Wednesday, 19th September 2018
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Michael Garland bizBoost PR
It’s a mystery!

Ijust love BBC television’s production "University Challenge". I’ve been a fan for many a year. I’m so old, I can remember Bamber Gascoigne presenting it on ITV. (Completely unrelated to that Sassenach footballer from Newcastle.) The latest series is currently running on BBC Two, with Jeremy Paxman, the ex BBC Newsnight inquisitor, in the interrogator’s chair. His hard teak veneer, only very occasionally giving way to uncontrolled bouts of laughter. Often at the expense of the team with a significant, negative points score. I try my very hardest, every week, to answer some of the myriads of questions asked. If the truth be told, I never seem to manage to get any of the starter questions. My wee brain is just not quick enough, sharp enough or expansive enough, for that matter. Anyway, my all time record so far this season, is a mighty 6 correct questions. Pretty pathetic really!

But nevertheless, a score I proudly posted on social media. I was very quickly and rightly trolled. Watching programmes like "University Challenge", you soon realise that there are so many extremely intelligent people out there. Just how do these bright young things, squeeze so much grey matter into their BIG noggins’?

I’d guess none of them are fans of "Big Brother" or "Love Island". Some of the questions being asked by Paxman are just impossible to answer, even if you did have time to cheat and use your smart phone. Yet "Goldman Sachs" from University College Genius, presses his button before the "Starter for 10" question has even been completed! He answers correctly with "Technetium" and his team then get the chance to answer the three bonus questions. Now I have a chance and some time, to at least engage my brain, without the distraction of 8 brain boxes trying to buzz in. Each week, I immediately switch over to BBC Two, when my Sky box reminds me that the programme is about to start. I’m full of enthusiasm and gusto. Hoping that one, just one of the subjects chosen might relate directly to me. Alas, the last two week’s shows have seen me return "Nil points". Clearly, I’ll have to look back at my secondary and third level qualification results, to actually confirm if my grades were in fact correct.

Sometimes, I don’t even understand the questions being barked out by Paxman! There’s no mystery as to why these competition quizzers are so intelligent. They undoubtedly work extremely hard at their study. They’ll be natural learners and probably have an innate ability to retain all that they read and research. Their Universities, it could be argued, unrivalled within the UK. Each furnishing four of their brightest, brainiest, brilliant students, as contestants. This programme is called "University Challenge" for a reason. It is the Victorious University, which is perceived to be the highest seat of leaning. The pinnacle, peak, zenith of further education. It is a place to which you aspire to go to. Learning from the very best, in whichever field you choose to study. Be that English, History, Engineering, Astrophysics and so on.

The opportunities are limitless and the choice of outstanding Universities is extensive – unless of course if you live in Waterford! Last week I took my daughter back to University of Limerick, to complete her fourth and final year. I have no doubt she’ll do extremely well. Achieving good final grades and proceeding, then, to complete a Masters. For the last three years, she has travelled wearily up and down Ireland’s worst trunk route, the N24, to get to her seat of learning.

She, like circa 14,000 others, she loves UL and all that is offers. There’s something about a University Campus that whets your creative juices. It does exactly what is says on the tin and your degree will be so much the better, having attend the "Real Deal!" Just ask Thomas Barr or Mary Lou McDonald or Paul O’Connell. It’s been a mystery to me, since immigrating to Waterford in 2001, as to why we’re willing to accept anything less than a completely bona fide, University status, for this City. Incomprehensible, unfathomable and inconceivable, are just some words that spring to mind.

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