Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Triskaidekaphobia

Were your ears burning today? Because I was talking about you, about journals and blogging. Actually, I was talking about you with some good friends, one of whom has a teeny-tiny "THING" about the number between 12 and 14. She has a few other little "things" too, all little rituals that if she doesn't follow will cause - well, nothing actually. But she follows them anyway. I had one of these myself, I used to have to turn the first cigarette in a pack upside down, and smoke that one last. No idea why. I got fed up eventually and stopped doing it - both the turning of the cig and the smoking.

When I was little, my mother had a huge number of superstitions. No crossing on the stairs for one. Actually, I can see the reasoning for that, my sisters and I were somewhat volatile, and would quite happily trip each other down the stairs (I have scars, do you want to see?). Seven years bad luck for breaking a mirror for another. When we moved from Germany to England one time, she opened a box and found a cracked mirror, and got rather upset since she didn't know who would get the bad luck - herself for packing it, the removallers (is that even a word?) the ship's captain, the lorry driver? Well, I tell you what, it wasn't my sisters and I, even if we HAD been playing ball right by that box and heard it tinkle. Uh-uh!

Since my father was in the army we moved around a lot, and as we moved we collected even more local superstitions. Black cats, while very lucky in the UK are very bad luck in other countries. Who knew? Suddenly, the moggie was not welcome, sorry Kit! No shoes on the table, no opening an umbrella inside (not even for playing parasols with), and you must throw salt over your shoulder if you spilled some. Which shoulder? No idea, throw it over both just in case. And I didn't throw it at my sister on purpose, ow, Mu-um!!

Of course, sometimes I got to legitimately beat up on my sister....unless she was quicker than me of course... "Pinch, Punch First of the Month - White Rabbits, no returns back." Grrrr.

My mother was big on the rhymes too - atishoo! One's a kiss, two's a wish, three's a letter, four is better". Or "One for sorrow, two for joy"... you HAD to whistle or wave at the solitary magpie. Of course as soon as you did, his mate would fly into view and you would curse yourself for chasing away the GOOD luck.

When we moved North, there were a whole load of NEW ones to learn. I knew about picking up pennies for luck. I had no idea that "if you let them lay, bad luck would be yours for all the day". I'd never heard of "first footing", and I still never remember it. Every New Year, we suddenly look at each other in a panic - who was first in today??

To be honest, it's all I can do to leave the house each day, ensuring no pennies, no cats, no ladders, no birds, and no other unknown but still dangerous things are lurking to get me. No wonder I prefer to stay home and look at the Internet!

PS Yes, I know, six more interesting things about me, coming soon. When I can think of one.

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