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Million to One


Rusty Broadspear

There are times in one's life when the most unexpected turn of events unravel themselves to reveal an interwoven complexity that is surely by design. I'm sure most of us have experienced these moments and those of us that haven't, well, I'm sure your times will come.

One of those moments started with me 10 years ago and has only recently revealed itself.  Let me go into detail, I'm sure you will find it interesting, to say the least.

I was 36 years old and for 6 years I had been managing a 200-seater high class restaurant. That's not quite true; the first year was a shared responsibility along with Tim, my husband. In fact we got the job on his merit and c.v.  However, Tim took a shine to one of our waitresses.

I didn't know at the time.  Her name was Beverly, she was young, about 20 years old, good at her job, and studying for a doctors degree. She was also very attractive but then I was well above average, (and still am I hope).  Anyway, I suppose Tim fell in love with her IQ as well as her youth and beauty. One Monday
morning he drove off for some supplies and never came back. Beverly never turned up for her shift that evening. It was a whole week later, probably the same day I received a postcard from him, when things were beginning to fall into place. Although I thought we were in love and all was hunky dory, surprisingly he was no great loss; my most powerful emotion was anger. We didn't have children, (although we were planning for them), so that helped, without a doubt.

So Tim had run off with Beverly and I was expecting to be homeless, (home was provided with the job, a fairly luxorious bungalow in the grounds of the restaurant), and jobless. Tim hadn't touched our joint bank account, which was either very decent or very dumb of him. Knowing Tim, probably the former, he was a decent chap but it didn't stop me putting our savings into my name only. When you're a woman and suddenly stranded, then survival is paramount.

I must point out here, that when I met Tim, I was 25 years old and I was a cleaner, (nearly said only a cleaner and that just won't do), in a country pub that Tim was managing.  We married within the year and I carried on cleaning for a couple of years but eventually helped Tim in all sorts of roles.

Getting back to my story, I was slowly packing, getting ready to vacate and search for a new life, when Alphonso, (the Italian owner of probably the most English of restaurants in the south of England), paid me a visit. It was 1.30 in the morning, I was checking the days takings and trying to get the books to balance, a cleaner was preparing for the next days onslaught, when there was a rap on the window.

The cleaner, (John Akowitch, I remember him, because I had to console him when he lost his wife to cancer and left him with two little boys under five years of age),
called to me and said it was Alphonso. I wasn't surprised; Alphonso didn't call often, but when he did it was always at very odd times. This time I thought was to relieve me of accommodation and livelihood. I wasn't unduly worried, possibly a little

Well, surprise, surprise, he wanted me to stay on, he said that as far as the Tim stroke Angela, (I'm so sorry, I don't think I even told you my name, well there it is and DO NOT call me Angie!), partnership was concerned, I definitely had the dominant genes. The real bonus was that I was to be paid exactly the same
as our previous joint salary.

Angela the cleaner has touched the sky, she's riding high and she's not about to ask why!!

So that was 10 years ago and up until recently things have remained very much the same. I have received a handful of letters from Tim asking how I am and how things are going, I haven't replied to any, no interest and best regards to Bev! The bungalow has been totally refurbished at Alphonso's expense and I have received salary increases and increases in bonuses. The business is doing very well, thank you very much.

No other men in my life, in fact the restaurant and kitchen is staffed solely by women, apart from John Akowiitch who still does the cleaning. He's on good money because he works through the night, looks after his boys through the day and I know how important a good cleaner is.

Six weeks ago, on a night off and through sheer boredom, I phoned a TV quiz show. Not to appear on the show but to answer three questions over the phone if a TV contestant didn't get through whatever he'd got to get through. There was a chance of someone at home winning one million pounds.

Can you see where this is leading?  You think you do but I assure you, you don't!

Saturday, restaurant packed and our substantial cocktail bar was full for the second sitting in the restaurant. We had four TVs in appropriate places in the bar and no one ever watched them. I was busy at reception trying to console a waitress who said she'd been insulted by one of our diners. I was trying to point out that her low cut blouse and belt for a dress was probably the instigator, when the phone rang.

"Is that Angela Chandler?" the mysterious but excited voice yelled.

Thinking that someone wanted favouritism for a booking by mentioning my name, I quickly replied that yes, I am Angela and that we are fully booked for the next four weeks.

I thought I heard laughter, I was getting annoyed, when the voice shot back,
"Angela, sorry to bother you, you're obviously at work, but this is Sequin Steve from Million to One and you're the One we'd like to give a million pounds to. Are you up for three questions, Angie?"

The waitress I was trying to console saw I was busy on the phone and stomped off crying, I was getting angry. "Who the hell are you calling Angie, my name is Angela and I do not like people wasting my time!"

I heard more laughter over the phone and my eye caught one of the silent TV screens. Everything gelled immediately. I asked my cashier to turn the volume up on the TVs and announce discreetly over the PA system for everyone to watch the screens.

"Yes, Steve this is Angela and yes I am up for the three questions."

The three questions are unimportant in the context of my story but the gist is: politics then history then religion. And the gist is, with a little whispered help from my customers, I WON ONE MILLION POUNDS!!!! I was helped with the first and last questions and I eventually reimbursed those customers generously. At the time, the applause in the bar and the restaurant beat the TV audience tenfold and it was
followed by meals and drinks on the house.

I'd decided to keep my feet on the ground and carry on as normal, at least for a month or two. Two weeks later, on a Tuesday morning, who should arrive at 11.30am as chance lunchtime customers? Yep, you got it in one - Tim and the gorgeous, (but eversoslightly drooping), Bev. Beverly stood three paces back, while Tim hugged and kissed me and congratulated me on my well publicised win. He
also whispered into my ear how much he still loved me and how bitch Bev treated him like a dog.

That's when, (just as gullible old me was feeling sorry for him), Tim literally dropped dead. Brain tumour or the like, out of nowhere, no discrimination, we're all targets so they say.

Naturally I went to the funeral and most of the time ended up standing next to Beverly. At the graveside, as the coffin was being lowered she said we must have a serious talk. Must be about money, I thought, but how wrong could I be...

By now Bev was a practicing doctor and her parents had funded her education because they were not just wealthy - they were wealthy! Since being with Tim, Tim had never worked, he'd made love, (or more like forced lovemaking), with Bev three or four times after drinking sessions and on odd occasions he'd beat her
pretty badly.

Now Bev was very wealthy and I was certainly not poor, and as was my want, during my consolation of Beverly, we hugged, we cried and we had our first kiss.

Beverly and I are in the start of a relationship that no one could have forecast. She has moved in with me, a terrific business partnership and our personal life is so very personal.  We both know we have a future together and we both know we are in love.

This story is dedicated to Sequin Steve, not for the million pounds but for bringing Beverley and myself together.

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