“If the fat one touches us, we might have to close the school…”
“Oh, how I want him to touch me!”
“What will you do when the fat one touches you?”
“Wouldn’t it be great if he touched us together… our lives would never be the same…”
That’s right. It’s Christmas lottery time… and all of Spain is waiting with baited breath to find out who El Gordo, the fat one, is going to touch.
With a total prize pool of 2,520 million euros (this year), La Lotería de Navidad is the biggest grossing lottery the world. It consists of an extremely complex system (for the numerologically confused, such as me), in which prizes are drawn from two giant gold spherical vessels containing thousands of ancient wooden lottery balls. First category, El Gordo, is worth 4 million euros, so there’s a fair bit left over for sub categories…the love is nicely spread about the country. One ticket costs a hefty €200, but is usually split into decimos of €20 each. The lottery is drawn every year on the 22nd of December, in an elaborate 3 hour ceremony in the National Lottery Hall of Madrid. Traditionally (since 1812), pupils of the San Ildefonso school (formerly reserved for orphans of public servants) draw the numbers and corresponding prizes, and sing the results aloud for the audience (who is usually decked out in lottery-themed fancy dress). And of course the event is broadcast on national television, inconveniently clashing with school concerts and masses across Spain.
As the tickets are so pricey, it’s customary for groups of friends and colleagues to all buy decimos of the same ticket, so that everyone can (potentially) win together. Like any form of gambling, there are a tonne of superstitions and statistics floating around regarding the luck of certain number combinations, regions, and vending outlets. You can even search your preferred number online to find out exactly which vendor will have it in stock. Enlarged colour photocopies of the ornately decorated tickets are displayed in shopfronts, dashboards, and noticeboards all over Spain. Publicising your lottery number is almost as important as buying the ticket in the first place.
I don’t have a shopfront or a dash board, and I’m not even important enough to get my own desk. My pigeon hole is in the dingy, bottommost corner of the pigeon hole bank thingy, where it’s frequently obstructed by wet umbrellas, and far too low a place to post my future fortune bringer.
So my only real display space is here. You will therefore all be thrilled and delighted to know that this Christmas, this little blogger is playing (half of a tenth) of ticket number:
I must say, have a lucky feeling… I can’t help it. Someone’s got to win, and I’ve actually met someone who has in the past. Plus I’ve been lucky in (much smaller) competitions before, you never know, it might just happen again. Luck is luck, and mathematically, it’s impossible to use up, I think. Also, the colleague with whom I’m splitting the ticket lost it shortly after she bought it. It took her two weeks to find (in a very logical place: wedged between the pages of one of the umpteen textbooks she uses and leaves lying about the office and random classrooms on a daily basis). She did tell me that if she couldn’t locate it, I should find another partner. But Murphy’s Law would suggest that once lost, the ticket was sure to win, so I’ve developed a certain attachment to it. Of course now we’re back to the original odds, but least it was a lucky ticket for a little while.
I know this is all very flawed logic, but that’s not the point. As they say, the lottery gives you ‘the chance to dream’. Not that I personally need an excuse to dream, but ‘in these uncertain times’, many other people do… so good luck to them. May the fat one touch* us all.
In the meantime, real life continues, semi chaotically. The end of the year always seems to speed up, and now more so than ever. Perhaps we really are hurtling towards a precipice…. if so, having to give up my millions due to the fall of capitalism or the end of the world is going to be a hard pill to swallow.
Anyway, work-wise, I’m on the home straight. With just under two weeks of class to go, the real world has become a steadily fading foreground. Pretty soon I’ll up up up and away… a little further north, to some destinations both known and unknown. It’s going to be my second Christmas away from home (already), let’s hope that this time it’s a proper white one!
I’ll endeavour to keep in touch whilst on the road… but what with the end of the world, the touch of the fat one, the birth of Christ, the beginning of the New Year, and my first taste of real German pretzels… there’s gonna be so much happening, you’ll have to forgive me for any lapses in communication. Plus travelling hand-luggage-only in winter doesn’t allow much space for dinosaur laptops…so I’ll be leaving this cranky old stegosaurus** at home.
That’s all for now. Except that I should probably mention (without getting too mushy) that I’m thinking more than ever of my faraway family and friends, and missing you a little bit more than usual… As is only natural at this time of year, I suppose. Anyway, I hope you’re all well, and staying warm, or keeping cool, and making the most of the silly season
love and cyber hugs
*I should probably explain the nature of the Spanish verb tocar, to touch. It’s used a little differently to English, and can mean anything from playing an instrument to ‘being chosen’ (think little green Toy Story aliens).
Anyway, the innuendos never cease to amuse my simple mind:
- My housemate touches the trumpet. She touches really well.
- I prefer playing Scrabble with just two people. That way you get touched more often.
- Marie Carmen’s elderly mother touches her every fortnight. (Every fortnight it’s Marie Carmen’s job to look after her elderly mother).
- It touches me to clean the bathroom. (It’s my turn to clean the bathroom).
- Gotta go! The bell is touching!
- Give me a touch when you get there. (Give me a prank call when you get there)
** Perhaps my first fat purchase will be a skinny tablet computer.