Monday, 29 July 2013

Lunchtime games

Hello. My name is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

When I arrived at the cafe last Friday I found Gus and Bob engaged in a competitive word game. Each of them was calling out the name in turn of a pop group or band that was either a food or a drink.

Each of them had a list in front of them of the names they had come up with up to that point. Some were familiar to me - The Jam, Cream, Hot Chocolate, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Bucks Fizz. Others were obviously before my time or ones that never made it to Greece - Vanilla Fudge, Half Man Half Biscuit, Prefab Sprout.

Each of the competitors had a supporter - Sian for Bob and Jack for Gus. And when they came up with their next name they didn't just say it but yelled it out loud loud with a whoop and a high -five with their supporter. It was all very noisy and exuberant. Not what you might expect form two guys now both well into their sixties.

Not surprisingly this had attracted a crowd of onlookers who also cheered at each new name.

Richard was there acting as time-keeper and judge. Each competitor had a maximum time of one minute to come up with their next group name. I was told that the loser would be the first of them to fail to respond in time. Richard would also decide if a name was acceptable or not - for example he ruled out Def Leppard on the grounds that even if the spelling had been different humans don't eat leopards! Apparently competitors were able to try these unacceptable names as stalling devices pending Richard's ruling. Richard had with him his mobile phone so that he could check names on the Internet if necessary.

On this occasion it was eventually Gus who was the winner with Bob failing to get a new group name in time. There were cheers all round and then Richard explained to me what it was all about.

After lunch, as happens at the end of term on a Friday or at some other times in the vacation, Gus, Bob and the others go to the pub - the Ship where we go after staff seminars. The loser has to buy the drinks.

In the pub Gus told me that the tradition had originated from a time some years ago where Bob and he were trading names of footballers who had played for England. Other contests followed, initially still with a sporting theme - Test cricketers from around the world, tennis grand slam winners. Then they had moved on to musical topics - record titles containing girls' names, record titles containing place names, records featuring the saxophone. Gus and Bob now relied on Richard to choose the topic so that neither competitor could gain an advantage by preparing answers beforehand.

After a few drinks in the pub Bob remembered a few more suitable group names - but it was too late. I wonder what topic Richard will choose for them next time?

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