Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The Christmas Raffle

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Well here it is, the Swiss Christmas Lottery. It arrives once a year in Switzerland and always costs the same. It never gets any cheaper, but one of the few things where the price remains stable. Yes, for one hundred Swiss Francs you can buy it and everyone is a winner. Well sort of, somewhere under the numbers there is at least the chance of picking up twenty Swiss Francs.

The idea is that each number is a day in December. It starts in December and you go over the parcel marked with the date, for example 1 represents 1st December, with a sharp knife and rub the surface off the parcel. Underneath there is a symbol, something stupid like a kangaroo, or just a question mark, it doesn't matter. The main thing is that the symbol has to correspond to the symbol picked on that day. This is displayed on the computer site, or in the daily newspaper. In might not be a parcel to uncover, but perhaps a bag of gold marked with 1 million or 10,000 according to what is kept in the bag. The same principle - when you uncover the surface, the symbol must correspond. Sounds like fun and who knows you might get a big win.

Just to complete the excitement, at the end of December it even goes further. On 12.01.2008 there is a television programme. Certain members of the audience are there because they had a special message hidden on the card (get out the sharp knife again and scratch off the surface). The message says you have an invitation to the show or unfortunately this time you are not lucky. The main prize of five millionen Swiss Francs is announced in the show. They have some sort of special machine that chooses the number.

Coming from a long line of gamblers in the family I don't mind a little game of chance now and again. My grandfather was a regular customer at the local dog racing track, my dad also but he preferred horses. When I come to think of it, by the time I had reached the age of 12 I had been to most racing tracks in the country. I remember the arguments I had with my mum when she would carry me into the racing meetings in her arms. I was quite tall when I was a kid, but there was always a notice at the entrance saying "children in arms, free entrance". I always enjoyed collecting the colourful cards that the bookies had at the race tracks. Everytime we went on holiday at the seaside, it was nearly always Great Yarmouth as it coincided with the horse races in Summer. Not that there was a gambling problem in the family, it was more like a hobby. When I see how my dad places a bet today, it is more like algebra that just a bet. He never looses with his secret combinations of win and place and carrying onto the next race. By the end of the day he usually has the same amount that he gave out, or perhaps a little bit more.

My other grandfather apparently got thrown out of school because he swore at the teacher. Mind you that was at the time of day when you left school at the age of 12 in any case. The excuse was that he used to watch the men gambling down the street and picked up the language from them. I don't know if it was true, but it sounded plausible. He became a carpenter and we had a wonderful collection of beer jugs at home which he would take home from the pubs where he was employed to do some carpentry work.

Anyhow back to the Million Lottery card. We have one again, Mr. Swiss always buys me one. As I only got it today I had the excitement of uncovering 18 days. Up to now I am as rich as I was before I started. But you never know, there are still 13 days to go and a television show (which I won't be attending - I already uncovered that bit).

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