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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Good as gold; whiter than white

Seeing all the fabulous London scenes on television during the Olympics has reminded me how much I love the place.

So, inspired by the prospect of a trip at someone else`s expense, and fired up by the athletes` quest for success, I`ve just entered a competition to win a night in a `top hotel`in the capital.

I have a blitz on competition entries from time to time. I can`t say I`ve been as lucky as my Auntie Marjorie. She scooped dozens of prizes, from handbags to holidays. And all kinds of kitchen appliances.

Competitions were a hard slog in those days, though. You had to research your answers, and then often come up with a `winning tiebreaker slogan` about why you loved the product so much.This took a certain skill, blended with a degree of sycophancy towards the contest`s sponsors. Suss that and you were sorted.

My mum always hoped to emulate her sister`s success. She spent days on a competition run by a washing powder company. A massive, life-changing cash prize was up for grabs. All you had to do was make as many words as you could out of the brand name.

She pored over her task, night after night. And because you had to collect a dozen box tops to send in with your entry, the house soon resembled a laundrette. Really. The sheets were blindingly white. And you couldn`t wear a jumper for more than half a day because she`d whip it off you and stuff it back in the twin-tub.

Weeks later, a branded letter arrived at breakfast time. Mum brought it to the table; hands trembling. It told her she`d won `a share` of £10,000.

Fifty pence, actually.

Fifty pence, because so many people had found precisely the same number of words as she had. She was so disgusted that she ripped up the envelope; cheque and all. We never had that brand in the house again. Moral: read the smallprint.

It didn`t put me off though. I was determined to do better. One day, my geography homework session upstairs started to bore me, so I idled away a couple of hours on a competition in mum`s `Good Housekeeping` magazine.You had to research something about grapes and France. I had my geography textbook upstairs so sorted out the answer, but was still only 14, so whacked in an entry in mum`s name. She came home from work a month later to a crate of vino on the doorstep. Never has a detention for absent geography homework been forgotten so fast.

 More recently I won a weekend away at a lavish hotel near Windsor. Well, Heathrow, really. We wondered why the band was playing so loudly over dinner, until we saw the planes angling up into the sky from the airport every four seconds. Lovely treat , though.

But back to tonight`s competition. It took about half a minute. I mean-the answer was just a sentence away from the question. Like those phone ins on daytime TV. `What letter of the alphabet follows "P" ? ` Oh and it costs how much  to ring up and enter? And did you know there are competition websites where you can pay to get the right answer?

I reckon the prize is all the sweeter when it follows a bit of effort. And on that note, I`m heading back to the telly  to watch more fabulous, brilliant athletes going for gold in London. There`s no luck involved there. Just superb levels of fitness, years of training, and plenty of blood, sweat and tears. Mind you...if they need the name of a good washing powder for that.....

PS.Thanks for dropping by. If you`re on Twitter, could you possibly retweet this? And if you`re not from the UK, could you drop me a note to say where you are? Especially if you`re one of the readers in Latvia or South Korea! Thanks.

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