ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

Taoisigh fly­ing all over ex­tolling the Ir­ish eco­nomic mir­a­cle, mark two. ‘The 13 was the start. Things really took off when we banned open um­brel­las in the house, hats on beds, pea­cock feath­ers, mag­pies on their own, made break­ing a mir­ror a crim­i­nal of­fence and ad­dressed the un­der­ly­ing in­fras­truc­tural is­sue of the “bad luck” am­bi­gu­ity of green by chang­ing the na­tional colour to fuch­sia. Fur­ther down the line, we’ve iden­ti­fied the ban­ning of “4” as a strate­gic ploy to en­cour­age Chi­nese in­ward in­vest­ment…’

I’m jok­ing, in the same way peo­ple thought TD Michael Healy-Rae was when he first touted

‘Things really took off when we banned

open um­brel­las in the house and made break­ing a mir­ror a crim­i­nal of­fence’

this ‘13’ reg­is­tra­tion-plate busi­ness last Fe­bru­ary, triskaideka­pho­bia (fear of the num­ber 13) be­ing such a se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. Yes, I know, there is an­other logic with the ad­di­tion of the 1 and 2. Most car sales hap­pen in Jan­uary, so hav­ing the 2 will hopefully bol­ster a ‘Jan­uary ef­fect’ in July. Ac­tu­ally, it still doesn’t seem log­i­cal to me, but then I’m not fa­mil­iar with the ‘buy­ing a new car’ mind set. I’ve never been in the mar­ket for one. And come to think of it, the one time I did buy a car, I re­mem­ber think­ing when I saw the reg­is­tra­tion plate, ‘Three 7s — that’s lucky!’ And when I called my mother to share my new (sec­ond-hand) car news, the first ques­tion she asked was, ‘What colour is it?’ And when I said ‘green’, she said, ‘That’s un­lucky.’ AND the first time she ever rode in the car with me, 18 months later, a ve­hi­cle crashed into the side of us and the car was a write- off. Wow. And just imag­ine if on top of ev­ery­thing there’d been a ‘13’ in the reg­is­tra­tion. An out- of- con­trol steam­roller would have then ap­peared from nowhere and we would have been flat­tened like characters in a chil­dren’s car­toon.

I love su­per­sti­tions, but I hate the feel­ing of obli­ga­tion to them. I went to drama col­lege in Lon­don. ‘Don’t say “Macbeth” in the the­atre,’ ev­ery­one said. ‘Call it the “The Scot­tish Play” or you’re invit­ing a hex upon you.’ ‘Macbeth, Macbeth!’ I’d boom in re­ply. And I can hon­estly say it never jinxed my go­ing on to have a great stage and screen ca­reer — ha ha! Ah, you have to laugh. But not at a funeral if you’re preg­nant, ap­par­ently.

I no­ticed that Tommy Tier­nan’s new show, in Vicar Street all this month, is called Stray Sod. Tra­di­tion­ally, in Ir­ish folk­lore, a stray sod is a piece of ground that would cause a per­son to be­come dis­ori­en­tated if they stepped on it. I’d never heard the term be­fore so I asked my dad, who lives in ru­ral Sligo, if he had. In­deed. The term in Ir­ish is ‘fóidín marbh’, he said, which lit­er­ally means ‘dead sod’. In the past, in Ire­land, a cof­fin might have had to be car­ried a dis­tance, if no other means of trans­port was avail­able, so a rest might be needed. Where such a cof­fin was laid on the ground, that ground be­came, ever af­ter, a fóidín marbh, as if tinged with the veil of the other world. When­ever peo­ple would lose their way walking on a jour­ney, they used to say, ‘I must have stepped on the fóidín marbh.’

What a beau­ti­ful su­per­sti­tion, and yet an­other rea­son not to step out­side the door to­day.

En­joy your 12a of Jan­uary, 2013!

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