Conker that bid
Every October back in my primary school I would become obsessed with playing conkers.
The game of conkers would consist of finding a conker and putting it on a piece of string. You would then find some else that has done the same with their conker and they then take turns hitting each other's conker using their own. One player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player swings their conker and hits. To win you need to break the other person’s conker off the string.
The scoring was simple and uses the ‘er’ scoring system. A new conker which hasn’t smashed any other conkers is called a ‘none-er’. If a ‘none-er’ breaks another ‘none-er’ then it becomes a ‘one-er’, if it was a ‘one-er’ then it becomes a ‘two-er’ etc. The idea was to try and get the highest score and pretty much become the King of the playground.
Each year you would always hear a lot of talk around the playground of best places to find the strongest conkers and methods to improve their durability. Some of the methods were clearly untrue, like the method of if you could get ‘Mad Molly - Odd Socks’ to bless your conker, you would be guaranteed an indestructible winner. But this was blatantly untrue as everybody knew that ‘Mad Molly - Odd Socks’ only spoke in swear words. However in my final year at Primary School I came across three methods which I believed could work. First one was to cover your conker in nail varnish. The second was to soak the conker in vinegar for a week or more. The third was to bake it in the oven (no time duration was ever given).
Obviously I assumed that the best and easiest idea would be to use nail varnish. But upon inspection of my Mum’s nails varnish collection with a clear varnish being absent, I figured the other kids would notice a bright red conker. As I had a big match the next day I didn’t have time to soak the conker in vinegar so my next and final option was to bake it in the oven. However, I had a big issue with this at the time I was not old enough to use the oven. It then occurred to me that I may not be able to use the oven but I was allowed to use the microwave. I’d seen my Mum cook things in there before so surely it would work for a conker. And then I had another bright idea. If I put the conker in a bowl of vinegar I would speed up the process of soaking by putting it in the microwave. Combining two methods would then double the durability of my conker and I would be guaranteed to become King of the playground.
I obtained myself a microwavable plastic bowl (as I was fully aware you can’t just put anything in a microwave), placed my selected fighting conker in the bowl alongside 2 back up conkers and then filled the bowl with vinegar. I very carefully placed the bowl in the microwave and turned it on for 30 minutes (because that was as far as the dial would turn) and left cooking whilst I went through to the living room to watch the TV.
About 10-15 in to creating my master superior conker, I could smell a vile vinegar smell. I went back through to the kitchen and the smell just got worse. I knew straight away it was to do with my conkers. I went straight up to the microwave and opened the door. As I opened the door, I was hit with a stronger wave of stench of the vile vinegar. It was felt similar to the scene from the film Backdraft, where the guy opens the door and get engulfs with flames, but instead of flames I was hit was smell. I then saw that all three conkers had exploded.
I tried cleaning the microwave and aerating the kitchen but I could not get rid of the smell in time for my Mother’s return. My Mum was not best pleased and as a result I was banned from having conkers in the house and I was grounded for a week; but on the plus side we did get a brand new microwave!
To this day I feel my failure of creating a master superior conker was because I tried to rush the process. A mistake which is seen all too often in tender and bid responses which have much higher costs than a new microwave and a kitchen that smells of chestnuts marinated boiled vinegar.
Due to time pressure and constantly changing business commitments many tender responses are left to the last minute. The response is then made up by the bid writer cutting and pasting previous responses laced with the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However every tender is different, and although the question seems to be exactly the same as previous tenders, it doesn’t mean that the specifications, or scoring are going to be the same. The number one reason why winning tenders win is because they address the specification precisely and are focused on maximising scores. When you reuse content from past bids, inevitably what you’re reusing are all the areas that could apply to many contracts – generic information that, while still true, doesn’t fully address the actual specification of the current bid. Frequently we see fantastic answers that unfortunately however do not address the question being asked in the tender.
For further information on responding to Bids and Tenders please visit our Bid Writing page
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