Sitting on the train, contemplating how to spend my Euro Millions winnings ahead of 2013's biggest jackpot of £157m this week, my usual pre-draw euphoria was replaced by an unfamiliar and frightening realisation: that not only my dream purchases, but even some things I take for granted, could be at risk if I didn't win.
If you have ever played the lottery, and certainly if you play on a regular basis, you will be familiar with the strange sense of well-being and excitement that can accompany the approach of a draw, especially a significant roll-over. The plans for super cars and massive family holidays to five star resorts in the Caribbean might sound far fetched, but there remains the lingering hope that the small pink slip in your pocket is actually a cheque for millions or pounds. A dream ticket. The answer to all of your prayers.
And yet I realised on my train that for me it had become even more than that.
Sitting next to me was a young pupil from the local independent school on his journey home. Chatting articulately about the day's lessons to his friends, gesticulating with one hand and holding an iPhone in the other, he was exactly the sort of boy I had somehow, without even realising it, begun to assume my future offspring would be.
Quite apart from the question of assuming I would have children (I'm sure my girlfriend would at least like to be consulted first) it was the level of privlege I took for granted which took me by surprise.
What had given me the impression that a life of upper-middle class comfort was what I would be able to provide for my offspring? True, my upbringing was certainly a fortunate one, thanks to the enduring hard work and love of my parents. But what gave me the impression that the same circumstances were a given for my children? Was I willing to work as hard as my parents did towards their aim of providing the best for their boys?
Well the short answer is no. Because for me it was clearly not an aim, but an assumption. I held the absent-minded belief that it would all fall into my lap.
And a quick analysis of my career and finances told me that, in fact, it was very unlikely to fall into my lap any time soon. A combination of my own longstanding lethargy, disinterest in my career and wider economic factors since my graduation in 2008, meant that, in all likelihood, aged 26, I am already behind where I would have expected to be. If I was suddenly to wake up with a 13 year old son tomorrow, I would struggle to pay for his iPhone contract, let alone his school fees.
Why, then, have I become so complacent? What has led to this sense that everything will be okay in the end?
I'm not about to blame the lottery on it's own for instilling me with a false sense of hope. That would be pretty foolish. But I do think that the larger 'it could be you' culture that pervades the media, and particularly the current crop of popular television series such as The Only Way is Essex, have led a whole generation, regardless of their childhood experiences, to believe that iPhones and other luxuries are their right, rather than a goal, to achieve.
And always in the back of my mind, I must admit, has been the lingering assumption that if it doesn't work out, I could at least win the lottery.
But what if I don't?
Well, perhaps I should work a little harder, set myself some goals and strive to achieve them. Just as a back up.
P.S. I didn't win the lottery last night. If I did, I don't think it's very likely I would've written this piece.Suggest a correction