You should not wish your life away, though on average we spend 1000 hours a year online, which we don’t have to do, and, in a lifetime, 13 months sitting on the toilet, which we do have to do, though not all at once, thank goodness.  You can, of course multitask by doing crosswords on the toilet and, now, here’s a completely new idea – eating whilst online.  When did you last turn your keyboard upside down to see what fell out?  Flavours of snacks they don’t make any more, if it’s been a while.  What this?  Haddock flavour cheese biscuits?  When did I have them?  Oh no, it’s a cat biscuit!  Gross!

So, whilst you should not, I will be so glad to wish myself to Wednesday, when I meet the oncologist and to the following mid week when the endoscope will be behind me, so to speak.

As predicted, in the absence of actual scientific information I have become super superstitious, uber eager to see into the future, variously vehement to vanquish the veil to the view from the next vantage point.

I already read palms, as you know.  I think my life line is growing.  Your life line is the one that runs round the base of your thumb.  It starts between your thumb base and forefinger and runs down to your wrist.  The longer, stronger, deeper and clearer the better.  It shows the length of your life and your life force throughout your life.  If you have had a very eventful life you could expect it to look slightly different on different hands.  On a right handed person I always say the left hand is the hand you were dealt, the right hand is what you make of it.   I started off in an orphanage and could so easily have been one of the child migrants the government is about to compensate.  As I did not get shipped off to Australia as slave labour but in a massive twist of fate, got adopted, the lines on my hands look like they belong to two completely different people.  The only line on both hands which is the same for some space is the head line, differing along the length but which ends in the writer’s fork on both hands.  I’d still have been doing this, cobber, no matter where I was.

None of the lines on your hands are static.  Become a down and out and watch them shorten and break up into a trillion little lines, exercise every day and watch them grow longer and stronger.  The smoothest hands I’ve ever seen belonged to a  sculptor of large ceramic objects who took it all out on huge slabs of clay and consequently was calm and serene, nothing ever phased him.

So I think my life line, right hand, is growing.  During the summer of the broken arm it looked like it was shrinking, especially in the autumn.  My finger nails, both hands, are growing too, as are my eyelashes.

None of this is good enough for solid superstition.  I also read cards.  Not the kind that say ‘J. Plunkett, at your service, hedges cut, lawns mowed, reasonable rates, no job too small.’  No I mean the Tarot cards.  The devil’s playthings,  Ooh the evil.  I find them fascinating, historically and artistically.  They started at the time of the Black Death in Europe, when anyone, rich or poor could have been struck down in an instant and dead within a few days of the boils appearing.  This disease in the fourteenth century left entire villages depopulated with no one left to bury those who died last.  It left plague pits round large towns that ran out of burying ground.  Suddenly depopulation meant that pregnancy was so desirable that it began to feature in art and fashion.  The ‘Is she, isn’t she?’ question posed by the painting popularly called the Marriage of Arnolfini can be resolved by knowing that it was just a fashion but predicting a longed-for event.

Tarot cards not only have meanings singly, which for fourteen cards in each of four suits and the extra cards called the Major Arcana have to be memorised individually, they also have different meanings in every possible combination of two cards and different significances depending on where they turn up in the spread (which is the way the cards are laid on the table.) There are additional meanings for multiples of the same number card, and meanings for each type of spread, of which there are many.  For anyone of advancing years this is some of the best memory training you could have.  I’ve been doing this for years too and still, occasionally, have to refer to my books if I spot something unusual.  It is also a useful way of finding out what you really think about something.  If you ask a question and do not like the answer, that is informative, I think.

However, under the present circumstances. none of these familiar superstitions quite seem to cut the mustard.  I am therefore proposing some new ones, which I will be rigorously testing until  the dreaded dates have passed.

First up:  Reading the prunes.  This involves throwing a pudding dish full of prunes on to the floor and seeing what pattern they make.  If they appear to spell a word, that’s wonderful unless the word is $wmflsp++, in which case you’re on your own.  I do not recommend chucking the jug of custard on the floor as well, unless you are skilled at reading custard, or a school cook, or both.

How about chicken con trails?  This involves leaving a whole cooked chicken alone on the kitchen bench until a cat becomes aware that it is there (10 seconds or less) and watching to see which trail the cat follows as it leaps down from the bench carrying a leg (fairly fortunate) the breast fillets (quite lucky) or the entire chicken (excessively auspicious).  If the cat runs upstairs, things are looking up, if the cat runs under the sofa, things are taking a nose dive, if the cat runs out of the cat door and isn’t even your cat, that’s a misfortune for you but not for the cat and a strong indicator that it’s time to buy a cat door with limited access.  This may work with dogs, but I don’t have the research material, probably with rats, lab or otherwise, but almost certainly not with goldfish.

There are many books available on the meaning of dreams but I’m going to publish the first one on the meaning of drums.  Later.  For now please know that a child learning to drum in another house close by is likely to be annoying in inverse proportion to a) the thickness of the walls b) the openness of the bedroom window and c) the echoic properties of the empty garage.  In all cases it is safe to predict that feuds will be started and insults hurled but it is only a few months to the start of the blessed exam swotting season, when peace will be restored unless the exam is trumpet playing Grade 1A.

Then there is dowsing, traditionally carried out with a forked twig.  Grasp the ends of the twig in either hand.  If the fork rises, it means yes, if the fork falls it means you need an early night and if the twig snaps it’s a strong indictor of iron deficiency.

Last there is Davination.  This under-practised art of futurology involves going to someone called Dave and asking him what he thinks.  This is an excellent tool for divining your own thoughts especially if you find yourself beating him up for suggesting anything so stupid.*

So that’s it.  Roll on and past Wednesday and the next week and on this petty pace from day to day until the last syllable of recorded time, done by whoever is left to record it and then fall over on the floor, clonk.  Only to be sat on by a smug cat with the remnants of the chicken and a bulging eyed dog swallowing the last prune whole.


*Recommended – choose your Dave with caution and location, not out of a bus queue or from round a brazier under an underpass and not one with a purloined supermarket trolley containing his worldly goods and stuff nicked from the more prudent.  Probably.  Though you could get lucky.**

**I hope I do.

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