View from the Bridge: 23

by John Morrison


23: The Numbers Game

Of all the ways to find long-lost members of your family, none is more effective than winning the National Lottery. This is not, however, a problem that needs to be addressed tonight by disgruntled Milltown punters. It's a depressing thought, as they rip up their lottery tickets, that they'll have to keep their old friends and family for yet another week.

It's one of life's quaint anomalies that those who claim paranormal powers seem quite unable to pick the lottery numbers. When Uri Geller, for example, arrives at the pearly gates and St Peter asks him to justify himself, all he'll have to offer will be: "I bent cutlery and nobody found out how I did it". Willow Woman, the loveliest of Milltown's many charlatans, is another whose powers fall inconveniently short. She can offer bland reassurances and the vaguest of prophecies, based on the turn of a Tarot card, yet cannot predict anything genuinely useful - such as those six numbers and the bonus ball.

It's Saturday night so the Sad Couple have taken up their customary seats at the Stoic, and stare fixedly at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. She turns unexpectedly to he: "What would you do if you won the lottery?"; he turns to she: "I'd send you a postcard".

Biker Dave is another lottery loser. He chooses exactly the same numbers every week: based on his IQ, penis length and the number-plate of his Bastard 750 motor-bike. This simplifies matters by keeps the numbers in single figures, which is good. But using the same numbers every week locks him into the lottery habit, which is bad. If he were ever to miss a week, and 'his' numbers came up, he'd probably top himself.

If he was a bit brighter he would see the folly of his ways. If he was a bit brighter still, he would stop doing the lottery altogether. As our Town Drunk pronounces, in one of his rare moment of clarity: "I may spend all my money on beer and fags, but at least it's better than just frittering it away".

It's all rather different for the directors of Camelot. They may join the rest of the population in picking six numbers at random. But then they write them on a cheque, with their name at the top, and bank it.

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