En route to the hallowed grounds of food shopping Hell aka Tesco’s supermarket, made all the better for having to drag my 12 year old bad tempered son with me, I chanted the mantra ‘no gain without pain’ as I reminded myself the warm sunshine was no illusion and in order to make the most of it, we needed fresh supplies of bar-b-q food and fuel and there were bound to be plenty of BOGOF offers to bulk out the order with all the little treats that we don’t really need but are persuaded otherwise by the supermarket marketing task force.
I listened to Breeze Radio with the car windows down in honour of the warm afternoon, but my thoughts were suddenly tuned out of burgers and sausages as I heard the latest advert from those saviours of or our rum and disappointing lives, Camelot Lottery.
It seems they are going to grant us all a wonderful once in a life time Olympic wish (now where have I heard that before?) in the shape of their Olympic Millionaire Raffle draw to be held on Friday 27 July when 100 lucky people will win £1,000,000.
My first question was did they in fact have permission to call it this as the word ‘Olympic’ seems to be for the exclusive use of those companies that have sponsored the event, but more importantly, it suddenly dawned on me just how wrong the whole thing was.
The lottery started in November 1994 (I know, I can’t believe that either) and it seems to me that things have been going down hill for everyone eversince.
Of course this is more than likely a coincidence, but listening to the advert made me realise just how indecent it is and not just from the point of view that this Olympic draw is going to increase lottery ticket sales 1,000 fold and given the UK average purchase of 32 million lottery tickets each week, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the number of tickets bought will rocket ergo so will the profits of Camelot.
But the overall odds of winning a mere £10 prize are 1 in 54 and for the jackpot it goes up to 1 in nearly 14 million. But the lure of winning those Camelot millions blinds us to the fact that we are throwing our money down the drain.
And just what is it that drives us to splashing out on something that is unlikely to give us anything in return other than the misery of having to wait until our next purchase when the excited feeling of the unknown mounts with a lottery draw?
Is it our dream of having a big house, flashy car, exotic holidays or perhaps just paying off our debts that makes us hand over anything from £1 upwards week after week?
Or is it the Tesco BOGOF mentality?
As I pulled into the Tesco carpark and thought about the extra BOGOF bags of crisps I could buy that I didn’t really need, I couldn’t help but wonder about the people who buy lottery tickets. Did they really need to win vast sums of money or was it more a case of being convinced they did because they didn’t have what Camelot were telling them they should have i.e. BOGWYW: buy one get what you want.
Would they truly be happy with so much money they no longer had to consider what they did or didn’t have thus devaluing all that they had?
Then as I made my way past the bananas I heard the latest in the supermarket tricks to persuade you to buy more, spend more, have it all when you want; the Tesco tannoy system announced proudly and happily that to help us mere mortals enjoy our Olympic experience all the more and to make life easier for all of us, they are going to extend their shopping hours on Sundays from 9am to 8pm during the Olympic Games.
So not only can you have even longer to buy even more food and spend even more money with us, you can also buy your lottery ticket on your way out of the store.
I’m sorry, is it me or is there a pattern emerging?
We can (or should) eat only so much and there was a time when we all planned our lives and diets to match what was available. We organised ourselves; in short, we planned, we thought about what we had and therefore only what we needed.
And that is the crux of it.
We had what we needed; we knew what we wanted and how to obtain it by managing our cupboard content and our day and we aimed for a goal.
But since the mid 1990’s our ability to deal with the most simple of life’s necessities has been undermined and eroded by companies who have just one thing on their mind and that is to lure us into a sense of complete insecurity so that we are virtually hypnotised into believing we must have everything they are offering, whether it’s an extra bag of Walkers’ crisps or the possibility of becoming a millionaire and no matter if your life is too full to reach the supermarket before it shuts, they will ensure they are available to you to supply your every whim.
Isn’t it time we took control of our lives once more and stopped relying on dreams that are handed out like sweets to waiting children, alongside the BOGOF offers?
There is only one person who make things happen for us and that is ourselves.
Why not start by stopping your weekly purchase of lottery tickets, put that £1 or however much you spend into your piggy bank or what about giving it to your favourite charity that really do need your money. Anything but the Camelot coffers and when you next go to Tesco, don’t be tempted by the BOGOF.
Facts: Sunday trading started in 1984, the same year that the Camelot Lottery began. Since 1974 Camelot have created 2,700 millionaires; is that 2,700 happier people? I doubt it.
If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.