Imagine my surprise when I discovered late last night that I had not won the £15 million Euromillions jackpot. Not that I would have told you, or anyone else, if I had won but I was fully expecting not to have needed to get up this morning. As it was, I did not have a single number. Back to the occasional day job it is (for now).
I do not know why I bothered to buy a ticket in the first place. The odds are, overwhelmingly, that I will not even win a tenner, never mind enough to set me up for life. The dream of winning the lottery is more of an illusion.
My biggest regret when the original lottery was set up in the UK was to choose my weekly numbers. I had fallen for the hype that I actually had a realistic chance of becoming filthy rich. Soon, I realised that I was actually handing over a large wedge to the chancellor, as well as some admittedly worthy charities and good causes. Full disclosure: I have never bought a lottery ticket with the main aim of helping others: it has all been about me.
I’m on the edge of the demographic targeted by lottery tickets. I’m not well-off but comfortable. Far from rich, but not poor, as poor as say when my mother brought me up on the basis of off-cuts and charity. I do all right. The lottery relies on people who have not much money. Without them, the lottery system would ensure weekly jackpots in the hundreds of pounds, not millions.
Gambling is, for many, the only hope they think they’ve got. Grim, miserable lives, with no hope of professional advancement, of living in their own home, of having a lovely holiday. Six numbers in a row could change everything, just like that magical bet on line or in the bookies. For almost all of us, it’s a life of illusion. It is not an accident that more betting shops are found in ‘poorer’ areas than richer ones.
So, I didn’t win the lottery last night and, in truth, my only regret was squandering £2.50 for the privilege. Reality might be dull, repetitive and often little more than a means to an end, but it beats the government approved confidence trick of lotteries.