by guest contributor Hugh Lindley (@HughLindley, normally found trying to tolerate people on Bertie's Bastard Blog)
Today the date is 13/11/2009. It is the second Friday in November. It is 3 days before Monday the 16th. It is one of 4 days in the month that has a ‘3’ in it. None of these things are remarkably interesting. But hang on – if I were to say it was Friday the 13th, it would suddenly make the day seem interesting, eerie and supernatural wouldn’t it?
No. Of course it wouldn’t. You cretin.
It’s been a bumper few weeks for people who are scared of their own reflection, cracked paving slabs and particularly sharp pencils. No sooner have we got the annual farce that is Halloween out of the way (with all the crap fancy dress parties and kids pushing dog turds through letterboxes that it demands) than we have to put up with people rehashing the same old myths about Friday the 13th.
The annoying thing for ‘normal’, ‘sane’, ‘rational’ people like, well, like me, is this: after all the ghosts, ghouls and werewolves of the former (which are still a load of bollards but would at least be genuinely frightening if they existed), the latter’s non-specific threat and general excuse for cowardice is a bit of a comedown.
The former is, at least, one of many spurious reasons for the British population to binge drink and have a bloody good laugh; the latter may well involve some of your friends refusing to come to the pub in case they accidentally fall in front of a bus on the way home… something that could almost definitely be attributed to the ill-advised shot of Pernod they always finish the evening with.
There’s a fairly good chance that somebody will say to you today something like: ‘Oh I’d better not – it’s Friday the 13th, lol!’. Most of these people won’t be saying this with any real degree of seriousness (hence the ‘lol’) but with some you’ll probably be able to tell that they actually believe on some level.
This is very frustrating to me. I can just about tolerate people’s religious beliefs (if forced) but why should I have to put up with somebody who thinks that the date on the calendar has an adverse effect on their fortunes? There’s no element of harmless fun like with Halloween (you get sweets!), or celebrating the brutal execution of Jesus Christ (you get chocolate!). In the USA it is estimated that 17-21 million people have some form of a fear of the day and that it costs the economy $800-900 million (which they can hardly afford to lose these days). What is the point in propagating this myth, sometimes (as in 2009) 3 times a year? How can we convince these cowardly custards that, as Stevie Wonder always says, superstition ain’t the way?
On the other hand, other studies have contradicted this and shown an increased rate of accidents. No problem for us rationalists though – firstly there are more accidents on weekends anyway due to alcohol consumption and secondly one can assume that some of these are due to psychosomatic reasons: ‘Well I was bound to drive my car off a cliff today wasn’t I? It’s Friday the 13th lol!’.
However… if you’re driving today and at the lights you look to your left and see one man frantically checking his mirrors, tightening his seatbelt and wiping the sweat from his face as he desperately tries not to cause an accident; and you then look to your right to see a man wearing a blindfold and a bodybag, releasing his handbrake, already resigned to his fate… Well, you’re probably better off just staying in aren’t you really? You never know do you?Click here to go to first post
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