Camelot is tweaking its jackpot draw. It's increasing the selections available from 49 to 59, and selling this change to punters with the upbeat message that there are now "more numbers for you to choose from".
Don't ask me to explain this, but like Sunday Times columnist Jenny McCartney, I'm sure Camelot didn't make these changes from some "splurge of altruism", even if it has introduced a few new gimmicks, such as the Millionaire Raffle. The truth, says McCartney, is that your chances of winning the lottery will now dwindle from about one in 14 million to one in 45 million.
It's no surprise. Camelot's action is "in line with the British zeitgeist: win big or not at all". No longer is it enough just to be well off. According to the FT, you now need to have an average of £806,000 to invest if you want to access advice from a private client wealth manager. One entrepreneur said she was asked to commit £1m.
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"It was basically, Hi, here's a posh coffee and a PowerPoint presentation; now give us a million quid." McCartney finds this depressing. "An almost lascivious drooling over the predilections of the super-wealthy seems to have become part of our culture. In Britain, money used to be something you had, not something you were, and that has changed."
Students sign up for "sugar daddies" to underwrite their studies; young women fantasise about Christian Grey, a "humourless, sado-masochistic stalker type rendered seductive largely by wealth".
This latter phenomenon, I agree, is baffling. But while McCartney is broadly right, the media must take some blame: newspapers constantly lionise wealthy celebrities, and while most pundits have dismissed EL James's new novel as ludicrous, this hasn't stopped editors from giving it acres of space.
Zac: 'Boris, but willowy and hot!'
"Dilettante Zac doesn't deserve to be mayor." My first instinct was to agree with this Times headline on Zac Goldsmith. Everyone says what an unbeatable candidate Zac would make for mayor of London, argues columnist Janice Turner. "Imagine Boris, but willowy and hot! Another charming, scruffy Old Etonian but this time with roll-ups and an organic farm."
But while the Johnsons are scholarship-winning, "pathologically competitive", self-made overachievers, the Goldsmiths, except when applying themselves to banking, corporate raiding or poker, are dilettantes. Would Zac's sister Jemima "have acquired the lofty journalistic honorifics of Vanity Fair" but for her "vast inheritance and the social connections it brings? Would she have acquired political influence without the readies to bail out Julian Assange?"
As for Zac, who once loftily said "I do not need a career in this world" why did he remain a non-dom in London until he stood for parliament? Why indeed. Yet there is one strong argument in Zac's favour: his constituents in Richmond evidently like him. His recent 23,000 majority reflected the biggest increasein majority of any MP at the election. And that must count for something.
Tabloid money: Cameron usurped by a Greek bearing no gifts
The cost of benefits for those of working age in Britain "rocketed" up from 8% of national income to 13% under Gordon Brown, says Trevor Kavangah in The Sun. "As Chancellor George Osborne pointed out last week, Britain today ranks as the world's biggest provider of benefits. For every £14 spent on welfare globally, £1 is spent here. Yet we are so strapped for cash the government is still borrowing every penny it spends on education, roads, defence and all the other costs of running the country. In addition, our national debt, hanging like a dead weight around our necks, is a staggering £1.6trn, with interest growing at £45bn a year."
Yet in "a jobs miracle that has taken even the Tories by surprise", we are not only getting on top of the deficit, but "creating a stampede across the Mediterranean among migrants desperate for work". In cutting the budget and creating two million new jobs, "Tory welfare reforms have been stupendously successful".
"Veteran Labour MP Kate Hoey is right," says Tony Parsons in The Sun. "The total lack of patriotism in Labour has separated the party from the working class. Even more than economic incompetence, Labour's loathing of our country is why they'll never get elected again."
"Shame on you if you've missed a doctor's appointment this week," says Fiona Phillips in the Daily Mirror. "If you have, you're one of the 61,000 wasters racking up lost time equivalent to a year's work for 1,300 doctors and costing the NHS £300m a year."
"Gossips in Berlin and Paris say Angela Merkel fancies Greece's boyish leader Alexis Tsipras, 40," says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. "Le Canard Enchaine adds that the feeling is mutual... My Gallic snout says: Poor David Cameron: no longer the favourite nephew... usurped by a younger, cuter model a Greek bearing no gifts'."
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