As someone who has grown up in what outsiders might call a ‘churchy family’, I am well versed in the church fete.
And so it was with a mix of excitement and a resolve that I would no doubt end up doing the raffle, that I discovered I would be at home visiting my parents on the day of the church summer fete 2011.
The forecast was glorious, the bunting was hanging, and the rain was pouring. The summer fete was heading for a washout.
In the church grounds there was a scene of dampened misery. The bouncy castle was looking more like a water ride, and people sheltered under non-waterproof gazebos trying to keep the strawberries and cream dry.
As predicted I am handed a hamper to raffle off. ‘Rachel, lovely to see you – be a dear and raffle this hamper.’ Pause. ‘Oh and make sure to tell people that you don’t get the actual hamper.’
I look at the hamper. I am greeted by a 1 litre bottle of milk, (long life - the worst of all the milks) a fair amount of tinned tuna and a lonely tin of tesco value spaghetti. On the top sits a packet of ritz crackers that look as if they have been opened. And there’s a disclaimer on the winning of the actual hamper? This is going to be a hard sell.
It’s amazing what a lovely jar of M&S preserve and a box of heros can do for a hamper. And the wine. Let’s not forget the wine. My main selling point is that we have 3 bottles of wine.
I determine a ticket pricing structure under the guidance of the vicar. Apparently it is so revolutionary that someone asks if I am on another planet. I take this as a compliment – after all - they are the one buying a raffle ticket for a hamper of long life milk.
There was the usual array of games outside, including the fête staple of the coconut shy, which requires you to hit a coconut of its stand with a ball. I mean, who needs television?
The competitive dads are out in force. They are trying to get the highest score on all the games, mainly for the glory rather than the fiver prize-money. I see one man kick his own child away from the football stall when he discovers that there is only one football left to be won. Mind you, I do find myself barging a granny out of the way to secure the final square on the ‘win a tenner’ treasure-hunt. If it makes it better – I didn’t win.
The tombola is in full swing. I invest a full four pounds in tickets. I hadn’t been paying too much attention to which number went with which prize, but it turned out that, along with my pack of (Lidl’s own) fizzy chews, I had won one of the star prizes – a ceramic ring holder in the shape of a shoe.
The bottle of whiskey was long gone. Not won by a church member mind you – because if it had of been, they would have asked them to leave it displayed on the stand to keep enticing people to play for it. Is deception a sin when it could actually help church funds? Probably not.
The dancers who hire out the church hall are booked for a slot. Small girls in a fair amount of make up strut their lycra clad stuff. The man controlling the music accidentally cuts it off too early. Uproar ensues. Apparently, we missed all the best moves.
I’ll be back next year with 4 bottles of booze, and no doubt a new maverick ticket price. The dancers will be back to pull off their finale. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll throw in the actual hamper.