In this blogposting…
* Friday the 13th
* David Nove's request

* The Cracked Pot
Forward unto the breach, dear friends…

I am deeply superstitious about superstitions but, for those of you who are constantly touching wood, crossing your fingers and avoiding ladders, here’s a Digest of the Most Appalling Bad Luck thoughtfully sent to me by Peter, who lives in South Shields.

He begins with tomorrow - Friday the thirteenth….

Apparently, the ancient Vikings believed that the number 13 was unlucky because their mythology allowed for only 12 demigods.  If a thirteenth ever arrived, he was therefore bound to be utterly and irredeemably evil, bringing not only misfortune upon his fellow-demigods but upon we unhappy humans as well.

As has been its wont, Christianity requisitioned this superstition but offered an alternative and superior explanation that added the new, Friday, element to it - that Christ was crucified on a Friday and the number of guests at the Last Supper was 13, the 13th guest being Judas, the traitor.

As for walking under a ladder….Peter says that the only explanation he can find is also a Christian concoction.  A leaning ladder forms a triangle with the wall and ground.  Triangles represent the Holy Trinity, and violating the Trinity by breaking it (that is, by walking under the ladder) would put you in league with the devil himself.  And we can’t have that.

Peter then turns his attention to cats, and in particular to black cats.

I’m fairly sure that, when I was young, it was white cats that were regarded as unlucky, but it seems that this could have been an early example of my tendency to misinterpret the world and many of the the things in it.

Peter says that, in ancient Egypt, the goddess Bast was a black cat.  Christianity, in its typically interfering and malicious way, decided that all black cats were thus demons in disguise, were bad luck (to say the least) and should be destroyed.  After all, they reasoned; if a black cat crossed your path it would create a barrier of evil and block the entrance to heaven.  Yeah right.

Unfortunately, in the grisly process of ridding the world of black cats, the kindly old ladies who often looked after them were destroyed as well - because caring for black cats made you a witch - naturally.

I’m glad I didn’t know any of this when I acquired my black cat Hodge from the tv repairman’s sister in 1976.  He so was lovely - so sleek and so sexy - that I named my microbrewery after him.  He survived into his fifteenth year, although the brewery didn’t do very well at all, for some reason.

And finally, Peter sheds some light on the old salt-spilling superstition.

Salt, he says, was for centuries an expensive commodity, used for medicinal as well as culinary purposes.  Spillage was thus to be avoided at all costs.

The idea that it is unlucky to spill it probably stems from the belief that Judas spilt salt during the Last Supper - a meal which has more to answer for than it thinks.

Throwing spilt salt over the left shoulder is, thinks Peter, linked to its medicinal use.  If you spilt some, the best thing to do with it was to throw it into the eyes of the evil spirits that brought sickness and ill-health.  And these spirits were thought to lurk behind your left shoulder, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Peter sent me his brief digest of bad luck as a result of my comments about superstitions in blogposting 341 (February 2012) and the invitation I issued then still stands.  How many of them can you remember from former days - and which, if any, do you still uphold, perhaps despite your better judgment?

And perhaps it’s time that the gullible world of superstitions was dragged out of the Middle Ages and into the 21st century.  Do we need some new portents of bad luck more in tune with the digital age?  Never buy an iPhone on a Tuesday.  Never send a txt before breakfast.  Never agree to be Friends with anyone on Facebook if their name starts with a J (for Judas!). 

With any luck, you’ll be contacting me in any of the usual ways - fingers crossed, touch wood.


Our next AGM will take place at 1100 on Thursday 26 July at the Saltwell Towers cafe in beautiful Saltwell Park (in Gateshead).

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.


A very big Thankyou to Sid and Kev who have done some sterling research work in response to David's request for information - and to anyone else who has been beavering away on his behalf.  (To see the results of their detective work, see the Comments of the last posting.)

David has told me that he is out of the country until later this month and that he will try to send the picture in question as soon as he gets back.

In the meantime, Thanks again to Sid and Kev.


This charming little moral tale has been emailed to me by Eric and Jean.

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable because it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
'I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled and said 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?  That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.  If you were not just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw.  But it's the cracks and flaws we all have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Thanks, Eric and Jean.


Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


Paul S. Mabley said...

Hi Ian

I was pointed in this direction by Linda Grierson after a conversation on the 'South Shields In Old Photographs' Facebook group touched on the Blue Bus Program back when Radio Newcastle was worth listening to!

I'm an ex-pat nowadays, having moved from Shields to Kitchener, Ontario when I got married back in 2009 but still keep in touch with everybody back in the UK.

Anyway, I started my own blog written in Shields dialect, just to make sure I don't lose my accent while ower heeya.


I try to do at least one a week.

Hope you are well!


Paul S Mabley

Bentonbag said...

Re ladders: I think the Church just usurped a very practical fact pointed out to me by my Mum: underneath a ladder is the best place to have whatever the person up the ladder is holding dropped onto you; anything from paint to window-washing-water to (if your timing's really good) a hammer. Then of course if the ladder slips and you're underneath it you cop it and the person on it plus paint, water, hammer, whatever. Walking around a ladder's not superstition it's elfinsafety.