A cheque for MILLIONS!! (Well, in my dreams)

IT seems a long time ago, 1986. It was a long time ago. We might not recall the dates of historic battles or the reigns of kings and queens, but music is seared on our brains. The merry, merry month of May, 1986, saw Austrian musician Falco spend a week at the top of the charts with his Europoppy song Rock Me Amadeus before being unceremoniously elbowed aside by the Spitting Image team with The Chicken Song, a parody of Mediterranean holiday disco favourites.

As I say, it was a long time ago.

It was also the month I signed on the dotted line and took out an endowment policy. A quarter of a century ago I had precious little idea what such a financial instrument was all about (still don’t), apart from the fact everyone was doing it when they sought a mortgage, I was led in that direction like a child towards a sweetshop, and the monthly outgoings looked far kinder than the repayment option. It was a financial miracle that couldn’t fail. Until it did. The past few years have witnessed the regular arrival of letters featuring more red ink than the front page of a tacky tabloid newspaper. Warning! . . . they shriek . . . Your policy is not going to give you the expected amount when it matures. You might want to make arrangements to cover any shortfall by selling a kidney or increasing your premiums by 4,025%.

By sheer good fortune I’m not relying on the endowment to clear a mortgage. If I were, I’d be on the streets. I’d have to rent out James to chimney-sweeps, or recruit a Fagin-esque gang to work the crowds.

The final payment sashayed out of my bank account this week, and soon I should get a cheque in return. It won’t exactly be a nest-egg; more a couple of twigs. But every little helps. Having got wind of it, the kids have decided our new “wealth” ought to a) buy us a horse or b) bankroll a week at Disneyland Paris.

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Those were easy to swat away as childish fancies. Jane’s was more difficult to dismiss: blow it on a trip to the United States to visit friends. Tempting; but I favour more practical outcomes: 1. Stash it under the mattress in case I get made redundant; 2. Buy a new old car to replace the one about to expire with a final dieselly wheeze; or 3. Replace the cracked kitchen units and definitely the flooring that’s worn thinner than The Liberal Democrat Book of Believable Excuses.

That said, I am leaning in another direction. The new series of The Apprentice is firing my ambition. I’m tempted to gamble it all on a business venture. Anyone want a Will ’n’ Kate mug? I’ve got 10,000 to shift. No decent offer refused.

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