The prosperity on show in Monte Carlo is compelling evidence that the house always wins in the end.
It was our first trip to Monaco, an easy way to add another country to the notches on our travelling sticks. Much of the surface area of the principality was covered with temporary seating, in preparation for some kind of automobile race.
We skirted round the scaffolding and sidled into the Monte Carlo Casino, wondering, ‘Are we even allowed in there if we’re not going to lose money?’
Mevrouw T and I have a major advantage over the average punter because we don’t know how to gamble. Blackjack and roulette are mysteries to us and we can’t even work poker machines. We see where the money goes in, but what do you do after that?
We checked our bags and handed over our IDs, to prove we were over eighteen years of age and good for our debts. Entry to the Salle Europe was free.
No photography was allowed, but I can assure everyone the casino is as over-the-top on the inside as it is on the outside, in an elaborate, nineteeth century, Belle Epoque sort of way. Sadly, when you insert banks of gaudy poker machines they make the most glamorous interior decor look like, well, like Vegas.
A few minutes of trying to understand blackjack and wondering why none of the players seemed to be having fun was enough for us.
We went out onto the terraces behind the building, where the fine art, sponsored, we presume, by the fun and games inside, was well worth appreciating.
We still had our EUR1.50 for the 20 minute bus ride back to Villefranche. We counted that as being ahead for the day. Most were not so lucky.