UNLUCKY MAN 

Inspired by The Anti-Superstition Day event The Manchester Humanists are preparing for Friday November 13th 1998 . 

How many superstitious obstacles can you expect to encounter on an average working day? The answer is legion. In fact, itís impossible not fall foul of many ill-omens and fateful mistakes if you are foolish enough to believe them all. Friday is traditionally the most unlucky day in the week, being the day Jesus was crucified and the day Adam was tempted by Eve. JFK was assassinated on a Friday. Need I say more? This is Friday the 13th - Do you try to stay in bed for 24 hours to avoid tempting fate, or do you get up and live your life as normally as possible? Letís assume you are daft enough to get up to try to live your life as normal. .

7.30 am. Bad start, Sir. You are getting out of bed on the left hand side. That is the wrong side, as it is traditionally associated with the Devil. You have dammed yourself to being under his charge for the day. Sadly, as the right hand side of your bed is pressed against the wall, your wife will also have to get out on the wrong side when she wakes up shortly. Perhaps you should consider moving your bed? Weíll return to this problem later on when you are getting ready for bed, if you live that long.

You made yourself a cup of coffee last night and left some of it by the side of your bed. That means you boiled the water and left it to go cold. That is another way to invite Satan and his minions into your life. You are really asking for trouble. Itís a shame you donít have any dimples, as they carry the impression of Godís direct craftsmanship in your creation, and might have afforded you some protection. Now you have none.

Starting the morning with a shower might seem hygienic, but it was a mistake to check the shower temperature first with your foot, before getting your hair wet. That is unlucky, as the feet are inferior spiritually to the head. You should also have retained at least one portion of muck on your body, as eradicating all the residue and grime of yesterday washes away all your good fortune. You also failed to notice that your shower water flushed a small spider down the plug hole, which wonít kill it, but you may well have brought about rain and inclement weather. I hope you are feeling proud of yourself.

Donít cut your fingernails on a Friday. Itís unlucky, doubly so for being the 13th. Monday would have been the best day to cut your nails, but you couldnít wait, could you? Oh, God, not the toe nails as well. Youíve dropped the scissors, you clumsy oaf. Donít pick them up yourself. Get your wife up early so sheíll pick them up for you. Blast. You picked them up. Try to nullify the bad fortune you acquired by rubbing the scissors in your hands until they warm up. Sod you then. Scissors and sharp objects cut your good luck in two if used incorrectly. Dropped scissors incorrectly recovered is an invitation to order your funeral outfit so make out your will quickly. Donít leave the scissors open like that. Ah, well, if you want to drain away your sexual virility, go ahead.

You can neutralize Satanís hold over your day by making sure you put your right sock and shoe on first as you get dressed. Ah, too late, youíve put the left one on already. There is no hope for you, is there?

Ah, thatís lucky at least! You put your underpants on back to front. Oh dear, you buttoned up your shirt incorrectly. That takes away your good fortune before you could even start to capitalize on it. Pity that. You really ought to put your wifeís undergarments on too, if you want her to remain loyal to you. You run the risk of her committing adultery otherwise. Donít say you weren't warned.

Oh, Christ, donít darn that hole in your jumperís sleeve while you are wearing it! That means youíll never be wealthy.

Putting your shoes on now, eh? Be careful. You left them on the floor with one crossed over the other last night. And one of them is upside down. Are you totally suicidal? That guarantees you an argument or a fight with someone in the course of the day. You weren't too careful in untying your laces either, look. One of them still has a knot in it. Actually, that is lucky, but not too lucky seeing as youíve accumulated so much spiritual misfortune today already. Oh no. Your left lace has come undone, moments after you tied it. That means someone is saying wicked things about you behind your back.

You are combing your remaining hair with that old steel comb your grandfather used to use when he lived with you. Are you aware that using a dead manís comb invites your own death? No, well you should be. You could stop yourself losing any more hair by making a shampoo for yourself out of goose dung, but you wonít be told, will you. You know why you are going bald, donít you? You would insist on occasionally cutting your hair despite the fact that the Moon was waning. Be it on your own head, (or off it, as the case may be).

You tripped there, going down the stairs. Oh, I know you didnít hurt yourself, but it adds considerable negative energy to your already tarnished aura. If you trip coming back upstairs it might help, but not much.

Breakfast now, if you survive long enough to reach the kitchen.

I wouldnít have brushed aside that spiderís cobweb on the kitchen door if I was you. They say such a web site hid the infant Jesus from Herodís soldiers in his infancy, so by disturbing that one, youíve dammed yourself to the everlasting fires of Hell, (AGAIN). What are you having? Bacon, eggs, and a cup of coffee. Dangerous concoction, that, and not just for the cholesterol value. Bacon might cure constipation, but only if it has been stolen. Yours hasnít, has it? Those eggs look small to me, and small eggs are a death omen. You bought them last night, didnít you, from the all night garage? Let me tell you that it is bad luck to buy eggs and bring them home after dark. That was a mistake too, throwing the shells away without crushing them up completely. Witches steal egg shells and use them to build weapons with which to destroy ships and drown sailors. Itís a well known fact that. You dropped a fragment of the shell on the kitchen lino too. If your wife stands on that, she will go insane. Are you feeling hung-over? Shame on you! Perhaps I can recommend that you swallow a live eel? No, all right then, stick to strong coffee if you prefer. Fancy slicing off three pieces of bread. Thatís unlucky, and it says that you must be a liar. Ouch, the bread has broken on you. That means there will be an argument today, and youíll lose. Maybe the people you lied too will find out the truth and chastise you for it accordingly.

Donít sing along to the radio at the dining table, as singing to yourself attracts demons. Can I see three chairs in your kitchen, lined up in one row? You are really pushing your luck, arenít you? Death is inevitable in your household now. What a pity your Persian cat is white and not black. Black cats are lucky, but other cats are not so magnetic towards the better fates and destinies.

Thereís a dog barking outside your front door. It isnít your dog. No, donít shoo it away, as that only makes it another omen of impending death. Oh, good grief, you made it ten times worst by slamming the door shut as well. That only traps ghosts in the door frame, and their anguish permeates your house forever.

Youíve left your knife and fork crossing one another. That says you are hateful and that you are to face vengeance from beyond. You realise you shouldn't stir your tea or coffee with a knife, donít you? No, obviously not. It was a mistake to leave the kettle facing towards the kitchen wall, and look at the bubbles on your coffee. They are floating away from where you are sitting. That means youíll lose all your money and your friends Stirring the coffee with your left hand was another major no-no. You could cure that smokerís cough by drinking three snails boiled in barley water, but I expect you wonít, will you? Even a skeptic like you should know better than to spill salt and not throw a pinch of it over your left shoulder. The salt would have blinded that demon who is about to give you an attack of gastro-enteritis for later on this month. Taking some fruit to work with you? Very wise. Apples? Saints preserve us, are you mad? The very fruit Satan tempted Eve with, and you donít even wash it first. An apple a day may keep the Doctor away, but that one you picked will bring Satan and his hordes running right away. It has an uneven number of seeds in it.

Time to go to work. Get your coat, hat, and gloves on. New coat? Very nice, but to make sure you have a good day, you are supposed to put some money into the pocket right away. You havenít have you? That means you will be hard up for as long as you wear that coat now. Tsst, tssst. No lottery win for you this weekend. Your hatís on back to front too, so thereís more bad luck. Why not look in the mirror when you put it on. Oh, you broke it, didnít you, a few months ago, ensuring a seven year bad-luck intensive, especially as you have lost one of your gloves. Letís hope someone finds it and returns it to you. If it stays lost or you find it yourself, you are doomed. Donít slam the front door again. Too late.

That sudden sensation of burning cheeks you got as you left the house suggests you are being talked about behind your back. Iíd get paranoid if I was you.

Oh my, you sneezed, and no one is around to say ĎBless Youí. You know what they say; To sneeze on a Friday is to sneeze for sorrowí. If youíd sneezed on Thursday you would have got ĎSomething Betterí.

Watch out, Magpies. Count them quickly. Six of Ďem. Six of Ďem! ĎFive is heaven, six is Hellí says the old rhyme. You poor man.

Get in your car, quickly. Donít feel so smug about not having crashed your funeral black car once in five years of driving. Thatís tempting fate, that is. Touch some wood, touch some wood. Shit! A crash is bound to happen now, with all the bad luck youíve already accumulated. Why didn't you put the radio from your old car into your new one? Retaining some sort of keepsake carries past good fortune forward to the present and future. You donít even have a St. Christopher medal on the dashboard do you?

The car wash? On a nice day like this? You crazy son of a bitch. Washing your car on a good day is a way of calling on the rain gods to make it rain. Theyíll see your sacrifice of water as a call on their services. The County-people wonít appreciate what youíve done now. Theyíll all get wet too.

Why are you rubbing your neck? Is it feeling a bit stiff? Oh dear, that suggests you will be hanged one day.

Work. You got here alive, after all. Your stationary and greetings firm is currently promoting a new green colored brand of wrapping paper. Green is never a lucky colour, you know. And I donít wish to worry you further, but the workers who built your office block actually completed the work. It is best to leave a brick or a flake of mortar out of a new building, as demons, ghosts, and gremlins will take an interest in destroying anything perfected and completed. That contract you are having reservations about signing, donít sign it. You have an even number of buttons on your shirt. Your doubts are justified. Oh, dear, you signed it, didnít you?

Time for lunch, Avoid that decoratorís ladder. Well, donít then! You walked right under that on purpose didnít you? A ladder propped against a wall forms a triangle and represents the trinity. To cut through that spiritual unity is to market your soul towards the Devil. Cross your fingers and keep them crossed until you see a dog if you want to be saved. You obviously donít want to be saved then, thatís all I can say.

Salad stuff for lunch today. Carrots are said to be good for your eyesight, so I guess you got something right today, but that milk you spilt will attract fairies of a malevolent nature to your workplace. Donít change places, now that youíve sat down. Thatís unlucky, especially now the fairies are already lapping at your milk. I know youíve spotted a friend you want to sit with on the other side of the canteen, but it is safer to stay put, believe me. Oh, no, look at that coffin shaped diamond crease in his tableís cloth! Heís going to die. If you sit with him, you are going to perish too. I can hardly bring myself to look.

Workís over. Time for your Doctorís appointment about those ulcers. Why donít you just eat a dogís tongue like I advised you? That always cures ulcers. If you must go to the Doctor, go ahead. Whatís this, private patient, eh? National Health not good enough for you, is it. Well, a word of advise; donít pay the bill in full. It tempts fate too much to imply confidence in a medic by paying everything you owe him. Itís always bad luck to go in on a Friday to see the Doctor, and worse if you are the last patient he sees before the weekend. Itís the first man in the surgery on a Monday who the omens guarantee a cure for. Your health is sure to deteriorate now, sorry.

So you are starting to suffer from rheumatism, eh? There's a cure for you that you wonít get off that medical quack. Have yourself buried up to your neck in the grounds of a church overnight every night until the symptoms heal up. Works for me.

Your wife has tempted fate all day too. She had an itching sensation in her left breast, but she ignored my advise to steal some lead from the local church roof at midnight to wear as a pendant over her breasts. Her apron strings snapped this morning too, which suggests that she will soon become pregnant again, but not to you, as unlike some other men, she was not in your thoughts at that precise instant. To make things worst, your wife made some cakes and threw away the scraps of pastry left over. That always courts disaster. She should have saved it for next time, or ate it herself.

Like you she washed her feet before she washed her hair. And why did she use water instead of the morning dew, or human blood to wash in? Does she want to go ugly? She then committed a serious cardinal sin. She held your five month old daughter up to look at herself in a mirror. That means the child will perish before she is one year old. To make things worse, she cut the childís toes with the scissors you put a hex on this morning, when everyone knows a mother has to bite a child's nails down to the quick until the child is one year old. If your daughter survives to adulthood, which I seriously doubt, she will be a thief or a prostitute. She bathed your daughter, and just flushed the water used down the sink. You know she was supposed to pour it on the roots of a tree in leaf. Another form of spiritual abuse that you ought to be aware of is your wifeís tendency to throw your baby in the air and catch her again. The child giggles, which your wife thinks is cute, but tradition says that a child treated to such antics is destined to grow up dim-witted. Do you really want that to happen? She also steps over your daughter when the baby is lying on the ground in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Everyone knows that such behaviour stunts a babyís growth. Not that I want to tell tales or anything. Your wife, Maria, also dusted your china ornaments and left the pictures on them facing towards the door to your living room. All the good luck in your house is escaping now, thanks to her. Iíd get your own back on her by ensuring that she gets soaked in a rainstorm. To do this, just bite your own elbows. (If you can).

What a coincidence. I talk of elbows just as you bang yours against the edge of the desk. To alleviate the bad luck accumulated by that accident, bang the other elbow as well, just as sharply.

Iíve just noticed that your eyebrows are set close together. Are you a werewolf by any chance?

You are carrying your money in more than one pocket at a time. That is inviting the loss of all your money before the day is done. You donít even put a money spider in your pocket to guard your cash. Thereís just no hope for you.

Despite your wife cavorting with Satan, youíve gone and bought her a bunch of roses. How quaint. What a pity some petals have fallen off. If those petals bloom next year will be another year of despair and poverty. It also portends a death in the family, possibly even your own.

Hereís your wife now, waiting at the door. Go all soppy and kiss her, thatís it. Oh dear, she kissed your moustache. Sheíll be widowed now for sure. Donít lean over her shoulder now and kiss her on the cheek. Thatís your death for sure. It goes that such a kiss is sure to be followed by a stabbing in your back when your not looking.

Evening dinner, and fish for Friday. No, donít eat it like that. You should have sliced that fish from the tail towards the head, and not the other way round. You might choke on the bones now, and itíll be your own fault.

Are you off to the pub now to get drunk again? Why not stay sober for twenty-four hours no matter how much beer you sup, by eating the roasted lungs of a pig? Why not also crack an owlís egg into your pint. That way youíll not wake with another hangover tomorrow. All right, donít then.

Home again at last, and time for bed. Why not move the bed into the middle of the room, so you can avoid getting out on the wrong side tomorrow. Make sure the bed faces east-west and not north-south, wonít you? Put two buckets of cold spring water under the bed if you donít want to contract bedsores. Youíd best look under the bed to make sure the bogeyman isnít there too. Donít leave your hat on the bed, even for a minute. Ooops! That means youíre likely to be staying in bed, seriously ill tomorrow.

Youíve ignored everything Iíve said, so itís a miracle you are still alive, but I think youíll have a restless night for sure now. You forgot to put a sock at the foot of the bed with an iron needle in it. That means youíll have nightmares. See you in the morning, if you are still alive.

Don't believe a word of it, please. Source book - Zolar's Encyclopedia Of Signs, Omens And Superstitions. 1989 Citadel Press.

Arthur Chappell