Donald MacInnes: So what would you prefer - £108m or some fish and chips?


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The Independent Online

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen for the latest instalment in my quest to be treated as something other than a pretend financial journalist. My brow is thus currently corrugated due to the fact that the Euromillions jackpot was won last Friday by one Neil Trotter, 41, who is (was) a car mechanic from Coulsdon, south London.

Mr Trotter has been revealed as the winner of £107.9m and this makes me very distressed indeed. Obviously we all experience a little reverse schadenfreude when we hear about someone winning a wheelbarrow full of cash. But my resentment of this grease monkey's good fortune has a rather more personal slant to it. You see, that was my fortune he snaffled.

Let me explain. Last Friday at work, around 5pm, I remembered the huge Euromillions draw taking place that night. I turned to my colleague and told him that he had to remember to get a ticket for the draw before the deadline expired at 7.30pm. He was scheduled to work until 10.30pm, whereas I was clocking off at 6pm, so while I was planning to pick a ticket up on the way home, he would have to leave work, walk along the road to the newsagent, buy his ticket, walk all the way back and get to his desk before our boss noticed that he was gone.

With a few furtive glances around, he prepared to depart. "Can I get you a ticket, mate?" he hissed. "Nah," I said. "I'll get myself a ticket later. But if I win, I'll obviously give you half." Being as he is from Liverpool, and therefore in possession of a tremendously natural sense of humour, he twigged that I was being sarcastic, so he performed an offensive gesture and strode off. I didn't mind. I had a feeling I was going to win.

Tragically, something happened between then and the time I left the office that put the thought of a near-£110m lottery win completely out of my head. What was it? Simply this: my wife phoned up just before I was putting my coat on and suggested we get fish and chips for dinner.

As a result, the whole way home, all I could think about was mountains of battered cod and a hundredweight of chips. What didn't help was a curious phenomenon that happens when you ride a motorbike: you smell everything. This, of course, meant that for the whole journey home, my senses were regularly transfixed by the luscious smell from every chippy that I passed. I probably averaged about 87mph on the journey home.

Later, as I crammed more fish into my mouth, I remembered the lottery ticket. But it was too late. Then, of course, I learnt that the winner was from south London (my manor) and realised I had probably blown my best-ever chance of winning a mountain of tenners. And if that isn't an incentive to give up fried food, I don't know what is.

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