This year includes the dreaded 13, a number that over time immemorial has been regarded as unlucky to superstitious people, and the fear of number 13 has even been given its own name, triskaidekaphobia.
Last Sunday was perhaps the first time this year for potential triskaidekaphobics to conquer their fear of the dreaded number, because the date read 13-01-13.
Friday the thirteenth is widely feared, and in Christian belief stems from the time of the Last Supper on Good Friday, the day Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas, who was the 13th to sit at the table. Triskaidekaphobia may also have affected the Vikings who believed Loki to be the thirteenth god in the Norse pantheon, but more specifically Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral.
Superstitions can be so powerful as to have a crippling effect on society if allowed to get out of hand, and in 1881 an influential group of New Yorkers came together to put an end to the fear of 13 and many other similar superstitions. They formed a dinner club which they called The Thirteen Club, and the first meeting took place on Friday 13 January, 1881, at 8.13 pm.
Thirteen people sat down to dine in room 13 of the venue, and the guests walked under a ladder to enter the room, and bizarrely were seated among piles of spilled salt. It is easy to see how superstitions can grow and become exaggerated, and there will be many come midnight on New Years Eve who will blame the number 13 for all the bad luck that befell them in 2013.
The thirteenth day of this new year, happened to be a Sunday, and with the weather set fair for a few hours, although snow had been forecast to follow overnight, it was a tempting proposition to kick the superstition of No. 13 into touch and venture outdoors.
In some cases there were gardens to be explored for the first time since the Christmas and New Year holiday, and there was one garden job in particular in Wordsley that had been left unfinished for several months; the final demolition of a bespoke shed that had rotted and was on the verge of collapse.
The screws and nails that were just keeping the structure together couldn’t prevent the blows of a hammer from finally smashing the wood into manageable pieces for disposal, and as one of the bits of wood was turned over, a gem from nature revealed itself in the gathering gloom; a spectacular splash of colour amongst the drabness of mid winter.
It would appear a single peacock butterfly had been hibernating underneath the shed and all the commotion had woken it from its slumbers.
It slowly began to open its wings to reveal a symmetry of glorious markings, before flapping them quite slowly, making a whooshing sound.
It was lucky the butterfly hadn't been squashed and even luckier it had been seen at all. A photograph was taken, and then the butterfly was carefully transplanted to another dry location in the garden in the hope that it would be able to complete its hibernation and survive the rest of the winter, before once again spreading its wings, this time in earnest, with the arrival of warmer, sunnier weather. On this particular occasion the number 13 had proved nothing but lucky!