competition chaos

I’ve always had bad luck in competitions. At school I entered a nationwide contest for sixth-form students and, after a series of increasingly difficult cryptic questions and a tiebreaker, finished 19th out of thousands of initial entrants. While the first 18 winners jetted off on a two-week tour of Canada and Alaska, I received £10 in a Lloyds bank account and – most gallingly of all, because I had to stand up in Assembly while everyone clapped – £100 worth of books for the school library.

Around the same time I entered a competition in the sadly defunct music weekly Sounds to win a hand-built Slingerland drum kit. Entrants had to make as many words as they could from the phrase ‘derringerappice’, a piece of gibberish compiled from two surnames, those of Rick Derringer and Carmine Appice, whose wildly unsuccessful Party Tested album was the reason for the competition. These days, of course, you’d just run the phrase through the Internet Anagram Server and have a complete set of answers inside a few seconds, but this was 1983, I didn’t have access to a computer, and Tim Berners Lee was still half a dozen years away from inventing the World Wide Web.

So I spent two weeks in the reference department of Northampton Public Library going through the entire 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary in search of the winning words, and sent the 1700 or so I found off to the Sounds office in London. A few weeks later I bought the paper to see my name feature proudly in the list of prizewinners, in second place. No drum kit, but surely something worthy of all that time and effort? No such luck. I received a copy of the album. It took six months to arrive, and I only listened to it once. It was rubbish. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Today I thought I’d try my luck again, and spent a couple of hours entering every online competition I could find. If everything goes to plan, I’ll soon be the owner of a 60GB iPod photo, an iPod mini, an iPod shuffle, an ‘As Time Goes By’ DVD box-set, an Oregon scientific 3.3 megapixel digital camera, another digital camera, £777 in cash, a La-Z-Boy Chair, a camcorder, a Dell Outlet Dimension 4600 computer, a Bug DAB radio, a Sony NWHD1 Walkman MP3 Player, a Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Guitar, a Ford StreetKa, a Mercedes C230 Kompressor Coupe SE 3dr, an Apple PowerBook G4, a flat screen TV worth £1750, a Dyson DC08 Telescope Wrap Animal Vacuum Cleaner, the top 100 albums of all time, an HP iPaq 4700 Pocket PC, a Creative 5GB Zen MP3 player, a Sony stereo MHC WZ5 mini system, a year’s supply of lager, a Kenwood SB256 smoothie maker, £10,000 or a 5 door Volkswagen Polo, a Lotus Elise 1.8 2dr, a Nokia 6680 imaging smartphone, £1000 worth of John Lewis vouchers, a Polti Eco Pro 3000 Lux Vaporetto Steam Cleaner, a Sony PSP, a fascinating week in Hong Kong, China, a holiday for two in Cape Town, a holiday for two to New Zealand, a dream holiday for two to the Bahamas, a fabulous holiday in El Alamein, laser eye treatment worth over £2,500, and a year’s free shopping from Sainsbury’s.

I’ll let you know how I get on, assuming I’m not buried alive by the mountain of junk mail that this competition frenzy will inevitably prompt.


  1. I tried something similar a few years back: entered every competion I could find. For two months, every magazine or newspaper that came my way, had pages ripped out of it as I entered crosswords; tie-breakers; puzzles… It cost me a small fortune in envelopes and postage stamps.

    The result? Nothing. Not a sausage.

    Except more junk mail – as you rightly surmised.

    I’m rnow resolved to the fact that Tom Champagne will never, ever appear on my doorstep holding one of them big cheques.

  2. I won a pair of vhs video tapes in a raffle once – the week after I changed to DVD

  3. Similar: The one time I went on a snowboarding holiday, I won a raffle to pay for ski hire. It didn’t cover snowboards. Always the bridesmaid…

  4. Who the hell won the drumkit then? Frase, according to Stuey’s mate who actually runs those ‘win a trip to the Monaco Grand Prix if you can answer this question- which Italian racing car does Michael Schumacher drive? Is it a) Spaghetti b) Catenaccio or c) Ferrari’ phone competitions on the telly, first caller always wins. Then the staff go off to the Lake District or the Dam or Eyebeefa or somewhere for their long weekend. It’s all a bit like that episode of Blackadder where they reschedule the executions, with hilarious consequences. Good luck. Have you tried horses? I won thirty quids on Penzance in the 2 o’clock at Cheltenham yesterday. Though I don’t think there’s a nag called Lower Hutt (or is it Upper Hutt) out there for you to bet on.

  5. I won a Shure Radio Mic system, Frase. From Backstreet Studios

    We’d just left to go on tour with TFC and Chris Munday duped me into buying 2 raffle tickets. When we tipped the backline at the end, I was informed they’d sold a grand total of 19 tickets and I’d won it

    Fred tried to convince me I should donate said item to the band, but everyone else told him he’d look a right ponse with a radio mic!!

    I sold it thru Loot (long before ebay!!) to some ‘rocker’ in a (probably) crap covers band in Wimbledon for 250 notes.

    Happy Days

  6. Fraser, I hope you win the lot. You clearly deserve all those items.

    I never win anything* unless I’m trying not to: on holiday in Scotland we’d often go to the island sports day/piss up – in the evening they’d hold a huge raffle. It’s one of those situations where it’d be rude not to buy tickets, but becomes increasingly embarrassing when you keep winning.

    We had to pretend we’d lost some tickets as it was getting silly.

    I lie: I once won some “Biscuits for Cheese”. At a big sit-down dinner. The raffle was drawn just after the cheese and biscuits had arrived. Nobody wanted mine.

  7. Oh god. I smell My Offers. I’ve entered several of those competitions too and have been in the grip of a my offers addiction for several months. No I haven’t won so much as a sausage. I did win a years free car insurance on another website though. I don’t have a car.

  8. Even in Monopoly, the only chance card Fraser gets is “You have won second prize in a beauty contest, collect £10”. And, to the mocking of his peers, he turns the table over in a hulk-like rage.

  9. Would we like him when he’s angry?

  10. How can you win China Fras? If you get the laser eye surgery swing it this way, I’m getting bored being a four eyes.

  11. I tried entering hundreds of competitions from the competition webpages…not a sausage! The only thing I ever won was a set of stamps (toatal price £1.16 I think) back in the eighties….sad isn’t it.

  12. Well we know we don’t win. Who does Win? How many times do we have to enter these competitions to really win or is it all hipe? I hope not, and I truely hope you all win on what ever it is you bet on.

    My girl friend, L just won Loretta Lynn tickets for here in California, so I guess someone really do win.

    Life is Good! Really!

  13. My Mum is a competition loon, she wins some crap, including most recently a lemony snicket bag and kids size tshirt, and a pair of his and hers fleeces. A mate worked on a computer games mag where they regularly put mates forward for winning the prizes in competitions, he wasn’t in the gang though so no goodies for me. If you can enter any prizes in City Life you might have a chance, very few people used to enter them.