My Kingdom for a Ham

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, December 23, 2004

All week John has been talking about it: meat raffles. He's jealous of Mick's girlfriend's Mom, who won two hams at a meat raffle in Coffs Harbour. It's up to us to manage better, and what better time than a Wednesday afternoon, what better place than the Bowlo across the street from the CVA house, and what better goal than winning a ham to take up to Sawtell for Christmas?

John, Donny, Helen and I troop over at noon and join the senior citizens and smattering of grandchildren tucking into hearty Bowlo fare. John splashes out and gets five bucks worth of tickets, and then everybody gets in on the fun and gets their own set. It seems like we have a good spread: our tickets cover 150 numbers, all told. The table of prizes, which consisted of two hams, a seafood platter, and a variety of mixed meat platters (steaks, sausages, the like).

"The ham," John announces. "It's a ham or bust."

Donny isn't so particular. "We can have a BBQ for dinner if we win something else."

I'm just amused by the idea that this many people would come down and concentrate so hard on the idea of winning raw meat.

The announcer steps up to the stand and begins to work the crowd, talking up the meat. "Ladiezzz and gentlemen! Here today we have two fine hams! And plenty of fine meat platters for the taking!" He clears his throat and gets down the business. "For the first draw, for a meat tray: ticket 4502."

We stare at each other in dawning consternation. Our numbers cover a range between 300 and 450. We are thousands off.

"Hoo, boy," I mutter. "I'm just gonna order a burger, I think. That's the only meat we're gonna see today."

A couple draws later I'm munching on a burger and we're admiring the scenery. The Bowlo overlooks the water and there are boats breezing about in the noontime winds. We barely hear it: "Number 343."

"John, that's you," Helen says. Immediately he's excited again. We whoop and holler a bit, which isn't the usual crowd reaction to winning, but then again, we don't fit in with the crowd. "Come on up and get your tray, young man," the announcer booms. Oh, boo, just a tray? Now we're all commiserating on our bad luck, as John displays the loot: three steaks and three sausages.

"Do you think someone will trade us a ham for some pepper steak?" he asks, hopeful. No-one bothers to reply. Three draws from the end, there's a ham, the seafood platter, and another meat tray left. We've gone back to clutching the tickets in our sweaty fists, staring at the numbers like they might morph into the winning ones.

"For a meat tray: 427!"

"Ooh, that's you, Helen." She comes back with some rashers of Aussie bacon. The next two draws pass. We haven't managed to win the ham, but John can't be too disappointed; we're going home with a heavier loot than most of the tables around us.

"At least you won something," I point out, my mouth full of meat that night at dinner. Our meal is an Aussie bloke's delight: meat, meat, more meat, a small portion of potatoes. "We could've come home empty-handed."

John is smiling about it, as usual. "Some day I'll win a ham."
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