Did you remember to say “White Rabbits!” as you woke up on Saturday? No, neither did I. I don’t know about you, but I am now fighting off a sense of impending disaster, having failed to appease the Bunnies of the Apocalypse.
I don’t know where that quaint tradition comes from, and can’t be bothered to look it up. In case you are not familiar with it (and if you are English, shame on your parents for not teaching you), then the rule is that you have to say “White Rabbits!” before you say anything else on the first day of the month. Doing so will bring good luck for the month; failing to do so will unleash unspeakable horrors, such as getting in trouble with teachers, failing the maths test or having your best conker smashed in the match against Duncan – everyone knows he hardens his, which is cheating, but those Arctic Conies can ensure you defeat him so long as you invoke them properly.
As I got older, I was unsure when the first of the month began. Was it when I woke up or was it the second after the stroke of twelve by Big Ben? To be safe, I do it twice if I happen to be awake at midnight, and regularly confuse friends at New Year’s parties by spluttering “WhiteRabbitsHappyNewYear!” as the chimes fade away. It’s especially important in the first month of the year as it sets the tone.
So picture our despair as both Sigoth and I forgot to perform this vital ritual on Saturday morning. Neither of us have had good weeks, and had been looking forward to a Saturday lie-in, followed by a long list of errands to run. It is true that most of them were enjoyable errands around preparation for the festivities scheduled nearer the end of the month. This did not reduce their number, only their onerousness. (Note: I am amazed the spell check thinks “onerousness” is a real word, given some of the words it fails to recognise.)
Sigoth has an interview on Monday, and if unsuccessful will be made redundant. I am travelling quite a bit so hoping it won’t snow or flood or rain locusts in a way that prevents me getting back home on Thursday. I know, it’s all about me. All the other on-going stresses need to be managed, so it’s a week of juggling as usual. We could do with some Rabbity help.
The Rabbits thing always makes me think about the other traditions we had when I was little. Sigoth and I have not passed them on to the Offspring for the most part; actually the one about the Rabbits is an exception to this, because it is fun.
Things we have not taught them:
- Throwing spilled salt over the left shoulder to hit the Devil in the eye. It had to be the left shoulder. This was non-negotiable. It was well-known the Devil always came at you on the sinister side. (Sinister as in “left” in Latin; see also “Carry on Cleo” where they march “Sinister, Dextra, Sinister, Dextra!”)
- Put out milk for the fairies, witches and ghosts on Halloween. We left it outside the back door so they could find it, and it was always gone in the morning, so it was definitely essential. You don’t want irate hob-goblins messing with the crockery.
- When I had an exam, my parents would throw a shoe at me as I left for school. They claimed this was good luck. I have my doubts. It was extremely embarrassing when I was doing O-Levels at the age of sixteen.
- Never walk under ladders.
- A black cat crossing your path is good luck.
- Don’t wear green – particularly difficult as my school uniform was green. I hated that school anyway, so that was probably why.
That doesn’t even get me onto the little sayings and songs. I’ll save those for another day.
Now the Offspring are large enough to manage without us tying their shoelaces, I find I am sometimes sad they don’t know this stuff. What seemed like meaningless nonsense to avoid when they were small now feels like a link to their past which has been broken. I broke it. I need those Rabbits to protect me from the consequences!