THE VIEW FROM HERE
THE National Lottery, which began in this country in 1994, is a funny old mixture. It exists overwhelmingly because of the public’s greed.
If Mammon did not flash up those pound signs before us, with accompanying visions of yachts, swimming pools, and champagne all round, the lottery would be a pretty dead duck.
Many of us live in somewhat straitened circumstances these days, so it’s not surprising to jump at the chance of heaving one’s bank balance out of the gutter of poverty.
But to live a little more comfortably is not actually the lure of the National Lottery. The purchase of a lottery ticket is not performed to pay the gas bill. It is to get gloriously, stinkingly, rich.
It could be you!
Most unlikely, in truth. The odds of winning the jackpot on our Lotto game are almost 14 million to one. On the Euromillions draw, they are more than 116 million to one.
And yet every week people queue up in supermarkets and corner shops to get their hands on that little slip of paper which will bring them, oh dear, not very much, if anything.
"I’ve won £25!" Well, no, you haven’t, because even though you matched three numbers, you had to pay two quid for your ticket, which means you’ve actually won £23.
Plus, have you taken into account all those tickets you’ve been buying week after week, which didn’t net you anything?
Yes, you’ve made an overall loss. Such a shame.
But people go on doing it, each thinking they’ll be the one to scoop the big prize.
Spend, spend, spend. Yes, that’s absolutely right, except it’s little bits of paper and scratchcards they’re spend, spend, spending on, not superyachts.
Still, if it gives them pleasure, that’s fine. I don’t do the lottery, not for prudish reasons but because numbers give me a headache and I don’t understand how Thunderball works and actually I don’t care.
I’d rather lose my money on a horse, because at least you get the fun of watching a lovely colourful race full of shiny gee-gees and lissome jockeys, instead of sitting on the sofa at home checking numbers. If I’d wanted to check numbers, I’d have been a tax advisor.
It could be you! I know it won’t be me, not only because I haven’t bought a ticket but because it just won’t. My horse in the Derby didn’t win either but at least it was an entertaining race.
People have a perfect right to lose money on the lottery. I just think it’s a bit sad, watching them all, some of whom can’t really afford the money they lose over the years, shuffling into the newsagents, dreaming of splashing champagne around.
The National Lottery has been described as a tax on the poor (12 per cent of Camelot’s takings goes to the government as duty) and it’s certainly true the poor spend a bigger proportion of their meagre income on losing at the lottery than the rich do with their wealth.
Still, as I say, the lottery is a funny old mixture. And into that mixture of dusty shop counters and greedy visions and boring numbers, there is also the really uplifting ingredient of the good-causes initiative.
Three Island organisations have just been awarded three grants of more than £9,000 each from the Big Lottery Fund.
Missing Abroad, the charity run by the Lucie Blackman Trust, will sponsor IT equipment and training among smaller IW organisations, which will then join in supporting families whose relatives have disappeared.
The grant to Brainstrust will help the families and carers of children with brain tumours, while St Mary’s School, Ryde, will use the money to set up an activity trail.
And if you want to see the National Lottery in action at the highest level, visit the monastic community at Quarr Abbey, where they received a grant of nearly £2 million and have embarked on an ambitious programme to build a haven of natural beauty, animal husbandry, peace and spirituality (with delightful cafe and visitor
centre attached.) It’s not yet completed but perfection is on the horizon.
The National Lottery is, in part, certainly pure material greed but Quarr Abbey, and the good works of other IW organisations, have demonstrated God and Mammon can co-exist in a most pleasing manner.
Footnote to bridge charge complaint
An interesting proposition by IW councillor Julia Baker-Smith, who predicted at last week’s executive meeting that if a 50p each-way fare for foot passengers was introduced at the Cowes floating bridge, "people would vote with their feet".
Well, yes, they’ve certainly got feet. That’s the whole point. At the moment they’re using them to get on to the floating bridge.
However, I’m not sure what alternative they’ve got, should they then choose to "vote with their feet" Unless they’re Jesus, it might be a soggy experience if they eschew the floating bridge and rely on their tootsies to get them across the Medina.
For those not so miraculously endowed in this department, it looks as if voting with their feet will involve a trek along the banks of the Medina, via Newport.
St Mary’s Hospital should stock up on blister dressings immediately.