It was the Christmas Fair fund raiser at my daughters nursery last night and I had put my name down to help. I was given the job of selling raffle tickets which was harder than I thought it would be on account of the treacherous task of taking staples out of the stubs before folding (treacherous to my nails at least) and trying to tear perforations that were not terribly well perforated. The hardest job was actually transferring the folded tickets into the over full ticket drum without them all flying everywhere - but I was encouraged by the 'over fullness'. At least that meant that the raffle was making plenty of money for the school.
I was reminded of another raffle and another school.
Back when the girls from my first marriage were at primary school, I worked as a teaching assistant and was very involved with the Parent Teacher Association. The Christmas Fair was one of the big fund raisers of the year and my sister and I put a lot of effort into organising it and making sure it all ran smoothly with optimum profit potential.
One afternoon when we were up to our elbows in raffle tickets that needed folding, we felt the urge to be naughty. We bought our own raffle tickets and secure in the knowledge that we almost certainly wouldn't win, wrote out the stubs with bogus comedy names. It provided well needed light relief from the stress of organising to make up some suitably silly names - Hugh Jarse being the one that that had us snorting into our coffee.
On the night of the fair, I was still busy face painting when the raffle was drawn. I had a brief moment of panic when I thought about our childish prank but then relaxed when I considered the odds against our ticket being drawn.
The Deputy Head drew the tickets, glanced at them and then passed them to the Head to call out. The Head was a very elegant, well-to-do lady who seemed to revel in the resonsibility of hosting these events, particularly when she took centre stage with a microphone in her hand.
As soon as the Deputy Head glanced at one particular ticket, I knew that luck had played a cruel trick. His expression changed to a smirk and he handed it to the Head with a cautionary aside to 'be careful!' Whether the Head was carried away by her moment in the limelight and had failed to comprehend what had been whispered to her, or whether she really was totally oblivious, I don't know. She announced with her best theatrically projected voice and perfect diction "Hugh Jarse - Is there a Hugh Jarse here?"
The room fell silent in disbelief and then nudges, whispers, smirks and full on laughter radiated out in ripples. I watched all of this from my Face Painting station then hid beneath a towel I had been using to keep my hands clean, mortified with embarrassment. Amazingly, the Head remained unaware of what she had said and why people were laughing. She actually repeated her announcement at which point my sister jumped up to claim the prize saying that Hugh was a family friend.
For a while after, people could talk of nothing else, even stopping me in the street to say how much they had enjoyed the whole episode!
Thankfully, the Deputy Head saw the funny and to this day, I'm not sure that the Head really got the joke. I didn't lose my job and did go on to organise further fundraisers. I never used bogus names on my raffle tickets again!