THE NEW OPIUM OF THE PEOPLE?

John Major has said: 'The money raised by the lottery will not replace existing government funding.' Such assurances are simply not credible 'I feel guilty when I buy scratch cards. I should be saving the money, but you just can't help yourself. I do it because I think, if I won the big one, all my troubles would all be over' As for 'good causes', the Lottery follows 'the great British tradition of milking the poor to pay for the hobbies of the rich'
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The Independent Culture
THE 9.30am train from King's Cross speeds off through the flatlands of eastern England. I think of it as the National Lottery express. I am sitting here by courtesy of the lottery awards panel of the Sports Council, who are about to announce, on Tyneside, their biggest-ever lottery donation. They hope it will erase the memory of the sour coverage they got for funding a Slough athletics centre which would be used (very marginally) by the pupils at Eton.

As we roll north through Yorkshire and County Durham, I try to keep a tally of how many bulldozers are landscaping the spoil-heaps of defunct collieries. Over towards Sunderland I see the strange, powerful monument that commemorates "Radical Jack" Lambton, first earl of Durham and a prime mover of the 1832 parliamentary Reform Act. It is a hill-top neo-classical temple, a soot-blackened Parthenon. The parallax effect of the moving train makes its columns warp and foreshorten in the distance, like a scientific toy.

Different days, different ways. The first shots in 19th-century philanthropic reform were fired in the years around the 1832 Act (which killed off rotten boroughs). Nonconformists and Roman Catholics had their legal restrictions lifted (Jews had to wait a bit longer). Slaves were freed throughout the British empire. Child labour in factories was forbidden. And state lotteries, which had been held intermittently since the 16th century, were abolished.

After 1826 there was no further draw in a state lottery until 19 November 1994. At the BBC's inimitably tacky National Lottery Live, broadcast every Saturday night, they are busy preparing to mark the first birthday. Perhaps they will re-transmit Noel Edmonds's immortal opening line at draw No 1: "Now we will have the countdown to the activation of the balls."

Schools and hospitals may be short of funds, but the lottery is rolling in cash beyond its wildest forecasts. This is late-20th-century philanthropy. It is the only economic innovation John Major's administration will be remembered for. Yet, as the Gaming Board of Great Britain noted, in its latest annual report, "gambling is an activity in which the only product which changes hands is money".

The Government has every reason to love it. One recent Saturday night, the lottery minister, Virginia Bottomley, bobbed up on BBC1, clutching a mock-up of a huge cheque. She announced happily that money going to the allocation boards, distributing money to "good causes", had passed the pounds 1,000m mark ahead of schedule. She didn't say that this also meant that the Treasury had, by then, raked in more than pounds 400m in the tax it levies on the tickets. At 12 per cent, this is higher than on any other European state lottery. For ticket-holders, there is a one in 14 million chance of hitting the jackpot. For the Treasury, it is the equivalent of the Holy Grail: a lucrative, easily-collected tax that no one objects to, or even notices.

AT NEWCASTLE station - yet more magnificent 19th-century classical architecture - we climb into the Sports Council's special bus. The lottery announcements are to be held in Meadowell, about 20 minutes away. This is why I have come. In the urban riots of summer 1991, the fiercest took place in this estate on the edge of North Shields. Two books were written about Meadowell, both of them excellent: Goliath, by the feminist journalist, Beatrix Campbell, and Families Without Fatherhood, jointly written by Norman Dennis, a sociologist, and George Erdos, a psychologist. All three authors were based on Tyneside, and they all decided, from contrasting political standpoints, that the root of the trouble was the collapse of work (and so any serious role in life) for young men who were stronger in brawn than in brain. What difference would a National Lottery grant make, however big it was?

Lord Gowrie, now chairman of the Arts Council, was one of the first political advocates of a modern lottery, when he was Arts Minister in the mid-Eighties. He says it "was partly a response" to rivalry with Paris. He thought that, without a lottery, London would never match the Grands Projects, like the Louvre pyramid, which President Mitterrand was scattering across the French capital. A scheme is always scarred by its origins. In its grants, the National Lottery is devoted to bricks and mortar - to buildings, rather than to what goes on in them; to handing out lumps of capital to erect something, rather than a flow of income to keep it running. This is how the briefs for the grants allocation boards are written, with the partial exception of the charities board.

So the rivalry for lottery money has given an extra twist to one of the less appealing phenomena of our time: the growth of boosterism. This began with Michael Heseltine's invention of the urban development corporations in the early Eighties. Urban planning became an adjunct of the advertising, or rather self-advertising, industry, worthy of Phineas T Barnum. Every development corporation, it seemed, had a project that would turn its piece of derelict industrial land into the hub of the universe. And urban grants became even more of a lottery when Heseltine launched his City Challenge programme, with councils competing in an inverse beauty competition - a Miss Urban Ugliness - for handfuls of ministerial subsidy.

Sitting behind the bus driver, the chief executive of North Tyneside City Challenge, Bob Lawrence, talks us through what we are seeing as we drive out along the coast road towards Meadowell. City Challenge covers Wallsend and North Shields, where the Tyne Tunnel crosses the river. Mining, engineering, ship-building (like Swan Hunter), fishing: all have disappeared or shrunk. (The good news is that Siemens is going to open a new semi- conductor factory.) Two-thirds of local families have no car. Reported crime is more than twice the level of the rest of North Tyneside. Yet the ground is thick with rival initiatives: the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation, an enterprise zone, the European regional fund.

And now the lottery. We come into Mead-owell. Alongside the road, at the edge of scrubby Smith's Park, men and women play bowls in proper white outfits. A stretch of empty land has been cleared of its allotments. This is where the Sports Council's lottery money will go. Ahead of us is the development corporation's pounds 250m "flagship" scheme at Royal Quays (every new project has its top-drawer title) with clean, shiny brickwork and plans for a marina. A sign says: "The North East's most exciting harbour village: 200 houses."

We turn into another bright new building - my neighbour on the bus says it reminds her of a hotel - which is the Riverside Early Years Training Centre. Here, students from a local further education college can take child-care courses. The lecture hall has been set up with microphones and cameras from local television. Councillor Cruikshanks, mayor of North Tyne-side, Trevor Brooking, the former West Ham footballer and vice-chairman of the Sports Council, David Clouston, chairman of North Tyneside City Challenge, all are lined up stiffly on the platform. The lottery, through the Sports Council, is going to put pounds 5.75m into a "state-of-the-art sports and leisure facility" at Smith's Park. Before City Challenge got the money, all it had hoped to do was upgrade the bowling green. Now there will be a sports hall, all-weather playing pitches and indoor bowling. Plus a doctors' group practice "to promote the concepts of 'wellness' and rehabilitation." Bob Lawrence is unashamedly astonished at what they got: "We thought somebody must have slipped a nought in."

Apparently, quite a lot of Scandinavians come across to Tyneside on a North Sea holiday cruise. They only have a few hours ashore before the boat goes back. "This centre will be just right for them," one man tells me. "Make it a really good day out." Hope springs eternal.

We are given a leaflet by a protest group as we arrive: North Tyneside council is closing playing-fields elsewhere in the borough. In the question session, I ask Trevor Brooking what this is all about. Brooking looks like a comic-book picture of a clean-cut sportsman. But his public relations smile begins to look strained. He gets rather shirty. I am tossing a pebble into the picturesque still waters which the television cameras are there to record. He won't talk about it.

A Sports Council official comes up to me afterwards and says what Brooking wouldn't say publicly : that the Sports Council is in fact very worried. The sale of the playing fields has been supposed to bring more money into the local council's education budget. "But if a new science lab is needed, our view is that that should be the Department for Education's problem. Our task is to protect playing fields." And the Sports Council has ("uniquely," he says) put a proviso on its lottery grant - nowhere mentioned in the documents at the launch - that it is subject to a special study of whether, in North Tyneside, it is getting caught up in a game of paying Paul for robbing Peter.

THIS, in miniature, lies at the heart of many of the worries about the National Lottery and its wonder-fund. In New Zealand, for example, the Arts Council's budget has gradually been switched across. It is now 85 per cent dependent on lottery money.

John Major has said: "The money raised by the lottery will not replace existing government funding." But such assurances are simply not credible. Is there an infinite supply of buildings that need to be built? If not, the pressure to allow the lottery to subsidise the running of the organisations they house (theatre companies, sports centres or whatever) will increase. And then the Treasury will start to turn the screw. As well as gaining tax revenue from the lottery, it will save on the grants it currently hands out. Nothing is more certain, under governments of any political colour. Newcomers joining the Treasury staff are always told this joke- riddle: "What are the three most implausible statements you can think of?" Answer: "The cheque is in the post"; "Of course I'll still love you in the morning, darling"; and "I'm from the Treasury, and I'm here to help you."

Meanwhile, the money is dished out by a very odd process. It is hard to remember that the Conservatives came to office in 1979 committed to demolishing quangos, the devil-masks of Seventies corporatism. (The Oxford English Dictionary records that the word first appeared in Britain in 1973, in the pages of New Society magazine.) Michael Heseltine was the leading campaigner against them. But lottery money is distributed, mainly, by quangos' quangos: panels of nominees appointed by other panels of nominees - the Arts Councils, the Sports Councils, the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

The exceptions are the two panels which are quangos in their own right: the Charities Board and the Millennium Commission. Of the two, the Commission is marginally the odder. It is chaired by the National Heritage Secretary of the day, with Heseltine as a supernumerary member. The rest of its members are mostly appointed according to the strict rules of the new tokenism: ethnic, regional, political, sexual. Its first big award was to a mystifying inter-city bike-track scheme (over pounds 40m). It showed every hallmark of a committee compromise: something no one would object to.

The bike supremo was briefly shuffled on to the set of the BBCl Saturday night show, and handed his own monster cheque by the show's barely coherent heavy metal guest star, Meatloaf. He was given less time than a man from Wallasey who had two hamsters, Lancelot and Guinevere, who, he claimed, could predict the winning line. "It must be what John Logie Baird had in mind," shrieked the air-headed presenter, Anthea Turner, as she watched the hamsters scramble around, nudging numbers. Maybe so.

IN HIS entertaining history of British gambling, A Bit of a Flutter, Mark Clapson points to the intimate connection between gambling and the popular press. In 1923, a leading clergyman told a Commons select committee on betting duty: "Half the evening papers in the North of England would have to close down if it were not for their betting editions." The Daily Mail acquired "Robin Goodfellow", very early on, as its resident tipster. Even the Communist Party's grimly earnest Daily Worker offered tips.

Now the National Lottery has become a news editor's dream. One recent edition of the Daily Mail had two full-length lottery stories. The front page led with "LOTTERY SNUB TO WAR DEAD": the heritage fund had decided that a scheme to move and re-erect a chapel as a Falklands war memorial counted as a new building, and so was outside its brief. Inside was "MICKEY MOUSE & CO RIDE TO THE RESCUE OF THE ROYAL OPERA": Covent Garden executives were reported to have had secret meetings with Disney in case the Opera House's bid for lottery funds didn't cover all their needs. To make sure no angle was missed, the same edition also led one news page with "JACKPOT CHEAT JAILED": a football pools collector pocketed a syndicate's stakes and lost them a pounds 2.3m jackpot (something that couldn't happen on the electronic lottery machines).

Just as stories about men who committed suicide because of the demands of the Child Support Agency faded away, the lottery came to the rescue. "MOTHER OF THREE WHO KILLED HER THREE CHILDREN WAS DEPRESSED OVER LOTTERY", the papers reported. (In fact, Joy Senior's worries were enough to fill a small book.) Or, less tragically: "pounds 10,000 LOTTERY TICKET SNATCHED... Henry Boatswain, 69, of Birkby, was holding the National Lottery scratch card outside the main post office in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, when a young man looked at it, asked him if it was a winner and then ran off with it."

Two women have been admitted to hospital, afflicted by delusions that they had won; they were diagnosed as suffering from "lottomania". Almost inevitably, a touring theatre group, Hull Truck, who pride themselves on their popular touch, put on a play called Lucky Sods which looked at the impact of a big lottery win on Mr and Mrs Sod. Ho, ho, very satirical. As Mark Clapson says: "Popular gambling has continuously exasperated the proponents of rational or alternative recreations." In The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell saw it as the "cheapest of luxuries" - a cut-price way to buy a slice of hope.

The British are inveterate gamblers. Our 119 casinos outnumber those of every other European country except France. London (with 21) has more casinos than any other capital city in the world. The lottery has been, commercially, an amazing success. As you stand on London Underground stations on a Saturday night, the train indicators sometimes flash up the winning numbers as a public service. The scratch cards, launched in March, have become (according to the operators, Camelot) "the UK's largest impulse purchase brand". The lottery's operation copies America. In 1971, New Jersey demonstrated how to make big money out of a state lottery: cheap tickets, frequent draws, handy sales points, huge prizes. Five years later, the Massachusetts state lottery invented the scratch card. The models were all there, waiting to be picked up.

It is extraordinary how little opposition it aroused. When Harold Macmillan, as Chan-cellor of the Exchequer, launched Premium Bonds 40 years ago, he was mocked as "Tic-Tac Mac". A Labour MP from Yorkshire said that Macmillan was "reducing the country to the level of a South American republic". It was portrayed as emblematic of Tory get-rich-quick economics. And now: silence. A Labour government would be just as much in need of the extra income. When Attlee came to power in 1945, some Labour activists suggested nationalising the pools. This was rebuffed. But it gave the cash-strapped Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, a better idea. In 1947, he put a 10 per cent levy on the pools business.

The big difference between the lottery and previous forms of popular gambling is that, then, any pay-outs went to the same sort of people that placed the bets. The 28 per cent of lottery ticket money that goes to "good causes" is strongly skewed towards the middle, and even upper, classes.

The way bodies like the Arts Council and the National Heritage Memorial Fund worked was previously only of interest to a few people in the same business. They had never reckoned on finding themselves on the front pages of the Sun or the Daily Mirror as they doled out money to Covent Garden, to the Churchill family or to the Arts Council's own deputy chairman, Sir Richard Rogers, for work at the South Bank. Even Radio 4's sober-sided PM news programme announced the grant of pounds 16m to the Royal Court theatre as "luvvie money".

The Charities Board tried to redress the class balance by specifying that its first round of applications must be aimed at the poor. This earned it a ferocious blast from medical charities, especially the Cancer Campaign Council (though the council was eventually able to find one scheme to put forward, which fitted the bill). So far, the "good causes" side of the lottery hasn't spread much sweetness and light. It has been more of a poisoned chalice. The Econ-omist said that it followed "the great British tradition of milking the poor to pay for the hobbies of the rich".

The lottery has been particularly poisonous for existing charities. A caustic pamphlet from the Institute of Economic Affairs says, rightly, that "charitable or philanthropic activity has been regarded as an expression of the moral sense of a free people, and a vital part of civil society". Instead of a gift freely given - a voluntary contract - charities now find themselves more and more dependent on the state and its quangos. At least one medical charity, in South Wales, has shut down a large part of its fund-raising because (it says) the appeal of the lottery has driven it out of business. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, from its regular surveys, forecasts that charities will lose out by over pounds 40m in this first year.

MEADOWELL - a micro-model of Britain - is two places. The right and wrong side of the tracks really are divided by a railway line. At the Sports Council launch I am in South Mead-owell. The 1991 riots took place in North Meadowell, which you get to by going round the back of the Early Years Centre and through a low arch (7ft 9in clearance) under the line. You are immediately in another world. After I have listened to as much boosterism as I can stand - "We are in pursuit of quality and we are in pursuit of excellence" - I slip out past the model nursery, with its brightly coloured plastic toys and its racks of picture books, and cross the social and geographical line, like Alice stepping through the looking-glass.

What will North Meadowell gain from all this razzmatazz? "Sport is about health. Sport is about discipline" - these are some of the last words I hear from the platform before I leave. On North Meadowell streets I mainly see men tattooed on their neck and hands, grossly fat women, and dogs roaming loose. Along Avon Avenue, in the middle of North Meadowell, the only sports of any interest in the summer of 1991 were arson, looting, joy riding and ram raiding. The riots were sparked off by the deaths of two young men who crashed in a stolen red Renault turbo while the police were chasing them. In a public statement after the inquest, the father of 17-year-old Dale Robson was anxious to make it clear that young Dale had been a serious person: "he was not a joy rider"; he was "a professional" - a car thief. One of the first buildings burnt down was the local youth centre. Much of the aggression was directed at the local shopkeepers, who were mostly Asian. The North-East, it is worth remembering, is white man's England. Few immigrant families have settled here. Even in the Fifties and Sixties, when most migrants arrived, it wasn't a good place to look for work.

The houses aren't intrinsically bad. They are crescents and closes of brick houses, built in a pre-war council version of the Garden City style. As Norman Dennis observes, they had large gardens because it was thought that this would give workers an occupation when work was short, and a way to grow their own food. The original inhabitants were moved here from the slum-clearance harbour-side streets of North Shields. As work collapsed, crime became a major local occupation.

Since the riots, some houses have been demolished - but this leaves ominous gaps. Workmen are busy revamping some of the streets. But you are conscious of boarded-up windows, of burnt-out frontages, of doorsteps with mothers clutching grubby children while a slightly older brother plays with a piece of old piping - the very opposite of the model nursery. "Lisa had sex with Ian," the scrawl on one wall says, with the careful date 3/9/95. "Lisa is age 9. Ian is age 16." A child had been run over by a joy rider the weekend before my visit.

The Marina fish and chip shop on Avon Avenue (formerly run by Ashtak Ahmed) is still bricked up. The street is littered with broken glass and discarded wrappings. One of the few shops now open is the Avon Discount Store and Off-Licence. The owner moved in after the riots. He thought it was a good business opportunity. But thieves have now cleared him out three times. He would leave if he could.

"You've got to be here at night," he says, "to see what it's like." Relatives come out from Newcastle to help him. "But they're frightened if I am away for only two hours." (Both the customers who come in while I am talking to him look ominous in the extreme. They pick up cans of drink in silence, and pay for them without saying a word.) "At night there's no one to stop them. No police. And it's not kids. You try calling them kids. They're 19-, 20-year-olds. It's got worse because so many people have moved away. You do some little thing and they'll harass you, throw bricks through your window, frighten the children. All over nothing. But nobody dares report what goes on."

The shopkeeper wears a Nike T-shirt. We talk about the plans for a new sports centre on the other side of the tracks. I ask him what difference this will make to North Meadowell. "No difference at all."

! Paul Barker is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Community Studies.

! A Cutting Edge programme on lottery winners and losers, "The Trouble With Money", appears on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday.

OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE?

Lee Ryan won pounds 6.5m in March. At the time, he was awaiting trial on charges of handling stolen cars. Found guilty, he has begun an 18-month jail sentence.

"I've been called everything by the press - millionaire yob, small-time crook, violent, toe-rag Ryan, rogue, scumbag. I'm just a normal scumbag like everybody else. I'm not going to deny I've nicked cars in the past. I got into stealing cars because I was wayward; in its own silly way it was exciting. I've paid for it with previous convictions.

"Thanks to all that was written about me before my trial in July, I wasn't guaranteed a fair trial. I was 'National Rotter Lee', a love cheat, and I was up for deception - it must have been implanted in the minds of the jury before I got there. I was charged with knowingly handling two cars - but I didn't know they were stolen.

"I was called a 'Lottery Love Rat' because a newspaper said I'd been off with some bird having it away. Not long after the win, the girl came forward and said she and I were at it. It wasn't true. I heard she got pounds 10,000 for her story. I know her - she was a friend. I'm supposed to have poured wine all over her body - if it had been Bod-dingtons, it would have been more credible - I'd drink that off anyone's body. I rang her up afterwards, and she said she felt shitty about it. It doesn't matter if it's true or not now because people believe it is.

"What have I spent the money on? We've bought the house, a helicopter, a Ferrari, a Bentley, a Mitsubishi Shogun, a BMW and two Ducati motorbikes. I don't love them or shag them or anything - they're just nice conveyances.

"Why should I tell people what charities I've given money to? So the public think I'm Mr Nice Guy? We have given to charity, and to family and friends, and had standard begging letters: 'If you give me pounds 99,000, I'll pay you back pounds 250 a month.' I'd never see the return on that.

"I don't look up to people like judges and I don't look down on the tramp on the street and think I'm better than him, because that could be me. We're all little bastards. People say I'm a real sad bastard, but there's some real sad ones out there. I'm at the upper end of the sad bastards."

Karen Taylor Ryan, 36, married Lee after his win. They already had three children together. They now live in a large house in Leicestershire.

"How would I describe our house? I'd describe it as home. It's not overly big. It has 40 acres of grassland, a lake, gardens, some out-buildings. There are four bedrooms, all en suite, dining-room, kitchen, living-room, sun-room, a pool with bar and sauna - which I've never had time to get into - and a games room upstairs with a billiard table. It cost pounds 650,000. We have a cleaner and a gardener/maintenance man full-time.

"Before we won the pounds 6.5m, we were living in a council house on income support of pounds 120 a week. It was a huge shock winning the money - I was scared, scared of the changes, not knowing what life would be like. We'd never had any savings, but had had the feeling that one day we'd have money. People think we must have changed, but we haven't - it's other people's perceptions of you that change. Last week we were out, and a couple of people started shouting abuse at us. They didn't even know us.

"Our kids are at state schools at the moment. I got the car I wanted, a BMW M3. It was pounds 43,000, and was specially made in Germany. I used to have a BMW Y reg, and I remember saying to a friend one day that I'd like one of those BMWs like I've got now. 'Dream on,' she said. I said that by hook or crook I'd have one.

"I'd love to travel now we can afford it. We'd travel and meet real people and not stay in big hotels - I've always wanted to go to Russia and Lee would like to go to Peru." pounds 50,000 OF ACRIMONY Carole Cartman, 34, is a single parent with five children aged between 17 months and 15 years. She lives in a small rented house in Nottingham. In April, she won pounds 50,000 on a scratch card and found herself embroiled in a court case with her ex-boy friend, Stefan Broniewski. He claimed that he gave her the money with which to buy the winning card, and that they had agreed to share the winnings. In July, Cartman paid him an out-of-court settlement of pounds 13,000. "I won the money in April. I was on my own when I discovered. I went hysterical; I thought I'd had a heart attack and died and come back to life. I had to tell someone, so I ran out of the house and hammered on the neighbour's door - but she thoughtit w as a maniac and wouldn't answer. I ran to the phone-box to tell my ex-boyfriend, Steff. He said, 'Piss off, I don't believe you.' My dad came round; he said, 'Kid, you've done it,' and I burst into tears. Then Steff came round - he said, put your name on the back, so I signed it. The next day, Camelot gave me the cheque, and I went to the bank manager with Steff. The manager said, 'Do you want a joint account?' and I said, 'No.' Steff didn't object. I was in love with him - we were having a fantastic re lationship, but we'd only been together seven months and didn't live together, and he's not the father of any of my children. "That night, down the local, my dad's sat there and one of Steff's mates came in and sat next to me. He said, 'Steff owes me pounds 1,800.' I said, 'I suggest you sort it out with Steff.' He replied, 'You've got the money, why can't you give it me?'I sa id, 'People like you make me sick, sod off.' "Next thing I know, a writ's come, saying I had to go to court: Steff was claiming half the money. He said he paid for the cards. I told my solicitor he wasn't entitled, he was just being greedy. "Then the aggravation began. I got anonymous phone calls, people coming up to me in pubs. I've no idea who was behind it. Steff said none of it came from him. Eventually I decided to make a settlement to Steff, because if I'd lost I would have had massiv e legal costs - it might have cost me pounds 21,000 - and I'd have come out with four grand. He settled for pounds 13,000. He's not entitled to 13p, but I was in a no-win situation. "Since the settlement, I've been out with Steff a couple of times. The last time he phoned, I told him to leave me alone. Loads of blokes have tried to chat me up, but I'm not interested. Some people say nasty things like, 'Fancy her winning it - she'll just go out and kill herself with drink.' It's idle chit chat. I love to go out clubbing - why shouldn't I? I've always been a good time girl. "That money's brought me nothing but grief. I regret winning it. I managed when I was on income support, I got my front room done, and a new carpet. I just saved; it took ages, but I did it. Now I can't claim income support - but how long will that money support me and five kids? Mind you, I'm still plotting. I'll get my money back off him." THE LUCKY MILLIONAIRE Mel Eddison, 47 (on bin), a Manchester businessman, was already a millionaire before his shared pounds 2.5m lottery win. He lives in Manchester and Spain. "We won pounds 2.5m, I think. I was worth a million already before I won the lottery. That was from my business - I rent garages, apartments and factories, and I also have a vehicle repair shop, and a recycling business, all based in Manchester. "I left school at 16; I couldn't read or write. When I was 34, I got a tutor and learnt to read and write. I've been a gardener, a soldier, I've emptied bins. It was hard work that got me where I was, and it was thanks to being born in the land of opport unity, England - the greatest country in the world. But the hard work has taken its toll; people help me across the road because I'm so decrepit. "I won the lottery with a friend last July. We had half the ticket each and split the winnings equally. That's how I got the pounds 1.25m - it's not a great deal, really. What's it worth? A nice house and a couple of nice cars. "I have a villa in the Costa Blanca at Javier. It has four living-rooms, four bedrooms, a couple of conservatories, three kitchens, three bathrooms and a swimming-pool and it's five minutes from the sea. I didn't buy it with the lottery money, I've had i t a few years. I've got a little chateau in France as well, which I bought several years ago. "I've had no nastiness, everyone's been fabulous and wonderful - even strangers wish us well. But the best thing about winning the lottery is the feeling that the threat of losing everything has gone. Any businessman can get up to his eyeballs if hedrop s a clanger or loses a client, and once the bank forecloses, it's none of it worth a carrot. "I've got three kids, aged 30, 22 and 18, and they all work for me. I gave them all a treat - not that they really need anything - and I gave close friends a reasonable amount. I don't understand why I'm in the papers. Some of these chaps have won pounds 22m - their stories are much more interesting. People keep saying, 'Are you going to stop work?' Why would I? I like it. I'm going to go on like I've always done, and my wife will go on doing the books. We don't find any shame in work." THE SCRATCH CARD ADDICT Lisa Marie Tuckerly, 23, is a single parent with three children under four years old. They live in Leicester. She is addicted to scratch cards. "I do scratch cards. I buy three a day, that's pounds 21 a week. I've won bits and bobs - pounds 20, pounds 25 - but I've certainly lost out. I do it because it's an addiction: you go up the shop and you think if you've got pounds 1, if you won pounds 10 on that scratch card you'd be better off that week - or you think: maybe I'll win pounds 100 or pounds 1,000. If the pounds 10 or pounds 20 comes up first on the card, I think I might win, but if I see the pounds 1,000, I know I won't - because I'm not lucky. "I'm on income support and I get pounds 69 - with the pounds 27 child benefit, that makes pounds 96 a week. I have to go without clothes for the children and me. I get my money on a Monday and by Wednesday or Thursday it's gone. I got behind on the gas s o they put in a meter and I have to put cards in. "Most people round here are in the same situation. It's not a nice place to bring up your kids; there are joyriders and drugs and the kids' language is terrible. The lottery and the scratch cards are the only way out; everyone's doing it. I've got as muc h chance as anyone else with the lottery. I tried to get a job as a care assistant, but a woman at the advice centre worked out that I would only have been pounds 2 a week better off. I'd go to work if I was going to better myself, but then how can I lea ve Blaine? He's got a disability, I get pounds 12 extra for that, and I spend that on him. He's got bronchiolitis, which is worse than asthma - and he has to go on a nebuliser four times a day. That's why I have to have the phone, although I can't afford it - in case he gets really bad and I can call the doctor. Their father comes to see them twice a week, but he's on income support as well. I haven't had a holiday since I lived with my mum and dad. I had a job when I first left school at Jacobs biscuit s: I was a packer. "I feel guilty when I buy scratch cards. I should be saving the money, but you just can't help yourself. I do it because I think, if I won the big one all my troubles would be over. I don't really mind about me, as long as my children are happy. If I cou ld just take them to Skegness and they could see the sea and the sand - they've never been on holiday. I do the lottery on Saturday as well, just pounds 1. I've won couple of pounds 10s. "I left school when I was 16. If I could turn the clock back, I'd take all my exams. If I'd had a good education, I'd have had a job and I wouldn't have had children so young. I could have had everything I'd ever wanted - but I'm not clever, I can only r ead and write a bit. When Kodie started full-time nursery school, she'd ask me to read things to her and I'd have to make an excuse. I get depressed a lot. I don't get out much - where could you go with the kids? The parks have been destroyed. There are only five houses on this street that haven't been burgled - mine's one of them. What would they take? The CD player, I suppose. I pay pounds 5 a week for that." THE UNLUCKY LOSER Jamie Phillips, 22, unemployed, bought a lottery ticket with the same numbers for 17 weeks in a row. Then he forgot to buy a ticket, and his numbers came up; the pounds 10m jackpot was shared by four people. "When I saw the winning numbers in the newspaper, I could have cried. I was physically sick in the living-room, and to make matters worse, I'd just had the carpet cleaned. I've never won anything in my life and I just couldn't believe I came so close to the jackpot. "That Saturday, my friend Lee Plant was in bed with a chest infection and he gave me pounds 5 to buy his lottery tickets. I bought them from a newsagent's in Hereford, but completely forgot to buy my own ticket - I'd left the pounds 1 coin on a shelf at home. "Lee won pounds 10, because I put down three of my numbers on one of his tickets. I couldn't believe I hadn't got a ticket for myself. It made me really ill and upset. I was going spare on Sunday and went out for a couple of beers to calm down - I was th e man who nearly won a share of pounds 10m. I could have been sitting here, drinking champagne with my bodyguards and reporters camped outside. "All I ever wanted was to be comfortable and live like any decent human being. I wanted a nice house and to get married and have kids. I didn't want to be a multi-millionaire. "I wouldn't have gone crazy and bought a Porsche or anything because that's not me. But in a way, I felt cheated. It turned my stomach to think some bugger out there was winning all this money, and I was the sore loser. I told my mum on the phone, and sh e said that when she got her hands on me she'd kill me. "Being a millionaire wouldn't have made me happy but it would have made the hardship easier. I live on pounds 31 a week social security. I haven't got any chairs in the flat, there's no cooker or fridge, and I can't afford a car. I'm so badly off the ban k won't give me an overdraft. I have one meal a day and usually go to my mum's if I'm hungry. "I would have bought a house for my mum; she's been through a lot. My dad died when I was five, and mum brought up nine of us children as a single parent. I would have taken her on holiday, somewhere hot like Florida, and spoilt her rotten. "I once worked on a project in Plymouth helping to feed the homeless, and I would definitely have bought them a few shelters. I would have set up a charity for the homeless. I think the homeless get a raw deal from politicians, and the National Lottery c ould do a lot more for them. Why should it go to heritage when old people and kids are dying on the streets? It makes me very angry. "I class myself as wealthy even though I haven't got much. At least I've a roof over my head, a good mum and my family - that's all you need in life. I'll never come that close to the jackpot again; sometimes I think I'll never do the lottery again.But I still do those same numbers every week. I've won a tenner since missing out on the jackpot." INTERVIEW BY RICHARD SMITH

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