Vinny hatches a plan to put Lotto woes behind them

Sides were taken among friends and the battle lines were drawn

Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 12:00

Crossing the Naniken, the gurgling brook which drains St Anne’s Park, Vinny Fitzpatrick felt lighter in spirit than he had for some time. He was also about to be considerably lighter in pocket too, for which he was most grateful.

As he headed for his destination, Vinny felt inside his jacket pocket for the envelope, patted it for reassurance, and continued on past the Rose Garden.

Instead of being the best of times, it had, Vinny acknowledged, been the worst of times in Foley’s pub, where the atmosphere had been positively sulphuric in the fall-out of the Lotto win.

Friends of long standing refused to acknowledge each other as sides were taken and battle lines drawn in the Spider versus Brennie bantamweight duel over a slice of the €1m plus jackpot.

Amongst the lads in the Dublin Bus garage, where Vinny did his daily shift on the 130, opinions were split as to whether Brennie was entitled to his share of the booty. Even the passengers on the Clontarf Road had heard of the ructions.

“Mr Fitzpatrick, something will have to be done. The reputation of the parish is at stake,” wailed Gladys Cadwalader of the Clontarf Warblers.

Such were the tension levels, Vinny joked aloud one night that there would be no shortage of extras for the re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf next April – his jest was greeted with a stony silence. After a few days, Vinny couldn’t take the strain any more. He donned his Kofi Annan hat, pulled the warring factions together and resolved the crisis which had threatened to overspill into civil war.

Syndicate members
Over a soup and sambo lunch, Vinny summoned the members of the syndicate into the back bar and presented them with a sheet of paper, a pencil, and an ultimatum.

“Lads, we have to sort out this Lotto business and move on. Here’s what I’m suggesting. Write Y if you feel Brennie is entitled to one eighth of the prize; X if you feel it should be pooled among the other seven. It’s a secret ballot so no one will know how anyone else voted, not even me. One more thing,” he added. “Whatever we agree to, we don’t look back. We accept the consequences unconditionally, is that okay?”

There had been general acceptance at the proposal, if not the outcome, 6-2 in favour of Brennie, which prompted Spider to storm off in a huff. “Leave him be, he’ll come around,” said Charlie St John Vernon.

As for Vinny, while perplexed the outcome hadn’t been more emphatic, he was relived the unseemly row was over. The episode had left its mark, however, on the good-natured bus driver.

While he loved the thrill of the chase – nothing could beat picking the winner of the big handicap on a mid-winter weekend – he was saddened that friendships had been strained over a share of the Lotto loot.

Woe of woes
What should have been a joy of joys became a woe of woes, and all over a lousy outstanding €12 from a friend of 30 years standing. And even though he now had €135,000 more in his bank account than he had a week ago, a part of Vinny wished he had never won the Lotto. So much so, that the night before he had come up with a cunning plan.

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