Susan Morrison: Odd man out in rogues’ gallery

Tommy Sheppard will never match the Tory shenanigans of John Profumo, Jonathan Aiken or Jeffrey Archer.
Tommy Sheppard will never match the Tory shenanigans of John Profumo, Jonathan Aiken or Jeffrey Archer.
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MY gran always said that you always got great scandals when the Tories were in power. Labour only got middling ones like people running off with their secretaries after faking their own suicides. Looking at you, John Stonehouse.

Yer Tory, on the other hand, could usually be counted on to generate the sort of political scandal storm that would unleash a tsunami of newsprint and keep the News of the World presses running for weeks. This was all, of course, before the NOTW actually became the scandal.

If you wanted a good lipsmacking Sunday morning read you needed outdoor swimming pools, high class naughty ladies and the reek of the establishment at sordid play, you needed John Profumo, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken, which sounds like the dinner party from hell.

How was I to know that one day I would be in the epicentre of a potential political firestorm that threatened to shake the very foundations of the nation and engulf an entire pub quiz team?

It all started innocently enough. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

The Southside Social pub was taking part The Biggest Pub Quiz In The World record attempt, and raising money for charity at the same time.

We at The Stand Comedy Club thought we’d get up a team.

The ragtags and bobtails of The Stand include a fair number of people with dustbins for brains, full of information generally junked by other people, so we felt we stood a chance of at least coming in second place.

The idea was that we would sidle in without the quizmaster actually spotting us. We had our reasons for this. Well, one reason, to be exact. The quizmaster for the evening was the sitting MP, one Thomas Sheppard, who, before he made off to that there London, was the co-founder of The Stand Comedy Club. Naturally we didn’t want to embarrass our former pater familias.

That plan failed the second we walked through the door. The Southside Social is compact and bijou. We were plonked front and centre, like the naughty kids in class. To be honest, that just about sums us up.

We, in all innocence, were on the verge of almost triggering a political scandal on a scale that could have rivalled Watergate. Nearly. Well, sort of. It started innocently enough, as I imagine a wild night with the Profumos might have begun. The first round went well, although some of the youngsters were confused about the question regarding Churchill’s birthplace. It took me a few minutes to point out that they weren’t referring to the dog that advertises insurance.

Rounds two and three saw us really hit our stride. The half-time scores put us in pole position at some distance from the rest of the pack. This was turning into a walkover.

Our MP quizmaster read out the scores at half-time. We were in the lead. The prize, Tommy announced, was a set of tickets, to The Stand Comedy Club. Panic broke out in our ranks. When I say panic, I mean wild hysteria. We didn’t want to win tickets to our workplace. Worse, we couldn’t win tickets for our workplace. What sort of political shenanigans would our MP be blamed for? We were on the horns of a dilemma.

We had no option. There were only two rounds left. There was one final, tainted choice. We were going to have to throw the championship. We were going to have to take a tumble in the fourth round.

This proved harder than you’d think. Not answering questions correctly is clearly an art, especially when one team member just could not bring herself to give fake answers. That would be me. You have no idea how competitive I can get when it comes to quizzes. Another glass of chardonnay put paid to enough brain cells to curb the competitive edge.

We still won. We gave the tickets to the runners-up.

You have to marvel at those politicos

Tommy’s career is safe. He seems to be quite enjoying this political lark. To be honest, there are times when I think he just swapped working with one load of clowns for another.

It was a politics-heavy week all round. I was giving the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies at a Burns Supper. The Immortal Memory was beautifully invoked by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. Now there’s a job title that positively smacks of Marvel Super Hero comics. To be fair, anyone who has to look at George Osborne every day has to be a man of steel.

Malcolm Chisholm toasted the lassies. He may be retiring, but like an old time Western sheriff, I suspect we won’t have seen the last of him. For one thing, he’s got the Doggie Mess Posse firmly in his sights. He’s a man with a mission, that Chisholm.