You can probably tell that it is another offline Sunday because I want to talk about magpies. In my few idle moments I struggle with magpies, more specifically what to say to them and when. To explain, in my household we were brought up to say “Good morning my Lord” to a single magpie to negate the one-for-sorrow in the 1789 nursery rhyme. Superstitious but curiously addictive. But there are questions that just can’t be easily answered:
- If one sees the same magpie every day (there is one who practically lives in our garden), should this be said once or every time we see it. Does the sorrow go away or is it renewed each time the sun rises and has to be negated daily?
- When driving, what is the distance between two magpies that is permitted? If we get this wrong one way there may be double sorrow. If we get this wrong the other way and say “Good morning my Lord” twice, will we miss out on the joy?
- Exactly how much trouble are we in if we say “Good morning my Lord” to a bird that is not a magpie? This could be due to sun in the eyes or a part-albino black chicken that is needy…
- In these politically correct days, three for a girl and four for a boy just sounds wrong.
- Five for silver and six for gold sounds good but once again there is a problem with driving and distance. I would imagine that looking for silver and gold whilst driving would result in a crash. This would probably be down to it being four magpies and one or two singles who had not been addressed properly. As you swerve to avoid the boy from number four the crash would cause sorrow (or double sorrow), possibly involving a silver or gold “other” car.
- Seven for a secret never to be told is a whole other ball game. Who’s secret is it? Do the magpies hold the secret or the girls and boys? Does it involve silver and gold? Tricky.
In some parts of Europe single magpies are said to forewarn of wolves and armed men approaching. This worries me given the one in our garden.
I do like my unplugged Sundays!
p.s. written in the sunshine last Sunday.