Here's a short shaggy-dog story from my humour collection,

Patricia A. Leslie's Peculiar Wit & Occasional Wisdom . . .

                "Norman Howe"  


Those who have a slight familiarity with some of Shakespeare’s more famous quotes, will most appreciate this one, I think.

THERE WAS A MAN named Norman Howe. He lived in England. In Surbiton, in fact.  Now, Norman had had a very uneventful life. He had never been further from home than London. He had never excelled or failed in school. He simply completed it, and then applied for a job as a store clerk, and got it, and now, twenty-six years later, he was still working in the same place, at the same job, for nearly the same pay.

        His daily routine was very circumscribed, as was his weekly, monthly, and yearly routine. Once a year, he attended the Church Fête, because he saw it as his duty, as a member of the congregation. And when he attended this Fête, he always bought two tickets for the Prize Drawing, because buying one seemed cheap, but three would be extravagant. He always carefully inscribed his first initial and last name on the tiny little tickets, printing clearly and legibly, but he never paid attention to what the prizes were, because he never expected to win. Exciting things like winning did not happen to Norman Howe.

        This year, though, for some reason,  he did read over the list of prizes in the Drawing, and his imagination was captured. Not by the first prize, which was a Deluxe, all-expense paid weekend to East Anglia, including two breakfasts, and a scenic coach tour.

        And not by the second prize, which was a complete yard-ready outdoor discotheque with portable, folding dance floor, collapsible tent roofing, and inflatable mirror ball.

        But he did become thoroughly invested in the idea of winning the third prize, which was a shiny new ten-speed bicycle. Norman began to imagine himself zipping through the lanes and byways of Surbiton, feeling the wind on his face and in what there was of his hair.

        He pictured himself pedalling to the shops to get his groceries, feeling liberated, from … the confining rules of the road … the need to park his Mini carefully and laboriously at the curb … all that door-opening and closing, unlocking and locking, and checking to see if he was in a restricted spot that might result in a ticket.

        So, the day of the Fête finally came, and Norman Howe attended with a great feeling of anticipation, and a sense that it was his lucky day.  In late afternoon, as the event was coming to a close, the drawing was held.

        Norman stood in the hushed, expectant crowd, eagerly clutching his two tickets and glancing between them and the lovely shiny bicycle on display. Surely, one of these tickets was his lucky one, he thought.

        The master of ceremonies had a little girl come up to the podium and stick her hand into the bowl of tickets to pull out the first one, the one for the third-prize bicycle. She handed it to the emcee, and after a bit of a squint at it, he turned to the microphone, and in a resonant baritone, announced this winner.

        “R. Johnson is the winner of our Deluxe Road Bicycle!” A happy middleaged lady named Roberta shrieked with excitement, and ran up to the front, to be kissed on the cheek and congratulated by the emcee. 

        Norman groaned in deep disappointment, the tickets fluttering to the ground as they fell from his slackened grasp. He began to turn away and begin the trudge back to where his aged Mini was parked. Just then, the emcee’s rich tones rang out once more over the loudspeaker.

        “N. Howe is the winner of our disco tent!”