November 22nd

Good morning to you. Here's your message for this rainy Thursday.


If you eat paper you get black eyes; if you see two magpies something nice will happen; if you see a pin pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck, see a pin and let it lie, someone close to you will die; feel happy if a black cat crosses your path; don’t walk under a ladder; never give a dressing gown for Christmas because it will bring illness; lick your thumb, place it in your other palm and make a wish if you see a black car; if you cough, raise your arm up high; always pick up a penny because it’ll mean that you’ll never need it; cross yourself if you see a yellow car; if by mistake you put on something inside out then you need to keep it like that for the rest of the day; never say the word Macbeth in a theatre; break a mirror and have seven years of bad luck; don’t look at a full moon through glass; hold your head tight when you go over a hill in case it drops off; press the cigarette lighter in before you take a long journey; if salt is spilt at the table, throw a pinch over your left shoulder; say bless you after someone sneezes in case the devil crawls into the mouth; wish on the first star; wish on your first food of the season; wish when you cut your birthday cake; don’t sit thirteen at a table; throw apple peel over your shoulder on Halloween and it will spell out the initial of your true love; wish on an eclipse and it will be doubled; don’t cut your nails on a Friday; always burn your hair clippings; be careful what you wish for because it may come true.


  1. All this advice is such a kafoofle when we all know that witches do all sorts of other things like wear square-toed shoes to hide the fact they don’t have any toes and they scratch their heads under their hats because of the lice and when the broomstick breaks down they just hitch a ride but be careful they don’t spit blue ink at you which is why they always keep their mouths closed except of course when they sidle up to the cleanest of children and take them by the hand and then lead them under ladders to chase black cats and frogs that spit just like they do and hope that the parents will get all upset because parents often forget what it was like when they were children and ran around with dirty fingernails and rips in their pants but then parents never got taken by the hand of the witches when they were young because they were so naughty much naughtier than they ever would allow their own children to be so the witches are just trying to teach them a lesson when they grab the clean children and spirit them off so that they can get to know them and fly and play with frogs and get warts on their fingers and eat worms that turn into licorice and sherbet and it’s not really that witches don’t like parents it’s just that parents seem to think they know everything and it’s not really true because they’re looking at things with the hindsight of years and have forgotten that they’ve grown up now and grown ups have lost it and witches know that so when you wish you were young again look at thirteen as a lucky number because Fridays come in all shapes and sizes.

  2. Wishes are probably the most precious things I will leave for my children; they are the little fragments of me which will remain with them long after I’ve gone. For my children I wish everything that I believe someone didn’t wish for me and therefore didn’t do or have.

    I wish them fond memories of a happy childhood in spite of our slightly dysfunctional set-up, schooldays filled with laughter and friends, family holidays without fear of arguments and violence, independence, good health, good teeth especially, a sense of direction, a fulfilling career, one, long happy marriage each with healthy children (if they want them), and all the rewards they deserve. I wish them luck because if there’s one thing I’ve learned then it’s a good thing to have on your side, especially when your judgement lets you down now and then. Most of all, I wish them the courage to pursue their dreams no matter what anyone else thinks or says. I think that these are good things to wish for.

    I wish I wasn’t getting old and becoming that person perched precariously at the top of the family Christmas tree, ready to topple off when the pine needles dry out. I wish I wasn’t going grey and that the acceleration of my changing hair colour seems to be correspond to the speed at which mobile phones keep getting smaller and I wish that I could learn how to turn off the predictive text function because I keep sending out nonsensical, garbled messages that aren’t what I want to say and it’s not my fault.

    Okay, I admit it. I’m an ageing self-centred control freak with a poor grasp of modern technology who blames everyone else for their misfortunes. I wish I wasn’t.

    I wish you all a Happy Christmas.

  3. ‘I don’t believe in that global warming, do you?’ He lit another cigarette from the stub of his last one.

    ‘It doesn’t seem to be about belief, to me.’ I sipped my beer. ‘It’s been scientifically proven – ‘

    ‘Science? Pah! Just another religion.’

    ‘Hang on a minute, some science stuff is provable. Religion isn’t.’

    ‘I think some religious stuff is provable. Like being nice to people is a good idea, that kind of thing, help your neighbour out when they need it. I can see that works, makes the world a better place. But that doesn’t mean I believe in some bloke with a long white beard sitting in a place called heaven. Bloody ridiculous, that is.’

    ‘But is that provable religious stuff, or is it common sense?’

    ‘Good point, mate, good point.’ He jabbed the air with his cigarette for emphasis. ‘Common sense, that’s what’s needed. And that’s what people don’t use where that global warming rubbish is concerned.’

    ‘But surely it’s common sense to turn lights off when you don’t need them, walk into town instead of using the car – ‘

    ‘You turn lights off when you don’t need them because it keeps your electricity bills down. And walking into town, that makes sense too because it’s good exercise, and more sociable, you get to chat to people on the way. That’s nothing to do with global warming.’

    ‘So why do you think global warming’s such a big deal?’

    ‘It’s the papers, innit? And the TV. There’s so much so-called ‘news’, they haven’t got enough to write about, they have to keep telling the same old stories. Global warming, financial crashes, property slumps, everything you eat or do will give you cancer. Stories, that’s all they are. And all that rubbish about turning lights off – that’s just superstition.’

  4. She knew she’d started it. She’d like to claim it was just for fun: in the same league as carving pumpkins at Hallowe’en or carrying black coal to your neighbours at Hogmanay. A jokey game of everyday superstitions.

    “If the wind changes you’ll be stuck with that face.”

    But she knew, deep down, that it wasn’t just for fun. That might make a plausible excuse (for whom? for the children, if they ever held her to account? for herself?), but she knew she’d always meant to scare them. To remind them of all the things she knew and they didn’t: to warn them that if they didn’t do what they were told she couldn’t be accountable for the consequences.

    “Who’s talking about you, with your ears burning like that?”

    It wasn’t that she hated them, or meant them harm. It just felt like an unequal struggle, sometimes, to keep them all clean and fed and out of mischief. It was like magic, the way they’d fall silent when she spoke to them like that.

    “Silence round the table at ten to the hour means a devil’s flying overhead.”

    They started using her lines on each other. She’d raise her eyebrows and say nothing. Then William began inventing his own sayings, chanting them at Sarah and May when he thought she couldn’t hear him, and she blenched, hearing her own tone of voice echoed.

    “One magpie for sorrow: better spot another before we get home.”

    Then she came upon May, crouched in the corner, reciting under her breath. She didn’t notice the shadow looming over her at first.

    “The devil makes work for idle hands,” she said. “Out you go, into the fresh air.”

    Least said, soonest mended. But she knew then that she’d done something unforgivable. Something she couldn’t mend.

  5. My doppelganger pulls me to one side: a word to the wise, cheats never prosper, circumstances alter cases, and every man is his own enemy. She reminds me that forbidden fruits are sweetest, but pride comes before a fall, and I feel her weight leaning against my back. I have tried telling her that where there’s a will there’s a way, but she says misfortunes never come singly, and no man is indispensable. A fool and her money are soon parted she says when she watches me hand over my credit card for clothes I don’t really want or particularly like, clothes that I will throw in the back of the wardrobe when I get home. She says, all that glitters is not gold, when I take off my rings and we stare at my face in the mirror. It takes all sorts to make a world I tell her and she looks away in disgust. She says, don’t cry over split milk when I weep into my cereal, and, there’s plenty more fish in the sea, nudging me in the ribs as we pass the fishmonger in Tesco, filleting a salmon. Experience is the best teacher, she says in my rear-view mirror, nodding her head sagely. I say time heals, and everyone makes mistakes, and how about least said, soonest mended? But she only laughs. Hope springs eternal in the human breast she says and her voice is full of scorn. Knowledge is power, she says. I say, if it were not for hope the heart would break. Always look at the bright side. She shakes her head. Fortune favours those who use their judgement, she says. It’s only the first step that’s troublesome, she whispers. It never rains but it pours. But after a storm comes a calm.

  6. When a chicken is born, the shell should be placed on top of the coop in order to prevent their abduction by kites.

    A kite flown on St Valentine’s Day will trace the name of your true love.

    A spring love will last the summer but fall by winter (Maine proverb).

    ‘When ravens leave the tower wall / Before year’s end the crown shall fall’ (Marton).

    A commoner wears the sun as a king wears the crown.

    ‘Marriage is celebrated in the Fore-noon by the Canons of the Church; some hold that ’tis not so lucky to undertake any serious affaire declinante Sole (Aubrey).

    A hare will shun the cloister.

    If you see a hare on the first of March, you should greet him by all his names (c.1400).

    If three women with the same initial sit at table together, it is a sure sign of a coming wedding.

    If the bride sneezes at a wedding, her first child will be a girl.

    ‘My son has sneezed a blessing on all I have said’ (Homer).

    To cure warts, wash them with the water in which the seventh son of the same man and wife has been baptized (Physicians of Myddvai).

    A wart on the third finger of the left hand indicates that you will never marry.

    A left-handed milkmaid draws sweeter milk (Devon proverb).

    If milk boils over the edge of the pot, throw salt into the fire to save the cow from which it came.

    Tie salt into the dress of a sleeping child to prevent kidnap by fairies.

    When a cock crows at midnight it is a sign of fairy mischief.

    ‘When Chaunticleer’s song is silent at dawn / It is sure that a kite to a hen is born’ (Duncan).

    A proverb believed will always prove true.

  7. The tradition in bad luck warnings during theatrical performances is not confined to the better known one concerning the mention of the name Macbeth backstage. You must never wish anyone good luck before going on. The accepted alternative is always ‘break a leg’. Never alter any aspect of your clothing or accessories worn on the first night. You can wash your knickers provided the same pair is worn for the length of the run. Occasionally a wardrobe mistress will tell you that some part of your costume ‘merges into the background.’ Beware of this and stand firm. I can provide substantial proof of the validity of this warning. A sceptical actor of an age and experience that should have served him better, but in whom vanity was a weakness, came on stage wearing a new pair of underpants, unknown to the cast. During a final moving and dramatic farewell scene, he died as he had done every other night of the run, evoking the customary silence followed by tumultuous applause as the curtain fell. When it rose on the curtain call, he was missing. An emotional leading lady announced to the audience that he had indeed died - of a heart attack. The firmly believed cause was discovered by his partner, during the next three days, when she loaded the washing machine.

    You will see from this how dangerous it is to flout such traditions.

    Now that the Christmas season approaches, beware of using the common evergreen, ivy, to decorate your house inside. Don’t chance your luck. You can safely use it outside, such as a wreath on the front door.

    I can also speak from personal experience. Scorning to cross my fingers under a ladder, the painter lost his grip, turning my hair instantly from brunette to sticky blonde.

  8. I discovered the fairy under a patch of four leaf clovers at the end of my garden. I cradled it gently between my cupped hands and carried it back to the house to show mother. She jumped when she saw it and sloshed gin over her nice pink blouse.

    “Get that ugly thing out of my house,” she said.

    “But it makes wishes come true.”

    “It spilled my drink, Emily” Mother said, shooing me away, “hardly an auspicious start.”

    I didn’t know what auspicious meant but I felt sure that the fairy would make us happy again so I carried it into the kitchen and placed it in an ice cream container that I fished out of the bin and washed under the tap. I made some holes in the lid with a knife and put some bread and a cup of water inside. The fairy fluttered a bit when I put it inside and then lay still on the bottom of the tub.

    “It’ll be okay,” I said. “I’ll let you go soon, I just need you to do something first.”

    The fairy didn’t say anything when I whispered my wish, but I thought I heard it sigh when I put the lid back on.

    The next day I couldn’t wait for school to end so I could hurry back home.

    “Dad,” I shouted as I walked through the door. “Dad are you here?”

    But Dad hadn’t come home and when I ran into my bedroom the fairy was crouched in the corner of the box, its wings curled over its beautiful face.

    Mum was lying on the sofa, a glass in her hand.

    “The fairy won’t wake up,” I cried.

    She stared up at me with her strange glassy eyes. “Then it’s dead,” she said, “like your dad.”

    taylor_cally [at]

  9. "Not drinking your tea Nellie?"
    "Your tea. It`ll get cold."
    "Oh, no, there`s a chip, in the cup. I can`t drink from a chipped cup. Give me a minute Joe, just go and swap it."
    "That`s right. It means you`re going to have an argument if you drink from a chipped cup. That`s what my Anne used to say."
    Nellie smiles, "Or a cut lip!" Then walks away.

    Anne`s lip was cut on the left side. I noticed it right away. She must have banged it on the way down. Probably something jutting out of the side of the boat. We had taken a trip on a ferry across the Mersey. Early December it was, the wind on the river unforgiving in its bitterness.

    She caught a whiff of hot chocolate coming from the small kiosk on board. I remember feeling pleased that I was next to be served as I`d forgotten my gloves. An unlit Christmas tree sat on a shelf behind the counter looking useless. I caught the eye of one of the women serving. "What can I do you for sir?" She grinned. I heard a scream and turned to see a line of shoulders hunched dangerously over the side of the boat. She had pushed her stomach up onto the rail, still on her stomach, swung both legs over the side, letting her thin body slip quietly into the river. A member of the crew wearing a navy-blue knitted sweater dived in after her. It was already too late. They found her body a week later.

    Afterwards, I found myself in Church giving thanks for having known her. I don`t like to think of Anne dying alone, cold and wet. I think of the three hours we spent in the bridal suite and that makes me smile.

  10. Jake perched down low by the ‘bonnefyre’ of clean animal bones and no wood on this hot summer’s night, staring at the brambles before him as he flapped open his cagoule to stop the gnats penetrating its thin layer and lodging inside his laced pale silk shirt, stopping short of his tight black ankle length pants . He ignored the tiny midges as they hovered over his cheeks whilst he prepared the ‘wakefyre’, dating back to the 13th century when all were awake on Midsummer’s Eve, in anticipation of the dawning of Midsummer itself. Chargrilled finger food and beer, ice cold and neatly packed in coolers stored in his spruced, metallic four-by-four and safely hidden under stacks of foiled wrapped cakes, pizza slices, crisps and an assortment of sandwiches hurriedly put together that morning.

    Fingers crossed, the ‘St John’s Fire’ of both bones and wood will get the little group started on their performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in front of an increasing gathering.

    The props were a folding screen which when opened was Athens with the woods behind in the natural grounds. He let drop his cagoule, outstretched his hands and introduced the play with his opening words,

    ‘Good evening and welcome all! Pleased you could make it here tonight! Karen will be coming round with some food and beer in a short while so sit back and enjoy the performance and let’s celebrate tonight together on the most luckiest eve of the year!’

    He began,

    ‘Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
    Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
    Another moon..’

    He glowered in the moonlit sky as he continued. He was Theseus, forgetting the midges, the heat, the clamminess, the props. Athens was his home and Egeus inconsolable.

    Midsummer’s night was to change their fate.


  11. Never give a dressing gown for Christmas.

    Why did mum insist on offering them?

    ‘Have you thought about what you’d like for Christmas?’
    ‘No.’ A panicked voice tumbles through my head. Please don’t ask me if I’d like a dressing gown. As a teenager, I’d lose it at such a suggestion. She’s no idea who I am! Knew I’d made a mistake last week when I put one of theirs on after a bath. The sloppy trousers I usually wear there, have grown too small for my expansive post-smoking belly and thighs. A grave voice in my head warned me then of the risks I ran.

    Since childhood I have developed a growing abhorrence of dressing gowns, not only as a Christmas gift, but generally. I would ban them in all cases barring for old ladies, beauty or hospital treatments. Initially this wasn’t the case. Early in life, such a present was an exciting experience – fluffy, cozy-and-warm. I’d rub the yellow Terri-towelling against my cheek imitative of the Lenor adverts familial bliss. Snuggly. Best warmed on the radiator by an adoring mother, ready for post-bath envelopment and ‘five more minutes’ telly, lying on the rug by the fire. Pockets with rabbits or embroidered bears seem doubly delightful as they seem to please one’s mother so. Warm and washed – could have been her child-rearing motto. I’ve watched her with her grandchildren.

    One year I received a Paddington Bear poster. Quite liked the image - Paddington carrying a towel and bath time accoutrements - though the text troubled me: ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. On learning what the words meant, I’d ruminate over their meaning, in long early mornings before the house awoke. By being clean did one actually come closer to God?

    My sarong and I are away for a bath.

    Sarah D

  12. A stitch in time saves nine??
    SAVES NINE !?!?!
    We've lost twenty five million people's confidential information. And you trot out some old superstitious saying by way of explanation and justification!
    In a department with thousands of civil servants and a budget of zillions of pounds, some little totty bungs a floppy disc into her PC and doesn't just illegally copy this highly sensitive stuff. She loses it!

    OK. He was a sweaty little oik not a totty. It was a CD and he walked it over to the internal postal couriers and they lost it.
    It's an ill wind.

    I suppose one swallow doesn't make a summer.
    What? You are telling me this has happened before?
    Don't they realise a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?
    What difference does that make?

    Oh, I see. You think because your department didn't lose it, you are not responsible.
    Anyway, the banks say there is not yet any evidence of loss.
    Better tie a knot in your handkerchief.

    He walked under a ladder on the way there?
    Don't tell me he passed someone on the stairs as well?
    Thirteen of them!
    Now you find yourself between a Northern Rock and a hard place.

    Does the left hand not know what the right is doing?
    Why was Inland Revenue lumped together with Customs anyway?
    It was cleared by DOOWT?
    That sounds like a Scot's uncertainty about the truth.
    Department of Old Wives Tales?
    More like a proverbial cock up.

    Who in god's name set that up?
    Bless you! You sound like you are going down with a cold.
    Why are you laughing? Laugh before breakfast, tears before supper.

    What do you mean, are my ears burning?

    Och, well.
    Many a slip twixt cup and thingamee.

  13. If you eat raw food you will never get ill, your body will revert to its teenage, lean self, your hair will never go grey and if it’s already grey it will regain its colour. Your skin will glow, your nails strengthen. You will never have to wear glasses. If you eat raw food you need only a couple of hours sleep each night, you will have that extra time to gift the world with your boundless energy and enthusiasm. Your intellect and memory will sharpen. If you eat raw food your capacity for love will expand to include every living thing. If you eat raw food you will be joining the 0.1% of enlightened mankind. Many are called, few are chosen. You will be a shining example not only to your family but to the whole of mankind. Selah.
    From the moment she met him she eliminated all cooked food from her diet, all animal products, all grains. She munched on piles of carrots, sticks of celery, creamy avocado, crispy lettuce, marinaded olives, seaweed, huge salads of wild, organic leaves. Nuts and seeds provided protein, though she found she needed less and less. She drank pure water from her champagne flute. She pulled the juicer out from the back of the cupboard and splattered the white kitchen surfaces with beetroot. Mornings were celebrated with platters of fruit; berries, mangoes, apples. A banana peeked out of her gym bag. She planted herbs in her window-box, sprouted pulses for raw pates, looked up recipes for raw chocolate. Her favourite birthday present was a compost bin. She cleansed her body with herbs.
    Her stomach flattened, the curl returned to her hair, the whites of her eyes were perfectly clear. She twirled around to show her family and friends. There was nobody there.


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  16. There was a stone basin in my father’s garden; a wide bowl three feet across and a foot deep with carved, scalloped edges. It stood on a matching stone plinth a foot to each side and just under three high. It stood, for as long as I can remember, in the centre of the patio area, which was laid out like a miniature herb garden with sections for flowers and paths that meandered through. It sounds grander than it was. All in all, the whole area was less than thirty feet long by ten deep with this stone basin bang in the centre of it. It was tremendously heavy, too, especially since it was filled with soil and plants, moss growing over the weathered stone edges and strains of lichen clinging to the sides. It took two of us to move it when he died. We’d sold the house and Sue wanted it as a memento of our mother, who always used to plant a standard fuchsia in it. Even emptied of soil it took us several goes and the application of a crowbar to slide the basin into a wheelbarrow. That was when we found the tin. The plinth was hollow, and inside it was an old “Rover’s Assortment” biscuit tin. I lifted it out and we opened it together, expecting to find mouldy packets of seeds from the sixties. Instead were three poppets; tiny dolls fashioned in the likenesses of my sisters and I. I took out the smallest and felt something in the knitted stomach. Careful working of the stitches revealed tufts of baby-soft hair and slips of crackling parchment. I unfolded one to reveal a wish of my long-dead mother. “Rachel,” it said. “Long life and happiness.” There isn’t that much difference between Catholicism and Witchcraft.cgyt

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  18. Turn around three times and sit down
    with eyes closed regardless of proximity
    of chair or sitting surface. On descent
    make a wish. My wish is secret
    so undisclosable. I hope it comes

    However, this is an example of the type
    of trust required when endeavoring
    to extend beyond the humdrum every day
    superstition. Make a new superste: stand
    beyond, and outlive what other people
    have concocted as truths.

    For example, the time when I drowned
    my hairclippings instead of burning them,
    the sink clogged, but it brought him over
    to fix it. That's when we first met. He pulled
    every swirl of knotted hair mixed with
    pipe grease tossing them in a small bucket.

    He turned to me and said, "Every lock
    has a key." Meaning lock of hair, obviously.
    My lock of hair. He looked in my eyes.

    "I don't believe the superstitions about redheads. Look
    at this fantastic combination of hair and grease.
    It could be clumped into art with a bit of Elmer's

    He saw my nude portraits in the house, and surmised
    I was an artist. I laughed nervously, "My name's Catherine."
    He revealed that he was part-time plumber, "Fox"
    short for Reynard Baudelaire.
    I asked him he would ever be interested in a dual
    exhibition. He said he needed details.

    I asked him if he had a business card. He displayed
    something from a secret pocket. I suggested
    that the dual exhibition could be about merging ideas,
    merging images, and he noted that a splash
    of pipe grit was flecked on my lower lip,
    so he wiped it off with his finger.

    I check the plumbing every day: leaks
    everywhere. When you separate nuts and screws
    this is what happens. I hear pipes. It's time
    for Cat and Fox to make art.

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  20. Looking in the mirror, my two black eyes stare back at me. I rue the day I ate the paper, luckily though I saw that pair of magpies so I am due some good fortune soon, and I have my pin in my pocket, but keep pricking my finger looking for the penny I picked up.

    I have my black cat, ready to cross my path in case of emergencies. I went the long way round to the shops, avoiding the ladders of workmen painting out front. Strange about the palm of my hand, it has developed some kind of rash and the doctors are struggling to know what it is. That and why in winter I develop a bad shoulder.

    I walk quickly, head down to avoid seeing anything much. And get funny looks in the paper shop now, what with my coat on inside out, and my hat on back to front, (I don't know if that counts, but why take the chance hey). I am of to the theatre tonight, to see an unmentionable play, knowing my luck the mirror I broke yesterday will come back to haunt me and I will say Macbeth inside, can I say it now? Is it safe?

    It is full moon on the 24th, no looking out the window that night, I have closed my curtains just in case. My head I still held on with rope, but I broke the cigarette lighter last year. And I've given up salt now, it saves embarrassment. Bless you by the way, just in case. I have made my wishes, I'm hoping. My eleven friends come rarely now for meals, after the salt incident. My true love, who's initial I knew was wrong for me. When is the next eclipse? I wish I knew.

    Jim Barron

  21. "Just the one." Her voice was dull, flat.
    He frowned the question.
    "One magpie Kaynan. It will never change."
    "Evie you can't trust to the magpies."
    "Why not?" She looked him in the eye. "Nine times I've started to carry him a child. Nine times the magpies have warned. Nine times the babies have died in the womb. What else am I to trust?"
    He grimaced. "One day..."
    "Why? Why should 'one day' be any different to any other? I can't do this again, to him or to me. There has to be an heir to the Kingdom or there will be anarchy. This has to stop. You saved my life when I should have died. I am out of place. There is another woman out there, waiting, destined. A fertile woman who will bear him many children."
    "You started this. You can help me finish it."
    "It will destroy him."
    "Yes. But there is no choice. If he weren't your brother you'd see that. There is no other way. Find me something to end this before someone else does in a far less pleasant manner."
    "Find it."

    She stood gazing out into the dark. Why were these things always done in the dark?
    Kynana's face was set, haunted. "He'll never forgive."
    "I'm just getting us back to where we should be. It was your inability to hurt him that has led us to this."
    "I accept that. This is my payment. And I accept that the longer you live, the more it will hurt him." He gave a twisted smile. "You see, I too can make this sound reasonable."
    She returned the gesture. "I'm sorry."
    "So am I."
    "Tell him ... well you know."
    "Of course."
    "Now leave me. I'd rather do this alone."
    "Farewell, Evie."


  22. My Nan used to tell me lots of things she said would keep me safe. Things like saying ‘White Rabbits’ three times on the first day of the month, or throwing spilt salt over your shoulder. I didn’t really believe in it. I mean, maybe just a bit, like God. I didn’t push my luck just in case. The one she used the most was the one about the wind changing. You know, where if you pull a face and the wind changes, you stay like that forever? I must confess that for a very long time, I always checked for wind before sticking my tongue out at Shelley, my little sis. But then I grew out of it, didn’t believe it anymore. Not until my thirteenth birthday anyway.

    I’d nagged mum into letting me have a Birthday party and to my utter disgust she said I had to let Shelley come too. And even worse, she was allowed to invite two friends! I’d tried to make mum understand that she was too little and too annoying to come to a teenager’s disco. But it was no good.

    When my friends arrived, we rushed upstairs to my bedroom to get changed. They’d brought their clothes, make-up and hairspray so we could all get ready together. Shelley and her friends barged into my room and wanted to try out my make-up. We told them they were too little and to go away. Shelley said they were going to tell mum if we didn’t let them.

    So you see it was all her fault really. If she hadn’t been such a pain, we never would have got angry and started trying to scare them away with our Zombie faces. I mean, how were we to know the wind was about to change?

  23. Drop some salt, throw it over your left shoulder to hit the devil in the eye. Don't blind the angel on your right. You may need her when it’s not flapper-dancing night on the pins of seamstresses.

    Cowboy, keep a thrown horseshoe. Hold it while we tack it over the door. Confer with the elder fellas. Everyone's unsure, was it open side up or open side down. There’s a sense of malaise. Decide if I horse walks up the house it's a better thing than it falling down shingles. A single nail in the pocket. Don’t waste. Hoarding’s safe. Don't pull a face. It will freeze that way. If a bird hits the window, that's a death in the family. Life your feet and hold your breath as you pass a cemetery or else you'll be next.

    Drop a spoon and a child guest is coming to dinner. Hold a spoon on a string over a pregnant belly. If it spins counterclockwise, it's a boy. Point the knife serrations, blade out from the plate to vent your aggression but I'll turn it in if I see it.

    An acorn on the window ledge will ward off lightning. Never use the phone in storms or you'll be electrocuted. A swarm of bees playing ally-over the gable end means a fire in the flue or attic coming soon. Snow on the roof doesn't mean no fire in the hearth. Watch an old man's hands as much as a young one. Wrap a red wool sweater around a menstrual pained waist to ease the cramps. For the best rest, turn your head not west, north, for peaceful dream quest. And don’t open umbrellas in the house and don’t test my patience or call me superstitious. It’s uncouth to kick out crutches from cripples.

    pagehalf full @ yahoo. com

  24. Jasper loved windy days. He revelled in the strong breeze whistling through his fur, batting him along with its force. He leapt into the air like a spring lamb; skidded sideways as leaves plopped off trees into his path. He imagined they were mice ready to play. He would pounce on them and flatten them into submission. Days of adventure suited Jasper.

    On wet days he felt low. It didn’t suit him to sit on the windowsill gazing out at a grey scene. Occasionally he’d stretch out a paw, tap at a raindrop sliding down on the outside, but it never stopped and the cold glass came as an unwelcome shock. This made him miserable; he was an outdoor cat.

    To relieve the boredom of such a day he took to rolling on the rug in front of the log fire. Sometimes sparks spat out spitefully and he became fearful. The smell of his fur scorching was the signal for his mistress to wake up from the nap she took when the warmth of the room enveloped her. This irritated her.
    ‘Jasper,’ she’d shriek. ‘You bad boy startling me like that. Couldn’t you see I was fast asleep? One day the fright will kill me; who will look after you then?’

    The master was equally bad-tempered. Wet weather gave him gout and the pin in his leg became agonising. His wife was impatient with him when he moaned.
    ‘It’s your own fault,’ she’d say. ‘Walking in the road because you’re scared of going under a ladder. No wonder you were knocked down. I can’t be doing with such superstitious nonsense.’

    ‘You’re a fine one,’ he’d reply. ‘You only took in that black cat because it crossed your path. You said it would bring us good luck. Well, I’m still waiting!’

  25. Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be a princess. She dressed in frilly pink and danced around the house in ballet shoes. As she blew out her birthday candles each year, she would make a wish for Prince Charming to come along. There was already a beautiful Princess in the country. That Princess was much loved by the people but she didn’t have a happy marriage. Eventually she divorced the Prince and the little girl no longer wanted a prince of her own after the Princess died.

    The little girl was growing up fast. She loved the Spice Girls and would now dance around the house in skimpy clothes, proclaiming ‘Girl Power’. She could practice her singing along to a karaoke machine and, as she blew out fourteen candles, she wished to become a wealthy pop star. But the Spice Girls eventually split up and had babies. She stopped wanting to be in a girl group.

    She was soon all grown up. She developed anorexia and a serious handbag and shoe habit. She tanned her body orange and dyed her dark brown hair streaky blonde. Heat magazine became her bible and at night she hung out at trendy clubs. On her birthday, as she blew out the candles, she wished she could become a footballer’s wife. She avidly followed the fashion and shopping exploits of Victoria and Colleen. She so wanted to be like them.

    This time her wish came true. She found herself a footballer, a player from a lower division reserve team, who calls her ‘Princess’. She felt like one for a short while, until she accidentally fell pregnant. Now she looks at her bruises in the mirror and tries to camouflage them with thick make-up.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  26. Madeleine used to daydream about this room before it ever existed, when all the magnificent objects were still borrowed from her ambitious imagination and the lifestyles she’d always studied with such longing. Even after all these years the pleasure she feels when she wakes to see warm sunlight streaming across the mahogany floor after Maria has tip-toed in to open the French doors and leave her breakfast tray beside her bed, is exquisitely, toe-curlingly delicious.

    She can hear Salvatore having his morning swim in the pool below her balcony. She knows by the coquettish giggles and energetic splashes that he has one of his lady friends with him and is up to his usual brash tricks. She suspects he will take the girl out for a drive later – probably down to the little taverna in Saint Louis and then on to the hotel overlooking the bay. She knows because this is where he used to take Madeleine when they were first married. But it doesn’t really bother her. She rather pities the poor girl who will have to suffer a whole day of humouring the puffed-up old braggart. And all for what? A free lunch? At least Madeleine has everything she has ever wished for.

    She notices a fly is stuck in the honey pot on her breakfast tray. She lets it struggle in the sticky sweetness for a bit before lifting it out with a teaspoon. It sits on the saucer and frantically cleans itself while straining to un-stick its wings. At last a wing springs free and the fly flutters it with wild abandon. A peculiar sense of envy creeps over Madeleine, but before she has a chance to think about it, she has picked up her spoon and squashed the fly into a bloody, lifeless pulp.

  27. Boast about your hoard and you’ll lose it. Store emeralds in the opposite corner from diamonds. Don’t lie in the sun too long, or your scales will tarnish and crack. Never fly widdershins around a mountain. Don’t eat goat and/or human two days in a row, bad for the digestion. Elderly women can poison you unless well filleted, but eating babies and small children will renew your vigour and prolong your lifespan. Before shape-changing, gaze deep into a pool or glass for at least a minute and huff three deep breaths, otherwise your soul will change along with your appearance. Return to your true shape before sunset. Keep in mind, shape-changing is a young art, unheard of before medieval times. Who knows what the long-term effects might be? When the Runes joke, don’t laugh. If the Tartari are retrograde, seek good council regarding diamond futures and the stockmarket. A gibbous moon hollows the sinews. Greet all passers-through and other spirits under a full moon.

    To preserve the egg from ill-wishers, turn it seven times and sprinkle with ash. To guard against premature hatching, sing lullay. To ward off the jealous and covetous from an egg or hatchling, chant dirges. If you want a girl, bury a pearl beside the egg; for a boy, a sapphire. When composing a lay, always use fictitious place names. Never start a lay with dialogue. After your father, the old one, dies, gorge as much of his carcass as possible at one sitting and encourage the children to gnaw his bones. To keep mice out of a cave, hang a dead bat above the entrance; to keep bats out, suspend a live mouse by its tail in the same position. Renew bat or mouse every 17 hours. A waning and clouded moon brings good luck.

  28. Not really superstitious, more cautious than anything. Always checked for oncoming traffic and then checked again. Careful to read all the instructions. Rarely took unnecessary risks. She was the steady one, the responsible one, the reliable one.
    She always wrote thank you notes. She took extra steps to insure that she didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
    It was only by the oddest coincidence that she met him. A friend of a friend had been in the hospital and she had stopped by to see her. He arrived at the same time she had. The three of them sat and chatted for almost an hour. She got up to leave and he walked out with her.
    “Dinner?” He asked.
    “Well, I …”
    “Oh come on, we’re practically old friends now. A little dinner won’t hurt. It’s late already and if you’re just going to stop and pick up something to eat on the way home why don’t we eat together?”
    She acquiesced. They went to a small but elegant little place south of the boulevard. He ordered hors d’ovoeres and wine. He insisted she try the soup and the amazing house dressing on the salad. He ordered more wine with dinner and she could feel herself beginning to get warm. He ordered Bailey’s with dessert and she could feel her cheeks getting numb.
    They walked to her place and she felt blissfully, delightfully happy. She rested her head against his shoulder. She poured them both a brandy and she could taste it on his lips. Things were moving way too fast. She knew better. She didn’t care. This one time she was throwing caution to the wind, didn’t care about the risks. She was going to be irresponsible.
    Of course it happened. In the end, he robbed her. He stole her heart.

  29. "superstitions will be the death of you," my mother once warned me. i thought it odd at the time, and i still do today, why she would go out of her way to tell me that today, was the day i would die. 'how' i asked her. "you'll know," she said. that's lame, i thought and continued skipping around the courtyard. she said, "if you think about it you won't sleep at night." i said, 'then i won't think about it. and i will no longer think about you.' she said that i hurt her. i said i didn't think it possible. "why" she wanted to know. we sat for a moment poised at one another. each other waiting for the other to attack. but i was done. i wasn't wounded, but i was done. too much scarring here. no time for new wounds. i've got a big toe for a heart. always stubbing it on someone else's sidewalk and then waiting for them to say they're sorry. holding my beak open sitting in my nest, waiting on their bactine. i'm pathetic and weak, at least that's what it says in my horoscope. i'm a leo. a lion. i like to roar a lot. i like to roam a lot. but i haven't for a while. i don't see too much of the sun. i'm taking light therapy. or actually, i''m doing light therapy, you can't really take it unless you steal the equipment from the lab. it's my girlfriend's stuff. it's her lab. this is her idea. she says this will be good for me. i need to trust her. i think she knows my mother. if you're reading this note, mother was right. she always was. she's my mother. and she needs to be stopped. won't you help?

  30. I have no use for superstitions, old wives tales or those stories told to children to frighten them. Most superstitions are a joke, an idle way to pass the time or scare-mongering. I don’t believe a sneeze is anything other than a sneeze. I believe in rational thought and explanation. That’s all there is. No nonsense.

    I get up in the morning and I get dressed and I go to work. I stop at the bakery on the way and buy myself a coffee and a pastry. Usually a raison Danish and on special occasions perhaps a croissant. I arrive at work and open the mail. I answer the phone, Good morning J P and Simpsons, Deidre speaking, how may I help you? . I work until five thirty with a thirty minure break for lunch and two ten minute breaks, one at eleven, one at three. This is my day. There is no room for silly business or counting magpies or crows or any other bird.

    This is my life. I’m happy with it, and don’t want for anything most of the time. Sometimes I watch people in the park on my walk home, holding hands, sitting on a bench and whispering to each other. The odd fleeting thought occurs to me, perhaps one day maybe I could. But I stop it right there. No point in wanting someone else’s life when I have my own. A nice little terraced house near the shops, a pension that means one day I might be able to go on a little holiday, perhaps to Italy where I might see an opera, Puccini probably. I save money and watch the pennies grow. Other people can wish and dream and curse their lives, believing every silly thing they are told. But, not me.

    Annie Clarkson

  31. Bless me after I sneeze in case the devil crawls from my belly, shimmies up my throat, parades down my tongue and stares you dead in the eye.

    You won't recognize him. He'll (not hell) look like I do first thing in the morning: one lazy eye blinking off dirty dreams, swamp mouth, crosshairs falling to the birchwood floor.

    I call him Red. He lets a flat in my spare tire, rents space in my beer gut, always pays on the first of the month. He's my boy, my ride-or-die bitch -- he's me, sometimes. You better bless me right quick.

    Every morning, he does yoga in my ribcage, his elastic limbs push out sun salutations. He quietly says his prayers, then eats a bowl of cereal.

    Every night, I drum a beat from Jamaica, he jerks and writhes, spits in rhymes, sails the choppy seize. This is his dance of joy, not an exorcism.

    He loves to travel. He has fished for piranhas in the Amazon, fought sandstorms in the Sahara, rode the tour bus around Manhattan. He told me once that he has been everywhere -- national capitals to forgotten ports, mountain resorts to coastal villages. Everywhere with at least one pulse.

    You've sat next to him on the metro, chatted him up at last call. He has texted you, you had no idea. He wears business suits, lederhosen, burquas, hoodies, grass skirts - he just wants to fit in.

    Sometimes he needs attention. He'll tug on my heartstrings, literally, and pretend I'm his puppet. I do the craziest things for him! When he grows up, he wants to be an arsonist. He's not much different than you or me. Find him within. He's there.

    Bill Trüb

  32. Towards the end my father took to writing down everything he knew. At first he crammed reams of word-stained paper into carrier bags. Then he somehow dragged the suitcase from the top of the wardrobe and filled that.

    Each day, something new. Pots and pans bubbled over with curled up balls of wisdom, confetti-sized scraps of old wives tales formed a snowy drift in the bread bin.

    He seemed to shrink as the words leached out of him. He abandoned paper and took to scribbling on the walls, on lampshades, even on the windowsill where he gazed out onto the back yard. In bed he wrote in marker pen across the sheets and pillow cases, filling the night with common sense homecare tips and lines of verse.

    One evening, I called round and cooked him supper. He laughed when he saw it. Alphabet soup.

    "Funny boy. Just like your mother," he said.

    "Eat up," I said.

    "Your mother again," he said.

    I put the radio on and my father seemed almost content for an hour or so, before he shuffled off to the bathroom. When he emerged his lips were blue with ink, like a child's. I took him to clean his face and saw the haiku he had scribbled above the toilet roll holder.

    "Sorry. I can't help it," my father said.

    "It's okay," I said.

    The next morning I found a few random letters, fingered onto the headboard in his own dirt. My father was hunched on the floor by the bed.

    As I bent down he grabbed at me with his reeking hands and I pulled away for a moment, appalled by the smell. Then I reached for him again.

    That was when I knew my father had finally emptied himself out. All his words were spent.


  33. It seems unreasonably heavy for its size, this circular shape with a flattened top. It is pure white like thick fallen snow, not shiny but glistening, the tiny particles catching the light and sending out a rainbow of colours. Soft but firm, it is so smooth it couldn't have been made my hand; the joins, for surely there must be joins, have been crafted together so superbly that they are invisible. It smells divine, a promise of further indulgence when cut.

    Inside, I know of its sandy coloured layer, the same thickness as the top, feeling vaguely gritty; a clean, nutty texture that is so delicious it can be eaten on its own. Warm apricot jam has gently welded the two layers together.

    The largest section is the best. It's dark, vibrant mix of foreign treasures. They remind me of sunshine. Juicy raisins and sultanas from California, orange peel and candied fruits from Spain, cinnamon and other spices from Sri Lanka, and soft brown sugar from Mauritius. All bound together with flour, butter and eggs. And the smell; that unmistakable waft of Jamaican rum makes my mouth water.

    I close my eyes, take a deep breath and blow out the candles, far too many to count, and I listen to my friends singing round the table. The food has been devoured, and now it's time for the piece de resistance. The point of the knife sinks gently into the centre and I make a decisive cut. I move it round a few degrees and make another angled cut, my best china plate at the ready.

    If I was given no other birthday presents, a birthday fruit cake would suffice. I devour it greedily. I have forgotten my guests, forgotten my manners, and forgotten to make a wish.

  34. When my friend told me it was vital to salute the magpie for good luck, I laughed. As if by just raising your hand to the side of your head, you could make things go your way. How ridiculous. On my way home I looked out for ladders propped up against the sides of buildings so I could walk under them. I wanted to prove a point.

    Then one day I was out with my lover driving in his car and a magpie flew out in front of us making him swerve to avoid it.

    “Salute the magpie!” I cried out. The words had slipped out without warning.


    “The magpie,” I said. “You have to salute it to have good luck. It’s rubbish of course,” I added, just to make sure he knew I wasn’t that sort of woman. I told him about my friend and how she religiously saluted each and every magpie, how she never missed a single one, how daft I thought it was.

    Soon after, I began to notice he too had adopted the habit of paying homage to the black and white birds. I didn’t think much of it at first but then he seemed to be doing it more and more often. Were there more magpies that before? Were these greedy, bullying birds moving into our neighbourhood on mass?

    My lover’s not my lover any more. He cheated on me. And my friend’s no longer my friend. She cheated on me too. With my lover. I introduced them thinking they’d never hit it off, but apparently they had birds in common. I should have known to keep the magpie story to myself I suppose. Well, as the saying goes, birds of a feather will flock together. You know what? Good luck to them.

  35. When the child came, she was a beautiful girl. She had long blue hair streaked with silver and crystal blue eyes. She looked up at her parents with the love and adoration that only children are capable of.

    "What shall we name her, Zeus?" Helena asked, beaming.

    "She shall be named Blue, for her hair. Such a darling!" He smiled down at her as she giggled and pulled at his beard.

    "Now if you'll step aside, Zeus." Jocasta, the Royal Seer, said. It is time to see what the Gods have gifted her with." She picked up Blue with the casual indifference she was known for and looked into the child's pale blue eyes.


    There was a pause. Barely a whisper was made, though the crowd surrounding the King and Queen almost reached the thousands. The Seer brought her eyes closer to the child, an odd look spreading across her face.

    "The child," She said, "has been Gifted with nothing."

    A murmur rippled through the crowd. "Nothing?" Zeus said, "Are you quite sure, Jocasta?"

    "Quite sure, my King. I am never wrong. I see no Gift in that child's soul."

    "I have a gift for the babe, my King." Said a new voice. It was a deep baritone that seemed to come from the Earth itself. He was tall, with long black hair that seemed to brush the ground with delicate curls.

    His face was pale, and black eyes looked out at the world. An aura of resentment surrounded the man, and all close to him shuffled further away.

    "Hades..." Zeus whispered. Helena was pale beside him.

    "How nice that you could make the Birthing."

    "Yes," he said, "seeing as how I wasn't invited. But I thought to myself, why I am Zeus's brother! The uncle of their offspring!”

  36. Now you must leave us and go back to the world of humankind, so I’m granting you three wishes, but be very careful. People use the first wish to ask for something really ambitious. The second goes on cancelling out the first when they realise what a lot of trouble the first has caused. The third is always wasted because people have got themselves into a panic and try to undo the mess they’ve made through natural stupidity, losing their tempers or getting drunk.

    For instance, a woodcutter once asked me if he could first talk with his wife before wishing. At supper they drank too much home brew of elderberry wine and after eating the last two small sausages in the pantry, the woodcutter wished he could have a mile of such sausages cooked by his dear wife. Of course, sausages snaked in and filled the whole hut and yard. His wife told him he was a fool and they began to quarrel. In a rage he wished the sausages were stuck on the end of her nose. The last wish had to be that the wife was restored to her former self, because he couldn’t wish to be king and have a queen with a mile of sausages stuck on the end of her nose.

    Some people try to get round these mistakes by wishing that everything they wish for then and thereafter would be granted. But they, too, get into muddles. You could spend your whole life making wishes and cancelling them with another, and your neighbours and friends would be right in thinking you were mentally deranged.

    So, please, be careful. I would love to give you happiness in love, or a regular income, or a long life, but you should always remember that nothing’s perfect.

  37. Monday it is between 7.30A.M to 9A.M.
    Saturday between 9A.M to 10.30 A.M.
    Friday between 10.30.A.M TO 12.AM.
    These are inauspicious times and it is codified for the all the seven days of the week and if any
    Auspicious event such as marriage, house warming, ear-boring or even buying a new jewel or any
    New bargain of things take place on such of these days it, would result in ill-luck or not result in
    Completion or end up in fiasco. This is according to the Indian almanac and today also people with
    credence follow up. Sometime back a set of modern girls counter argued in a heated debate
    that university exams are being conducted during such times, “do you mean all the thousands of candidates are going to fail, all such superstitions, all nonsense.”
    “IF lizards fall on your head, it is going to mean, bereavement, if the lizard falls on your foot some
    Loss or some such ill-omen. if you sneeze, when one is going to start from the house then it is not
    Good. Similarly when a black cat crosses, then it is undoubtedly bad. Personally, I am having my
    Own my experience that whenever, I step out of the house, during those inauspicious times,
    Whatever work I take up, either it gets nullified or incomplete, or I come back half hearted, and
    I attributed to those timings.
    “If you see any widow then that is ill omen”
    “ if any dead body comes in your dream, then it is a good sign.”
    While you come out if you see a dead body being carried then it is good”
    These are all sentiments expressed in India and some people do have faith and don’t have.
    ” If you have faith the proverbs, sentiments, aphorisms,do have an authenticity.

  38. Always walk around the back of the car to get to the drivers’ seat or you will crash on your way to collect the kids from school.

    If someone else washes your red mug you will get ill. If anyone else ever drinks from it, smash it into a hundred pieces.

    Wash all your clothes three times, and then hang them out to dry in size order. Pants and socks at the left, children’s clothes in the middle, his trousers at the end, or you’ll have to do it all again.

    Check you have shut the kitchen window seven times before you go to bed, or your children will die before you do.

    Never fall asleep without him telling you he will always love you, twice.

    Tap his photo on the shelf three times before answering the phone or the caller will tell you he’s been killed in an accident.

    Always put your hairbrush back on the dresser, pointing towards the mirror the spikes turned up, or he will leave you for another woman.

    Button your coat from top to bottom or you’ll die alone.

    Never open the front door without washing your hands first or it will be the police on the other side.

    The time you forget to tell your mum you love her when you say goodbye will be the last time you see her.

    Always have a cupboard full of bleach and never throw away a telephone directory.

    Touch the fireplace, the pile of books on the windowsill, the painting of the ballroom scene and the light switch, in that order, each time you leave the house or you will lose it all.

    When you reach the end of the street, go home and touch them all again, in the same order, just to be sure.

  39. If you step on a magpie, you must hold on to pin until you see a three-legged, cross-eyed cat. If you put your shoes on inside out, a sailor will wake up wearing women's underwear and stripped of his clothes and missing any money he might have had about him. See a printer, pick him up, then next day you'll find a duck. Before you eat an egg, smash it to pieces to ensure that lifeguards do not hurl it at passing dolphins. If you take off an apple's peel in one, long strip you will marry someone whose initials are SCSCS. Always look at glass by the light of the full moon. Never walk under a fireman. On the day you sweep your chimney, make sure you shake a baker's hand for luck. If you sneeze four times, a mass transportation disaster will occur before the next full moon. If a black hat crosses your path, stand perfectly still until you see a hearse. If you meet a tall dark stranger slap him until he falls over, crying out the days of the week for each slap -- the day on which he falls will be the day you are going to find a stalk in your cup of tea. Never say 'Titus Andronicus' in a soap factory. If you see a woman with red hair herself and three red-headed children, the next time you make a wish, you will get the exact opposite of what you wished for. A person who dies in a bowling accident must be buried at a crossroads with a croquet hoop over their feet, or their spirit will walk. If a cat drinks milk that a child has breathed up, it will lose all its fur and start to stand on two legs.

  40. ‘What a lovely Christmas present,’ said Father. ‘Thank you Felicity. I’ve been needing a new dressing gown.’
    Verity narrowed her eyes at her little sister.
    For months, now, Felicity had been behind an increasing number events designed (Verity had concluded) to do away with the old man. The dressing gown was a step too far, and she could hold her tongue no longer.
    ‘Don’t you know it’s bad luck to give a dressing gown for Christmas?’
    ‘What?’ Felicity and Father said in unison.
    ‘Bad luck. It’ll make you ill.’
    ‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Verity. You and your superstitions.’
    ‘Can’t you see? Can’t you see what she’s trying to do to you?’
    ‘What is she trying to do to me?’ He turned to his other daughter, and placed a fond hand over hers. ‘You take wonderful care of your dear old pa, don’t you?’
    Felicity smiled sweetly, and Verity finally lost her temper.
    ‘You old fool. Don’t you remember the broken mirror? The ladder in the hall that you had to walk under for three days until she finally changed that light bulb that hadn’t blown? She jogged your arm to spill the salt. She encouraged you to open that umbrella in the hallway. That cruise she booked you on that started on a Friday. Why did she do those things if not to bring bad luck upon you? Now she’s persuaded you to sign a power of attorney. Do none of those things ring any warning bells?
    ‘Don’t be ridiculous child. She’s just being a caring daughter. If you paid me half the attention she does…’ Felicity handed him a glass and some tablets. ‘Thank you, my dear.’
    Felicity eye’s glinted with triumph as Father put the pills to his lips.
    ‘Don’t! Father!’ Verity cried, but it was too late.


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  42. We gave up having a regular newspaper years ago. So I do suffer from a ravenous hunger for horoscopes. Waiting in the hairdressers or the doctors surgery I
    fall upon the magazines; gulp them up although they might be a month, even a year out of date. The best place is the dentist‘s waiting room. He’s in the city and has Vanity Fairs, Elles and Vogues up to date, even for the month ahead.

    December 2007 Scorpio Vanity Fair.
    When in the middle of one of your madly intense creative/ sexual moods, nobody can stop you. Go for it. Don’t waste a second. While Uranus is in your fifth house, hurl yourself….
    Carried away in a whirlwind of excitement with these prospects, I was called in by
    the dentist. It was my lucky day. In five minutes he made a beautiful job of replacing some enamel from a front tooth. As I sailed out the receptionist said ‘No charge’. But
    I forgot to stop and finish reading my prediction. I always copy it out (if it’s good) so that I can read it over during the month.
    The only trouble is you can’t escape your own sign. And there are considerable dis-
    advantages in being a scorpion. Let’s face it - ugly creatures - and such a deadly sting!
    Then, of course, there’s the subject of copulation. The male conducts a primitive sort
    of courtship, consisting mainly of grasping the hands of the female with his hands,
    and rubbing his tail against her tail. After copulation the male is often attacked by the
    female and devoured, UNLESS HE MANAGES TO ESCAPE!

    Since I married a Scorpio, it’s enough to put you off being superstitious altogether,
    but fortunately, he seems to have been naturally endowed with the talents of a Houdini. 22 November 2007

  43. So which bad-luck brocard did I break?

    I really didn’t think I would get through the day.

    My third annual ex-pat feast began without a hitch last night. Two pumpkin pies baked to perfection. A new cornbread recipe tested to mouth-watering, butter-slathering success. A pair of side dishes par-cooked and ready for a quick shot in the post-turkey oven. A false sense of security gently lulled into.

    Early this afternoon, both kitchen sinks started backing up. The garbage disposal cleared them with efficacy. But wait, what was all that water seeping out from the laundry room? And were those bits of garbage-disposaled celery in the puddles?

    “Just don’t use the sink, it’ll be fixed first thing in the morning” the super tells me, reminding me I have an extra bathtub … which prompts me to remind him that my mother is supposed to be using said tub.

    Where’s the adage about ‘if you fly your mother overseas, your drains will vomit’?

    As American media attests, to the point of comedic cliche, Turkey Day isn’t complete without dysfunction.

    After the plumbing puke was semi-sorted, the hoover exploded. A bag of dust decorating our entry hall carpet.

    Ow, that spoon was sitting on the burner, wasn’t it? And my, these newly forming blisters on my fingers don’t feel too good at all, (yes, it hurts to type).

    When I opened the door to welcome our first dinner guests, I was greeted by a pile of poop … it seems our neighbor’s cat is either ill or angry. And a Crappy Thanksgiving to you too, Mr. Mittens.

    Alas, the evening turned out surprisingly well, perhaps even tryptophan-tastic. And that, I suppose, is something to be thankful for.

    And tomorrow? Well maybe the plumber will be hot.

    bob [at] bobzyeruncle [dot] com

  44. Mothers Talk is for real.

    My face day is March 23rd. Every year, when my face day arrives, I always hope for sunshine. In fact, I pray for sunshine. Especially after last year. Praying for sunshine, or the desiring a new disposition, is not an unreasonable request. I’ve done my time, and deserve a break.

    March 23rd carries simple premise.

    When the sun appears, dutifully hanging in a crisp, clear sky, the emanating radiance is instantly infectious. We enable ourselves and those around us with a gloriously optimistic, joyous, positive outlook. Our souls sing loudly, saturated within eternal reservoirs of energy and vitality. Happiness is an affliction bequeathed upon only the luckiest of the lucky on March 23rd.

    Rain descends, inflicting a sheen of perpetual greyness. Muted thoughts support recalcitrant deeds, robbed of their natural vigour and purpose. Rainfall becomes an active domain only for pale people. Paleness is a seeping, oozing sickness best avoided. Rain you only wish upon your enemies on March 23rd.

    Wind carries trouble upon barbed wings of churning, thrashing fury. Raging torrents of violent turbulent air procure unstable, volatile temperaments, driven by uncertainty and insecurity. Rash actions, routinely delivered against a backdrop of impartial thought, clouded by reactive protestations and a sense of injustice become the norm. Wind brings chaos and violence. Wind ensnares only the most unfortunate on March 23rd.

    Snow brings an existence best termed as not dead, merely ‘non-alive’. An anonymous, blank cloak of emptiness smothers everything, rendering all nuances of individuality devoid of identity and purpose. The burden of snow hangs heavily upon the featureless landscape of whatever personality-no matter how vibrant and individual-existed prior to the falling.

    Honestly, snow on March 23rd is extremely unlucky.

    I only hope my features will reform with a change in the weather this year.

  45. When we were first away at school, my brother started to collect his hair clippings. Nail cuttings too. He kept them all in match boxes under his bed, labelled with the exact date they'd been cut. But he didn't write his name on the boxes.
    'If somebody else gets hold of them it will give them sway over me,' he said.
    Our mother went mad when she found his collection at the beginning of the summer holidays. He had twenty three boxes by then.
    'Normal boys collect stamps or conkers' she told him.
    'Nobody's done that since you were a girl and that was centuries ago.'
    She took the boxes away from him and threw them on the fire. He didn't speak a word to her all summer, even at the seaside. If he had something important to tell her, he wrote it on a piece of paper and asked me to take it.
    'I refuse to have my hair cut ever again' was the first message he wrote. She laughed when she read it but not with her eyes.
    Soon we were due back at school. His hair was past regulation collar length and his nails were longer than the cat's.
    We got in the car to go to the barber's. Our mother was driving.
    'What are we going to do with you?' she asked him, but Robbie didn't answer.
    When my hair was cut and it was Robbie's turn, he stood by the barber's chair without moving. The barber snapped his scissors and my mother waited. I watched them in the mirror.
    'Will you have your hair cut if I let you keep the clippings?' she asked.
    'Of course,' my brother said. She
    felt in her handbag for a matchbox and Robbie got in the chair and smiled.

    (This was originally posted at the right time but in the wrong place.)
    Joanna Ashwanden


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