There are many great mysteries in life. Why do boilers only break down at the coldest time of the year? Why did it take some racist comments before people realised Jade Goody was an intolerable witch? Why do people who play music on a crowded train have the worst taste? Just when exactly is Jimmy Savile going to die? And for us men, what do women keep in their handbags?
Most men know better than to ever invade a woman’s leather inner sanctum but, despite this, I’m pretty sure that amongst the myriad of bizarre items that they cannot leave the house without, a balaclava, dog biscuits, Rawl plugs, false teeth and rubber bands are not amongst them.
However, these items were some of the answers listed by ITV’s Quizmania when they asked viewers to call in and name 13 things you would find in a woman’s handbag. I don’t know which woman they had in mind but it suggests a dog-loving, ninja OAP with a talent for DIY.
I’d never watched these late night quiz shows, given that I regard them as the preserve of drunken idiots, but over Christmas while flicking through the channels in the early hours, I stumbled across Five’s offering. Seeing anything on Five is always a bit of a surprise as it just does not register on my TV radar mostly because, let’s face it, it’s a bit rubbish.
Their late night quiz was no exception but it was strangely compelling, especially after one too many nightcaps. The presenters looked like rejects from an ‘80’s US soap with grins and tans from the planet Perma. The camera work was straight out of a bad porn film, all Vaseline lens and gratuitous close-ups, as the presenters would play with their hair, stare into the camera in what would be a seductive manner bar the fact that they appeared slightly cross-eyed and whisper, nay implore, the viewers to phone in with the answers in the kind of voice you pay premium phone rates to hear.
Then there were the questions. Or rather question, as one would seem to be enough to last for hours without someone finding the correct answer. Prize money would go up and down throughout the night and soon I was screaming at the TV in frustration as the same wrong answers were repeated over and over as more and more drunken idiots phoned in.
One question seemed innocent and simple enough. It showed a picture of a jumble of notes ranging from £1 to £50 and asked the simple question ‘How many £’s?’ Now did they mean the total monetary value? Did they mean how many £ symbols were visible or even how many £ symbols were on the notes in total? Should the £1 notes be discarded as they are no longer legal currency? It was incredibly confusing and despite working out every permutation, each one was given as an answer and proven to be wrong. Sleep came before an answer was revealed.
So for several nights, well, early mornings, I found myself tuning in, hooked by the surreality of it all. It was like a dirty secret, an addiction to hide. Until the night I drunkenly introduced Jon to the show. At first he was sceptical but, as with me, the show slowly reeled him in and soon we were arguing over the question.
Appropriately enough it was some maths problem involving monkeys and between the two of us, after several wrong attempts, we were absolutely positive that we had the right answer. Next thing we knew, Jon was trying to phone in, convinced we were about to win £20k. Of course, despite several calls and a small fortune in premium rates we never got through nor discovered if we had the right answer.
As I said, these things are the preserve of drunken idiots.