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Around The Sun: Quiz Challenge

Steve Harrison recalls the day when his family started to regard him as a brain box.

There I was, young Steve Harrison, a West Yorkshire boy, still reading the Beano comic.

And there was my family, watching the TV show University Challenge, with Mr “Giant Mind’’ Bamber Gascoigne asking the questions.

We were all mental midgets compared to Bamber. We were in awe of him.

But I answered one of the questions correctly. Yes, Beano-reading Steve answered a question which stumped the students of Jesus College, Oxford.

You would think, even after all these years, I would remember the question and my answer, but I don’t. What I do clearly recall is the shocked looks on the faces of my family. They were impressed. I was immediately elevated by my parents and siblings to the rank of Mr Smart.

Now I had a new kind of respect from the members of the Harrison clan. “Ask our Stephen, he’ll know,” they said, only half in joke.

TV quiz shows now have more to do with making a quick buck rather than testing the higher intellect. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is not too taxing on the grey matter. It seems to have more to do with greed than intelligence.

Those University Challenge contestants were not competing for anything so crass as money. They were simply eager to demonstrate that their thirst for, and acquistion of, knowledge.

Though knowledge on its own is not enough. I am reminded of my secondary modern school motto – a motto which I love.

The human mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.


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