Suspicious Minds

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My brother Ron and I are out in the boat, itís a bit breezy and the sea is bit choppier than we anticipated and I casually say to him ďitís a pig of a day out here todayĒ. His response to me, which is accompanied by a withering scowl, are the words ďcauld iron!Ē 

Donít get it? Okay, Iíll quote another example with a scene from the comedy Blackadder III, where Blackadder is entertaining two Shakespearean actors, Mossop and Keanrick. 

Mossop: ....lest you continue in your quotations and mention the name of the "Scottish Play".

 

Keanrick: Oh-ho... Never fear, I shan't do that. (Laughs)

 

Blackadder: By the "Scottish Play", I assume you mean *Macbeth*.

 

(The actors perform a ritual warding off of bad luck.)

Mossop & Keanrick (together):  Aahhhhh! (Slapping each others hands, pat-a-cake fashion) Hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends. (Pinch each others noses). Aaahh!

 

Blackadder: What was that?

 

Keanrick:  We were exorcising evil spirits. Being but a mere butler, you will not know the great theatre tradition that one does never speak the name of the "Scottish Play".

 

Blackadder: What, *Macbeth*?

 

Mossop & Keanrick (together): Ah! Hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends. Ohh!

 

Blackadder: Good lord, you mean you have to do that every time I say *Macbeth*?

 

Mossop & Keanrick (together): Ah! Hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends. Oww!

 

Mossop: Will you please stop saying that! Always call it the "Scottish Play".

 

Blackadder: So you want me to say the "Scottish Play"?

 

Mossop & Keanrick (together): YES!!!

 

Blackadder:  Rather than *Macbeth*?

 

Mossop & Keanrick (together): Ah! Hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends. Oww! 

 

Now do you understand what Iím getting at? Yes, Superstitions! 

 

This section is all about superstitions, and mainly about the superstitions of the fishers of the North East of Scotland. Iím not superstitious myself so it doesnít concern me if I say or do something that could be considered unlucky whilst Iím out at sea but my brother is very superstitious and will not say or do anything that might draw bad luck. Any infringement of this rule by an accompanying passenger would cause Ron to use the expression ďcauld ironĒ to ward off bad luck.  

 

So what were the words, expressions and acts that were considered to be unlucky as far as the local population were concerned? Iím no expert in knowing why things are considered lucky or unlucky however I have searched around for some explanations, and although I canít guarantee that all of these apply to the North East of Scotland they are considerations from other parts of the world. Make your own mind up if you think these fit the bill or whether they are just a pile of tosh!