This morning, DBC Pierre talks about writers and their rituals. Lize Spit suggests writers are superstitious. Hung around my neck is a wishbone cast in silver. I finger it under my scarf.
A wishbone’s proper name is furcula. This means ‘little fork’ in Latin and describes well the shape of the two-pronged bone. Humans do not have furculae. The bone only appears in birds. It is a fused clavicle, which strengthens the skeleton for flight.
My granny told me that if two people each take one end of the wishbone and snap it using only their pinkie fingers, whoever comes away with the bigger bit can make a wish. I know I played this game when I was very young. The odd thing is that I cannot remember if I won, or if my wish came true. But I remember the pale grey surface of the bone. It felt so thin. Wishes seemed to be made from the most fragile things.
I haven’t tried to snap the bone that dangles below my neck. It was cast in a mould made from the wishbone of a partridge. The artist who created it told me that her father gave her the bone. She said he didn’t understand why she made jewellery from animal skeletons but, still, he’d saved it for her. My partner bought me the necklace. I do not know what it means to give someone the whole wish but it felt like a kindness. I believe the bone is lucky, although I have no evidence. Perhaps I am just lucky to have been given a wish.
There is an older superstition that if you take the blade bone of a rabbit, put nine pins in it, and place it under your pillow then you will dream of your true love. I do not know anyone who has done this. Perhaps few eat rabbit anymore. Perhaps we value our bleached sheets too highly. Perhaps we fear germs. I wonder if anyone has done it this year. What did they dream? Who did they hope they’d see?
Later in the day, I am walking beside Elinor Archer—who takes care of us writers. I ask if she knows any Dutch superstitions. She says she can’t think of any specifically Dutch ones, just the usual ladders and black cats. The Dutch, she says, are very sober about this sort of thing. If you can be sober about superstition can you be drunk on it? I love the idea of being drunk on magic. It seems like being tipsy on the phases of the moon.
Elinor suggests I ask around, perhaps someone else knows. Later in the green room, I ask if anyone knows any Dutch superstitions. They look puzzled and consider it for a moment. Then, they all shake their heads. The Dutch, they say, are too down to earth for this. I think the self-belief that removes the need for superstition is a kind of magic too.