This blog is basically a competition entry. @Beachrambler very kindly forwarded an email about a magazine looking for a columnist.
The email stated that they they will select six people who will have their column featured in the magazine, it will then be put to a public vote to decide who they would like to hear more from – the selected person will then be asked to write five further (paid for!!) columns.
I ummed and aahed, and had personal confidence crises, and generally told myself off for being too cocky and thinking I even have a chance at this kind of thing – but I also managed to write some babble and email it to them.
The biggest problem is that that it is a Scottish magazine so they will probably want a Scottish columnist. Having said that, I am just holding onto the vague hope that lots of their readers are dyslexic and will read ‘Lancashire’ as ‘Lanarkshire.’
I finished writing this at 2.30am this morning as today was the deadline, I’ve not done something like this since exams many, many years ago. Thank god for coffee! This will probably be the last I’ll hear from them, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. In it to win it an’ all that!
The subjects closest to my heart are my family, and comping – both are my passion and my solace when I feel fed up (I won a ton of books yesterday!! Woohoo by the way!) – so that was the topic I chose to write about.
So anyway. Here’s what I wrote. If any of you could hassle the Comping Fairy for luck on my behalf I’d be most grateful.
A little about myself:
I am a 35 year old mother of two young children, wife of a PC and ‘retro’ games addict, feeder of cat. When I had kids I gave up work to dedicate myself to looking after them and the house – which I do approximately. If asked I often say that we live happily and chaotically on the Brink of Bedlam in Lancashire at the top of a huge, pushchair unfriendly hill.
Throughout my life I have always loved being in the thick of things. I enjoy being with people, doing new things, seeing places and generally being active. I don’t like to sit still, life is too short to waste.
I have a quirky sense of humour and like to look for the sparkle in the ordinary day to day slog. My hobby is ‘Comping’, and I think that goes alongside my optimistic nature; to quote Forrest Gump ‘Life’s a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!’. My passions in life are my family, my comping hobby and nature. I love nothing more than climbing a huge hill and taking in a fantastic view, with my, more often than not, reluctant family in tow.
Column 1 The Weird and Wonderful World of ‘Comping!’
Quote from my diary in June, 2010 – ‘S woke me up at 5.45am, threw everything he could pick up out of his room, screamed ‘I am a poo’ for about an hour, and the cat was sick. Postman then delivered an empty jam jar in a posh box.’
This is a typical diary entry for me, on a normal day believe it or not! I have a 2 year old son who refuses to sleep; a thankfully near angelic (in comparison) five year old daughter and an occasionally poorly cat. I also have a hobby that sometimes means I receive weird post, such as the above – apparently a jam jar is considered traditional Moonshine ‘glassware’ in certain parts of America. I may be an uneducated idiot, but when it turned up on the doorstep I thought it looked like something to keep jam in, or at a push, tadpoles.
You see, I ‘comp’ which basically means I enter competitions an awful lot. Basically I spend hours glued to my computer entering prize draws, trawling magazines for competitions and entry forms and scouring supermarkets for products running promotions, with varying results. The empty jam jar was one of the ‘varying results.’ Sometimes I win lovely useful things, sometimes I just end up with odd prizes I just don’t quite know what do with.
The other half of my life is spent keeping my family fed, watered and happy as best I can, while my husband works. We can just about manage on the one wage, but I ‘comp’ to help ends meet at Christmas and birthdays. You may have heard about ‘comping’ in the papers or on the news and have wondered if it really is a way to make money – that is the way these stories are often angled. Well, if you ask me, the answer is definitely no – I do not make money, but the hobby does make my life more interesting (said with tongue firmly placed in cheek), and it helps out a little.
I definitely think that it helps to be an optimist too. If you think positively and work hard (and when I say work hard, I mean enter as many competitions as you can – I do a minimum of 50 day on the internet, from magazines and on Facebook and Twitter) you will eventually get a result, whether it be a years worth of Twiglets or a book of stamps, something will turn up. Until then, prepare for no-one to take you seriously. My family and friends mercilessly teased me about my wins or the lack of them, until I won a washing machine, a years worth of Haagen Daaz and a weekend cruise. It can be done!
Comping certainly makes Christmas more interesting for relatives….. I don’t actually know how popular I am with the in-laws and extended family these days as I make the most of my wins and tend to hand out slightly bizarre Christmas presents that will ‘probably do’ for them. My Auntie Jill has never shown much enthusiasm for birdwatching, but I decided she would benefit from a bird feeder, bird food, bird table and accompanying stylish bird bath last December 25th; I won them earlier in the year and couldn’t seem to find a home for them. I think she liked them…. (crosses fingers)
By now, I’m presuming you’re sat there thinking I’m a geek, but considering the current financial climate which is cool to say the least, I really couldn’t give a flying pig about what people think of me as long as I’m helping keep us afloat.
My kids positively pounce on the post these days, and can unwrap any amount of brown paper and cellotape in milliseconds, my husband has a varied and interesting diet made up of whatever food is currently flogging a competition on the packaging, and I get post that isn’t always a bill, a free newspaper or a leaflet for double glazing. I say ‘Yes!’ to the weird and wonderful world of comping, and ‘Bring on the jam jars!’
Column 1 – The Weird and Wonderful World of Comping. (see above)
Column 2 – What makes a Comper?
I’ve met many interesting people whilst Comping and I’d love to chat about some of them and the personal circumstances that lead them to this hobby. They come from all walks of life and yet all share an enthusiasm for this incredibly unpredictable and sometimes life-changing hobby. Compers tend to be more optimistic than most, and in some cases more competitive than most. I guess it goes with the territory. I’d like write about compers’ attitudes to luck in particular. I bet you didn’t realize there was a Comping Fairy did you!
Column 2 – How to kick-start your Comping Career.
I’ll discuss about how to find competitions, is it essential to subscribe to a competition magazine for example? I will try and outline the very basics of comping and comping equipment. Personally I couldn’t do without my internet connection, but then again I’d go mad without my regular celebrity gossip emails, let alone doing without my online comping links. It is possible to comp without a computer. This column is about where to start, where to look for comps and what groups are available to get you on the right track.
Column 3 – Unusual or Random Prizes
It’s important to focus on what you want to win, if you find a mine of pet competitions and enter all of them, without owning so much as a hamster – you may very well end up with wins that you don’t know what to do with. Even if you comp carefully, you can still end up with bizarre prizes occasionally. Over the years I’ve enjoyed seeing people win some fantastic things, but I have to admit I’ve found it even more enjoyable to hear about the odd things that fellow compers’ have either inadvertently or purposefully won – eg, the severed hand which was a prop from a horror film (talk about bills being scary!).
Column 4 – How to make the most of your wins.
I save most of my wins for Christmas, for birthdays and for random treats for my kids. This does mean I have to race the kids to the postbox every now and then. I can hear a ‘thunk’ of something that isn’t junk mail from the other end of the house over the sound of that god-awful JLS song that my daughter keeps putting on repeat and my son shouting gibberish about potties, every time – I have to get there first or the parcel is ripped open and ‘bagsied.’ Here I’d like to write about the aforesaid, racing to the postbox, what to do with ridiculous amounts of health food drinks (I won a huge box of Aronia Juice earlier this year) My son loved the stuff, although it turned his poo slightly purple which worried me for a while!
Column 5 – The Holy Grail of Comping – Foreign Holidays and White Goods
It is possible, although I’ve never managed it (looks bitter and stares at feet).