OBLIGTARY SOUNDTRACK TO THIS POST, LINKED TO IT THEMATICALLY OR OTHERWISE
On walking home last night from the bus, three things stuck out to me- Firstly, the creepy trees I have to go through to get into my estate. Secondly, The strange yowling noise I could hear as I walked past houses and thirdly, an abundance of helicopter noises above.
All three of these things have pretty ordinary explanations – I’m nervous of the creepy trees because of the unsavoury characters that might be lurking in there, The strange yowling noise was a cat in heat and the helicopters were just helicopters, police or otherwise. The odd thing is none of these sensible explanations for my nervousness are the ones I have.
For the creepy trees my first fear : SLENDERMAN
For the helicopters my first thought : ESCAPED VIOLENT CRIMINAL (Yes, that cliché, I know)
And the third, the yowly cat noise, my first thought : BANSHEE
There is something wrong with how my mind works…
I spent the rest of my (admittedly short) walk home thinking about the probability of a close relative of mine dropping dead in the next few weeks, and the likelihood that I’m ‘Banshee material’. In the original banshee mythos one must be from a good family to receive the eerie warning that someone’s going to die. So I began to question do I come from a ‘good family?’ Is that by modern standards or the standards of the Ireland of the past? I suppose we’re a good family, alright, oh god that means the banshee is warning me somebody’s going to die! Ah! So while I was having this little crisis on my walk home it never crossed my mind for a moment how insane it was. I circled around my own scepticism, asking the question ‘Well okay, Banshees aren’t real- but that doesn’t sound like a cat in heat, in fact the more I listen the more I think it sounds like a wailing woman Oh god what if somebody does die and then forever I’m haunted by the knowledge that BANSHEES ARE REAL either that or there is some serious coincidence at work here… And now after checking everyone in my family still has a pulse, I’m thinking about superstitions and how superstitious I am without even realising.
I do it mostly out of habit I suppose, I think some superstitions are fun; Theatre ones like not naming the Scottish play, not entering through the front door if you’re in a production, and not saying good luck. Other ones are stranger- I still won’t open an umbrella indoors for the sole reason that it just shouldn’t be done- there is absolutely no logical reason for me not to open the umbrella to test if it, you know, actually works or not. No, I must be standing OUTSIDE in the POURING RAIN with the damn thing IN THE OPEN before I can even approach opening it. I’ve started eating meat of a Friday but when I catch myself doing it I’m still annoyed despite Atheism and a rather large amount of contempt for my former religion. It’s just these odd little things that I cling to.
And the conflicting stories about the origins of these little rules we have are fascinating. One that I particularly love is the origin of ‘Break a leg’- I’ve heard three separate stories for this one. First was something about horse racing. The connection being that actors and the horse racing crowd were the most superstitious people in Britain, so the phrase ‘Break a leg’ derived from some horse racing slang. The other I heard and the one I subscribe to is that it comes from the old protocol for how to behave when one is receiving a standing ovation- One would bow at the knee to thank the audience, and so ‘break a leg’ came from someone wishing one to ‘break a leg’ while thanking the crowd for their standing ovation. My Da has a pretty weird one about it having something to do with the wooden slats behind old curtains in theaters.
In the unlikely event that somebody’s actually reading (!) my first feeble attempts into blog posting, my question is thus- DO YOU have any strange superstitionz?
Niamh ‘Banshee Bones’ Keoghan