Scratch here for a winning Winston

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The Independent Online
I am not among those who seek to denigrate the Nat-ional Lottery. I think that an innocent bit of fun is exactly what Winston Churchill would have wanted us to have if he were still alive.

I may have said in the past that the National Lottery was a cruel way of separating those who know no better from their money.

I may have pointed out that only those who have been through the British state system of education and thus have no grounding in mathematics would take seriously the odds offered by Camelot.

I may even have repeated the words of the mathematician who, when asked on Radio 4 about the odds of anyone winning, said that any casino offering the same chances as Camelot would be closed down by the law.

I may have said some or all of these things in the past.

No longer.

Why this change of heart?

Because, I am pleased to announce, this column has been selected as one of the agents for the National Lottery.

A representative of Camelot came to me last week and proposed that the ceaseless bickering between the press and the lottery should cease.

I was about to turn him out of doors and administer a good kick to his well-heeled backside as he departed, when he added: "We could make it worth your while."

I remembered my new year's resolution not to take offence at people so easily.

"Tell me more," I said.

He told me more.

I sat him down again and poured him a large drink.

I won't bore you with details, but in return for a handsome commission I will have the sole right in any national newspaper to offer lottery sales direct to the public.

You will not be able to purchase tickets here, but you will be able to use this column in future as a scratch 'n' win card.

Yes, from Monday on, this column will be brought to you in a specially coated version which will conceal a winning formula beneath these words.

All you have to do is take a penknife, or razor-blade, or credit card, and carefully scratch the words I have equally carefully written in this space.

If you find you have gone through this page to the second section of the paper and are then busy cutting your way through page after page until you reach the business and sports stuff at the back, then I'm afraid you have not bought a winning copy.

If, on the other hand, you find that some of Churchill's famous words suddenly appear beneath your questing blade, or a likeness of Churchill himself (for younger readers who never knew what Churchill looked like, this will be a picture of a bald old gent with a big cigar who could never get the V-sign the right way round, no matter how hard he tried) then you have become the lucky winner of a BIG prize in the National Lottery!

And what, you may well ask, will the proceeds of this agency of the National Lottery go to? What good cause will benefit from all those millions of people who will be scratching away at this page in a manner not previously observed among readers of the Independent?

That's easy.

The millions earned will be spent by a grateful nation in order to purchase some of the artefacts connected with the victory to which the late Winston Churchill led us in the war.

For instance, a letter from King George VI to Mr Churchill: "Dear Churchill, Well done, getting the Germans on the run like that! Now let's see if you can see off the Socialists in the election in the same way!"

For instance, a note from Churchill back to the King: "Dear King, Thanks, and sorry we had to defeat a nation with which you have so many family ties. Still, it would have pleased my American mother to know that the Yanks were on the winning side."

For instance, a note back from the King to Churchill: "Yes, you're right, history might have been very different if the British Royal Family had ever had any French blood in it, and not all this heavy German blood. Having a dynasty is not all cakes and ale, whatever cakes and ale may be."

For instance, a note back from Churchill: "You're right. Having a dynasty is not all brandy and cigars. I myself have sprouted a good many offspring, all of whom seem to be called either Randolph or Winston, and are in danger of forming a House of Churchill. And one day no doubt, whereas I spent my formative years winning wars, they'll be reduced to flogging these letters to make ends meet. PS. I think you're wrong about the Socialists. I hope they win. It will do the Conservatives a power of good to have a spell in opposition, and I need the rest."

More details on Monday. Get your penknife ready!