Testing times for Portsmouth

Members of Mensa get ready to tackle the pub quiz.
Members of Mensa get ready to tackle the pub quiz.
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

LETTER OF THE DAY: Please tart up our railway stations

Have your say

They may look unassuming, but this bunch of pub quizzers form the most fearsome team in the Portsmouth area.

Made up entirely of local Mensa members, the team takes part every week in the quiz at the Robin Hood in Havant.

But team members say they are not really tough opposition for the other teams and the quiz is more for fun than competition.

Tony Howard, a 53-year-old computer engineer from Hayling Island, says: ‘There’s a picture round which includes pop singers and soap stars. We never do very well at that.’

‘I don’t do it for the prize. I go there for the company and the enjoyment of the quiz,’ adds 57-year-old Jan Turpin, a police administrator from Havant.

‘It’s like all quizzes,’ explains Judith Stapleton, a 62-year-old retired change management consultant from Stubbington.

‘If you know the answer, it’s easy. If you don’t, it’s difficult.’

All three are Mensans with a combined IQ of 458. What they have in common, aside from being in the top two per cent of the population intelligence-wise, is that they all enjoy meeting and socialising with people like themselves – like-minded in terms of the way their brains think, if not necessarily what they think about.

Mensa is a society for people with high IQs. It welcomes people from every walk of life. There are 23,000 members in the UK (aged from two-and-a-half to 103) and 105,000 members in over 40 countries worldwide.

The intelligence quotient, or IQ, is an attempt to measure intelligence. Mensa itself uses the word ‘attempt’ because intelligence means many things to many people.

In Mensa, the attribute of intelligence refers to mental agility, rather than knowledge, wisdom or memory. The average IQ score is 100. Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160.

You can find out your IQ when the Mensa testers come to Portsmouth Central Library tomorrow. The test costs £17.50 and takes a couple of hours. All candidates will be provided with their IQ score and everyone who scores within the top two per cent of the population is invited to join. The test takes place at 9.30am at Portsmouth Central Library, in Guildhall Square, and returns to the same venue at the same time on June 25, September 24 and December 3.

· To reserve a place, book online at mensa.org.uk/mensa-iq-test/, call Helen Oliver on 01902 772 771 (option 1), or email bookatest@mensa.org.uk

Tony Howard

Age: 53

Occupation: Computer engineer

Lives: Hayling Island

IQ: 160

Speciality: Spatial awareness

Tony is married and spent 24 years in the navy before moving into the computer industry.

He first suspected he might have a high IQ because he used to find the daily Mensa puzzles in the Daily Express very easy. He’s been a member of Mensa for 20 years.

Tony is the host of the Tuesday night Mensa meeting at the Robin Hood pub quiz in Havant. He says the team is different every week and once they even had a visiting Mensan from America in their squad.

As the local secretary for Mensa, Tony would love to hear from anyone interested in joining the society or the quiz team.

Tony says: ‘Some people are very academic and some people are not academic at all but they are still very bright and can do complex puzzles. You get such a wide section of people that join Mensa.

‘Like a lot of Mensans, I was an under-achiever at school. I knew the answers in class, but I wouldn’t say them because I thought I was wrong. As it turns out, I wasn’t.

‘I was coming out of the navy when I got into Mensa. If I’d joined sooner, I could have looked up meetings all around the world.’

Jan Turpin

Age: 57

Occupation: Police administrator

Lives: Havant

IQ: 152

Speciality: Spatial awareness

Jan is a grandmother whose interests include painting and reading. She has a degree in psychology from the Open University and joined Mensa 16 years ago and is currently local treasurer.

She became a member of Mensa after her sister suggested she go for the test. She had lived in Australia for 20 years and thought that joining would be a good way of meeting people.

Jan says: ‘One doesn’t like to say that they know they’re intelligent, but I was always quite bright at school, though I didn’t bother with exams. I didn’t need to.

‘My memory is rubbish and I’m no good at cryptic crosswords. Either you have that kind of brain, or you don’t.

‘You don’t always think about things, you just do things.

‘But I don’t care how high my IQ is. I think it’s a bit pretentious to pin it up on a board. I joined Mensa for the camaraderie, to meet people with common interests and for intelligent conversation about the world, universe and current affairs.’

Judith Stapleton

Age: 62

Occupation: Retired change management consultant

Lives: Stubbington

IQ: 146

Speciality: Logic

Local meetings co-ordinator Judith has interests including travel, Moto GP, World Superbikes, country music, craftwork, knitting, sewing and attending church. She has a maths degree and has worked as a teacher as well as roles at the MoD and NHS.

Judith says: ‘A lot of people have told me I’m clever. Half the time you think it’s a bit of palm greasing. I know I’m okay academically, but when I retired, I started to wonder if I did have a high IQ.

‘I did the Mensa thing for a laugh, then I became a member because it’s a gateway to a lot of social things.

‘We have this commonality. Everyone is similar but they all come from different backgrounds. I would advise people to take the test if they suspect they have a high IQ and want to have it confirmed.

‘You don’t have to join if you don’t want to and the test is not awful. It’s quite good fun, actually.’

She adds: ‘It doesn’t matter what your IQ is, it’s how you use your intelligence that’s important.’