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Tuesday, 4 June 2019


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

Soon, I will be flying off to New York, on a 5-star luxury trip, all expenses paid, thanks to a competition I entered relating to the film Ocean's Eight. Lucky guy!

Luck.  Here's the Chambers definition:

luck noun 1. chance, especially as it is perceived as influencing someone's life at specific points in time. 2. good fortune. 3. events in life which cannot be controlled and seem to happen by chance...........

"You make your own luck" is one of those glib expressions that work colleagues and bosses have said occasionally over the years. I have never believed that. How can you make something happen with certainty that is down to the roll of the proverbial dice? You can have a go, make a bet, buy a lottery ticket, enter a competition, apply for a job, etc, etc but you can't make those things a certainty for you unless you cheat or enter into some criminal activity, but then even that kind of chicanery is not a guarantee of success. 

You can prepare for things to the nth degree for what you believe is a sure thing, but it is still a game of chance. I heard someone say "you make your own luck" recently on the radio and it got me thinking about the sheer amount of meaningless claptrap that permeates business life, sports punditry, social networking and life in general.

God knows, we only have to spend a few minutes on Twitter to read all kinds of pseudo-sage advice. I'm as guilty as anybody. I add my tuppence on a regular basis. But if you really can make your own luck, it can be either good luck or bad luck, can't it?  Either way, you're not in the driving seat. Depend on the rabbit's foot if you like but remember it didn't work for the rabbit. In the Sunday Times Rich List, for example, there are winners of huge lottery jackpots in the ranks.  Did they make their own luck or did they just buy a ticket that happened to coincide with the big money balls?  

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an admission to make. 

I am a competitions junkie.  

If I see a prize worth going for, I enter. I have won:

a Mini car (that's a real car, not a toy!)
a £4,500 holiday to Alberta, Canada
a £500 cosmetics/perfumes hamper
a TV
an X Box
tickets to see The Three Tenors at Wembley
a bench top tool system/saw set
a weekend in Cornwall
a cookery school weekend in Aldeburgh
several National Lottery tenners
several Premium Bond £25s
an outdoor jacket
a laptop computer
a selection of computer accessories
a lot of books
a lot of DVDs
a lot of CDs
several gift cards

Entering competitions is fun and very cheap. I go for free entry comps or, if interested enough, I'll stretch to postcards and stamps. I never, ever enter by phone call or text. Those methods of entry are mugs' games, very expensive at rates that might hover around £2 a minute and they keep people hanging on for far longer than a minute.

If you are looking for a fun hobby, go on, have a go. If you're not in, you can't win.

Good, er, luck!

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