Saturday, 22 April 2006

to dream the impossible dream....

After many years of resisting it as a tax on greed and stupidity, I have somehow fallen into the trap of buying lottery tickets. I think it was the £100m jackpot on the Euro Millions draw that suckered me in. C. and I had a little discussion about what a ridiculously large sum of money that would be, and after a tiny bit of hand-wringing, I bought a couple of tickets. We were on holiday in France the week of the draw itself, and whilst we were there, I discovered what millions of people have known all along: that buying a ticket enables you to dream.

As we skiied down into Courchevel 1850, we watched the planes coming in to land at the airport carved into the side of a mountain. As we watched these little planes pulling to a stop on the runway, the passengers would hop out, skis in hand, walk to the edge of the piste and ski away. Bollocks to a 3 hour coach journey from Lyons - that's the way to arrive on the mountain. We would carry on skiing down to L'Elegante (as Courchevel 1850 is called) and would gawp at the expensive looking chalets just off the edge of the piste. Our hotel was nice enough, but it was nothing like these. If we won £100m.....

And so it began. You end up having ridiculous theoretical conversations, going into absurd detail about what you would do with the money if you won. Well, obviously, if I won I would give £1m to each of my family. Ah, but are my younger brother and his wife really able to handle that kind of cash? Perhaps it would be better if we tied that up in a set of conditions that only released a certain amount each year, to prevent them from blowing it on hare-brained schemes all at once. This is money, remember, that we haven't won... and here we are practically getting the lawyers involved and making judgements on each family member's character.

Nobody won the jackpot that week, and so it rolled on to the following week with a top prize of £125m, and I bought another ticket. I've also discovered the National Lottery website. Now you can set up an account and buy your tickets painlessly, without having to queue with the great unwashed. So I set up an account, and when I remember to, I buy a couple of tickets to the Euro Millions (tickets at £1.50 each; draw on a Friday night; jackpot usually starting at £10m), and a couple of tickets to the main Lotto draw (tickets at £1 each; draw on a Saturday night; jackpot starting at around £5m). Always Luck Dip, mind you. I'm not getting into that whole business of always picking the same numbers.

Yes, the chances of winning are miniscule. Yes, it's pretty much a way of pouring money down the toilet. But you know what? I buy the tickets, and I dream. I dream in a low-key, off-hand kind of way, but I dream nonetheless.

So imagine my excitement when I got this email this morning:

"Dear Swiss,

We have some exciting news about the ticket that you bought for the Friday 21 April draw. Please Sign In to your Account at the National Lottery website for more details.

Kind Regards
Interactive Customer Care"

I controlled my excitement for about a second and then breathlessly logged onto my account as quickly as I could.

I won! I won!

I won..... £7.30


You have to look on the bright side, don't you? What are the odds of even winning that much? About 1,000,000 to 1?

Next stop the jackpot! I'm on a roll now!

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