IT was raining. So hard, in fact, that builder Gareth Bull couldn’t start work.
As he passed the time, he popped into a nearby shop.
And while there he bought a lucky-dip lottery ticket.
It was the luckiest dip in his life.
For a few days later he was pinching himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming that he had won.
And not just any old lottery win, either. It was a cool £40 million.
Gareth, and his wife Catherine, live in Mansfield.
Not a million miles away, in Nottingham actually, another couple were unveiled to an envious world as the latest to join the EuroMillions super-rich list.
They came away with a whopping £45 million.
Blimey! How would you start to spend that kind of money?
Well for a starter you’d make sure the rent/mortgage and utility bills are paid on time and be in a position to deal with any unforeseen demands.
Other things I’d splash out on is making sure the house is warm, putting meat or fish on the table every other day, splashing out on a week’s holiday, running a car and having a washing machine, colour TV and mobile phone.
That list, by the way, is not as random as it may appear.
It has been compiled by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics arm, in judging deprivation in the modern world.
Anyone who can’t afford at least four of the nine items listed is officially deprived.
Hands up (and be honest) if you fall into that category.
For, you see, Britain has just about the lowest deprivation rates in Europe.
Only Germany can boast fewer people who are struggling to enjoy the better things in life.
However, despite us having only 4.8 per cent of our population believe they are materially deprived, we have an inordinate number of people who don’t actually do anything to clutter up their homes with the accoutrements of our consumer-led contemporary lifestyle.
For Britain is slap bang at the top of the league table for households where nobody works for a living.
That is right. 13.1 per cent of the population aged under 59 lives in a home where no adult works for 20 per cent of their time.
But fewer than one in 20 say they can’t afford to pay their bills, eat properly, go on holiday, run a car or have a colour TV or a mobile phone.
Of course, you don’t have to search too far for a reason.
Some people may never have done a day’s work in their life but they haven’t been totally idle.
In fact they have been very busy indeed, working out how to soak up the last penny from the state, no doubt so they can raise a glass of sangria next time they are in Torremolinos and toast the workers who paid for them to go there.
Meanwhile, I know of families with a mortgage who have come close to ruin because the state does not recognise their plight.
These are people whose main bread-earner has lost his or her job but because they had the self-respect to pay their way the welfare state is not geared up to step into the breach.
It seems to me that it is only when people are without anything that the state is prepared to step in – and give them everything.