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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I'm told that Spaniards like to gamble and that, statistically, they pour more money into bandits and lotteries than the rest of their European neighbours. I have no idea if that's actually true or not.

It is true though that lotteries are big business and sometimes big news here. The Christmas State lottery is so well known that I've heard it mentioned on the UK news. Tickets for that, and the other seasonal, extraordinary, lotteries cost a lot of money. A full ticket for the Christmas lottery last year cost 300€€ which is why they're sold in tenths, so you only need to fork out 30€€ for any particular number. Mind you that means you only win one tenth of any prize the ticket attracts. Normally the State runs a lottery for a couple of days each week.

The ticket above is for the charity ONCE (pronounced on-thay). It's the Spanish equivalent of the RNIB for blind and visually impaired people. ONCE hit on the idea of selling lottery tickets years ago to raise funds. They also used and paid blind people to sell the tickets so there was a double bonus. I think that ONCE is now one of the richest charities in the World and they have truckloads of money; enough to support people with a whole range of disabilities.

The tickets usually cost 1.50€ but the one above is for a weekend draw where the prizes are a bit bigger. If I'd got all five numbers plus the series code I'd have won 72,000€€ for the next 25 years, 5 numbers would have netted me 25,000€, 4 numbers win 300€ and so on down to the point where if I'd just been able to match the last number I'd have got my stake back.

The draw is on one of the commercial TV channels each evening. A smiling "hostess" stands behind each one of six machines that drop a numbered ball into a chute. Teeth bared the first young woman announces "Tens of thousands, number 3". The next says "Thousands, number 4" etc until we get to the woman beside machine number six who tells us the winning series, and tells us what the prizes are - she's the chief smiler. The number is read out as thirty four thousand nine hundred and forty five rather than three four nine four five which is a bit of a test of my Spanish when I hear the number on the radio.

I've maybe bought five tickets in my life. They have all had the same numbers - losing ones.


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