Wednesday, July 4, 2018

If it wasn't for bad luck ...

Bad luck comes in threes. That's the saying anyway. The last time I heard it said was at a funeral recently.
'It won't be long before there's another death in this family,' remarked an elderly man gloomily.
'Oh yes?' I said, politely. 'Is there someone not well?'
'Oh no,' he said shaking his head. 'But they had a cousin die a few weeks back. This fella makes two. And everyone knows bad luck comes in threes.'

There wasn't much I could say to that. To tell him bluntly that I disagreed with him would have been to invite argument in a house of mourning which would have been inappropriate. But it's not a saying I put much stock in. I consider it part of the natural human tendency to find patterns in everything. That's why we can see so many amazing things in the clouds as we lay on our backs on a fine summer's day. And why conspiracy theorists can turn a late train and the shop being out of milk into a secret plot to destroy the world. But there's no reality to it – especially about bad luck and threes.

Or is there? I had a little run of bad luck recently. And it did indeed have the number three attached. Coming out of Mothel Church in Coolcullen one Sunday I noticed that one of the tyres on my car was looking somewhat flat. I pumped it up and drove home. But next morning it was down again, so it was off to Quinn's garage to get it fixed. All was grand for a few days; then I came out of the house one morning to find it flat again.
'Drat,' I thought. 'That first mend mustn't have held.' I pumped it up and went back to Quinn's. And, bless them, they fixed it again. But it was clear looking at the tyre that the mend was in a different place.
'How odd,' I thought. 'I haven't had a puncture in years – and now two in a week.' If the old man from the funeral had been about he'd have warned to expect trouble. And he'd have been right.

A week later I was driving along. It was a hot sunny day and I had the windows open. Suddenly I noticed there a noise coming from the rear of the car. Click, click, click, it went. And the faster I went, the more frequent the clicks. I got out and examined it. Another puncture. A different tyre this time. And the cause was clear – a large screw was sticking out of it and had been slapping off the road as the tyre went round.

So three punctures in a fortnight. Of course, it was only coincidence. None for ages, then they all come at once. But still, I know if the man from the funeral was to hear of it he'd give me a knowing smile and say 'Didn't I tell you?'

this article appears in today's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

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