Magpies are Evil
I hate Magpies.
Everyone hates Magpies.
Magpies are not nice.
Magpies steal eggs from other bird’s nests,
Magpies take shiny objects and the sound that they make when they sing is awful.
Magpies all over the world are evil but the ones in Wales are worse than that,: they are rotten.
Let me explain. The number of magpies that you see in a group presages some event in store for you. The rhyme explains how it works: `One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl…etc.
So if you see one magpie it foretells sorrow is coming your way, but luckily you can prevent the arrival of that sadness by greeting the bird.
In some cultures all you have to do is wave at, or in some other way salute the bird.
In other places you need to hail it, in a voice loud enough for the bird to hear (unless it is deaf or ignoring you), and compliment it on its clothing and ask after it’s family’s health.
“ Good day Brother Magpie,” you call to it, “I hope your wife and children are in good health”
A simple enough task I’m sure you’ll agree but it is one that causes me much distress because I wonder that, If by hailing a solitary magpie you remove the threat of impending sadness, then does greeting two magpies take away the promise of joy, and so on up the scale?
Well, over the years I have studiously made sure that I greet every magpie that I see when it is on its own, but not everyone is aware of the importance of doing this, so people would give me strange looks and a wide berth if they heard me, all of a sudden, shout out `Hello, how are you`, seemingly to no one!
They must have thought I was stark raving bonkers!
I well remember what happened one day when I was walking along with a colleague and we met a solitary bird, I was debating whether to greet it and risk appearing a loony to him or to ignore it and risk the inevitable misfortune that would await me, when, imagine my surprise and delight, when I heard him calling out a greeting to the bird; I have to admit that with that confirmation of my sanity I quickly followed suit!
You know, I’ve often wondered: “How close together do two magpies need to stand to be deemed a pair?”
Whether out of embarrassment or for whatever reason I don`t know, I taught myself how to call out a greeting to magpies in Mandarin Chinese.
I would call out, in Chinese, something that I hoped would be:- ` Hello friend, I hope you are well!` but that would probably sound to a Chinaman more like `My hovercraft is full of eels!
My assumption was that while the magpie probably wouldn’t understand Chinese it would know that I was trying to be friendly!
By doing this I was happy and able to defend myself against any bad luck (alas I had stopped doing this ritual a little time before I met my first wife!)
Anyway, back to those Welsh magpies!
One day on Anglesey I was walking down a tree lined country lane and magpies were sitting all the way along it; but not all together in a large clump, no, the little sods were sitting, each on its own… or waere they? They looked solitary but then they were also close enough to each other that they might possibly be a pair!
There would be two birds sitting near to each other but on separate trees, there would be two birds sitting in the same tree but on different sides of it or one at the top of the tree and the other bird lower down and I noticed a couple of birds darting around on the ground, coming together occasionally. Were they individuals meeting accidentally or were they a pair playing chase!
Well, you can understand my dilemma!
As I walked down that lane for some quarter of a mile I had to check each grouping of magpies before greeting them; were there two birds together or were they two individuals just near to each other ?
You can appreciate that I didn`t want to bring upon myself cartloads of bad luck by ignoring so many single magpies in one day or to possibly miss out on any joy that seeing two magpies might bring, by greeting them ; neither did I want any strangers I might pass on that lane, to think I was the type of weirdo that would shout at two magpies unnecessarily!?
A little bird has told me that those evil Welsh magpies had been sitting together in a bunch idly chatting about things like the weather and what various dastardly deeds they were going to get up to later, when the blighters saw me start walking down the lane and so decided to space themselves in the trees in such a way as to ruin my day.
Needless to say, that after that fiasco, the next day, to avoid looking like a fool I took with me a big bag of walnuts I had in the house and threw them up into the trees as I walked whilst shouting `clear off you buggers!` as loud as I could as I passed by each tree in the avenue. (I actually shouted ‘Pwowdee’. That’s not a Chinese word , but in the argot we used when I was a lad it meant, with emphasis: GO AWAY!)
No, I made sure that those beastly birds didn’t make me look and act stupid that day!