THERE WERE MANY QUESTIONS running through my mind as we sat down together in a Melbourne cafe. Here was a man whose name became famous for his knowledge. Few had ever won as much in Radio and TV Quiz Sessions in Australia as he.Prizes to the value of £12,500 had been won over the past eighteen months, and before him was yet another series of quiz programmes that would increase the amount. Here was THE MAN WITH THE ANSWERS – none other than Barry Jones – Australia’s King of Quiz.
Twenty-nine years of age, with bushy hair and round open face, Barry is a teacher at the Dandenong High School. He is also the Superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School, Caulfield, which he has attended for the past twenty-three years.
Among the first questions I asked was: “How did you come to find your way on to the Quiz programme?”
“Well, whilst my case is not a typical one, I almost had to conduct an organized campaign. I must have written about twenty letters asking to be given an opportunity on the programme. I’ve often teased Bob Dyer since about how difficult it was.”
“What would you consider one of the greatest contributing factors to your success?” I inquired.
“You see I am an avid reader, and have a curiosity that causes me to delve into things. I’m not satisfied with a mere answer to a question. I want to know the background of things.”
“Have you ever won anything by way of cigarettes or alcohol in a quiz?”
“No, the nearest I have ever come to that is a cocktail cabinet. Of course, they can be used for other than intoxicating drinks. It so happens I gave this to a friend who is a total abstainer.”
LIQUOR A CRUTCH
“What is your objection to alcohol?”
“My main objection is ethical – what it does to life. I have never met any man who has suffered because he is a total abstainer. However, on the other hand, there are many evidences that those who do not abstain suffer both physically and mentally, as well as affecting the lives of others in the home and the community.”
“We would certainly think a person foolish who used a crutch when he didn’t need it. Of course if he continued to do this until he found he couldn’t walk without it, it would be even more foolish. To numbers of people alcohol is just like the crutch.”
Barry suggest that every individual, and especially young people, should work out a balance sheet with the arguments for and against. They should list costs, effects, and everything, in the sheet. “The position for total abstinence has nothing to fear from such an approach.” He firmly declared.
TOTAL VIEW OF LIFE
I was amused as he told how Cyril Connolly, the English literary critic, had written an article in which he depicts the Vegetable Conspiracy. In this the Vegetable Kingdom decided to take over the world from mankind. As a spearhead to the attack, wheat, barley, and other grains are made into alcohol, poppies produce opium, and tobacco is introduced. The attack is made, and is, unbeknown to man, very successful. To use Barry’s words, “Man doesn’t realize that they are in control.”
“There are four fatal words,” said Barry, and they are, “IT WON’T AFFECT ME.”
“Just look at the degree of unhappiness, the road toll, the misery, and the effect on one’s social personality,” he declared.
“I believe that laws should be passed requiring that the word ‘POISON’ be printed on every bottle of alcohol and every packet of cigarettes.”
Reprinted from Alert – The Magazine Of The Australasian Temperance Society, May 1962
Interview by Les Coombe