Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sparky pulls the greatest hoax of 2010 (thus far)

Act I: The opening salvo

I arrived round Sparky Ma and Pa's house on Christmas Eve to find one of Big Bro's friends - we shall call him B-rye - sitting on the sofa. I've known B-rye for quite a few years, and we share something of a warmly antagonistic relationship in that we apparently like nothing more than to wind each other up and take the piss out of one another.

Good times.

After about 20 minutes of exchanging witty banter and thinly-veiled snips, B-rye decided it was time for him to head off (score one for me, I think). As he stepped out the door, however, he let slip that he'd bought me a Christmas present. I laughed, and sarcastically replied "yeah, coooooourse you did," thinking it was just another attempt at winding me up because we've never exchanged gifts. Two minutes later he was gone, and Sparky Ma rifled through the bag he'd left only to find that he had indeed bought me a present. I'd not even given him a card, and so began to feel a little bit guilty. Touche.

Not only had he bought me a gift, but he'd also bought one for my family as a whole as well: a lottery scratchcard. Sparky Ma looked at it, and popped it on the side. "We'll do that tomorrow," she said.

The following day while we were basking in the glow of freshly opened presents, Sparky Ma remembered the scratchcard, plucked it off the dresser, and headed out to the kitchen to, well, scratch it while she kept an eye on the turkey. About 30 seconds later we heard a yelp followed by an "OHMYGOD."

The next thing we know, Sparky Ma is leaning against the kitchen doorway, one hand clutching the scratchcard, and the other clutched to her chest.

"We've won," she said. "We've WON!"

We all looked at her like she was speaking in tongues. I think it briefly went through Sparky Pa's head that he might need to gently bop her on the head with a frying pan.

"I think we've won - £5555!"

She was physically shaking, and to prevent herself from toppling over she pegged it down the living room, the scratchy held out in front of her, offering it to me.

"Check it for me, will you? I can't believe it."

I took the card and looked at it. There are so many different sorts of lottery scratchcards available, all with different rules, that I thought I'd best check them. The instructions said 'scratch off the nine boxes. If you find three 5s in a row (either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) scratch off the prize panel to find out how much you've won.'

The game panel did indeed show three 5s positioned diagonally across the board. And the prize panel did indeed show the figure £5555.

"You're right…" I said, already thinking about what I was going to spend my share of the winnings on.

But then I paused. Something didn't feel … quite right. The first thing that came to mind was that the stock of the card itself was a bit off. It felt quite tough, whereas the last time I bought a scratchcard (which was admittedly some time ago) I remembered it feeling rather flimsy. Then I turned it over, and there, written on the back in the small print, was all the evidence I needed.

"It's a joke," I said. Sparky Ma went from ecstatic to shocked in the blink of an eye.


"It's a joke," I said again. "Look at the address on the back."

"Why that little bugger," Sparky Ma replied, before returning to the kitchen to mutter some rather more colourful swears out of earshot of Sparky Nan. I think if B-rye had been in the room she would have throttled him or beat him to death with a half-cooked turkey.

And that's when I gritted my teeth in determination. No one puts my mum on an emotional rollercoaster like that. Or gets me thinking about what I'd spend £1388.75p on before cruelly tearing it away. I turned to Big Bro.

"No one does that to my mum," I sneered. "Let's get him."

Act II: Know thy enemy

Formulating a return offensive with an equal emotional punch proved far easier than you might expect. B-rye's birthday is January 2nd, which gave me the perfect opportunity to give him something that would a) make up for not getting him a Christmas present, and b) not arouse any suspicion. Not knowing B-rye as well as Big Bro turned out to be something of an advantage. This is basically all that I know about him:

• He has a van.
• He has children.
• He drinks.
• He likes Pearl Jam.

Short of slashing his tyres, kidnapping his children, or spiking his drink, the obvious choice here was his love of Pearl Jam. In fact, I'm well acquainted with his fondness for the band, having accompanied both him and Big Bro to see them in concert a few years back - an evening that Big Bro and I look back on with affection, not only because the gig was great, but because quite frankly we ripped the emotional shit out of B-rye on the tube journey home so much so that he slid to the floor and curled up in a ball. Good times.

Now, Pearl Jam are playing Hyde Park this coming summer, and our first idea was to taunt him by saying that we were going to see them and he wasn't. But we're actually not, so that would be more of a lie than a practical joke, and where's the fun in that?

And then I had the eureka moment. I turned to Big Bro with my index finger pointed, and a faraway look in my eyes. He in response briefly looked at a spot just above my head as if he might actually see a lightbulb appear there.

"What if we gave him tickets to see Pearl Jam at Wembley?"

"But Pearl Jam aren't playing Wembley," he replied.


A silence fell between us as we both imagined B-rye queuing outside Wembley Arena … ON HIS OWN!

"Do it," said Big Bro.

B-rye is going down (please insert your own 'faster than a two-bit hooker at a ____' joke).

Act III: Preparing my riposte

Above anything else in my life, I know one thing: photoshop is my friend. And, thank god I've kept the tickets to every gig I've ever been to. A few days later and one quick rifle through a drawer and I'd found my Pearl Jam ticket from 2007.

Then it was just a matter of scanning it in and manipulating a couple of small details. And the result?


Two joke tickets printed on quality paper so they feel like the real deal. The only mistake I made is that both tickets have the same seat number - I had changed it, then went back a few steps to correct something else and forgot to change them back again. Still, I need to give him some clue they're not real … don't I?

I even put small print on the back - that's how devious I am.

Big Bro even had an old ticket holder to make it look even more realistic.

And then I popped them in an unmarked envelope ready to be given to B-rye…

Act IV: The package is delivered

Big Bro popped round to see B-rye this afternoon to drop off a couple of presents and the fake tickets. It would've looked suspicious if I'd gone with him, so what I know is taken from Big Bro's recollection of events. Basically, B-rye totally fell for it. He actually did notice the seat number error, but thought it was just that - a printing error. He couldn't believe I'd bought him such a nice present. And then he invited Big Bro to go to the fake concert with him. Apparently doing a marvellous job of stifling his laughter, Big Bro agreed.

Notice that B-rye invited my brother, not me who'd actually given him the (admittedly fake) tickets. Bastard.

Anyway, as far as B-rye is concerned he's toddling off to see Pearl Jam this summer at Wembley Arena. But as you, I, and Senator Vreenak know…

I am evil.


I received a message from B-rye on Facebook about an hour later thanking me for the tickets. I replied:

My pleasure. It was the least I could do after you gave mum that winning lottery ticket.

Ah, happy days.


Tara said...

At first I was pretty irritated by that fake lottery ticket. I knew what was coming because apparently people pull that trick in the US and catch the reactions on camera on "America's Funniest Home Videos".

But your payback is brilliant. I love it, good job. I'm hoping that he'll be completely disappointed and deflated.

Ponita in Real Life said...

He doesn't read your blog, does he?

Excellent use of Photoshopping skills, Tim! I'm proud of you! =D

Miss Smuggersham said...

Ha! Although, that took a lot of cojones to do - you've just upped the anti. What will his retaliation be after this?

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Ooh, you devious little stinker! Bravo!

I think this is Senator Vreenak's first outing this year?

Tim said...

Tara - If I'd known it was a fake I could've recorded Sparky Ma's reaction and got 250 quid off You've Been Framed!

Ponita - Nah, we're safe in that regard!!

Miss Smuggersham - I'm hoping it'll be curling up into the foetal position and crying!

Inexplicable Device - Why thank you! And yes, seeing as it's the first post of the year, it's also Senator Vreenak's first outing. Hopefully the first of many.

CyberPete said...

Very mission impossiblesque

Tim said...

I was dangling from wires while I did it.

CyberPete said...

I expected no less of you.

Were rubber masks and voice altering devices used too in a confusing way so nobody knew what was going at all? Oh and did you defy gravity? Because that would be like the making of a really dumb movie

Tim said...

It wasn't *that* kind of movie!

Dirty boi!

CyberPete said...

Well you know me..

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Pearl Jam, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.