Category Archives: Superstition

In what must’ve been the second worst journey in the world: patting the journeyman & 12 hours on a coach…

Coaches are the devil

Satan himself must travel this way.

Horse-drawn_coach,_Tolaga_Bay,_Gisborne_Region,_c._1880sI’ve often wondered if I’d look back one day and consider the following twelve hours of my life with amusement or horror; and whether or not the experience had been a terrific one. And this is that day— it was as I feared, a long time in the coming— I do however, still have nothing but the most hostile opinion of it. I detest coaches, hate them, they’re the very ass of public transportation— I hate them almost as much as travelling on them and this particular 588 was no exception: Unless of course the horror of this journey could be classified as exceptional, which it was, but only in the loosest possible sense.

Not only was I stuck for prolonged periods— actually stuck— wedged between safety glass and a guy determined to fill all the space available to him and a large proportion of the space purportedly mine. But, I also found myself sitting atop a heating element hell-bent on melting me; no doubt ensuring that if he’d wanted to— my immediate neighbour could’ve taken over the entire bench, with barely the minimum of fuss.

The heat was also clearly upsetting a few of the other passengers; and it wasn’t just owing to the smells of searing flesh. I may not have been able to see them through the sweaty mist that had been steadily accumulating since our departure at Victoria— but the groaning was unmistakable, no doubt related to the unusual climate we were amidst. There were grunts of dismay and the occasional thud I attributed to the simoom whirling about us causing passengers to either faint; or lose their way and walk into something— something I had no intention of doing myself— even if I’d wanted to.

I valued my pride you see, and with it firmly intact, albeit lacking a few hundred pounds where my sweat had been, for lack of a better word: leaking through the very minimum of clothing I felt comfortably decent in; I maintained ‘decorum’— in its most ‘primitive’ state you understand, until Keele— and this was some six and some odd hours into the ride. It was round about this time I decided, decorum be damned, and negotiated the corpse to my right and headed for the higher ground of the central aisle only to find myself surrounded by a litter of unluckily-plucky fellows who had clearly got lost en route to the chemical toilet at the rear and fallen over. It was here I stayed until we disembarked for the grand duration of thirty minutes into the chilly northern evening…

Feeling the need to take matters into my own hands, I approached the driver with my concerns regarding the ludicrous state of affairs taking place behind him, to which he merely asked whether or not it was because it was too hot or too cold. Obviously, I found the resolve to smutter loosely at his hutzpah; informed him that I quite fancied most of us had reported seeing camels since our departure and if he wouldn’t mind and could muster it— could he please turn down the heat…

Whether or not he complied is beyond me, but the sand laden winds deceased and there were fewer individuals cluttering up the walk way. I occupied the inside seat this time, which I soon discovered, came with its own set of problems. Unlike my companion, who was at times using my shoulder as a dribbling mat, I couldn’t really bring myself to lean excessively— I could tilt backwards or forwards, something I did-so thoroughly and decided: while it may be fine for the upper body, comfort was of no avail for the lower extremities; something I couldn’t forget with my legs now letting the rest of me know all about it whenever they possibly could. And though it was frighteningly annoying, this— I could have coped with. Constant jostling is something that can be ignored with a practicable ignorance; a leaky roof however, is completely different…

So there it was, one of life’s little ironies. Since I had already been cooked for all intents and purposes, crushed and changed seats— and despite my best efforts completely unable to discover any reasonable means of establishing comfort— it was decided that my insult was to be to rubbed further by a steady stream a water from which I was powerless to escape.

My sighs, as you can imagine, became more pronounced and the onset of snow at the journey’s end seemed to be a fitting accompaniment to the heat, dampness, discomfort and sleeplessness…

They may go round but they drive me up the wall—

Such is the way of the wheel…

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The purpose of Jasper & outwitting superstitious dining practices with sawdust…

I’m a firm believer that we make our own bad luck—

We can’t just have it the one way, surely— it’s just not democratic…

418838_10151214975596041_1406077767_nI like to think of the purpose of Jasper as a blessing; one of wonderment— and for those of you who find yourselves caught short at the dinner table; whether it be over-blessed with company, or under for that matter— a Jasper is a handy thing to have at hand, since no one would wish an unusual fatality to occur to someone you’d only just dined with.

There’s only one drawback, it’s fairly minor, to a point— but drawbacks by definition, does not plain-sailing make. Jasper is a stuffed cat; not the most ubiquitous of items I know. In fact I can safely say I’ve never had the fortune of observing; or the misfortune of having missed one being plucked from the bottom of a woman’s hand-bag instead of a lipstick. I’m sure however, that if I live long enough— it may just happen. I know enough to know that these are bottoms that do indeed hold some strange, strange stuff.

The story goes, that a hundred years or so— I’m not entirely sure when exactly but it’s usually a hundred years or so. Besides, if it wasn’t it should’ve been that a group of hungry people were due to meet for dinner at The Savoy, but one of the party members couldn’t make it, so naturally, as was the case a hundred years ago when everything was unexplainable and spooky: thirteen diners remained.

Now, with ‘thirteen’ being a number synonymous with bad luck even then— as if they didn’t have the monopoly on weird already, the last man to sit at the table was sure to became afflicted with doom of some kind; and this despite repeated warnings that congregating in such numbers was ‘not on’. Anyway, the gentlemen took his chair, the waiter told to ‘shoo’ no doubt flippantly at the same time assuring him that he was well aware of the risks and so on and so forth.

A couple of weeks later however, when word got back that the chap had died in the most bizarre of manners upon his return to South Africa, it was decided that for whatever the reasons: should a party of thirteen meet and dine together at The Savoy. Jasper, the stuffed cat, would take a seat and have a place set for him in the fourteenth chair…

Hemmingway was on the right track when he wrote—

The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.

But he was more into his cats with-many-toes, and would no doubt have approved…