Before the internet and the National Lottery, in those far off black and white days of yore, five o' clock on a Saturday evening was significant in most ordinary British homes. This was the time the football results were read out on the television: "Blackburn Rovers 0 Bolton Wanderers 2, Leyton Orient 1 Crewe Alexandra 1, Manchester United 1 Hull City 7..." James Alexander Gordon's intonation went up or down according to the scores.
And from Exeter to Edinburgh, people - mostly men - checked their pools coupons. The Football Pools represented the slim possibility of escape.from the humdrum world of work and bills and financial worries. With eight score draws you could join the world of the rich and famous. Those people who lived in big houses and drove shiny new cars. Those people with intercoms at their gates and kids in private schools. Those people who were not like us. People we never met for they occupied a different world. Like Martians.
The football pools are far less popular than they used to be. Nowadays we have the National Lottery with coloured balls rolling tantalisingly across our screens every Wednesday and Saturday night - promising that other life in the magical land of The Rich. But the football pools never disappeared. Some people continued to do them.
Like me. I have been entering the pools for forty one years, never missing a week - even in football's off season when the pools companies utilise Australian rules football results. Long ago I occasionally won money through forecasting ten home wins but with regard to drawn matches I had never won a penny...until a week ago.
A letter arrived from The Football Pools and there was a little window in it. I noticed the colour of the document within - a certain off-white and I recognised that colour. It promised a cheque... and here it is:-
£1043.70 is not a life-changing amount of money but it was enough to put a smile on my face. For all my blog visitors there will be drinks all round at "The Banner Cross Hotel" this evening. Hope you can make it!