Belfast Telegraph

If I won lottery I wouldn't go mad ... I'd maybe just buy a helicopter

By Robert McNeill

Here's a funny thing. No, seriously. I have never done - if that's the word - the lottery. Not even out of curiosity.

I've been chased out of a street, along with a photographer, for trying to interview a lottery winner. Quite right too. But I've never felt tempted to buy a ticket myself.

With odds of 14 million to one, the idea of someone with my luck winning is absurd.

To my mind, the lottery is a pound - or whatever it is - down the drain rather than a million up the drain, as it were.

That said, the various nations of Britain have thrilled to the tale of a syndicate of bus drivers in Northamptonshire, England, who won £38m.

This was on EuroMillions, which sounds suspiciously continental and not, therefore, for the likes of us.

I was impressed by the way several of the drivers downed steering wheels immediately and waddled away from their vehicles, pausing only every five steps to leap into the air clicking their heels.

It prompted me to wonder what I'd do if I won a lottery. I'm not clear about the job aspect, as I'm not convinced I have one.

Basically, I wake up, do breathing exercises, make coffee, read the papers, sit in front of a computer, write about what's on my mind, then go out to feed the birds.

Don't think I've missed anything there, unless you count brushing your teeth as work.

I didn't get where I am today by working, and trust this situation will continue, as I don't really have a plan B. For many people, the lottery is plan B.

For my parents' generation, all hopes of escaping poverty were pinned on "the football coupon", which involved a peculiar ritual every Saturday teatime when we gathered round the telly and Dad oohed and ahed at such announcements as: "Partick Thistle nil Hamilton Academicals two." Billy Connolly said that, for many years, folk thought Partick Thistle Nil was the club's full name.

But what to do with all these millions?

I don't think I'd go travelling. To quote John Cooper Clarke: "I've seen the world. I didn't like it." I could buy clothes, but am unlikely to change the general jeans, shirt and T-shirt theme.

It's not as if you'd add a top hat.

I suppose you could buy one of those daft watches that cost thousands of pounds. But really, to get your money's worth, you'd have to keep looking at it every five minutes.

I'd probably trade in my ancient Focus for a Lamborghini, mind.

I love the old gal but, on any given journey these days, she doesn't always return with the same amount of parts as she had when setting out.

Actually, being self-conscious, I wouldn't buy anything too fancy. Maybe just a helicopter.

The lottery winner I mentioned above - the one that caused me to be chased by an irate mob - lived in a poor area of Scotlandshire.

Discovering his criminal background, the tabloids gave him hell. He moved to a posh bit of England, but was never accepted, blew his cash foolishly and returned to his council estate to spend the rest of his days happily drinking rancid lager in his dingy local. Moral (inspired by Benjamin Franklin): the trick in owning millions is not to let the millions own you.

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