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Friday, February 17, 2006

Walking backwards for luck (another foot factoids)





Do you remember when you were a child all the things you did in order to avoid bad luck? Stuff like not stepping on a crack in the pavement or if you stubbed your toe, you had to go back over the object and return sucking your thumb while holding the other hand behind your back. All perfectly illogical but none the less typically human. Some of the more bazaar superstitions found in common folklore include keeping salt (or sulphur) in your shoes as a cure for rheumatism. Another was when washing your hands and feet in the morning, always dry your hands first and you will never have rheumatism. Would things be that simple. Something I connect with the summer, particularly in Scotland, and that was the few days of sun we got, millions of people went to the beach. Nothing of course like the wonderful beaches in Australia but none the less there we all were catching every UV rays with a vengeance. With my bucket and spade I well recall the words of my mother as she warned not to step over another people’s feet when they are lying on the sand, otherwise it was bad luck for both. Usually that meant it would rain.



Now you might also be like me and have experienced the stumble in the street. It is interesting to note the first reaction when you trip in public is embarrassment. Anger comes later but the brain's initial reaction is it has lost control and it is not quite sure why? Billy Connolly has a lovely segment when he describes a similar event on an escalator. To accentuate the point he recommends repeating the same stumble pretending it is something you do all the time.



Not surprising to the superstitious stubbing your toe or stumbling means wherever you were going your presence was not be wanted. This is small consolation when nipping to the loo in the middle of the night. However it is a good omen if you stumble with your right foot; the left foot being unlucky. How to overcome these supernatural warnings is simple, all you need to do is remember your childhood, when everyone knew, after a stumble to avoid bad luck you keep your fingers crossed until you meet a person who passes without looking at you.



Something little boys were very guilty of as I remember was catching the heels of someone walking in front of them. To the superstitious if this involves the toes, then it is very unlucky. Apart from the risk of serious injury the idea of unbalancing someone has the same cerebral effect as stumbling. This type of tripping is frowned upon in the football codes and heavily penalised, for good reason. Back to these nocturnal journeys we all experience, tripping over shoes is bad luck, so always put them carefully away in a safe place. There are many superstitions about where shoes should be kept which we have covered last century but if you are in any doubt let me know and I will fill you in.



Just when you thought it was safe to walk-on, one last foreboding is it is bad luck to walk backwards out of a door. Try telling that to Sir Charles Chaplin who in his heyday often filmed himself walking backwards then running the film in reverse to accentuate the silly walks for which he was so famous.



Reviewed 20/11/2016

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