ONE FOR SORROW

magpies 1123

There’s a huge magpie sitting right outside my window  on the garden fence. It’s wonderful to see a creature like that up close. The feathers are the purest white …like blancoed buttons …a shining white  contrasting against the glossy boot black of the  long tail feathers. He’s a big fellow  too ; almost as big as one of those ready- to- roast chickens. He’s balancing right now with his long tail waving up and down like a wire-walker’s pole.

How does the rhyme go ..”One for sorrow, two for joy…”.People have  obviously put great store in sighting a magpie up close, at some time long ago. I wonder where that idea originated.  It’s all symbolism and association .Ravens were associated with death, for example, probably because  they roosted around church graveyards.Maybe it’s just the way I associate the little robin with my late mother. It’s how superstitions grow.  That’s a story for another page though.

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.

Eight for heaven,

Nine for hell,

And ten for the devil’s own sell

….That’s a strange  last line isn’t it? I wonder how you’d interpret that – does “sell” mean “self” in this context?

On another plane , I see news of  Stephen Fry’s marriage is in the news..You’ll know of course that 57-year=old Mr Fry , besides being an actor and  a rattling good writer,   is honest to a fault and has revealed in his writings , a past that most people would probably prefer to cover -up. He is gay , of course  and his partner  is a much younger man in his twenties. People are already calling his partner  a “toy-boy”. My  late mother would have wondered which of  the partnership  would do the housework and which would do the cooking.She wouldn’t have given their gender a second thought; unlike many of our subjects in Norneverlannd who really worry about their bedtime routine.

How times change though. The really good thing about honesty is that no one will be surprised by any skeletons falling out of this closet. Unless he turns out to be  a closet Nazi. There’s a lesson in that.

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