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Spanish Secrets: Dream Sellers

Craig Briggs, who is enjoying an idyllic new life in Galicia, explains why he does not buy lottery tickets.

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In a week that saw a global stock market slump, I received a very pleasant and completely unexpected financial windfall. Wednesday’s post contained an unusually high volume of junk mail. Despite a curious collection of computerised spellings and strange address formats, the postman had correctly identified them as ours.

A conveniently abandoned nail file provided a suitable letter-opener. One-by-one I slid the file along the envelopes’ gummed seals, effortlessly slicing them open. In a continual, almost mechanical motion, I unfolded their contents, scanned the unblemished pages and dropped them gracefully into the waste-paper basket.

Within seconds I was slicing along the flap of the final letter and unfolding its virgin correspondence. To my surprise and delight, separated from the main body of the letter by a pin-pricked perforation was a banker’s cheque. The amount was disappointing - £19.38. It was a small annual dividend payment from a tiny corporate shareholding. After overcoming my initial disappointment I rejoiced in my good fortune.

But how much misfortune befalls those whose perceive good fortune is measured in millions? How many dreams turn into nightmares through the luck of the draw?

Every week millions of people dream of winning a national or international lottery. Instant multi-millionaires made by the correct selection of a few numbered balls.

I remember quite vividly the introduction of the UK National Lottery at the end of 1994. After a great deal of deliberation and soul searching I decided not to participate. Not for the first time, it singled me out among friends and work colleagues as unusual.

The first ever draw was heralded by a fanfare of media attention. The high number of winning tickets during the first two weeks saw the huge weekly jackpot diluted to non-newsworthy proportions. By the third week, ticket sales had already begun to dip. The National Lottery was in danger of losing its media- driven momentum.

By a remarkable coincidence and amazing piece of good fortune for the organisers, there was no winning ticket on the third week. This implausible fortuity effectively doubled the following week’s jackpot to a staggering £17 million. A national frenzy of lottery ticket buying ensued.

During that national week of dreams, I had a crystal-clear premonition of all six winning numbers. The next day, convinced of their infallibility, I rushed to buy a ticket. That Saturday evening I sat calmly in front of the TV waiting for the live draw to begin, certain of my imminent success.

The first ball selected rolled along the clear plastic tube and bounced to a halt at the end. I was stunned, numb and speechless. How could my premonition be wrong?

It didn’t take me long to realise that winning that vast sum of money would have changed my life forever. Thank heavens for small mercies. That first ticket purchase became the last – my dreams are not for sale.

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Copyright © 2007 Craig Briggs


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