I don’t gamble.

Well, okay, so that’s not exactly true because on occasion I buy scratch cards and play the lottery – though I haven’t done that for months. I bought a scratch card today, won my quid back. So no hard no foul. Usually, I just take the money and run so to speak but in my time working at the village shop I saw people buy a five pound card, win forty quid and then spend all the winnings on more scratch cards.

We had customers that came in every week and spend forty/fifty quid on lottery tickets every week rarely winning. And never winning more than 200 quid. A month’s worth of lottery tickets to them.

And it seems so innocuous, that lottery ticket.

Until it becomes twenty lottery tickets every week.

Gambling is an addiction like any other, and my family is certainly full of addictions. My grandad was a gambler, wasted everything he had on it. That and drinking. His second wife spent all her time at Bingo – something else that seems to innocuous until you’re spending all your time and money there.

Image from VG Tips

I think it’s even more dangerous, that innocent fun gambling. It’s nothing like the smoky bookies from when I was a kid. Or even the non-smoky bookies of today. My other grandad played the Irish Lottery – better odds, more winnings as far as he was concerned. He also played the Pools but I don’t think he ever won any money on that. Whenever he won money on the Irish Lottery he would give me and my sister some and then make us promise not to tell our dad or nan. We loved him, he was the one who really cared. So we kept the few secrets he offered us. He didn’t share much of himself.

He would take me to the bookies when I was a kid – back when no one really cared that a kid was in the bookmakers. I remember them being more concerned about the dog than me. It was all smoke, like my dad’s local pub across the street. All smoke and men wasting time. So much of my childhood was about men wasting time. Their time, my time, someone else’s time…

I went into a bookmakers recently – in the last year or so – so my dad could put a bet on some football matches. He does it from time to time – nothing to the level of my grandad or any gambler really. Gambling isn’t really his addiction. Anyway. The bookies wasn’t anything like I remembered from when I was a kid, but exactly the same.

It wasn’t smoky but it was still full of the same men I remember from back then. Vacant staring at screens and wasting time with money they don’t really have to spend.

I’m not judging. I’m just seeing. I have my own problems, I’ve had my own addictions. People come through them, get over them, whenever they do. It’s not up to me to change that. I’ve seen people pushed too hard to change, to give up something that was their entire lives. If they’re not ready then they’re not ready and it’s not pretty to push too hard if they’re not ready.

It never ends well.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try – cause god damn I spent most of my teenage years trying to get my dad to give up smoking and God there are a half a dozen people who’s lives would be so much better if they had given up their addiction sooner. People who would be alive if they had. Addiction comes in many forms and it’s never easy to say give up and make everything better.

That includes smoking, drinking, gambling and even cutting.

Any way. This took a more intense turn than I meant it to.


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