I BEGIN to wonder about me.
I scoff at superstition. The idea that crossing my fingers could wield any influence at all over the planets on their courses, or the atoms that dance like wasps around my head, is laughable.
When I spill salt I generally just wipe it on the floor for my wife to deal with when she vacuums. I have been known to open umbrellas in the house just to prove it doesn’t bring bad luck (and shortly after discovered a termite infestation, but that was coincidence).
But here we are, four days into the new year and already I have been involved in enough arcane hocus pocus to make a Neanderthal wince.
On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve I ran out the back door (taking the bad luck with me). I was armed with a piece of coal (for warmth, although it wasn’t alight. It’s a token), bread (representing food) and salt for… well, luck.
I bolted round the house in a desperate bid to beat the chiming of the clock (it’s bad luck if you don’t) and ran in through the front door, bringing good luck with me.
Let’s think of it as a tradition rather than a superstition. I do it because my dad always did it and if I didn’t it would be… er, bad luck.
It was anyway, because half way round, in the dark, I tripped over next door’s cat (it was black) and skidded over the concrete, losing the bread as I did so, and consequently failing to beat the chimes. So you see: it was right about the bad luck.
It would have been wiser to turn the outside lights on, but my wife refuses in case the neighbours notice and call the police.
Yesterday (Friday) was my birthday. I don’t go to work on my birthday. It’s a rule. I never did as a child because it was always in the school holidays. By the time I reached adulthood it seemed like bad luck to break the habit of a lifetime.
My wife says its just laziness, and as I was off I could vacuum the damn salt off the floor for a change, but I dunno about that. It’s supposed to be bad luck to travel on a Friday and vacuuming is sort of travelling.
Come to think of it, it’s probably bad luck to have a birthday on a Friday. And it’s definitely bad luck when you’ve had 59 of the bloody things.
But there is more to come!
This coming Monday is Twelfth Night. The Christmas decorations have to come down before then or the devil will get in. It’s a well-known fact.
Don’t ask me how I know. It’s just one of those things I absorbed, probably before birth. A kind of genetic memory, along with four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet (can someone explain to meet how chopping the feet off anything can bring luck?).
I just know that in my frantic rush to tear down the paper chains and chuck the tree in the yard I’ll probably fall off a stool and break something. By the time I’m out of hospital Twelfth Night will have passed, the devil will be sitting in my armchair and my wife will say: So you see; there’s something in these old wives’ tales.”
If there’s a god the rest of the year will go well, just to prove it’s all a load of bunk. You’d think God would want that – to show the world there’s no point in prostrating oneself every time there’s an eclipse.
But, just in case, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.