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!