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.