Friday, 13 April 2012

An Unlucky Charm

         This year boasts an unlikely, or unlucky, abundance of Fridays the Thirteenth.  I’m not superstitious, but looking around the Museum of Scotland, it seems that plenty of folk have been in the past.  So I have taken for the next of my 26 Treasures a tiny piece that seems to have ‘luck’ woven into its name.
            ‘Luckenbooths’ were originally lockable market-booths selling cheap trinkets along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile: so no luck there.  But this little brooch provided protection from supernatural forces (such as the ‘evil eye’ that I alluded to on the last Friday 13th) and was intended to help charm a nursing mother’s milk.
            Legend has it that Queen Mary gave a luckenbooth charm to Lord Darnley... .
            Tomorrow, someone I used to know quite well is getting married.  I can’t deny a pang of envy, but wish them luck all the same.  A. E. Housman said, ‘give crowns and pounds and guineas, but not your heart away.’  If only I’d heeded that advice those years ago, as I sat drinking gin on a warm sofa with a certain soprano.

The Talisman

“Here: take it my dear;
pop it inside your lapel.
Let the delicate heart press
against your white breast,
to charm or sustain you;
no evil can harm you,
from this day forth
for the rest of your life.”

So she took it.
And he took her for a wife.
I locked up my booth, heavy-hearted.
Out of luck, love-locked-out, I departed.

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