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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Universal Laws
(a true story, more or less)

A primary tenet of the Scientific Method is that nothing can be proven: It is possible only to disprove hypotheses. As far as I know, however, every apple since the Garden of Eden has fallen to the ground when dropped, and this is powerful evidence for the Universal Law of Gravity.

Such observations endorse other Universal Laws. The Law that I never win in any form of gambling, being one. I have occasionally wagered on horses, dogs and football matches using my account with the online betting company, Betfair™. I have lost every time. I have never even won a raffle.

On Saturday 21st May 2005, I placed five pounds on Manchester United to defeat Arsenal in the English FA Cup Final. United dominated the game. Even Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, had to admit that United was by far the better team on the day. Following my bet, United lost 5–4 after a penalty shoot-out.

I began to invest in the Stock Market in April 2006. In May, what the financial press euphemistically described as a ‘market readjustment’ occurred. I instantly became two hundred pounds poorer than had I placed my investment in a biscuit tin under my bed. The evidence that I could never win in any form of gambling had become as empirically tested as the Law of Gravity.

I gave gambling no further thought until 1st July 2006 when I was watching England play Portugal in the quarter finals of the World Cup. English fans are only too painfully aware of the Universal Law of English Football. This states that unless the year begins with ‘19’ and ends with ‘66’, England cannot reach the World Cup Final.

It was in the 62nd minute as Wayne Rooney was sent off, that the Universal Law of English Football and the Universal Law of Swan Morrison Losing All Bets both came together in my mind. What would happen if I backed Portugal to win? Could my Law propel England to the semi finals?

Betfairallows bets to be placed on football matches until the first goal of the game is scored. The score remained 0–0 as I logged-on and wagered five pounds on Portugal. I became nervous. Suppose Portugal won and I had thus undermined a fundamental Universal Law? Would I be responsible for some breakdown in the very fabric of the Universe? I anxiously glanced from my window. Those uninterested in Football were going normally about their business. Reality appeared, thus far, unchanged.

I became preoccupied by such anxieties as the game progressed. Suddenly, I became aware that Portugal had defeated England 3–1 in a penalty shoot-out.

I had won a bet!??

Dazed, I logged-on to Betfairto confirm my win. There was none. I re-read the Betfairrules. The bet had been based on the score at the end of normal time, which had been a draw.

I had lost. Both England and I had lost.

Though sad to have not won twenty-five pounds, I was also relieved, comforted and reassured. The forces behind the Universe were too subtle to be outsmarted by the likes of me. No fundamental Universal Laws had been breached. God was in his Heaven, and all was right with the World.