The following article was contributed by Edward Lucas-Smith (1956-63):

One of the many things I learnt from the SGS ACF was that the British Army has a language of its own.   It makes liberal use of a small number of expletives which appear, with no apparent consistency, as verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, pronouns and so on; and yet each profanity is always appropriate.  It has a highly developed syntax which takes us back to the classical roots of language, eg. “Boots black two polished parade marching for the use of”.   But most of all it rejoices in the use of the mnemonic.

There will be a few ex-cadets who might have forgotten GRIT (Group: Range: Indication: Target). DoCOF  (Down: Crawl: Observe: Fire) may also have eluded memory.  I hope that my personal favourite SMEACQ (Situation: Mission: Execution: Administration and Logistics: Command and Signals: Questions) remains fixed in the mind.   But jankers for any cadet who has forgotten KOYLI! (see end of article if you have – Ed.)

The last parade of the autumn term was always the cadets’ Christmas party.  Held in the hall  (shirt-sleeved order, soft shoes, black and polished), it took the form of a series of inter-section games and competitions.  Sections were awarded points which were marked, as in “Carry On Sergeant”, on a matrix on a board by the Senior NCO.  After tea (not the “tea meal”, which in Army parlance is something completely different), which comprised sandwiches, buns, chocolate fingers, chocolate mini-Swiss rolls and squash, we all settled down to what Major Wharmbyreferred to as “Jim’s Old Quiz”.

The Quiz today is ubiquitous but back then it was limited to “What’s My Line”, “Top of the Form” and “The Cabbage Quiz” on Crackerjack (everyone shout “Crackerjack!”).  I loved Jim’s Old Quiz.  It covered, as one might expect, history (which he taught – Ed.), politics,  and military matters.  Questions varied year on year except for the one ever-present: “What is the meaning of KOYLI?”

It is well documented and publicised that my first career on leaving education was cleaning floors. It came to an abrupt end over a minor legal matter and I moved on, after a trip on a trawler and a few months working in factories, to my second career, a proper job in a big company in the then growing IT Industry.  I spent 20+ years doing the corporate stuff with occasional promotions and, curiously, found myself using quizzes as a management tool.  This career came to an equally abrupt end when I failed to realize that my bosses’ boss (big company) was “protecting” my worst performing sales person, who did not appreciate my approach to her work.

For the next step in my career I invested in a franchise, which I ran for some 13 roller-coaster years; and again, I was drawn to quiz when I was asked by the mighty Xerox to put together a quiz for a Sales training project.  Finally, my career ambitions turned to temping at Richmond Council, at Budweiser Brewery (where I ran their Christmas quiz) and at a local charity.

Retirement. Pension. Oh, the joy!  Oh, the peace and quiet!  Oh no – it was not to be.  My son had decided to “go it alone” and, against expectations, as anyone who knows him would say, was running a couple of pub quizzes in Twickenham.  He asked me to help him.  We now run 80+ quizzes a week throughout London, employing 50 or so people in the gig economy.  We have even reached as far as Slough, where we run a Thursday evening quiz in the “Long Barn” in Cippenham Lane (attended occasionally by some Old Paludians from Twinches Lane).  So it has come full circle.  There is no escape from the Quiz.

And KOYLI?  Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry – as Nigel Molesworth would say, “Any fule kno that!”.

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