It couldn’t be me!

January 8, 2016

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It couldn’t be me! Six Lottery numbers turned me into a mug for 21 years and counting, confesses SIMON LAMBERT

I’ve done many daft things in my life, perhaps the most inconsequential but longest lasting was the fateful decision to start playing the lottery.

On that day in November 1994, I bought a ticket for the first ever National Lottery draw.

7, 12, 16, 32, 36, 42

Those were the numbers on the ticket. Unfortunately, in those days before the Lucky Dip’s arrival, I had to pick them myself.
I didn’t win. But I did remember the numbers and played the lottery again. And so began my 21-year relationship with a six number sequence I’d gladly have erased from my memory.

Because I had some numbers, I had to keep playing long after the novelty of the Lottery wore off. After all, what would I do if I saw those balls had won the jackpot and I hadn’t played? ‘It could be you,’ said Camelot. It wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t even win a tenner off three matching numbers until the year 2000 when I was at university. Yet still I played on, because what if those numbers came up?

There were draws I missed, of course – including at least a year’s worth spent out of the UK – but there were plenty more Saturday evenings spent racing to buy a ticket before the deadline arrived.
A decade into the National Lottery’s life, Nell McAndrew was enlisted to help celebrate its tenth birthday in 2004 – 11 years on, I’m still playing

Initially, this was a steady £1 a week drain on my teenage resources. Then some evil genius decided to introduce a Wednesday draw too, doubling my weekly stupid tax to £2 and adding an extra opportunity to panic about getting to the newsagents by 7.30pm.

Eventually, in the mid to late-2000s I gave in and signed up to a direct debit. It was the dumbest insurance policy I’ve ever taken out, but it meant I didn’t have to worry about those numbers coming up and not having a ticket anymore. Of course, the Lotto has since retaliated.

First, by doubling the ticket price to £2, so I now pay £4 a week (or as I don’t like to think about it £208 a year). Then, by adding in ten extra balls to decrease further my already terrible chance of winning. But at least I now breathe easy about the lottery, safe in the knowledge that the money being siphoned out of my bank account is the price I must pay for being stupid enough to commit those numbers to memory.

As this column went to press, last night’s bumper £50million draw hadn’t taken place. By the time you read this, I may have won the jackpot. You can go check the numbers yourself, just be careful not to remember them.

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