Thursday, March 15, 2012

The lottery pool

In a brilliant story titled “Ukridge and the accident syndicate” and written by P.G.Wodehouse, the plot goes like this ( extracted from Wikipedia)

Weeks was a struggling actor who believed all he needed to get his breakthrough role was a decent wardrobe. Ukridge, Corocoran, Weeks and others are dining at their regular haunt when one of their number reveals he has acquired accident insurance as a bonus for subscribing to a magazine, and has subsequently received five pounds after a minor cycling accident. Ukridge is inspired by this, and persuades his comrades to form a syndicate, subscribing to all magazines offering this free insurance, arranging an "accident" and splitting the insurance monies. Lots are drawn, and Weeks is selected as the one to be insured and to suffer the accident.

Time passes and Weeks shows no sign of taking any damage. Despite much cajoling, pointing out of appropriate taxi cabs and even the placing of dangerous dogs in his rooms, he remains unhurt. Finally, he agrees that he will do the honourable thing, on condition that he is first primed with a fine dinner and champagne. The syndicate scrape together the necessary funds, and watch glumly as Weeks dines and guzzles the pricey drink, abusing his friends roundly as he grows inebriated. After the feast, he laughs at his friends, tells them he had no intention of having his accident despite their generosity, and promptly slips in front of a passing truck.

Visiting Weeks in hospital, he claims to have no memory of events, stymieing any attempt to retrieve the funds. Instead he spends the cash on fine clothes, and kick-starts his career in the movies. Returning to the present, Ukridge bribes a passing vagrant (with a shilling borrowed from Corky) to throw a tomato at Weeks as he leaves the church to face the waiting throng of photographers; the good man's aim is true, and justice is restored.

Well, I’ve read this story several times and laughed my guts out.

Today, I came across this real-life story which bears a resemblance to Ukridge’s story:

Five construction workers who claimed a colleague cheated them out of their share of a multimillion-dollar lottery jackpot have been awarded $4 million each by a New Jersey jury.

A unanimous verdict was reached Wednesday morning by the jury, which heard the lawsuit in state Superior Court in Elizabeth. The panel rejected the claims of Americo Lopes, 52, who had claimed he won the 2009 jackpot on a personal ticket – not with a ticket he bought as part a lottery pool with the co-workers.

I wonder if the P.G.Wodehouse Trust can sue Americo Lopez for plagiarising an idea.

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