Nov 27th – The gods may throw a dice, Their minds as cold as ice, And someone way down here, Loses …

Cleaned myself: good run. No eat. Solution perhaps?
Monkey see, monkey do: like about who?
Tics: Please forgive me, no deity, often repeated.
Believe in God? Don’t you listen or nothing?
YTLH: easing off.

So, I am a lottery winner. Two correct numbers on my line of six, which entitles me to a prize – normally a free ticket, but this week, a draw-down, a free ticket plus £5. You see, as I have said earlier, no self-respecting gambler could own to buying a lottery ticket, other than in such conditions, where the odds swing back in favour of us. Shrewd eh? But, as I have also said previously, in a wasted attempt to educate Big Eggo that backfired horribly as you might recall, the lottery is a right-wing tax designed to appeal to and exploit the hard up and hard of learning, of whom it seems, I am now one. I am potless, and have become a member of the underclass.

But as much as I need a windfall, I will make this a temporary straying from the path of good sense and gambling rectitude, in that I’ll reinvest the winnings in two more lines (on the basis that life’s wheel of fortune has swung back towards my quarter), and call that it. Not only because I can’t afford to buy any more tickets, but also because I have placed my faith in Johnny-Big Eggo-Carver, to save me by crafting a Christmas hamper full of loaves and fishes from a flagon of Dog’s Bowl Beer.

It’s a simple enough proposition. All we’re asking is that you allow Colonel Pickering to lower his scrotum into your mouth, & for you hold it there to a count of ten. Then the money’s yours.

The lottery is a wicked form of taxation but in so far as it replaces religion as a pacifier of the masses, in swapping the goal of a place in Heaven after a lifetime’s obeisance, for that of a weekly renewable hope of a few million quid, I’m in favour. I mean, this way you get a couple of chances per week to access Paradise, more if you do a few scratch cards too.

But there is the risk, that those who wish to maintain the status quo must run. Imagine the rest of us, all realising at the same time how wretched are our lives? It would take but a tiny event to turn life here into the fifty-third caliphate with a sort of celebrity version of Johny Carver as Supreme Leader: a flood to displace communities in a time of Covid; a power outage slightly longer than normal; another hike in the price of lottery tickets; the TV licence becoming unaffordable? Once you’re poor, as I now recognise that I am, it only takes a very small change to have you recognise that you have absolutely nothing at all, and nothing to live in hope of. I’ll have mine now thanks, you Cove!

I say that, because, as Squeeze might sing, and now it’s two hours later, and I have been to the Co-op to collect my dividends. It was empty when I went in, but I had a) forgotten to bring my glasses, and b) also forgotten that I could rely on the Co-op not to have replaced their two lottery pens that never work. I tried to fill in a line with my lucky [sic] numbers and a piece of charcoal I found lying on the floor, but eventually had to give up – being unprepared to go back out into the sunshine to give me a better chance of reading what was on the slip and begging a pen off someone. It would have meant beginning the whole Covid entry process all over again, and I was already being eyed suspiciously by the uber compliant half-wits that manage the store. It is bad enough that the Lottery stand is in a sort of cul-de-sac beyond the tills, where it is obvious to all the other shoppers that you are engaging in a low activity – like buying Whiskey at lunchtime, or teenagers’ underwear, so, I gave it up, deciding to take either three lucky dips, or two lucky dips plus a dictated line of lucky numbers (preferred option), should I fall upon a compliant check-out operative.

Look, it’s just what successful people do, that’s all

I retraced my steps back into the main stream of the store, and there, as the till area narrows into the store proper, where there is always confusion as to who is coming, going, or queueing, I came face to face with this middle-aged man with a fringe and a Led Zep T-shirt, who made a begrudging effort to allow me through. But I didn’t want to go through, having already arrived at the head of the queue, so I backed away slightly and made a much better effort at gesturing to him to come through past me, whereupon he came and stood at the head of queue, in my spot. I didn’t move, and he looked over his shoulder to say, ‘the queue goes back there somewhere,’ and jabbed with his thumb. The cove nearly got a thumb jabbed in his eye, I might tell you – good job I didn’t have my Holiday Inn pen on me after all. Anny hoo, someone normal looking came to join then, so I asserted my position by turning round to face the front. And he complained about my behaviour. The man in front of me was giftedly ignorant, the man behind me, very adept at pointing out perceived anti-social behaviour; me in the middle, useless at both. I started to explain to the man behind me that I had been here first and that I’d been treated abominably, but it sounded like the squeaking pleas of a seven-year-old, and barely audible through my mask, so I bailed half way through, and waited my turn, knowing now that I’d brought more unwanted attention to my low transaction.

Till operator – a grey man with a retirement job, who said, ‘oh,’ as I presented my winning ticket and nothing else. He walked to the far end of the bank of cash registers, and eventually said, ‘it’s not a winner.’

‘I think it is,’ I told him, so he re-folded the ticket one more time and passed it through the scanner, whereupon, he called over, ‘free play, when do you want it?’

I didn’t know whether to say, Wednesday, Saturday, or next, because I’d forgotten what day I was on, so I said something which was a bit like ‘next’ fused with ‘anything,’ trying to sound like the most reasonable, pragmatic, decent sort of chap who didn’t often find himself in a Co-op, but sounding instead like a desperate tramp, who had got in everyone’s way for this pathetic declaration of poverty.

He came back to the till and gave me the ticket, but no £5 to go with it, and I was too ashamed to ask for it.