“That was the voice of Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon”, quizmaster for English PEN’s Media-Biz Quiz, John Humphrys, quipped following the voice of Allen Ginsberg reciting his savage commentary on American values, ‘America’, during the music round. His joke and the audience’s boisterous response were indicative of the evening’s general atmosphere – one of ferocious competition and lively, contentious, debate.
“Blood on the carpet” was what the host wanted and at certain points it looked like it was what he might get. However, he kept the chattering audience of journalists, writers and publishers, including Peter Bazalgette, Sebastian Faulks, and Vikram Seth, under check. Finally the Quiz Committee could relax after months of prepa
ration – sending out invitations, cajoling people into coming, gathering prizes and sponsorship and much, much more.
As the final scores were being totted up, Stephen Fry stepped up onto the rostrum to draw the evening’s raffle. “What bastard questions ” he muttered to the audience’s approval before announcing the winners. Whilst most believed Susie Boyt from Charles Russell stole the show, taking away three of the raffle prizes, it transpired she had collected the most covetable prize of two Virgin tickets to the Big Apple on behalf of someone else!
John Walsh in conversation
Among the teams vying for top, or at least respectable, place on the results board were The Agile Agents, The Biographer’s Club,
Foyled Again, Times Thunderers and Mailstrom. As the tension mounted the scorers totted up team’s points whilst the contestants steadied nerves by topping up their glasses before the results were finally announced. It seems the Times Thunderers had come armed with a secret weapon in order to knock the reigning champions, The Sunday Telegraph, off their perch. Olav Bjortomt was his name, a 25-year-old graduate trainee at the paper, whose broad range of knowledge led the team to a comfortable victory by six clear points. This didn’t help the whisperings abroad which ensued in the bar afterwards but all participants thankfully remained, at least outwardly, gracious in defeat. To see the full list of scores, click here – Final Scores – 2004 Media-Biz Quiz .
Blake Morrison with Jan Dalley of the FT
English PEN certainly did not go home empty-handed and we are delighted to have raised over £22,000, a considerable amount that will make a real contribution to our work promoting literature, literacy and freedom of speech. There are too many people to thank individually here but some must not go without a mention! Special thanks then to the PEN Quiz Committee, the scoring team, the staff at The Savoy, all the wonderful sponsors and companies who kindly donated prizes, wine and drink, everyone who attended, and last but certainly not least, Stephen Fry for attending to the raffle and John Humphrys, our magnificent and eloquent Quizmaster.
See you next year!
Report by Louise Curran
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/englishpenmediabizquiz04/
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