Friday, October 13, 2006


Today being a Friday the 13th., it’s a safe bet that not much of any significance will be taking place in the world.
Those of a superstitious bent won’t be stirring far from home and the rest of us might make the most of a jolly good wheeze for not doing much of anything.
According to the weather men, the barometer is set fair for the day with a mild zephyr from the nor’ nor’ east and a sky untroubled by clouds and stuff. It seemed an ideal day to me for taking down that dead tree and turning it into logs for the winter.
“Uh-huh, not a good idea,” says my wife, “Don’t you know what day it is?”
Personally, I don’t think the odds of being hit by a falling tree are much higher on a Friday the 13th. than on any other day, but now if I go out and launch the chainsaw at it, I would never hear the last of it if anything should go awry. I suppose a cry of “Timber!” might be the last thing I would hear.

It would probably have been advisable for me not to have got out of bed, could have had a nasty fall, but early in the morning one doesn’t always think clearly and so, here I am, moving very gingerly, just in case. Obviously this is a day for taking elaborate precautions.

Now, as you all know, this fear of Friday the 13th. is called paraskevidekatriaphobia (you did know that, didn’t you? Yes, of course you did) and I’m sure that this knowledge will make a great difference to your activities today. If so, it seems you are not alone, since it is estimated that in the United States, enough people use it as an excuse not to go to work that there’s an $800 million loss in revenue. But of course, it is not known just how many of those that don’t go to work are genuine hard-core paraskevidekatriaphobiacs or who are only, like me, precluded from taking any chances by their wives. More research is needed, I feel.

It seems to me that the whole thing could have been avoided with a bit of foresight on the part of the authorities or, perhaps, Gregorian, who seems to have had a lot to do with the calendar business. As W.S. Gilbert pointed out in The Pirates of Penzance, due to a fumble on the part of someone, possibly the Astronomer Royal, every now and again we get a spare day, making a it a leap year. Now if that sort of thing is possible, surely it could be arranged to get rid of all the Friday the 13ths. or, if necessary, making them Friday the Twelfth and a little bit?
This would solve the problem at a stroke and the economy of the United States would be improved by $800 million each year, an idea which would surely appeal to the White House in its search for world hegemony. That guy they have at the United Nations who looks like a discombobulated walrus would be just the man to force such a scheme through – he doesn’t seem to have much else on his hands at the moment.
I was on the point of drafting a letter to my friend Dubya when I found out that there was a snag. It seems that Friday the 13th. is not universally regarded as a bit on the dodgy side. Only the British, the Portuguese and the Americans seem to be afflicted with paraskevidekatriaphobia. Whether this is due to climate or diet is not known, but apparently in order to solve the problem for the Spaniards and the Greeks, we’d have to do away with all Tuesdays the 13th. as well.
I’m all in favour of a shortened working week, but when you consider that the French, by and large, take Monday off as well, world productivity’s bound to suffer a bit.

So the best thing is to leave matters as they stand. But to be on the safe side, I’m going back to bed for the day.
And we’re not inviting thirteen people around for dinner tonight – look what happened at The Last Supper.


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