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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Magic and Sparkle

By nature, I’m slightly superstitious and prone to believing old wives tales. There’s one down the road - ancient she is - and I always get suckered in to her tall stories about how she used to be Scottish and once sung with Prince, or other such claptrap. But it was this toothless old wife that happened to point out to me this morning that I forgot to take down my Christmas decorations. Thus, according to legend, this means that something unutterably terrible is going to happen, like my house burning to the ground, or a new series of Rosemary and Thyme.

Why I believe her, I don’t know. When it comes to superstitions, I deem it’s always best to err on the side of caution, and write off not walking under a ladder as a matter of safety. Who knows what sort of thing is going to happen to you whenever you walk under a burly workman?

Well, in the past I’ve had a fair idea. And is very lucky to ‘touch wood’ in these circumstances, is it not?

Friends think I’m terribly naive for reacting every time a black cat crosses my path, or I accidentally slam a gentleman caller against my mirrored headboard a little too hard. I suppose I am, but my yardstick for gullibility is a former housemate whom we managed to persuade that a kebab was a small, boneless animal about the size of a child’s sleeping bag that undulates across the Arabian wilderness. He drank in the tale that they were speared on swords and roasted, thus explaining their unique cooking method. We were only rumbled when he discovered the widespread availability of chicken kebabs, but almost wavered when we said it was down to genetic modification. So, in comparison, my superstitious leanings make me positively Scully.

Anyway. My mother was a great source of superstitions, peddling them like sweets, and could explain anything with a toss of salt over the shoulder and a knowing wink. Whilst watching a soap opera, and boggling at the revelation that a character had gone away and come back with a changed face, her puzzled six-year-old tugged on her skirt hem. Said she shrewdly: “It’s because the wind changed.” Ahh. That’s alright, then.

Another gem was that you shouldn’t play with your bellybutton. Terrible Things Would Happen. Tony Bennett apparently fingered a little too deeply whilst on tour, and before he knew it, his posterior had disengaged and was on the floor of the tour bus. Unfortunately, a sharp corner shot the derriere out the open door, and it was never to be seen again. Hence his song ‘I Left My Arse In San Francisco’. They had to clean it up for the record release, of course.

So, this evening, I shall be taking down the decorations a day later, with an odd fear in my eyes. I feel I should resolve not to let this irrational nonsense rule my life and actually take a flight on the 13th, and open umbrellas in the house to avoid getting wet. And stop touching the sink three times before I open the fridge in case I’m sucked into an alternative dimension.

I say ‘should’, as you can imagine my surprise when I just poked my finger into my bellybutton too far and, with a deceptively loud ‘clunk!’, my bum fell off.

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