I don’t play the lottery. Well, let me be more precise, I’m not saying I have never played the lottery; I just don’t play with any regularity. You could probably count on two hands the amount of times I’ve bought a ticket. I think the main reason for this is, since I was a little girl, I’ve always had the feeling that I would one day do well for myself. I’m not talking ‘millionaire’ as such, but I was going to land well and truly on my feet (or so my gut instinct advised me). But I’ve always felt that I was going to have to earn it – and I’d be highly unlikely to win it. As I’ve said in an earlier post, the only thing I’ve ever won is a prize for a short story that I had penned and a ‘draw a picture of a lollipop lady’ competition. And funnily enough, neither was handing out big cash-prizes (go figure). So I’ve never classed myself as an especially lucky individual. But this upcoming windfall through my own hard graft hasn’t come about just yet (I think it’s quite a bit behind schedule if I’m honest) but I am still patiently expecting it to happen any day now.
I know people who play the lottery every week. I know people who account for the money that it costs them to buy a weekly lottery ticket in their monthly budget. They add it in after mortgage, bills, and costs of running the car etc. – seriously. It’s up there with all their other essential expenditures. Is it me, or is that bordering on a little bit crazy? A lottery ticket in the UK costs £2. So that’s £8 a month – £96 per year. If the average person plays the lottery once a week for 10 years, that’s £960 spent with absolutely nothing to show for it (and that’s if you only play once a week). And the likelihood of all your six numbers coming up on the lottery (thanks Google, I owe you one) is 13,983,816 to one. You’re more likely to be run over by a bus (2 people in every million per year). It just won’t be as much fun. And if you’d just done the sensible thing and put that money earmarked for the lottery in a high-earning ISA account, you’d have a tidy sum to fall back on (please do not ask me to calculate the interest – I’m not Carol Vordaman).
The only time I ever buy a lottery ticket is when I’m at rock bottom. And when I say that, I mean so depressed that the thought of working up until my retirement (and who knows when that’s going to be with the way they keep raising the retirement age) makes me want to top myself. So for me to buy a lottery ticket is akin to a cry for help. You should call the Samaritans when I nip down the shops to buy a lottery ticket because things are pretty damned desperate. I was having one such day a few weeks ago (it’s okay, I’m feeling much better now), and I was trying to decide between purchasing a lottery ticket or a scratch-card. But the biggest winning prize on a scratch-card that I could see was £80,000. I remember thinking, ‘£80,000? That’s not life-changing money! You can’t even buy a house for £80,000, let alone live the life of luxury and spend your days on a yacht! Screw that!’ So I bought a lottery ticket instead. Like I couldn’t do with £80,000?! I’m completely irrational sometimes.
But like I say, I don’t buy a ticket or a scratch-card terribly often so I haven’t wasted a sickening amount of money like some people have. My father plays the lottery every week – he has set numbers. I think having the same numbers week-in-week-out is a dangerous game to play. At least if you just do the odd lucky-dip every now and then, your fate is entirely in the lap of the gods and you can just walk away a loser with a shrug of the shoulders. But if you have those same set numbers every week (y’know, your house number, your dog’s birthday, the number of hairs on that suspicious looking mole on your arm – that kind of thing) then those six numbers belong to you. That means you have no choice but to play the lottery every week for the rest of your life because if you miss just one week and your six numbers come up…how are you going to feel then? You’re probably going to want to stand in front of that aforementioned bus and increase your odds. You’re a prisoner to the lottery. I know a woman this very thing has happened to; it took her a very long time to get over it. She told herself it wasn’t meant to be and that she still had her health; but deep down in her heart, the realisation of what she had lost (or what she could have won) was sickening.
Perhaps it’s better if I don’t win my fortune then. I saw a programme on the TV recently about a man who had won big on the national lottery. He had bought himself everything he ever wanted, a big house with a pool, foreign holidays – everything you’d expect. But his marriage had broken down and he said he had bought five houses for five different sets of friends. And he had never set foot in any one of those houses. Those friends were no longer friends. Money is a funny thing like that – it twists and distorts relationships. People don’t look at you the same way as when you had nothing and were on a level-pegging with them; the balance has just changed too much. Still, he was asked if he could go back in time, would he change his fate. Would he choose not to have bought that fateful lottery ticket? But the guy insisted he would change nothing; yes he had lost a lot and learned who his real friends were, but even though he had times of regret and sadness, it was still better to be a rich unhappy man than it was to be a poor unhappy man. And when he was a bit down, he could just jump on a plane and get away from it all. He was still better off with money. Anyway, I must dash – I haven’t got my ticket for the big draw tonight…