The Insect Society

In which The Author is glad he went out last week

The last seven days have kept becoming weirder.
I’ve introduced a number of friends to a creative little network in Aberdare. I’ve got in touch with the author of my forthcoming copy-editing project – and his wife is now following me on Twitter. I’ve helped Geoff E. to polish off an essay he’s been working on for ages. I’ve drunk an awful lot of beer, eaten quite a lot, and made plans to catch up with more people over the next few weeks.
I was even exempt from the usual cretinous drugged-up Valleys lowlife that usually comes out on a Thursday. Goddess was clearly feeling kindly disposed towards me last week.
Yesterday I logged into my emails and found one from a company named SRO. I’m on their mailing list purely because they were involved with my audition for the revived TV quiz show Fifteen to One a year or so ago (see ‘The Game’s Afoot‘).
Oddly enough, I’ve been unsubscribing from mailing lists recently, because I’m getting more junk mail online than I do through my front door. The only reason SRO got through is because I haven’t got around to doing them yet.
As things turned out, that was probably just as well.
The email was an invitation from an independent TV company, inviting people to apply to be contestants on a BBC4 quiz show called Hive Minds. It said something like ‘Do you answer the questions on Only Connect and University Challenge? Do you like crosswords and word games?’ Two out of two ain’t bad. I’d never heard of the show – in fact, I thought maybe it was something still in production – but it was probably worth thirty seconds of my time. I filled in my details and submitted them online.
Only about an hour later my phone rang. It came as a bit of a relief, really. I spent ages last week potching with the bloody thing, trying to set up a ringtone. At least now I know it works. (So does everyone else who was in Aberdare Library at the time, but it’s early days yet. I’ll probably find the volume control in another week or so.) It was a London number. For a moment I thought it might have been my contact at Orion Books. Then I wondered whether it was a previously unknown proofreading client, wanting to take advantage of my services. I answered it when I was halfway down the stairs, just to be on the safe side.
The caller turned out to be Bethan, a production assistant on Hive Minds. We chatted for a while before she asked me about a dozen general knowledge questions.
‘I’ll warn you now,’ Bethan said at the outset, ‘they are quite hard.’
‘They can’t be as weird as the questions on Round Britain Quiz,’ I replied, and Bethan laughed. That sounded ominous to begin with (see ‘A Clash of Cultures‘).
Well, I kicked the first one straight between the posts without even having to think about it. It was a question on books, after all. Not just that, but one of the most renowned and influential books of the last two centuries.
That was pretty much the story for the rest of the phone audition. I made a couple of educated guesses, and I know I definitely got one wrong, but Bethan was pretty impressed by my performance. She’d said that, even if I got the answers wrong, an educated guess was better than nothing. (I checked a couple of my hunches later on, and they were right. The job’s a good ‘un.)
Bethan asked me if I knew anyone else who might be interested in taking part. I mentioned a couple of likely suspects, and she asked me to pass her number on to them. The game involves teams of three, so if three friends want to enter together, all the better. She more or less told me on the phone that I’d be invited to the actual audition in Cardiff, and to wait for an email.
Less than an hour later that email arrived. I’ve got to go to Cardiff a fortnight today, to meet some more people involved in the show.
I downloaded a couple of editions to watch last night, and then sent some texts and emails. To judge from the underwhelming response, I’ll be in Cardiff on my own. One of the guys I thought of suffers from quite severe dyslexia, so the game wouldn’t play to his strengths anyway. The other just bottled out immediately, as I’d feared he would. That leaves one more person whom I’m hoping will bite the bullet and make the call.
There’s no guarantee I’ll qualify for the show, of course, but I needed an excuse to go to Cardiff before Xmas. Hive Minds – a show I didn’t even know existed thirty-six hours ago – has just given me that excuse.
See – that’s what can happen when you go out in Aberdare on a Thursday afternoon for just the one. Bizarre, or what?