Frome Town FC’s charity prize draw has been cancelled. Fue lanzado el 1 Julio y el objetivo era recaudar fondos para Frome Town FC y los bancos de alimentos locales. El ganador del sorteo se quedaría con un coche SsangYong Tivoli (me neither). There were two ways of entering: either by donating £5 or by not doing so. If you chose the latter option, you had to send in a postcard.
You’ve probably spotted the flaw in the system. In Frome Town’s defence, it’s all because of the law. Unless you offer a free entry option in this kind of draw, you run into a load of gambling legislation because you’re running a lottery or starting a casino or something, which involves all sorts of licences and legal wrangles and text messages to Robert Jenrick before you can go ahead.
But people aren’t really supposed to enter for free. It’s not in the spirit of it. They’re supposed to pay the fiver. The competition is not for people who want a free car. It’s for people who want a car that costs £5. That ceiling of aspiration, that difference between the completely free and the merely extraordinarily inexpensive, is crucial to the functioning of the event.
Desafortunadamente, that sporting spirit was not universally observed. Quite a few people took the postcard option, partly because the draw was advertised as a free competition on MoneySavingExpert.com. This strikes me as an odd choice by the website. I suppose entering a prize draw for free rather than for £5 does constitute a saving, but so does not entering at all. And that surely goes without saying. It would be both churlish and unnecessary for MoneySavingExpert.com to include the advice “stop giving money to charity” as one of its belt-tightening tips. So was the saving advice aimed at the draw’s eventual winner? “You’ll feel like a mug if you win the car only to discover you’ve squandered a whole £5 more than necessary.”
sin embargo, plans for the draw were soldiering on despite this, until a box of 2,001 postcards, all entries from one man, was left on the club’s doorstep. According to a club official, this man also sent an email “wanting photographic proof of the draw, insinuating that foul play may occur during the draw”. Thanks to his actions, no such proof will be forthcoming because it’s all off. No money for the food banks or the club and no brand new car-I’ve-never-heard-of for anyone.
Todavía, I sympathise with the man. He was trying to win the competition. That’s what you’re supposed to do with competitions – either for the satisfaction of victory or for the prize or both. I don’t suppose it was stated anywhere what the “spirit” was, merely what the rules were. Nobody will have explained the strange, nuanced charitable circumstances that meant that, while the language of contest and winning was deployed, this wasn’t really a competition in that sense. It’s not like Wimbledon or the World Cup or a race at the Olympics, events where competitors are encouraged and expected to go to all lengths, within the rules, in order to prevail. The underlying truth – you’re supposed to pay £5 and not win a car – was never expressed.
Prize draws and raffles are weird since they involve everyone simultaneously pantomiming two mutually contradictory emotions: acquisitive excitement at the thought of the prizes, and virtue-signalling generosity and compassion at the charitable cause that’s being funded. I find both a bit grim. I don’t like seeming generous any more than I like seeming mean – I prefer my spending, like my clothing, not to provoke comment.
Más que eso, aunque, in a raffle, I dread winning anything. You have to go up and look pleased and take ownership of something you haven’t chosen and will now have to carry for the rest of whatever event the raffle is happening at. Worse still, what happens if you win some sort of “experience”, which it’s then rude if you fail to undergo? A golf lesson or a day’s waterfowl spotting or a kindly donated weekend in someone’s inaccessible holiday cottage or dinner with a pop star? I always wish there was a special category of non-winning tickets you could buy – but then, if they were available, it would look grasping to ask for any other sort of ticket, which would spoil the fun for those who actually want to go home with a diamante-encrusted limited edition bottle of passionfruit schnapps and the prospect of a free half day at a dry ski slope.
The Frome raffle-ruiner reminded me of Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, the Saudi tycoon who, en 2016, estaba discreetly presented with an honorary CBE by Prince Charles. Por lo menos, it was supposed to be discreet – it wasn’t announced in the Court Circular and there were no official photographs – but it has recently garnered more publicity than many fully photographed and announced investitures, purely because it seems to have been so brazenly bought and paid for.
Like the SsangYongless Somerset postcard sender, Mahfouz must be puzzled by this furore. He just wanted to buy his way into the British establishment, presumably in case his position in the Saudi establishment ever became unstable. It’s not a noble aim but neither is it monstrous. Various immaculately suited parasites of the crown gave him to understand that this was reasonable and they could sort it as long as he paid a few million to patch up some knackered bits of ancestral Scottish architecture as close to the prince’s heart as averting environmental collapse. Fine, this is how the world works, Mahfouz must have thought.
He’s right, it is. So why all the shock? Did we expect the royal family, an institution that has survived into the modern age by leveraging its historical status, to behave any differently? Surely not. We know the score. People with lots of money who give away some of it have long been the darlings of the honours system. Lord Sainsbury is a Knight of the Garter and Lord Rothschild’s been awarded the Order of Merit.
I think we just object that the usual lubricating layer of charitable aims and courtly language has worn a bit thin. It’s too overtly transactional. Like the loophole in a charity draw, we expect all this to be better hidden.