My family loves acquiring ‘useless’ information, random facts that will probably never have any practical application in our lives. For example, did you know that crows hold funerals?
OK, I’ll admit, occasionally they do come in useful. In my work I come across a number of people who cry but feel guilty about ‘showing such weakness’. So it’s been a reassurance to gently point out that tears lower blood pressure and not weakness at all.
But the most frequent use for our family repository of random facts is quizzes.
You’ll regularly find us gathered together around the TV, watching The Chase or Only Connect or University Challenge, shouting out the answers as if we are part of the show. Or, almost every month, for over a decade, we’ll be huddled around a table at our local football club’s quiz night, exchanging banter with the MC, delighting or despairing over our score, and joining in with enthusiasm with the halftime meat raffle even though half of us are vegan or vegetarian!
My beloved and I went to the first of these quiz nights, a fundraiser for the club, with friends. Then, unable to find babysitters, we took our children along to another occasion, who enjoyed it so much we didn’t bother with babysitters after that. Another friend joined us, who then brought his sons. And then we noticed other whole families coming – it seemed we had started a trend.
Over the years, we’ve been joined by colleagues, our sons’ friends, girlfriend, my dad (not even Alzheimer’s could prevent his enjoyment), and even once by one of my patients turning up out of the blue! Our boys form their own teams now. It’s become such an integral part of their lives that our eldest has celebrated two birthdays there – I won’t forget having to make an 18th birthday cake large enough to feed the entire Quiz Night audience of over 60 people!
All those random facts binding a team, a community together, delighting in the range of experience, age, interests and skills that make for a great team resource. All those differences proving a strength when brought together for one common goal. All those useless pieces of information gathered together and finding a purpose for their existence.
There’s a metaphor here for how a family, a church, a community should be. Knowledge is power, it’s said, but how much more glorious if it’s also collaborative and fun!
(* In case you don’t know, this is one of the catchphrases from the ‘fiendishly difficult’ BBC show Only Connect. It’s great and somewhat addictive! Find out more here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lskhg )