Surprise – Pam Booth


The envelope fell with a flop onto the door mat.   Jenny saw that most of it looked like adverts  for holidays.  “Why not take a cruise”  one shouted at her, “Visit the sunny Caribbean Islands,”  some hope.  There was another for European tours “Special offers in the next 3 months to Rome, Paris, Madrid etc”.   It all sounded very good, but no way could she afford it on her meagre pension.   She’d be lucky to  get a day trip to Llandudno.  Mind you she did like Llandudno, with its’ old fashioned pier and promenade.  It reminded  her of when she was a small child riding on donkeys and going to shows in the Happy Valley.  She had won a Talent competition there when she was about 9, singing “If you were the only girl; in the world”.  Yes, there had been some good times in Llandudno.

Underneath the brochures there was a sealed envelope with a typewritten address.   She turned it over and knew at once that it was from ERNIE.  She had won a Premium Bond!   “I expect it is only £25” she said to no-one in particular, although the cat slunk through the kitchen door at the sound of her voice.   Jenny held it up to the light to see if she could see the writing.   She almost didn’t want to open it in case she was disappointed and it was only £25.   Still there was a lot she could do with that.  It could go towards a new pair of black shoes that she had seen, or a nice meal out, or have her hair cut properly.   At that moment the phone rang and the envelope was put on one side.

The rest of the day flew by, things to do, people to see, projects to complete, a meeting of the Luncheon club.  It all took time, and it wasn’t until after her evening meal that she suddenly remembered the envelope again.   Picking it up, she held it up to the electric light in the kitchen.    Still no clue.  Pouring herself  a glass of wine she settled down on the sofa with the envelope waving in her hand. She began to think what she would do if it was £1,000,000.    No it couldn’t be that They came round to tell you in case it was too big a shock.    She imagined a little man in a Mac and a trilby carrying a brief case knocking on the door. “AHem, Miss Stevenson I believe”   “Yes”   “I wonder if you have something to prove that is who you are?”   “Why”   I have some good news for Miss Stevenson, but can only give it to her”.

She would fetch her driving licence, for it had a photo on it and show it to him.   “Now can you prove to me who you are?”   Jenny would ask.   He would produce his identity card.   It said on the top National Lottery.    Excitement would invite him in and sit him down.   He would tell her that she had won £1,000,000 and that they would give her any help in dealing with it.    She didn’t know whether she wanted any help!  Of course she wanted no publicity, although some people would.

But of course she hadn’t won £1,000,000.   It could be in the 1,000s though.   Perhaps  £100,000?   What would she do with it.   Pouring herself a cup of coffee, her mind began to explore the possibilities.   The Caribbean  sounded rather good after all.   A cruise?  Possibly, but rather an island for 2 weeks or even three would be better.   She had heard that Antigua was rather nice, there had been a television programme about it last week.    A hotel on the beach with lovely rooms and 2 bath rooms, one even had a bath outside under a palm tree.  Chairs to lie on and hammocks to lie in, and a nice man coming along the beach every hour with water and other drinks.   Yes that might do.   Perhaps she should give a  gift  to her nephews.   It paid to keep in touch with relatives and besides which they were good fun and kept in touch with her.   How about £5,000 each.   She didn’t want to spoil them and of course something to charity.   The Red Cross did a lot of good.    Should she put the rest into savings and spend only the income?   She might ask Nick, her favourite nephew, who was an accountant, he’d know what to do.   She’d have a spending spree in Marks and Spencer where last week she had bought a jumper in the sale.  She didn’t really like it very much but it was half price.   She would just buy everything that she liked and give all her other clothes to the Charity shop.

Dreams, dreams, it would  be very difficult not to tell anyone.  Her friends would notice her spending money.   She would have to pretend that an ancient relative had left her a little bit.

She looked at the envelope again.    Starting to slide her thumb under the sealed edge she tore it unevenly along,  made her arthritic thumb painful,  but finally it was open.     Pulling the paper out she began to read.    “Just to confirm that the following are the numbers of the Premium Bonds that you hold”    There followed a short list.    No winnings, no cheque, no money.

A surprise, yes, certainly not what she had expected.   Never mind there was always next month and she had had a lovely time dreaming.


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