The Ultimate News Quiz is an annual event, where teams/tables from across broadcast news organisations compete in aid of Action for Children. The room was jammed with many big names from TV and radio news – Andrew Marr, Adam Boulton, Emily Maitlis and others like Martha Lane Fox, Rory Bremner and more.
My agent had put a team together including me, Mrs MSE, Angela Rippon, Judi James, Dani Sinha and more. As I’m a tad competitive I was charged with being captain and marshalling the troops. Yet it was a relatively forlorn hope, Dani was our only current newscaster, other teams were jammed with people active in producing and reading news.
When quizmaster Alastair Stewart asked questions like: "Who alleged Dominique Strauss-Kahn assaulted her in a hotel room in New York?", or "What was the name of the man whose death started the Tunisian uprising?" – people who’d covered the story, or learned to pronounce it – had a big advantage.
Anyway, we ended up 18th out of 25, though it actually felt like a victory as we’d been bottom for much of the contest, but clawed our way up by playing our joker on the best round.
Towards the end, as the table next to us, CNN, were winning, I made a wee joke of deciding to defect (one of the ladies on that team had already declared herself to me as a MoneySaver – so there had already been some cross-table banter) to savour their victory.
So, spotting an empty seat on their table I said "I want to join YOU." I was met with a raft of rather taken-aback stares, as if I’d said something truly shocking.
Then it dawned on me. While I was just there for a fun night out, for many people whose day job is working in a newsroom, this was a networking event.
To sidle across and say "I want to join you" is effectively like shrieking out "give me a job" – not exactly subtle. (And while CNN’s great, working there certainly isn’t me.) I felt my insides eating me up, and with a blush I quickly tried to rectify the situation with "this isn’t an audition, I just want to be on the winning team".