Livewire - September 13, 2013

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By Jacqui Morley

Friday the 13th ... are you walking on eggshells to avoid walking under ladders today? Dodging any unwary black cat which happens to stray across your path?

We’re made of sterner stuff, touch wood, here in Blackpool as our own straw poll of the potentially superstitious on the seafront underlines. Not many paraskavedekatriaphobics or friggatriskaidekaphobics (those who fear Friday the 13th) out there – although some of the Golden Mile shops still sell “lucky”
rabbits feet.

For the record the very long words above are the scientific terms for those with a fear of Friday 13th although journalists conducting similar surveys should be warned off asking hapless passersby if they are friggatriskaidekaphobic.

It is not only very hard to pronounce but runs the high risk of causing offence. None was taken by Myra Burns, 76, of Little Lever, Bolton, who used to work as a hospital cleaner. “A lot of patients bring a little token of luck with them – whether it’s a teddy bear or lucky rabbit’s foot or something that has meaning for them,” she explained.

“But it used to surprise me how superstitious some of the surgeons were. We knew of one who would never operate on Friday 13th and another who always wore the same tie he’d worn as a medical student to any special event.”

Visiting musician Alan Bennett, 65, from Morecambe, says musicians are as superstitious as “theatrical types and sportsmen”.

He adds: “For years I carried a little toy monkey because it was my little lad’s favourite toy and we lost him at eight-years-old. It wasn’t for luck but more a talisman.

“I’d panic if I’d forgotten it and would convince myself that if anything went wrong it was because I’d left it at home or in the car.”

Jenny Wilson, 62 of Whitegate Drive, Blackpool owns up to “a healthy degree of superstition.” Jenny explains: “Before I retired I had a market stall. I was the 13th trader on the new site and nothing went well for me after that. I changed with a chap who wasn’t superstitious and he had problems too. That convinced me there was something in it.”