I’ve never been good at gambling. I play poker sometimes with my mates. I understand the rules. I try hard, but it’s always my slack-jawed pals who don’t know the difference between the suites who end up winning. Beginners luck, I suppose.
For my twenty first we headed off to Amsterdam. Six boys on a ferry full of booze. While most of us were trying to get Anne from Hartlepool to sack off her wedding and come with us, two of my mates hit the roulette table and came back with £70 each. Seventy quid! And they did the same on the way back too. That pretty much paid for their weekend away.
I wish I was this good at gambling, but I’m not. All I’m good enough to dabble in is scratch cards. That’s because they’re easy. You tell the person behind the counter which number you want, complete any strange luck-bestowing rituals you might have, then scratch away your excitement until you’re left with disappointment.
Of course, if you win a quid, two quid, it’s straight back on the cards. Everyone knows that, but you can’t help going back for another go. Every time I buy a card I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode where Homer fills a wheelbarrow with lottery tickets. ‘Marge, I’ve got a feeling we might win...the lotterrrrrrrrrry!’ That’s how I feel every time I pick up a scratch card. Until I find a Bernard’s Watch or the 50p piece out of The Queen’s Nose, or my own genie, it’s the closest I’ve got to achieving my crazy fantasies of owning a castle made of gold.
It’s easy to think ‘Oh that’s just an extra quid’ when you’re down Sainsbury’s, but obviously, an extra quid a day adds up. I’m not saying save the money, don’t buy a scratchcard and stick the quid in a jar, because that’s ridiculous. You’ve got to be in it to win it, as they say. I’d rather stick a quid on a scratch card than buy another Mars Bar.
I don’t think it’s an addiction, I’m not waking up in the middle of the night screaming for scratchcards. I don’t wake up first thing and have to do a scratchcard before I hop out of bed. I’m not stealing money from my mum to buy them (although, mum if you’re reading this, can I have a few quid?). If you’ve got it under control, scratchcards, like a lot of things, are fine. I might dial it back a bit and save a few quid, but there’s no way I could stop...that winning card might just be the next one...
Give me some luck here.