The get out of jail free card

I have a window almost exactly like this at the back of my garage. It’s dark in there (no electrics) and overgrown on the outside by passion flowers, mostly dead, and other twine-y stuff that kind of grows along under the roof and then comes inside and starts winding itself about the metal struts under the roof. So, if you’re inside my dark, creepy garage and looking out back, this is what you’d see.

I saw this mention of Get Out Of Jail Free card and for a moment couldn’t remember what one was. It’s so many years since I played Monopoly, and even then I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand much in the way of games, apart from Snakes and Ladders, and that was no good because my sister always cheated. She had this little round innocent face like a cherub: how could she be cheating? Anyway, she was allowed to, according to my parents.

So in Monopoly I think the idea is that you may at any time land in Jail (I’m not sure how – something to do with the throwing of dice) and once you do you have to either buy your way out (probably also effected by the throwing of dice) or – if you are lucky enough to already possess a Get Out Of Jail Free card, you can get out of jail… free. Simples!

Apparently, one James Robert Ringrose, who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list until he was arrested in 1967, presented police with something very valuable he said he had been saving – a Get Out Of Jail Free Card. I’m still not clear – somebody enlighten me – was James Ringrose possessed of an admirably subtle sense of humour, or did he genuinely believe…?

Apparently also, there actually was a Get Out Of Jail Free card once, but it wasn’t called that. It was one of the spiffing prizes in Britain’s first ever lottery, which had been commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I – she of the starched white ruff and incipient baldness – and Sir Frances Drake – he of the velvet knickerbockers but not he who turned his blind eye to the telescope and said ‘I see no ships’ – as a ruse to raise funds for the Navy. The Navy was always in need of funds – it was kept so busy, what with Ruling The Waves and all that. The winner of the prize would be permitted to use it to escape punishment for all but the most serious crimes.

And the question is – finally – if you were given the real life equivalent of a Get Out Of Jail Card – something that could get you out of an undesired situation – what would you use it for?

Remember you also have the option to Sell it, or Save it for a rainy day. Would you sell it? If not, what sort of rainy day would you save it for?

I haven’t made my mind up yet. It would definitely have to consist of a heap of cash rather than a small piece of cardboard, and I think I might opt to Save it, simply because like most English people I am convinced that things will only get worse. And worse. And worse. Or at any rate no better. As my grandfather used to say, quoting some long-forgotten Northern comic:

T’world were b*****ed when I came into it and I dare say it’ll be b*****ed when I go out.

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