So, I won the lottery on Saturday, you know. I was so thrilled, I did a dance in the Post Office where I collected my winnings, much to the horror of Bill the Post Master. It wasn't a great win - only my second in the history of the National Lottery's lifespan and the current score stands at Agnes: £20 - National Lottery: £1,322. Thus, I still have a long way to go before I can consider that I have beaten the system. And it really does gaul me that my £1,322 will have gone towards funding an arts project in Nether Codswallop for tramps to make sculptures out of beer cans.
Every week, people across the world play some form of lottery. In the UK, there is a mind-boggling array of forms and cards which you scratch, mark, and assess, like a randy Tom cat spraying his territory. In my 'village' (I was actually told the other day that Weaverham is the largest village in Europe and really ought to be accorded 'town' status, but all the residents kicked off at the thought of their house prices dropping by 50p) you can tell the lottery addicts a mile off.
My heart sinks when I walk into the Post Office bearing my £2.00 for two lucky dips and I am behind the following:
Short, stocky man with a grey buzz cut around 63 years of age. It's heaving with rain outside but he is sporting a saggy red vest which gapes around the arm holes displaying his hairy man boobs. His shorts are shiny blue satin and very tight. He has flip-flops on. He has a tattoo of practically every design on every imaginable part of his arms, shoulders, neck, back and calves (eewwwww!) which, against the leathery tan, look like some mad child has come and scribbled all over him whilst bored. He spends all his incapacity benefit for that week on numbers for the forthcoming month, and then checks his numbers for the previous month.
The old lady who, because it is throwing it down outside, wears a plastic polka-dot headscarf which constantly slips down over her nose making her unable to see properly. She is huffing and puffing at the bloke in front of her, complaining that 'people shouldn't do this when it's busy' and is trying to rally the complaining troops. We all stare at the ceiling and ignore her. When she gets to the front of the queue, she can't find her money and starts rifling through every pocket of her coat, tartan shopping trolley, knickers and plastic headscarf (just in case). After this charade, she finally hands over £20 and doesn't want the lucky dips - oh no, she is going to choose her 120 numbers herself...There...At the counter...In front of me...
When that is finally done, she'll continue to order a quarter of Sherbert Lemons, Pear Drops, Wine Gums (oh, no, put them back, they make me false teeth stick together) and Pontefract Cakes which 'keep me regular'.
The 15 year old spotty yoof who is rebuffed because he is too young to play the lottery. 'Aww, man, I'm, like, 19. It was my birthday last week. Honest. Ask Gaz, Baz, Tez, Kaz or Loz. They'll tell you.' He rows incessantly with the Post Master who refuses to ask Gaz et al for a reference, so spotty yoof goes next door to the off license and illegally buys 12 cans of Special Brew as if to prove a point, and then spends the rest of the afternoon drunkenly harrassing my greedy cat who goes begging around the chippy, much to my embarrassment.
When the National Lottery was first launched in the UK, practically every win from £100 upwards was reported in the press. People who seemed to have winning streaks were interviewed and asked for the secret of their success. One such woman swore blind that she put a large saucepan on her head and concentrated, trying to locate the magic numbers. I was really impressed by this and decided to give it a whirl.
One Saturday night, I sat in front of the TV waiting excitedly for the numbers to be announced. Atop my head I wore a large saucepan. It was the only one which fitted my head. It was made by Le Creuset, who only manufacture pots and pans from cast iron. My neck muscles were slowly giving out and my head listed dangerously to the left. My (then) husband walked in and stared at me. 'What the f*ck are you doing?' he asked. 'I'm going to win the Lottery!' I retorted hotly. 'What are you wearing a saucepan on your head for?' I impatiently threw the news article at him, which he read, and then declared that I had to wear the pan for calculating the numbers, not checking them. So, I didn't win that night. And it was so uncomfortable that I never bothered again.
Some friends of ours at the time held a National Lottery party shortly after this. We all went for dinner and were kindly given a Lottery ticket each. At 9pm, the gathered throng sat around the telly with baited breath. The numbers were called out with great theatricals from The Voice of the Balls and suddenly, one of our party went white. We all stared at him. He was a shaking, spitting, blustering wreck. 'I don't believe it,' he whispered. 'I've won. I've Won...I'VE F*CKING WON THE BIG ONE!!!!' Everyone clamoured for his ticket and stared. Indeed, he had. There was great elation at the thought that all of us might just get a cut if we were nice to him that night, so the women ignored their husbands and clamoured to sit in his lap and tell him what a lovely boy he was. The excitement was tangible...
About ten minutes after this, our host was visibly and audibly crying with laughter away from the meleé and we turned to him to find out what the big joke was. He was so hysterical, he could hardly breath. We caught the contagious laughter from him and all started howling, despite not knowing what was funny. Without a word, he got up, went to the TV and pulled out a video cassette and handed it to our 'winner'. Quizzical looks were exchanged. And then it dawned. Gavin had recorded the previous week's win, bought lottery tickets, making sure one of the tickets had last week's winning numbers and had started the tape running before we went into the lounge for the results.
This went down like a fart in a diving suit...Jaws dropped to the floor, eyes widened in united horror, and the 'winner', I have to say, did NOT see the funny side of it and left the party abruptly, with much slamming of doors and manic profanities. It sort of put a dampener on the evening, but I still take my hat off to Gavin and think it was one of the most wizard set-ups I have ever encountered in my life. I am just glad that he didn't choose me to be the winner, as I would probably be serving life now in the women's equivalent of Wormwood Scrubs for murder.
Well, I was given a free Euro lottery ticket for tomorrow night's draw and, no doubt, I shan't win this week. But, it's something to look forward to as it's got to be someone, I suppose, and, as Bill the Post Master says to me, if you don't play, you can't win (he's just scared his PO will be shut down as he makes most of his money on his lottery license, probably).
So, wish me luck, and if I win the big one, I shall take a grand world tour and look up all you international bloggers and come and pester you for free bed and board whilst I sit, partaking of your hospitality, throwing wads of notes at you in my generosity.