I never open boring letters. Anything vaguely official, even if it says Personal, I leave to Husband to open. So when he opened one today and said, 'You've won,' I said, 'What? Does it involve chocolate?'
(I'd just come back from Sainsburys where I'd spent a good two minutes, standing in front of the Cadburys Fingers offer of 2 boxes for £2, arguing with myself. [I lost and bought Ryvita instead.])
'No,' Husband said, 'money.' He said it was from a building society and I'd won a prize in their monthly draw. 'There are three prizes of £100,000, a hundred prizes of £1,000 and a thousand prizes of £100.'
'And what about the small print?' I said. I've been caught out like this before. You know the sort of thing. A supermarket gives you a scratch card, you scratch it and find you're definitely a winner. 'You may have won an all expenses luxury holiday for four in the Bahamas or a 100" television or a Fiat Panda (in very small print) or a £1 off money saving voucher for your next shop.' No prizes for guessing what scratching my card always reveals. (Ooh, that sounds rude! Ooh, I sound like Miranda!)
I read the letter and there didn't seem to be any small print so Husband, who was keen to find out what I'd won suggested we go straightaway to the building society and request to see the manager, as instructed by the letter.
On the way there we both tried to convince each other that we wouldn't be disappointed with £100 while secretly thinking, surely if it's just £100 they'd simply pay it into my account rather than make us go through this procedure.
This secret thinking was further encouraged when the nice young man at the building society said he'd get the manager for us as soon as possible. At which point I realised that at any moment I could meeting the woman who'd phoned me when I'd complained about the anti-homeless spikes outside their offices. But whether she recognised my name and refused to see me or whether she really was busy, we were passed on to the Business Manager and shown into an office, which looked rather like a prison cell albeit an upmarket one, which was a good thing, I think, as it meant they were spending more on their customers than on foolish fripperies.
Then began the checking procedures: checking I was who I claimed to be, checking I was in the country at the time of the draw, checking my blood type (no, not really but they were very thorough) before the Business Manager was finally satisfied and put a call through to the Prize Draw office. And it all began again.
All this checking was serving to convince me that I must have won at least £1,000 and more likely £100,000. My mind drifted between what to do with the money - give lots to the children but keeping enough for a luxury 4 week holiday in Malaysia - how I would react when given the news - a dignified gasp or squeaky jumping up and down (and we all know which is more likely) - and whether the parting on the side of the Manager's hair was really a parting or one of those shaved line things.
At last he looked up at me and said, 'It's £100.'
'Oh, thank you.'
More checking, signing, and authorising until we were able to leave approximately half an hour after we'd entered.
Outside I said, 'So I've won £100.'
'Let's go and have a cup of tea to celebrate,' Husband said.
'Our parking will be up soon,' I said. 'Let's go to Verdi's for ice cream instead!'
So we blew a whole 5% of my winnings on ice cream. And very nice it was too. But now I have to think carefully about what to do with the rest ...
No begging letters please.