March 19th, 2006
Categories: Uncategorized

Paperback Writer


There’s a constant struggle in work. Not with the customers, no. Just keeping oneself sane. By and large the people who I work with are all similar age to myself, and have all been through a university education. All of us aren’t planning on staying there long, so we really have a lot in common. Talking to them is not a problem, conversation is easy. But, at times you feel like you’ve exhausted conversation, and look for other ways to amuse yourself.

Myself? I write time wasting letters.

The inspiration came from Blogjam, who – after Terry Venables left the position of England manager – threw his name into the hat. For those of you not in the know on Internation Football, Sven Goran Eriksson, the manager of England, is quitting after this years World Cup.

“Hey”, I thought, “why not apply?”

And it all stemmed from there. Letters sent out to organisations, asking questions that daren’t be asked. Just to see if I get a response.

Last week, I got one back.

The BBC. I feel it’s best if I just post the letter, and then the response I got. Here’s my letter:

I am writing to you regarding one of your longest standing programs: “University Challenge”. Over the past 10 years I have watched it almost every week, and my ability to answer questions has improved. I enjoy the programme, except I have one suggestion to make it more watchable.
Since 1995, with two exceptions, a college from Oxford, Cambridge or London has won the competition. Whilst I understand that some of the nation’s greatest minds do go to these institutions, I feel like people from all Universities and colleges should have their time to shine, instead of Oxbridge constantly dominating the competition.

As such, I propose a solution: “Handicapped University Challenge”.

In this update, each team would have a minimum of 4 players. However, for every 10 places down the Sunday Times University League Table, a player is added to the team. For example, for my former University (The University of Liverpool), we would have an added 4 players on our team (as we are ranked 44th in the country). These players can be any members of the institution. This I feel would make University Challenge a lot fairer, and we would see whether Oxbridge’s domination will continue. Would teams of more players win more games? It didn’t happen in Blockbusters, where statistically the white team consisting of one player competed on more Gold Runs than the blue team (which consisted of two people). Admittedly, the white team only had to get a line of 4 compared to a line of 5 the blue team had to, but that’s beside the point.

I hope you take my ideas into account.

All signed, sealed and delivered to the BBC. Here’s a copy of the letter which I got back:

Thanks to housemate Tom for aiding me with the photo.

A couple of points:

  • Firstly, and this is fairly standard, is the ‘sorry for the delay’ in the reply. I wasn’t even expecting a reply, so the delay is no problem whatsoever. Why do they need to apologise?
  • Secondly, the actually missed the point of the letter. Those of you who are University Challenge fans notice that it’s not only Oxbridge universities who compete, it is in fact all universities. I only made the point that Oxbridge usually win. Maybe she doesn’t watch University Challenge, maybe she can’t read, maybe both.
  • Finally, I want to make the point about pay. Like I did this to expect money? I did because I was bored, and thought it was a good idea. People are so materialistic.

Think I may write back to the beeb to correct them….

Finally, as of today, I still not heard from the FA regarding the job. I wrote to them in the middle of February. I hate to tempt fate, but surely they’re not seriously considering my offer?

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