Coming soon, twice!

The new Lotto machines are still shrouded in plastic at the Co-op and the Post Office

“Absolutely barmy,” someone said, but somebody else noted that the Co-op is open in the early evenings after the Post Office is shut, while the MarketPlace shop is open on Sunday mornings when of course the Co-op is closed, thereby facilitating your chance to purchase a National Lottery ticket here in the village.

Yes, wait ‘forever’ (after the Village Shoppe closed some years ago, there hasn’t been a National Lottery terminal in Allendale) to play the Lotto locally, and then two kiosks come along getting ready to open at the same time! I remember so well when the first lottery terminal came to Allendale. I thought it was like the devil incarnate, as I stood in the queue to take a chance on winning millions of pounds, betraying my Anabaptist heritage of practicality and anti-gambling strictures. Even knowing the vanishingly small probabilities of success, even showing our children the odds by counting out kilograms of dried split peas before we identified the single coloured one of the bunch we’d marked earlier, even with all of the playing population of the UK arrayed against me and my Lucky Dip numbers, I was still seduced by that chance. Mostly it was just the dreaming, the ‘what if’ fantasies, in the same way our son in his first school days used to want to imagine what we’d do if a million pounds suddenly fell out of the sky. Akin, I suppose, to Douglas Adams’ infinite improbability drive , the sky-diving hippopotamus, and the capacity the drive offered him to indulge in improbable plot twists for the various incarnations of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And then it turned out that we were all contributing to good causes, and although the initial enthusiasm waned across the country, ticket sales remained robust enough to create a whole infrastructure of funding for community projects. I have yet to hear, for example, of any local project that has failed to realise its request to the National Lottery Awards for All scheme, which provides a maximum of £12,000 to any successful applicant group that meets its criteria. So, recognising that a significant portion of the ticket price goes to good causes in the north-east, I’m happy to let a quiet punt go out online, just so I can spend a moment or so sometimes in a quiet reverie about what we’d do with a grand win. I may have mentioned in an earlier diary entry that the first thing I’d aim to do with significant money would be to establish a petrol station here again!

I’m not seduced by instant-play scratch cards, nor by any other sort of gambling in the slightest (which is quite a relief, considering a serious inclination towards obsessiveness). But that vague fantasy of untold wealth is enough.

Even while the evanescent dreams meander intermittently through my little brain, however, I’m busy working on make-do, make-good, repair-and-refresh projects that keep me active in the world of immediate reality. Nobody who plants 240 seed potatoes in their own carefully prepared patch is likely to be accused of frittering their time away dreaming of untold wealth, are they? Nor could someone who nurtures 35 found ‘oca’ mini-tubers so as to be able to harvest an exotic, sweet Peruvian potato-like dish for Christmas dinner, be accused merely of aimless and unproductive financial fantasies, really. Nor yet someone keeping the habitation of an ancient Hymermobile steady on the road for real adventures soon to be ventured, be thought of as an impossible dreamer — close to impossible, maybe, come to think of it. But I plead my case with my agitated conscience, and hope for beneficence if ever I have to explain myself and my lottery squanderings to St Peter at the Pearly Gates.

I expect that I’m not unlike most folks, in that regard, ready like our son for that million pounds to fall from the sky, but working to fulfill real, realisable dreams nonetheless.

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