
  3. Powerful enough to be useful: I don’t expect to be able to power the whole house in the event of an electricity outage, but I want to be able to run power tools and the telly etc.
  4. Quiet enough that the neighbours on the caravan site won’t complain about it – although generally on the kind of sites where I’d run a generator, the neighbours would be running theirs too.

So there’s my wish list: point one puts things beyond what I’m prepared to pay, and points two and three are more or less mutually exclusive, but one can dream!

But then, at a country fair a few weeks back, I spotted one of these: it doesn’t run on gas, but it fitted all the other requirements including price, and really the only reason I didn’t buy it was that I’d have had to carry it around for the rest of the day!

But it started me thinking, and researching on line: I bid for one generator on fleabay but didn’t win it – then the same day spotted another one, cheaper and smaller, and therefore more portable. So now I’m the proud owner of this!

(Better picture coming once I get the chance to point a camera at it in daylight!)

Inspired by the Olympics

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Gosh, another blog-free month :-( The good thing is that it’s mainly down to the fact that I’ve been too busy having fun to write about having fun, rather than anything bad!

Anyway, today marks the end of the Olympic invasion of London, at least as far as commuting days are concerned, so it’s a perfect time to tell you about the genius idea my colleagues and I had. Y’see, Brian, Ricardo and I noticed that in spite of being a huge continent, Antarctica has no representation in the Olympic games. This seems like too good an opportunity to miss, so before Rio 2016 we’re going to register as citizens of Antarctica. Being the only three who qualify, we’re bound to get selected for the team!

We’re a bit worried about events like the 4 x 100, given that there are only three of us: also that we might be expected to turn up for the equestrianism riding polar bears*, but other than that it seems like a plan with no foreseeable drawbacks. And at least we get a month in Rio out of it.

* in spite of the fact that polar bears come from the North Pole, not the South. But I’m relying on the average sports commentator not knowing that.