Things I’ve won

On Saturday the 24th August 2019, I’ll be releasing a video about the Beano and a particular competition I won in the early to mid-nineties; making this video made me think about all the other things I’ve won in the past. So, attempting to go chronologically in order, here are some of my favourites.

A £5 Boots Token

In a time before redeemable codes and giftcards there were book and gift tokens, these pieces of paper were worth the amount of money a loved one felt you deserved. I wasn’t much of a reader so when a W.H.Smiths token came my way it would typically be spent on an over-priced VHS from their abysmal collection OR traded with a parent for cold hard cash.

So why does a £5 token stick in my memory?

Hertfordshire Constabulary ran a competition in St Albans (My hometown) asking children to design a ‘Safer Town’ poster. This poster had to highlight the town AND the fact that pick pockets etc operated in the area, something that little me had no idea about or in all honesty, cared about either. The prize for the winner was a £10 Boots Token and a tour around the St Albans station.

Now, this is all a guess BUT I’d suggest not many people entered seeing that my middle brother won first prize and I came second; either that or the Officer that chose saw the names and thought ‘let’s make our life a little easier’. Obviously I was devastated I didn’t win but to be fair, my brother did take me with him on the tour and I still got a £5 token for being second.

Another thing that kids from today will never have done, gone to Boots to buy a computer game. Yup, during the 80s and early 90s, Boots the Chemist sold a range of technology including computers and video games. I purchased ‘Monty on the Run’ for the ZX Spectrum, it didn’t work and Mum blamed me so that was the end of that. What a waste.

A Casio Pocket TV

You’ll have to wait for the video for this one!

Alien vs Predator for the PC

During my time at Secondary School I became a PC Gamer. We got our first ‘Windows 95’ computer in the house around 1998 and discovered the joys of Half-Life, Unreal Tournament and Grand Theft Auto, it was divine and I immediately started saving for my own gaming PC. I would regularly buy PC Gamer and drool over the upcoming games, often re-reading an issue several times before I was satisfied.

For a period of time, PC Gamer ran a monthly competition that would see readers submit their top 5 games in return for the chance to win a game from that months issue. I entered this competition and somehow managed to win a copy of Alien vs Predator for the PC (1999 – The good game). There are some things you should know.

1 – The entry required a stamp and wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have one to hand. I got over this issue by writing ‘Freepost’ on the top of the envelope. Apparently this worked.
2 – My Top 5 games were 4 ZX Spectrum titles (Jet Set Willy, Skool Daze, Pyjamarama and Glass), I didn’t include a 5th game.

I’d have to guess that entries were pulled out of a hat however, I’m still amazed my entry even got there let alone won.

A Plethora of vouchers for the Harlequin in Watford

Before Heart bought out most local radio stations, St Albans and area had Mercury FM. It wasn’t wonderful but their morning drive-time show was entertaining and kept me abreast of the traffic en route to work. Each Christmas they would host a advent calendar style competition with phone in contestants winning whatever was revealed behind the door. One particular year the competition was to guess the film from the audio they played, this particular year I ended up winning 4 days in a row.

The previous week I hadn’t had much luck so changed up the gameplan by adding in their number to speed dial 1, this ultimately resulted in me getting though 5 times in a row and ultimately winning:

A £30 Voucher for Storm
A £20 Voucher for Cineworld
A £20 Voucher for the Harlequin itself
A portable radio

I let myself down on day 5 by mistaking Monsters Inc for another Pixar film, something that the radio host took much glee in announcing. The best part of this was having the prizes hand delivered seeing that the host had moved in round the corner!

A SONOS Play:3 Speaker

I used to regularly listen to Virgin / Absolute Radio on my way home from work, it had a good mix of music and enough comedy to get me through the 30 minute M1 slog. There would often be a good number of competitions but they would require some sort of knowledge about a band or singer that typically, was above my level however..

One evening in the late Summer they had a music group whos instruments were trashcans and recycled rubbish, the competition was to guess which song they were playing and for once, I knew it straight off the mark. I called in and was told I was third in the queue, not a good sign. Guess number 1 – Prodigy, Fire Starter – a laughable guess. Guess number 2 – You’re not alone – again, a laughable guess. My guess – Gonna make you sweat by C+C Music Factory.

Everyone went silent and then, to my dismay ‘Sorry Tom, that’s not the right answer’. I didn’t know what to say, I knew I was right and then, the lead musician chipped in ‘erm, he is right. It is Gonna make you sweat’. A frantic producer then updated the djay with the knowledge that ‘Everybody Dance Now’ was the subtitle and that yes, I’d won.

A year supply of Softmints

If you’ve ever wondered what a years supply of something looks like then like me, you’ll be disappointed. Typically companies will look at the average amount someone uses their product in a week and then multiplies that by 52 and in this case, I received 52 x 4 (208) rolls of Softmints. These arrived in a padded envelope and I’ll be honest, didn’t even make it to half a year – how I don’t have diabetes I’ll never know.

To win this ‘plentiful’ supply of mints I had to make contact with Dave Gorman, Danielle Ward and Martin White on the Absolute website. For a period of time their Sunday show was sponsored by Trebor and the competition was to highlight the nations biggest softies, something that I can be from time to time.

To keep this short, I sat on a train to London watching Third Watch, a medical / fire / police drama from the nineties. A man behind me informed me it was his favourite show ever and started quoting the script pretty much verbatim. I ended up giving him an earbud and missing my stop by one station so he could finish the episode. Needless to say I needed new headphones after this.


Originator of Weekend Lollygagger and second part of Video Game Basement, Tom is a big geek at heart. Happily doing random things left right and center allows the world to view his insanity in all it's technicolor glory.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.