Are you superstitious?
In this age of science do you, against all reason, continue to believe in the power of the illogical?
Because it is a bit odd, when you think about it, to indulge in magical thinking when our very DNA has now been studied, logged, coded, computed and sequenced.
When the essence of our being has been laid bare, it seems a bit lame somehow to carry on chucking a bit of salt over your left shoulder to... ward off evil spirits, or whatever that particular superstitious action is supposed to achieve.
Still, we didn’t get where we are today without a bit of magical thinking, or maybe I mean muddled.
And lots of us are superstitious. Perhaps it’s the human antidote to all that rational research, the balance to the power of the microscope.
For instance, there was a piece on The One Show recently about the different lucky charms people carry around with them.
I love the One Show. It is the grown-up version of Blue Peter, and for that reason it is very much a favourite of mine.
The fact that the presenters often talk to we viewers as if we were all aged seven is a plus point for me. I enjoy those soothing, cheery tones.
So the lucky charms piece interested me greatly, especially when I learned that one woman was carrying around a bit of Morrissey’s shirt with her.
She had ripped it off his back decades ago, and is now keeps it in her handbag, not to apologetically hand back should she ever unexpectedly bump into him at the shops, but for good luck.
But lucky charms are only one part of the mystical, mythical, murky world of superstition.
There are all sorts of sayings and half-beliefs.
You know the drill - breaking a mirror will bring seven years’ bad luck, putting an umbrella up in the house is unlucky, walking under a ladder is unlucky, spotting a lone magpie is unlucky.
On the positive side, a black cat crossing your path is lucky, and so is spotting two magpies.
Footballers are notoriously superstitious, enslaved to bizarre rituals. If they once scored a goal after tying their left bootlace first,they must carry on doing that for the rest of their careers, if not lives.
And then, in another context altogether, there are “lucky pants”. I’m not entirely sure they can be included in the category of superstition, but, you know, I’m talking about a belief system where people throw salt over their shoulder, so who knows where the boundaries are?
Me, I’m not superstitious at all. My world is a flat and boring place. I don’t believe in fate, I don’t believe in magic.
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories either. My view is that if a group of people know something then one of them will always talk - if the moon landings had really been faked in a desert somewhere, we would know every spit and cough of the whole business by now.
And as for when we’re gone, I think we’re just gone - except for in the hearts and minds of those who remember us.
I tried being superstitious once. A lovely 100-year-old woman gave me a tiny fairy she had fashioned out of some bendy wire and bits of net. It was a charming thing and I kept it with me for luck, after all its maker had not only reached 100 but was still living independently in her own flat.
But my luck continued to be as varied as ever, not quite on the scale of my brother-in-law who always declared that if it wasn’t for bad luck he would have no luck at all, but things definitely didn’t get better. So I gave up on the fairy, and she languished in a drawer.
I’m not proud of being such a killjoy. Life would be more fun if I could believe that it wasn’t all down to random chance. Sadly I can’t.
But I’m hoping that I will be okay anyway, touch wood.
THE WAY OF ALL OUR ASHES
It does make you wonder. On a recent episode of the fabulous piece of television that is The Great Pottery Throwdown, one contestant added an unusual ingredient to her ceramic mix.
The brief was to create a garden fountain and Scottish Cait decided to reference her recently deceased and much-loved dog.
So she created a piece with a black top, meant to resemble her pet’s nose, which wasn’t all that successful actually.
But she managed to get the essence of her dog in the sculpture anyway, by mixing in some of his ashes. It was an unusual idea, but why not? We all have to do something with the ashes of our loved ones, be they human or animal.
Some people keep them in the house with them. It’s not that unusual for ashes to be stored in the backs of wardrobes, on shelves, at the bottom of cupboards, even on the television.
Some people get fired into the heavens in rockets, or are made into pieces of jewellery.
My relatives have been scattered far and wide, from the hills where they played as a child to the lake where they enjoyed fishing.
Sometimes a gust of contradictory wind can mean our relatives ending up in places they were never intended, which always brings a laugh among the tears
There’s definitely a television piece on ashes-to-ashes anecdotes in there somewhere - somebody tell The One Show.
THE SIMPLE FACTS OF PIZZA TOPPINGS
Here is where I stand on the pineapple pizza debate; a pizza should only ever have tomato and cheese on it.
Honestly. That’s all you need. A thin, crisp base, some tomato, a bit of flavouring with garlic, salt and stuff, and then some melted cheese. Job done. You might call it boring, I call it classic.
So I’m with Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson when he told a pupil, during a school question and answer session, that he hates pineapple on pizza and would ban it if he could.
But I don’t think the president went far enough. It isn’t only the Hawaiian that needs to go.
All the others need binning too.
The ones with chicken, chorizo or even sausage on them. These are sandwich fillings
The ones with egg, tuna, or even anchovies on them. These are the ingredients for a fancy French salad.
Just cheese. And tomato. Trust me, that’s enough