15 March 2005

University Challenge - Part 1

Thank you for your patience. I will now attempt to give some form to the events of my weekend. Writing it down might well be of some use to me as well. I will probably add things later, because I am bound to forget many details. like the witness to a crime, recollections will filter back over the fulness of time.
I won't bore you with the journey to Manchester - except that I used one of those prepaid ticket machines - couldn't work it..massive queue of irate passengers behind me...boring boring. Gave up seat to an elderly couple who looked as though they'd die if separated.
It was in my mind to have a few drinks on the train - just to pass the time you understand. My companion and team member Rowley said he wouldn't be drinking until after the show. Summoned all self control and managed to avoid it. Of course, Virgin trains made this quite easy.
The first announcement, warned that any assaults on the staff and abuse would have a dim view taken of it...a curious way to build a customer client relationship. Still, I felt sure I'd be able to control myself. Next announcement informed us that the shop was closed for stock taking until Rugby. The next announcement was that only exact money could be taken. "We can not exchange any high 'demolition' notes". The first announcement began to make more sense. At Stoke, the shop closed altogether for further stocktaking.
Finally arrived at ten - hit the bar - moderately. A few other possible contestants milling about, but nobody spiking our drinks or offering us money to fail. Mostly old duffers covered in chalk.
Perhaps I am going into too much detail here. I'll refrain from discussing the hotel decor, carpets or lack of complimentary toothpaste. Four adult films for £7.99, Bridget Jones does Dallas, or CNN. In bed at a sensible hour.
A light breakfast, as I've heard that overfeeding puts the brain to sleep. Definitely more teams now. Discus intimidation tactics with Tom. Practice drawing finger across throat in 'cut throat' gesture. Only Tom seems scared by this.
Alex James nowhere to be seen. Checked in two days ago, then gone missing.
Phonecalls, messages and staff searches fail to raise him. The receptionist looks genuinely alarmed when I tell her that he is a rock star, so has almost certainly died of a drug overdose up in his room. Probably murdered his wife as well. More staff are sent to his room. Still not there.
We are slightly alarmed by his absence ,as are the University Challenge people. The rule book is consulted, and although this is not covered, they think it is unlikely we can go on as a three.
As my mother is coming to watch, I suggest that she could be on the team - for a while, it looks like a possibility.
Alex finally calls - he's at Manchester airport - returning from an impromptu djing trip to Barcelona - until 6 in the morning. He arrives at the studio looking ridiculously healthy, then starts getting dizzy spells through lack of sleep. Still, The Idler Team has made it...or has it?

Tune in for part 2


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