Life’s Great Big Lottery by PETER MORTIMER

1452

A mug punter has palpitations as the nation goes bananas

SOMEONE with a delightful sense of the absurd calculates that with the new national lottery conditions in place a body now has 150 times more chance of being hit by lightning than of winning the jackpot.
  And that’s not all. Putting my own analytical and statistical genius to work I calculate that you have 236 times more chance of being entertained by the latest Big Brother, 186 times more chance of marrying Michael Gove wearing a tutu (Michael Gove that is, not you), and that you are 139 times more likely to come across a copy of The Collected Metaphysical Poems of Keith Lemon.
  If none of these sounds likely then it is worth reminding oneself that neither is winning the lottery. In fact, my advice is: don’t bother. Do something else. Stand in the middle of your street singing an Italian aria. Run about in Nettos wearing only a bath towel while yelling “Death to pie crusts!” Hand out complimentary bowls of cold custard in the High Street.
  Those devious bods who run the National Lottery decided recently to make the odds against winning even more remote; they are now 45 million-to-one against. In order that the public would not see this as bad news, they ratcheted up the prize money a wee bit. And the media fell for it, concentrating on the recent £60m at stake rather than the absurdly remote chance of winning.
  Hence one Saturday evening a week ago or so, while I mused upon this column, out there in the Big Wide World a lottery ticket-buying frenzy had overtaken the nation. Across the UK queues of twitching idiots were standing in long queues outside Spar shops, swallowing valium by the handful while dreaming of a monstrous-sized cheque dropping through their letter boxes in a week or so’s time. The week just got wilder. . .
. MONDAY: Sixty million quid!! Imagine £60million laid end to end in five pound notes! As long as it didn’t blow away at the first puff of wind, with that kind of money you could afford to keep the spare room radiator on all the time and never need to darn a sock again [Welcome to the 21st century, Mortimer – no one has darned a sock in decades – Ed].
  TUESDAY: The Pope is spotted buying tickets at a Wallsend newsagent and there are reports of a heavily-disguised President Obama queuing up outside a Fencehouses convenience store, his pockets bulging with US Treasury bonds. I hope they’re valid currency at Spar. Such fever-pitch excitement has not been experienced in our normally reserved country since December 31st, 1922 when the entire nation danced in the streets at midnight to celebrate . . . now what was it again? Oh yes, the start of 1923.
  WEDNESDAY: One in 45 million. Imagine those odds! Hard I know, but try. If it helps, think how much better such odds are than, say, one in forty-SIX million. Those odds would be simply ridiculous! I imagined laying 45 million grains of rice across a football pitch, but realised I’d need something the size of the Duke’s Northumberland estate. Rice stretching away as far as the eye could see and, within that vast canopy, one grain has my number on it!. Boy, do I feel lucky!
  THURSDAY: Sixty million! Spend that at the rate of £1,000 a day – no cheating mind, no days off – and it would last you about 150 years. Hang on though, I hear you ask: what if I live longer than that? Will I be back on Skid Row? Well, that’s a chance you’ll have to take.
  FRIDAY: Never having bought a lottery ticket, I realise on the eve of selection that this column is written from a position of total ignorance of punting. (Apologies: I did once put £2 each way on a horse in the Grand National, but the resulting heart palpitations as I watched the race proved excessive and, anyway, my horse came in 46th minus its jockey).
  SATURDAY: Excitement unbearable. Tonight’s the big jackpot draw on telly, more exciting than my only regular reckless gamble: a monthly £1 raffle ticket at Cullercoats Community Centre bring and buy sale, where I once won a Mars bar. It changed my life only marginally.
  SUNDAY: The prize has been won, and not by me; I am making the fairly secure assumption that the winner was not you, either.
  Never mind. Better luck next time. Or the 45 million times after that!

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