Ronan Paterson, the lucky e-bulletin subscriber who won our Singapore Arts Festival competition a couple of months ago, is currently packing his bags before he leaves for Singapore this weekend.
While he’s away he’ll be sending through updates about his Festival adventures. Here's his first Blog entry:
Had a small panic this morning when I opened the envelope with the tickets in it. Of course nowadays we all travel on budget airlines without physical tickets, but somehow for long haul I expected some of those old fashioned paper things where they tear off bits as you go. Instead we got itineraries with reference numbers on. I flapped a bit, but She Who Must Be obeyed restored calm by actually READING said pieces of paper. (Why didn’t I think of that?)
It’s all part of the general paranoia that goes with unexpected good fortune. You keep waiting to have someone come up and say “sorry, we’ve changed our minds”. Or worse still, to turn up at the airport to find it was all a hoax, and there is a group of people laughing at you from behind the queue of passengers for Benidorm.
I was minding my own business one day when something popped into my inbox. “Congratulations”. I nearly deleted it. Usually “Congratulations” precedes an e-mail concerning either potential weight loss or anticipated testimonials to the efficacy of herbal Viagra. For some reason I didn’t bin it. I actually read it. I called Herself over.
“Look at this! It says I’ve won a trip to Singapore”
“Oh, yes, right. Honestly, they must think you came down in the last shower of rain. I suppose they just want you to put money into a Nigerian bank account to claim your prize, do they?”
“No, actually, it says I’ve won this competition…”
“That proves it. You didn’t enter a competition!”
“What, you DID enter a competition? What competition?”
“You know when I was buying tickets for the Festival online last year? Well, they had this thing, you know, click here and enter this competition…”
“How many times have I told you? You shouldn’t enter competitions. They’re all just a scam to get your details so they can send you marketing materials you don’t want. Besides, you never win anything anyway. You’re just not the sort of person who ever gets that lucky”
“Now hang on, I did win that prize once in the church hall raffle…”
“That was a tea cup with a bag of PG Tips in it.”
“I had a choice of prizes”
“That or the peach bath salts. Not a trip to Singapore”
Determined to show Her Indoors, I spend the next few days establishing the bona fides of poor, patient Derek, who, rather than the euphoria he might confidently have expected, gets a series of highly suspicious e-mails. It’s too good to be true, surely. Ordinary people don’t actually win prizes like this, do they? Slowly, eventually, it dawns on us. I have actually won. Immediately all my friends and colleagues make a huge fuss of me. Even my children become vaguely civil for a few days. I announce that I am planning to take the Good Lady, not knowing any Bad ones these days. Instantly the goodwill of others disappears, to be replaced by sullen resentment. I half overhear muttered imprecations as I pass along corridors. “Jammy git” is the only one repeatable. Offspring revert to normal behaviour. I don’t care.
The chance to visit Singapore is fantastic on its own. The opportunity to do so during the Arts Festival is unbelievable. Going through the programme is exhilarating. Our main interest is in theatre. “Tadeshi Suzuki’s there! I’ve always wanted to see his stuff” “Wonder what a Chinese production of The Cherry Orchard is like…” “Singapore Slings in the Long Bar at Raffles!” “I don’t see that. Are they a band?” “We’ve never been outside Europe together before. “ “Oh come on. We’ve both been outside Europe several times.” “But not together. Makes it like a second honeymoon…” (Speaker receives one of those looks with which Paddington Bear used to convey intimidating disdain.) “Ah, well, better go and check the passports then…”
I buy some Conrad in a second-hand bookshop and take my linen suit to the cleaners.