Thursday, 14 July 2011


Given age and  a paupers pension and a few pence from producing  words in print, the thought of  winning thousands on the lotto robs me of a couple of pounds every week. But like millions of fellow lotto addicts the lure of striking it rich must be like our ancestors joining the Gold Rush out west. The vast majority of punters will not make a vast fortune but what the hell, we do it anyway.
This week’s Euro lottery is a case in point. After weeks of no big winner the pot finally stopped at £161 million. Now think of that. The winner would be the 430th  in the Sunday Times Rich List. And all for just picking the right set of numbers.
Now, I think I could cope with the odd million or so without going mad, buying a string of top of the range cars, and hopping off to some far flung sun-kissed beach to bask among a bevy of bouncing beauties!
But being a man with champagne tastes and beer money I’d be daft to say I wouldn’t want to win the Big One. Which brings me to my dream…The other night in the early hours as I slumbered, the bedside radio which is habitually switched on must have got through to my brain with a report about the £161 million going to a Brit. Not only that I was sure my regular numbers had come up. In a state of near panic – only in my dream of course – I began to be concerned about what to do with such a vast sum. Silly things. Like which bank could I trust? I’d better re-write my will. I certainly don’t want publicity. And who should share in my good fortune.
 Then reality struck as I pulled the cork from another bottle as the bubbly flowed (dreams are like that: in a flash switching from panic to party animal) I felt a sharp poke in the chest. There standing at the bedside was a three-year-old little person, my grandson demanding my presence in the kitchen for nothing stronger than a glass of milk. I was tempted, as I eyed the time was and still being in winning party mood, to say that he ought to have called the nanny instead.
Hours later I got one of those messages from the National Lottery sent to online punters that sets the heart racing and begins News about your ticket…Yes, I had won. I hadn’t been dreaming after all. I was THE winner! As I opened the email the first three numbers were mine. Sadly the rest let me down. But I shouldn’t be too sniffy at winning a paltry £5.80. Next time it could be me!
I think a lovely middle-aged couple had got it about right when they were interviewed about becoming members of the Lotto Millionaire’s Club a few weeks ago. They appeared totally unfazed by their £3 million windfall. Why hadn’t they cleared off to enjoy their riches? “We have had a few things to sort out at work,” said the wife…
And I suppose if we are really honest that is how many of us would react, even though we might think otherwise. So far however the latest rich lotto Brit has remained elusive and, as I write, has not come forward with the winning ticket. I guess the £13,673,97  interest he (or she) is losing a day could be said to be small change !

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


  I don’t think I can write my first blog without some mention of the way it really was in times gone by before the electronic age when to “hack” was to give someone the chop with an axe !  I remember as a raw-faced cub reporter being urged by my seniors never to take a bribe to keep a story OUT of the paper on the pain of the sack. With princely pay of £3.10s  on a Cheshire weekly I guess I could have been “bought” but the temptation was never there.
  Trading the secrets of Mrs Sparrow’s award winning apple pie with  a rival village WI  would hardly have got me a story in pre-Calendar girl days of who was having-it-off with whom. Even if a tip-off about a housewife and a randy vicar might have brought me riches from one of the more salacious national Sundays.
  Given the gift of a good news sense, I must confess to making a few bob in a lifetime as a newshound.  Not from hacking into computers and telephones or handing out large sums to bent coppers, but just good old fashioned journalism.
  Contacts have always been the lifeblood of the trade of newsgathering. So it was that every Tuesday I would mount the office bike in Wilmslow and cycle round my patch, stopping to chat in half a dozen outlying villages to my “regulars,” picking up handwritten reports from shops and post offices and – yes – even dropping in for a bite and  a (lemonade!) at one of the local pubs.
  Most of what I picked up to put in the paper was parish pump stuff by present standards. But just occasionally a real story happened and made a front page splash. Like the time I discovered a village school had been secretly closed by the authorities in the hope of covering up a mystery illness sweeping through the classrooms
 And before the discovery of Lindow man a tip off from a contact told me a skeleton had been found in a peat bog and was probably an ancient murder. Just in time to stop the press for that week’s paper.  The next edition told readers they were animal bones. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story!
 Now all those weekly yarns seem light years away from tales in the late News of the World about alleged oversexed bed-hopping celebrities, Royals and mega-rich footballers, and yet I guess most  stories did  not the result from hacking into computers and mobile phones. Just large sums exchanged with contacts for information into their private lives which I guess most like to read, and speaking personally now as a freelance, who am I to cast the first stone…so long as the stories are true.
 Now did you know about the affair between…..?