Saturday, 31 March 2007

Watch Out, Watch Out! Big Lady's About!

Well, I’m back. Can smugly announce that the Chocolate Tombola was the hit number in the show. Raised £70 (sharp intake of breath) to be added to the Brownie pot for more life-improving, character-building experiences for my daughter and her little canary-yellow-and-shit-brown mates (who chose THAT for a uniform?). The good folk of the town were actually a) queuing to get in and b) queuing for the choccie stall. It was almost obscene, this rush for sugary indulgence – or, if nothing else, the chance to pick up a few cheap eggs for the grandchildren. There was one lady, rather oversized in a pink shirt and black tracksuit and unhealthy grey complexion, who handed over two quid, picked 10 tickets and won five of them! I gushingly congratulated her but was seething that my poor little daughter had just handed over her pocket money and got…well, as ever, precisely nothing (she’s not born under the lucky star poor thing, like her father who won’t even play snap because he always gets a bum deal). I pressed another pound into E’s hand and told her to have another go. Meanwhile the Big Lady’s back, sticking her hand into the tombola box, pulling out another five tickets and opening them with pursed lips and hard eyes. She’d gone and done it again – another three winners! I handed over some more particularly-large-eggs-which-were-meant-for-the-children, rather less gushingly this time, at which point she asked for a carrier bag to put them all in. I hand one over, teeth clenched. More punters, more wins, the large eggs are going fast and furiously. I press another pound into E’s hand. Out of the corner of my eye I see the Big Lady back in the queue, looking determined. I quickly tell E to, hurry, pull out your tickets. Hurrah! A winner! At last! We search quickly along the length of the trestle and….’Oh, you don’t like mint chocolates, do you E?’ She looks up at me, the shimmer of excitement in her pale blue eyes suddenly a little dimmed, and shakes her golden head. Now it’s Big Lady’s turn again. Purchases another load of tickets. Wins again. My God, she’s sweeping the board! I have to say, it was staggering. Next thing I know her mate with the scarlet fleece and burgundy hair is pushing in, shoving more winning numbers at me. I splutter, ‘What’s going on?? How on earth do you keep doing it?’ She throws a nod back to Big Friend and says ‘It’s her’. Tell me about it! Wouldn’t want to be up against ‘Her’ in a Las Vegas casino, I can tell you.

Husband arrives late, crabby (he hates things like this, can’t blame him) with other daughters in tow. I encourage them to have a go while there’s still a few things left. G is the lucky one, takes after her father’s brother. Five tickets, one win. Oh God, it’s more chocolate mints. Worse – it’s the ones I donated. One go left for L. Bless the little creature, opening her tickets, malteser eyes, all expectant. A winner! Search with high expectation …Oh surely not, this is getting ridiculous…After Eights! That will be more chocolate mints then…

Meanwhile my team mate is battling to find change in 20ps for a £20 note proffered eagerly by a tall thin guy who’s clearly high as a kite. Obviously got the munchies, saw the sign for the sale as he was walking past and thought he’d pop in on the off chance. Wow! Chocolate stall – scored or what! Sure enough even he walks off with a couple of lovely big Chocolate Button eggs tucked under his arm. There’s no justice I say. Big Lady’s still hovering. I studiously ignore her and encourage the little people to come and have a go, not that there’s much left to get excited about. Unless you like chocolate mints.

So that was it. The Chocolate Tombola was all over in half an hour. Job done! Felt for some poor girl who peered at the sign hanging limply off the empty table cloth and asked for a go. She clearly hadn’t quite spotted that there was actually nothing left to be had. Confusing, I know, when the sale’s only been on half an hour. Still, that’s the way it goes. Plenty of other old crap to be purchased. What do you mean you don’t want a set of cracked dead granny’s tea cups, or how about that chewed up old dog’s toy, or maybe the really nice maroon and pink scarf specially knitted by granny before she died? There’s always the lucky dip. G tried that and managed to pick out the nasty plastic bracelet I’d donated from Tesco. Still, she was happy.

E tried the jam jar stall and successfully managed not to win all the lovely looking ones filled with chocolate eggs and other goodies and got one filled with…bird seed. Her eyes did that dimming thing again. G had a go and won the one jar I’d joked with my friend (donated by my friend) that I said I didn’t want, full of those useless cheap hair thingys which you buy in packets of thousands at the pound shop and which don’t do the one thing they’re meant to which is tie hair: two twists is not enough, three twists and your finger’s irrevocably stuck and bloodless. You get what you pay for. Still they’re good on swimming days when anything decent just gets bleached to buggery.

L spent the whole afternoon in tears for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with until I finally succumbed to purchasing a giant Barbie head (as if a surfeit of the small ones aren’t bad enough) which you can have hours of fun with - brushing her hair, painting her nails, doing her make-up. (The only reason I weakened was because I’d had something similar as a child and had learnt all I know about applying make-up on this thing – I know, I know, it shows…) It even came complete with broken box and, no doubt, missing parts. N was apoplectic at the sight of it and the increasingly teetering pile of plastic and furry things that were edging their way towards our house. He stormed off to the driving range to take his fury out on a large number of small round balls. I felt briefly relieved without the pressure of his glare until my own panic rose as Tawny Owl announced that all Brownies could now go and help themselves for FREE to the things still left on the toy stall. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to resist a final rummage…and so the pile grew. Let me tell you the grand total of our haul:-

- 1 giant Barbie head
- 3 normal size Barbies
- 1 bag of clothes to dress the Barbies
- 1 action man (to keep the Barbies happy)
- 1 pink and purple ‘Friends for Ever’ pull along suitcase
- 11 books
- 1 Mrs TiggyWinkle video
- 2 stupid plastic games (someone swiped Mousetrap from under my nose)
- 5 cuddly toys
- 1 bike (not bad for a fiver)
- 1 battery operated keyboard
- 1 musical merry-go-round
- 6 jam jars (full of rubbish)
- 6 plants (cowslip, scabiosa, alpines, hellebore – nice)
- 2 bags of cheap sweets
- 3 boxes of mint chocolates
- 1 Yorkie Easter Egg
- 1 bag small Cadbury’s eggs (yum)
- 1 slab cheap chocolate (yuk)
- 1 egg cup hand painted by E
- 1 jar ready mix cookie ingredients (just add soft margarine. And bake, of course) complete with handy wooden spoon attached

Not a bad afternoon’s work. Shame about the divorce.
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