Monday, December 22, 2008

The fat one has touched me

EL GORDO, or Fat One was held today. Spain goes hysterical every December 22 when the annual Christmas lottery is drawn. No other lottery creates quite the same expectation, nor makes normally sceptical and sensible people, like me, buy lottery tickets – except at this time of year.

The night before, when the nation is tucked up in bed, the collective thought is how to spend tomorrow’s fortunes. I’m no exception. Last night I tiled the back garden, put a swimming pool in, and took a long, luxury trip abroad after settling my debts and mortgage and even put some shekels aside for the family and the kids’ education. Once you’ve worked out exactly how much you can win with your 22-euro ticket – 300,000 euros tops, although of course you can buy an infinite number of tickets – then the only restriction is your own imagination.

At 9 am, the sing-song voices of the children start to call out the numbers, creating a nationwide echo as ears are glued to radios, and eyes to TV and computer screens. Wherever you go, in and out of shops, offices, taxis, banks, past homes and bars, the continuous roll call goes on, non-stop – through the streets and in and out of the buildings, across the plazas and out into the countryside.

As the morning grows old and the numbers and prizes come up it, becomes clear that this year, like all the previous, isn’t going to be your lucky one when it comes to El Gordo. Although for the hysterically excited people that bob up and down in delirious crowds it is thumbs up as they gather round narrow lottery shops while the owners pop the cava bottles, spraying the happy crew. It’s never too clear how many have really won, and how many are just there to soak up the happy-clappy, feel good factor and appear on telly – but once you’ve seen this scene a few times, you begin to feel like the loser you are, and as all the TV stations go into the Fat One frenzy all you want to do is turn the box off before you see another idiotic grin.

And so, another December 22 ends, bringing to a close the most clichéd event of the year, with most of us trying to convince ourselves that we don’t mind not winning, brightly spurting out the same age-old sayings: “Well, it was shared out”; “I’m so glad it went to people who really need it”; “It’s only money, the important thing is to be healthy.”

But not me, not this year – because the Fat One has touched me – El Gordo me ha tocado – and I have won a whopping great 10 euros, of which The Artist takes half (an arrangement that has, until today given him four euros from my earnings and 100 euros for me from his).. Oooeee, I nearly won 100 euros – but the last number was a six instead of a five. As the saying goes, an inch is as good as a mile….

Anyway, the important thing is to be healthy…. Merry Christmas….