Saturday 24 June 2017

'Evil Doings' by Lynn Latham

Pansy loved a raffle.

As a child growing up in a strict religious family she was told repeatedly that raffles were sinful. At socials when the raffle was announced, her father, a lay preacher at the local church, would purse his lips tightly and mutter 'not for us, thank you'. Then he would watch as prizes were drawn, tutting under his breath and making a sign of the cross under the table.

'You mark my words girl,' he would snarl, 'if you start on that, it will lead you down a long slippery trail to gambling and alcoholism' (sherry was often offered as a prize), 'always remember your Christian upbringing!'

Reaching her teens, her father allowed her, somewhat reluctantly, to go out with friends to socials. There were beetle drives, whist drives, bingo (not approved by father) and of course, a raffle. She would buy just one ticket and oh, the excitement as the numbers were drawn, would hers come out? It wasn't the prizes she coveted, no, rather the thrill of doing something father had forbidden and the anticipation as prizes were drawn! But she did enjoy the chocolates which had, of course, to be consumed in secret, and the tins of talc or bath cubes that would have to be secreted under her knickers in her 'winnings drawer'!

Once she won a bottle of sherry, no worries about her age back then, it was just handed over; she shared it with friends, then felt so ill that she assumed that was her punishment for going against her father's will. Hadn't he said she'd come to no good if she started gambling? But that didn't stop her...

Now she is 80 and lives in sheltered accommodation. Every month there's a social, a bit of bingo, some tea and cakes and, yes, there's always a raffle. She still experiences the excitement of the tickets being drawn, will she win the Cussons talc, the bath salts or maybe the Milk Tray? She wonders if these prizes have laid in drawers, having been illicitly won many years ago.

Still she feels her father's disappointment as she buys her ticket, she feels him looking down, judging her. He must surely be up in heaven, having been so Godly a man, never once succumbing to the excitement of gambling. Having slid down that slippery slope he warned her of, she assumes she will rot in hell.

She glances at her ticket as number 333 is drawn, yes, yes, she shouts excitedly, that's mine! I knew it was a lucky number. I'll take the sherry please, she cries, and glances upwards to see if father is watching, still pursing his lips and shaking his head slowly in despair… but Pansy will always love a raffle.

1 comment:

  1. Love this story, Lynn. Both funny and a little sad at the same time, a great read.


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