Want a ride on the gravy train? Read on

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The Independent Online
Dear Mr Reader: Congratulations on embarking on the prize trail! Yes, it's true! Simply by buying this issue of the Independent newspaper, you have been selected as one of the finalists in a great competition in which you could win a total cash prize of anything between pounds 1 and pounds 500,000! And the number you have been allocated is: 29857462354192939 94858969/98

Yes, Mr Reader, that number is yours and yours alone, and it is the key to your winning the prize in this great competition, which could net you as much as pounds 500,000 or as little as pounds 1!

All you have to do is memorise that number, so that if anyone approaches you in the street and says, "Do you know the magic prize-winning number as allocated to you in the Independent newspaper the other day?" you can look them straight in the face and say, "Yes, the number is 2985 746235419293994858969/98!".

Our representative will then look at his notes, Mr or Mrs Reader, and say, "No, I'm sorry, that's the wrong.... No, hold on, I tell a lie, you've got the right number!"

Well, knock me down with a feather! Well done, Mr or Mrs Reader, you have won prizes worth half a million pounds in cash, that's a lot of money, you will probably need advice in investing it, and by extreme good luck I have here with me a financial adviser who will give you the best possible advice on how to invest that money, and I have a very strong feeling that what that adviser will tell you to do is buy old Department of Social Security offices cheap and flog them off for a quick profit!

In fact, so sure am I that that is his advice that I think you will find he has done that for you already, Mr Reader, and that the money has already been banked, though not in your name!"

Of course, he may not say that to you at all. He may say, "Well done, you have won a prize of pounds 500, that's not a lot of money compared with half a million but it's still a lot compared with the average tip given to a taxi driver, and it so happens that I have a financial adviser here with me and I can arrange for him to give you advice on how to invest that pounds 500!

"In fact, I have a very strong feeling that I know already how he will advise you to spend that pounds 500! I have a very strong feeling that he will urge you to spend it on a dinner date with the Prime Minister of England! Yes, with John Major himself, because for only pounds 500 you can secure a place at dinner with the man they call the Premier of England!"

There is always the chance, Mr or Mrs Reader, that you will be one of those rare people who already own more DSS offices than they know what to do with, or who habitually dine with the Prime Minister, and are trying to get less of his company, not more, in which case we can offer you, instead, a chance to become the head of a recently privatised public utility company, with bonuses of up to half a million a year. Or you might become one of the hugely overpaid lawyers involved in the sell-off of the British rail system. Or you might become one of the directors of Camelot, or one of the many hard-working well-paid sinecures which have made this country what it is today.

You're probably saying to yourself by now, "Well, this all sounds very well, but there must be some catch. Nobody gets all this lovely lolly for nothing."

Well, Mr or Mrs or Miss or Ms Reader, the answer to that is a straight yes and no. Yes, you get the money. No, you have to do something a little extra.

But it's so little that we don't mind asking you to do it. All you have to do is vote Tory at the next election.

If enough of us do that, we'll be home and dry on the gravy train for another five years!

If you don't believe us, listen to what some previous prizewinners have to to say:

Norman Lamont: "Thanks to this prize scheme, I was able to give away billions of pounds of government money in just one night!"

Jeffrey Archer: "I used to be plain Jeffrey Archer. Now I'm plain Lord Archer. This shows that you don't have to have a huge amount of talent to get a title with the Tory prize scheme, just a huge amount of luck!"

Margaret Thatcher: "I'm sorry. I don't talk to anyone for under half a million these days."

I tell you what, Mr Reader. Don't even bother with the lucky number.

Just vote Tory, and we'll all be in the lolly!

The next election. Coming soon to a polling booth near you.