On Wednesday The Times ran a Halloween-themed article about the superstitions and beliefs of the British public. A survey had been conducted by Ben Schott and Ipsos Mori and for the most part the results were fairly predictable. A good proportion of us believe in all sorts of twaddle (like ghosts 38%, extra terrestrials 31% and guardian angels 38%), with women, tabloid readers and those of C2DE socio-economic grades more likely to believe in the paranormal than their male, broadsheet reading, professional counterparts.
Apparantly, only 15% of us believe that the number 13 is unlucky. I say apparantly because on the last two occasions I've flown, I've found myself sitting in row 13 having forgotten to check in early and having to make do with the seats not desired by my fellow passengers. Given that this was business class on BA, it's reasonable to assume that many of these row-13 avoiders were male professionals, though perhaps not British, admittedly. This might be explained by the fact that quite a lot of us believe in fate (64%). While we know 13 is just a number and that considering it unlucky is silly (especially when we're responding to a questionnaire), willfully choosing to sit in seat 13 still feels like a wanton and unneccesary provocation of fate. It doesn't really make sense, but then people often don't.
I was tickled by how many of us physically knock on wood (51%). This is something I do without thinking. What with the house move and the pregnancy I've been doing it all the time recently. Of course, I don't really believe it has any luck-inducing benefits. It's just a thing I do when I find myself talking about desired future outcomes as if they're already in the bag. It's a way of acknowledging that I know I'm getting ahead of myself, counting chickens before they've hatched. If I'm completely honest, a little bit of me believes that reaching to touch something wooden may help ward off any bad luck I might encouraged by being so presumptuous.