Is it a challenge?

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by Patrick O'Connor

GAIL Trimble is currently the subject of much chatter amongst the chattering classes.

She's the 26 year old classics student who led her Corpus Christi College, Oxford, team to triumph in the final of BBC television's University Challenge quiz (before they were disqualified because one of the team was no longer a student by the time the final was held).


Miss Trimble has become a cult figure for being terribly bright and scoring more points than any of her three team-mates. Bloggers couldn't make up their minds whether she was brilliant or nerdy.  She has been called "smug", "brain-rupturingly irritating" and "an annoying bitch".  But the lads magazine Nuts wanted to do a photo-shoot and the quiz-show's host Jeremy Paxman described her as an "intellectual blitzkrieg."

Many of the 'posh' papers have been debating whether men can cope with women we perceive to be cleverer than us. Are we, as a gender, intimidated by high IQ, especially if it is accompanied by good looks?  In other words, would we be much happier with a WAG or a bimbo?

The media hysteria surrounding Ms Trimble has been astonishing, if only for the fact that they are normally obsessed with the likes of Jade Goody, Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole.   Trimble told one newspaper: "It's the last thing I expected. I've had to become thick-skinned quickly. But it's just a quiz: all I ever wanted to do was to have fun. I try really hard not to come across as too clever."

So far there has been no word from her boyfriend of five years, trainee solicitor Tom West. Probably, quite sensibly, he is keeping a low profile, but if he can't or won't comment on what's it like to have a brainbox as a companion, I'll have to try and fill in the void.

My wife went to university (I didn't) and got a degree. After a successul career in teaching, she switched paths in her early 50s to become an Amatsu therapist.  Amatsu is an ancient Japanese therapy which helps to restore the body's balance. To qualify she had to undergo an intensive training programme which included understanding the complex workings of the human body.  Initially she carried out her studies whilst still teaching, an exhaustive regime for anyone.

She's always got her head stuck in a Suduko puzzle or Brain IQ console and can multi-task to her heart's content whilst I have to concentrate very hard before making the arduous decision over which button to press on the TV remote control.

When we got married, she introduced me to the wonderful world of ballet, opera, Radio 4 and the joys of Florence, whilst I tried in vain to indoctrinate her into the tribal intricacies of football, cowboy films on afternoon TV and the sheer joy of a Sunday morning lie-in which took you beyond midday!

When it comes to watching TV quizzes, she always scores higher than me, unless the subject matter is "Who played the dustman in a 1974 episode of Coronation Street?" or "who scored an own-goal in the League Cup third round tie between Hartlepool and Leeds in 1984?".

And in University Challenge, that most challenging and high-brow of all quizzes, she trounces me.

So what's my reaction to being married to a woman who is cleverer than me?

Dead proud.