Circa 1988, I was accosted by an aged gypsy woman in Hastings town centre. She approached me with a sprig of heather for which she was aiming to procure 100 new pence, and said "be lucky darlin’, be lucky". Honing my comedic talents at the tender age of 15, my response of "you’ll be lucky", although clumsy, was met with derision and she openly cursed me for "the next dozen years, dozen years" (similar to an East end barrow boy, she seemed to repeat every sentence, every sentence). Now I don’t believe in such mumbo jumbo, yet her proclamation did coincide with a trough in my life. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I trudged to sign on a few years later, in the bitter cold with rain seeping through my Reebok Classics as I went, if my fortune at that time was the gypsy’s doing, gypsy’s doing.

Watford Observer:

Lucky heather - not so lucky if you turn it down. Photo: Pixabay

Fast forward to today and, touch wood, my luck has changed as it has for many of us middle-aged, middle class incumbents. Now firmly ensconced in a mid-table position, there are no more relegation scraps as we get to grips with mortgages, double glazing, kids' drop offs and find ourselves undertaking activity that seemed alien but a few short years ago: such as taking a shopping list for the weekly grocery stock up, peering admiringly through the Schuh window at the latest Suede hush puppies and paying for external pipe leakage insurance. Despite this, I am not bemoaning my luck as it is well and truly in and, given the choice of life in a seaside town on a meagre income or a comfortable family existence in the 'burbs, I gladly take the latter.

For some though, luck comes in other manifestations. Yes, we all ‘dream’ of winning the lottery and are under the misguided assumption that wealth will make us happy. Of course, that is not always the case, and the chances of striking it rich with such folly are five times that of being struck with a direct hit by a bolt of lightning.

I have friends who were brought up in relative poverty and are now gilded financially. It's true they are relatively happy for a few years once reaching the promised land, but the past doesn't take long to come and bite them where it hurts.

Buying a lottery ticket is a deliberate act, in the hope that luck will shine a light, yet some take ‘luck’ to a whole new level. Now as many of the regular readers of this column may know, my wife hails from the beautiful fishing village of Porthleven in Cornwall, which we visit frequently and even I feel like a local. Each morning, I rise early and undertake the most breath-taking bike ride: through the 1,536 acre Penrose Estate, resplendent with country manor and Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake where, along with 5,000 other such sites in Kernow, it is reputed that Sir Belvedere cast King Arthur's sword Excalibur.

Anyhow, I digress. The previous lord of the manor, Charles Rogers, died in 2018 as a drug-addled recluse. He even shunned the country manor and was living in his car in the grounds. A few miles away, a care worker named Jordan Adlard-Rogers, who had been told that Charles was his father had, aged 18, visited and asked him to take a DNA test. After Charles’s death Jordan managed to secure such a test and was deemed to be the only child, and rightful heir, to the £50 million estate. He gave up his job as a carer and is now firmly ensconced as Lord of the manor, with all that entails.

It is in the British psyche to bemoan and be jealous of such luck, which I don’t understand. It’s true, we put too much emphasis on the material and the superficial, yet, at the risk of sounding clichéd, true luck comes in keeping the ‘basics’ as long as we can: be it our health, food on the table, a roof over our heads or managing to retain our own teeth. We should be content with our lot and continue to grasp at ‘luck’ when it comes our way, not expecting too much. We are but a gypsy curse away from it all coming crashing down around our ears, so we should make the most of what we have, not what we have not, have not.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher