Friday, May 13, 2005


So, anyway, some guy told me this morning that you can cancel out bad luck on the 'teenth if you salute a magpie.

Well, now, I was born and raised in South Somerset, but I've never encountered this particular piece of rustic twaddle before, so I just hadda ask:

What kinda salute do we have to give the magpie in order to invert today's unfair allocation of Negative Karma... a crisp, four-finger Sandhurst military school red cap salute... a heel-clicking Nazi-style "Sieg Heil"... a brisk "S.I.G.!" as we jump into our SPV and drive off backwards...?

"No, no," he says, "You've got to hail the magpie..."

What, "Enterprise to magpie, Enterprise to's no good, Captain, the magpie's not responding..."

"No, you've got to acknowledge the magpie, show it some respect..."

But how the hell do you show respect to a magpie, f'fucksake? Give it some fresh roadkill? Bring it an elderly pig so it can peck its back?

Turns out he's pretty low on specifics. He just sort of shrugs and mumbles something, then walks away. Oh, great, thanks a bunch, pal: you start hinting you've got access to some sort of ancient insider knowledge...a way of circumnavigating or manipulating quantal probablilities by gesturing at a bird, but you won't tell me what it is, you selfish bastard!

Didn't see a magpie all day, but later, up the garden centre in Odcombe, I see a robin inside one of the greenhouses when I go in to look at some hardy alpines. It was flying around, then settled near me on the branch of a medium-sized potted conifer. I swear it sat there on the shrub and looked me straight in the eye.

So I sort of waved back, sheepishly. And I smiled at it in what I thought might be a respectful, but engaging manner.

The robin took a shit and flew off.

Later, when I get home, I realise I've left my credit-card up the garden-centre.

My youngest daughter is sick on me when I put her to bed, and the oldest has brought home head-lice from play-school.


At 9:51 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

An ex-girlfriend of mine used to say 'Good morning Mr Magpie, how are the children?' whenever she saw a magpie.

(worth a go?)

At 10:38 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

That sounds like a weird sort of chat-up line... Mr. Magpie is a sort of genital nick-name.

At 8:00 pm, Blogger Martin said...

Yes, I've heard this. The rhyme goes 'One for sorrow, two for joy. Three for a girl, four for a boy. Five for silver", and then I can't remember the rest.

But this is what I don't understand

a) if you see TWO magpies (ie- presumably 'joy', and therefore good luck), do you salute them, in order to reap the benefits of this lucky portent

b) or is the salute a NEUTRALISING act - it banishes the hex of the sole magpie, so if applied to two, would it actually turn the good luck back on the birds?

At 9:14 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told

(It wasn't me watching Blue Peter in the 70's....)

At 9:16 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

It sounds like a swings and roundabouts situation, here, Martin...potentially, twice the good luck if you get the salute right...but whuch magpie would you salute first? Is there a (groan) pecking order? I would salute the first one that I saw (the nearest?) before I saluted the second, thus hopefully neutralising the 'sorrow' associated with seeing one magpie.

Mind you, seeing two magpies is rarely a joyous affair as they're usually fighting over the entrails of a recently flattened hedgehog.

At 11:59 pm, Blogger Kempernorton said...

You need to imitate everything. Trust me.

At 12:00 am, Blogger Kempernorton said...

You need to imitate everything. Trust me.

At 11:29 am, Blogger Martin said...

So, in theory, if you see 7 magpies, you shouldn't bother doing anything, as if it's a secret "never to be told", you'd never know anyway. How mad is that? It'd be better if it was changed to "Five for whiskey, six for gin, seven for a magpie with his head kicked in".

At 6:14 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

"One for downers, two for smack/
three for cocaine, four for crack/la-la-LA! La-lala-LA!"

No, hang on, wrong one: that was the theme to The Banana Splits...

At 8:53 pm, Blogger Psychbloke said...

La La Lah! La-La-La-lah!
La-La-La! Lalulalah-la!


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