Predictability in all things is my idea of heaven, starting with my wife Helen obviously, and closely followed by a cup of tea enjoyed while watching the sun rise above the horizon, given that the hour of its appearance is not unsociable. I am recently retired, having spent my working years in pleasing obscurity as what we used to call, a “Bought Ledger clerk” and later as head of that department.
I grow tulips for a hobby, and exhibit them each year at the local agricultural show, failing to win any prizes on an annual basis but allowing my dear wife to help with supplying and serving afternoon tea: an area of expertise at which she excels as my figure will attest.
That’s me pretty much dealt with, and you can extrapolate from that almost anything you want about my life including always going to the same English resort for our annual holiday, and wearing my favourite sweater as often as possible.
Every life needs a bit of variation and mine comes in the shape of Ronnie, my brother in law and old school friend. He has always been a favoured habitué of the local pub, whenever funds allowed it, and good-hearted to a fault though wisdom often eludes him. His wife Carol was Helen’s sister and, through thick and quite a lot of thin, she has stuck by his side with a display of character and pride which is not always a pleasure to witness. The unkind among us might say “To make a mistake is one thing but to admit it quite another” and a number of people spend their life chewing over that particular insight don’t you find?
Carol was the elder sister, and the fact that her younger sister lived in greater comfort and stability was a source of irritation to her I suspect; but we all know those undercurrents which flow between siblings do we not? In any social situation Ronnie was the shining light and I his largely mute companion, or so it had been in our youth; so ironically, when we met the sisters at a party it was Carol who made a bee- line for the “Star of the hour” while myself and Helen, as registered side-kicks, consoled each other for the evening and then our entire lives, and lovely it has been. I must admit that Ronnie’s presences at our Sunday lunches, or Uncle Ronnie as he is known to our kids, is not a highlight of her day
Anyway, getting to the point without further delay, Ronnie, in a last and desperate chat with the fates, purchased a lottery ticket and karma being what it is, found himself on the right side of £23 million pounds by the following morning. He rang me, of course, after he’s spoken to the claims people, confirming he was happy to go public. He thrives on attention so was more than happy to be asked to stand with some half-dressed celebrity while holding an outsized cheque. I’d suggested privacy might be the wiser option but, as always when he was excited, my advice had been brushed aside in his customary manner.
Dust settled and he was looking to buy himself a decent runabout for no more than £100,000 and a house in the smarter part of town, but near enough to our local to “Spread the cheer” and boast to one and all about his good fortune. His doorbell rang quite often as charities sought his support, or the local paper requested an update on his spending plans, and he had lots of those as you can imagine: all good and cheerful and best of luck to him.
About a fortnight after his win, while I was round his house listening to him lording it over the fates, the doorbell rang again and when he answered it there was a young man on the steps who looked remarkably like him, together with a reporter from the local paper. “I’m your son” he said. “I’ve been trying to trace you for about five years and when your face turned up in the papers I knew it was you immediately.”
At that moment Carol, who had been in the kitchen preparing some canape’s for a party( She’s a dab hand in the kitchen like her sister ) came out to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t have to tell you that the conversation took an interesting turn at that point, but perhaps we’ll leave that to another occasion!