Saturday, 9 February 2008

In it to win it

I don't normally go in for the EuroMillions Lottery, to be honest. This isn't going to be one of those rather unpleasant, sneering posts where some middle class commentator bangs on about lotteries being "a tax on the poor/stupid" and how ticket purchasers are kidding themselves.

Here's a thought - every single lottery jackpot winner was, at some point, one of those poor delusional ticket buyers. As they tuck into their truffles for breakfast, washed down with a nice Petrus '67, I'm sure they really struggle with self-image problems.

Anyway. This week there were 95 million reasons to buy a EuroMillions ticket. That might put a dent in the credit card bill, so last night found me waiting with the great and the good to throw my £1.50 into the hat.

The queue was moving slower than normal; I observed that the lady at its head was having some difficulty. In between shouting at her young daughter, who was busy applying Fanta to every horizontal surface, she was barking down her mobile to her significant other.

"Darren? Darren? Help me out. Can you give me some numbers between 1 and 50? No, I...PUT THAT DOWN CHARLEY-JANE!!....I'm at the outdoor and I need you to give me some numbers."

Now then. The whole point of the lottery is that it's random. There's no skill involved in it whatsoever. Just pick some numbers. The protagonist in this touching domestic scene could just have done it with a pin, with exactly the same chance of success. And certainly without pissing off a whole bunch of huffing-and-puffing punters on a Friday night.

"26.......7.......18.......CHARLEY-JANE I WON'T TELL YOU AGAIN.......47......."

The saintly Darren was clearly hard of thinking. The gaps between each number were little islands of silence. I could imagine him, sitting at home, his brow furrowing as he sought to overcome the mental strain of thinking up a string of random numbers.

Even though most of us accept that the chances of winning are minimal, you do get to to think. What would you do if you won that sort of money? How would it change your life?

"What about the begging letters?" Katie asked me.

Hmm. I'd probably carry on writing them.

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