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The National Lottery, the latest vulgarisation of British life, thrives because the rewards are undeserved. No one cares if the winner is a workshy layabout who stole the Child Benefit to buy his ticket. In fact the less deserving the better: the whole point of the thing is that winning has nothing to do with effort, skill or even an ability to tell right from wrong.

Jeremy Paxman, Newsnight presenter and host of University Challenge, Guardian

They appear to be wanting to show off their erudition, often at the expense of clarity . . . I consider myself reasonably intelligent, but I need a dictionary to understand some of the words. Then I wish I hadn't bothered.

A reader comments on the quality of broadsheet opera criticism, Classic FM magazine

It's very difficult to do well and even when . . . it's being magnificent, it's poised on the edge of being silly. It is terribly frail, and that is why it's so mockable.

Richard Eyre, artistic director of the National, on the state of the theatre, Independent