1990s >> 1995 >> no-1086-february-1995

It’s a bloody lottery!

The advent of the National Lottery has unleashed a real feast of unreason. The Sun (14 November) took up a lot of its valuable space printing a large red disc, five inches in diameter. The accompanying text boasted that the Sun “now brings you another amazing way to help you scoop the huge jackpot – LOTTERY SPOTTERY. The giant red dot on this page has been charged with lucky psychic energy . . . all you have to do is touch the lucky spot when you want to pick you numbers. Just close your eyes and the numbers will come to you. You can also use the power of Lottery Spottery by cutting out the dot and rubbing it on your lottery ticket to turn it into a winner”.


What’s that again? Psychic energy? The Sun explains. “Top British psychic Nella Jones channelled her energy into the Sun’s lucky red spot, which we have reproduced here . . . even if you’re playing the lottery with the Sun’s Wizard of Odds Sunplans, a little bit of extra luck will do your chances no harm at all.”


And how does this so-castled “psychic energy”, which we are told was implanted in some unexplained way into a red disc in the Sun’s office in London, transfer itself into the millions of Sun newspapers printed and sent to the farthest comers of the kingdom? We are not told. But then, if you have enough reasoning power to ask such questions, you wouldn’t be reading this rubbish in the Sun, would you?


Bloomsbury’ Press, which brought out Anna Pasternak’s Princess in Love (the book that even convinced royalists found sick-making) made its own grab for profits by publishing Dream Ticket, sub-titled How to Win the National Lottery! This book, said Bloomsbury, allows you to “decode the secret predictions of your sleeping mind” (Guardian, 16 November). If you dream of eating lettuce, bet on 34 and 29, if [you dream] of cutting your nails, then it’s 13,31 and 24.


And John Major gave the nation a lead by betting on numbers “combining his birthday with the addresses in Downing Street that he has occupied”. A large advertisement in the Observer (1 January) offered readers the chance to buy “the Lottery-Beater”, telling the buyer how to win the National Lottery. So here is a genuine philanthropist: he knows how to win the National Lottery (otherwise he couldn’t offer to sell readers the information), but he isn’t going to win it himself, he will let others do it.


Fortunately for him, many people won’t be able to work that out.
The Sun (31 December) had big headlines: “The Question That Is Gripping Britain – Why Haven’t These Balls Dropped Yet?” The article began: “These are the amazing 19 numbers that still haven’t been picked after six draws of the National Lottery’.” They “include No. 7 – said to be the luckiest lottery number of all. So if you are looking for a banker to play in all your lines, 7 may be the one for you”.


Almost certainly, the journalist writing this tosh must know that numbers drawn previously have no effect whatever on numbers drawn later. If you toss a coin fifty times, and get heads each time, the chances that you will get heads or tails at the fifty-first time are exactly even. But the editor (on behalf of the proprietor, Rupert Murdoch) wants this obscurantism, so the journalist supplies it.


Alwyn Edgar