I haven’t won the lottery – again. 

Did you hear the one about the Spanish man who prayed every week that he would win the Spanish lottery ‘El Gordo’? Over time his pleas got more and more urgent, and also louder until it came to the point where he was shouting at God. Then one day he got an answer. A voice from heaven – though in this case it was through the lips of his exasperated wife “At least go half way - buy a ticket.”

 

I’m not really a gambler. When I was about five we picnicked in a local park quite near to some penny slot machines. Over an hour or so I watched person after person come along and push their pennies into the slot - someone won a few pence , but that was all and then as I watched they put each and every one back in the machine.

It was only pennies, but at the time I only got six pence a week in pocket money and I wasn’t going to waste any of it by giving it to a stupid machine. When I was a bit older my sister and I would watch the horse racing on Saturday afternoon television. We would choose a horse each and bet one penny – no odds, it was just if our horse won we would take the other person’s penny. If the horses lost we kept our money. The only trouble was my sister cheated - half way through the race she would change her allegiance to whichever horse was leading at that point. If her ‘new’ horse won I would protest and a wrestling match usually ensued – you can see the result if you look carefully at the slightly bent front of my parent’s display cabinet. It had to be reglazed and after the "incident" no pocket money was forthcoming for quite a while.

So to me, gambling just isn’t worth it. I don’t buy raffle tickets, even when it is for a good cause - I just make a contribution and ignore the tickets - to the consternation of those selling the tickets. Sometimes I have taken pity on them and said, ‘If my ticket comes up, just chose another one.’

Other people don’t have this logical attitude of course. There has been much on the radio lately about people who can’t pay their rent because they have gambled the money away. I know that such gambling is an addiction and the people involved cannot help themselves even when they want to. I’ve seen men betting on which raindrop would get to the bottom of the window first. Of course the attraction of gambling is that in just a minute your fortunes might be changed dramatically "It could be you".

I was waiting for my husband once next to a stall selling lottery scratch cards. One man kept buying a card, moving away from the counter, rubbing the card with a coin, then tossing it down and immediately queuing up again to buy another - even after he won a small amount.

At last the lady behind the counter asked, ‘Every day you always buy 20 tickets. Why don’t you just buy them all at once?’

His answer astonished me.

‘Because the first one might be a big winner and I don’t want to waste my money, do I?’

A twisted logic to say the least, but with the kind of advertising that pushes the idea of that big win, maybe it's unsurprising.