He sat there and gazed at the scoreboard
Things hadn’t been going so great
The moment he’d taken the champion’s chair
He’d got himself into a state.
Yesterday’d been a whole different story
In the challengers seat next to Nick
He had felt like his answers jumped right off the board
His words long, his sums right and quick.
The conundrum? It hadn’t been crucial
Yet the moment the thing was revealed
He’d buzzed and in under a second
For ten extra points got ‘congealed’.
After the credits stopped rolling
in the green room he’d been to decamp
where he heard a few folk from production
mutter – under their breath – “octochamp”.
But today all that promise was broken,
Some kid – barely out of short trousers
Was fifteen points up by the end of part two
Having played ‘axolotl’ and ‘browsers’.
So he knew that he needed to man up
To focus, zone in, get a grip!
To forget what had happened thus far in the game
To hunker down, centre, let rip!
He could feel his lungs rising and falling
The blood to his temples was jumping
As the corival picked his nine letters
His dander was up, his heart thumping.
He wrote down the letter selection
Saw some fours, then a five – then an eight!
And then – no! He couldn’t believe it!
It can’t be… yes, is it? No, wait…
And just as he started to check it
the half minute music went “boo”!
Should he play the safe eight or just chance it?
Oh, what was a poor boy to do?
In the stress of it all he was drowning
His opponent, when asked, declared “Eight.”
And our champion thought “Now or never!
Be Brave! Go for Gold! Vanquish fate!”
Then everything went in slow motion
So he took a deep breath – and again
And when Nick asked him what he was playing
He said “Well, Nick, I think it’s a ten.”
(And a massive thanks to Rachel Riley’s Dad who said some very lovely things about me to his girl genius)
(Oh, and a massive thanks to the very many of you who have been so kind about my tenure in DC. Loved it.)