« Sorry sweetheart, looks like you’re unlucky » I say, about to take the scratch card from her. “Wait a minute” says the owner of the Auberge, watching with bored interest from the other side of the counter “you’ve missed a bit.” I give the coin back to my daughter who continues to rub and I look around the bar with it’s assortment of French alcohols and cigarettes.
Finding a place that had still been open for lunch at half past one had been a long shot, but we had followed the intuition of our trusty Guide du Routard. It had led us straight to a plate of lentils and pork in a tiny village buried so deep in the Auvergne countryside, that finding it had presented all the challenges of an archaeological dig.
An occasional sign on the walls showed the amounts pocketed by previous scratch card winners, and as I went to pay for the meal, my daughter spied the collection of cards and nudged me. “No..oh go on then” I said relenting, we were on holiday after all. “If you win fifty grand though, it gets split four ways” I added, avoiding my husband’s gaze, knowing exactly what he thought of such a frivolous waste of money.
What the hell, I thought; I’d bought exactly one card in the fourteen years that I’d been in France, I could scarcely be considered as a hard-core gambler. I looked at the myriad of cards and not recognising any, I chose the one that would give me the biggest bang for my bucks if I won. Mugs game, I thought handing over the money and regretting the certain imminent loss of 3 euros. Even if we win, it probably won’t cover the cost of buying the damn thing in the first place.
As we leave the Auberge, the old man holds the door open for us, before following along behind. “Bonne journée” he says, looking us up and down as though trying to memorise the important bits. Walking to the car, I can feel the others in the bar staring at us through the window as they stir their coffees. I exchange conspiratorial glances with my daughter, guessing that the talk over pastis this evening would revolve around how a family of étrangers from the Alps won 200 euros on a scratch card.