There are many non-human loves of my life. Indulge me as I trot out a few. I love reading – I get a feeling of true loss if I discover that I am book-less on a journey, no matter how short. I adore pub quizzes - I especially love the feeling of pride that washes over me when I get an obscure or otherwise curious question right. And, as has been well documented on this here blog, I venerate telly. V-E-N-E-R-A-T-E it. Combine this triptych l’amour, and what does this tell you? I love University Challenge, that’s what.
From the oddly addictive theme tune (we’re all fans of the double bass in the YG household), to the kinda cheap-looking trophy, I love it. I love the suave, superior sneering of Jeremy Paxman. I love Roger Tilling’s voice, which starts off sedately, announcing the contestants’ names and institution calmly, before the excitement of the final moments take their toll and he’s all but screaming them. I love the team mascots; the bespectacled bears, the carousing kangaroos, the blinking moles. I love the weird and wonderful students who make up the university teams – testament to high IQ scores, maladjustment in ‘normal’ school and the iron will of the hovering helicopter parent. I love the awkward waves goodbye at the end, the completely-at-odds-with-previous-behaviour whooping celebrations after a tough starter question and I love the utterly ridiculous (right and wrong) answers that the contestants give sometimes.
I love shouting the answers at the screen in exasperation when the students linger, flapping uselessly. I revel in the feeling of surprised pleasure when a question I know the answer to comes up, and the equally thrilling rush of guessing an answer correctly. I love throwing my hands up in the air when faced with an impenetrable equation, musical mystery or philosophy conundrum, and giving my default silly answer, stolen from my lovely friend and housemate J: “Was it George Best in 1966?”
It was a childhood dream to appear on UC. Then I grew up and went to Bournemouth University; fabulous media school in which to learn a journalistic trade, less hot on the whole Quizzy Queens and Kings thing. Now, I play along at home with my housemates and to my heart’s content. Such is the allure of UC, I have banned the gym on Monday nights. That’s right; because of Jeremy Paxman, my abs may never fulfill their true potential. It’s okay, though. I have a photo of them from when I was 16 and they were rock hard. I know how to prioritise, bishes!
So there you have it. Nothing will ever diminish my tendre for University Challenge. Not the knowledge that Mr Paxman’s M&S pants don’t “provide adequate support”, causing “widespread gusset anxiety”. Not the fact that JP insists on pronouncing Don Juan as “Don Jew-ann” and Don Quixote as “Don Quicks-Ottie”. Not even the fact that I get, on average, only 35 per cent of the answers correct.
*Wanders off, humming UC theme tune under breath*