Were all pavements actually paved back in the 1950s? Or were they tarmacked?
(Sorry, I’ve just been away for a few minutes to see if spellcheck has the spelling of ‘tarmacked’ right. It doesn’t look right. But it is.)
(I’ve been away for longer than that, I know; this is mainly because too much of my time over recent weeks has been about boring medical stuff, which I really don’t want to impose on you.)
My reason for asking is that I was reminded the other day of the rule that it’s unlucky to step on the cracks between the paving stones, because you’ll fall down them into hell or something. I was taught this, aged about eight, by another boy when we were walking home from school; I can picture the moment, so that suburban side street in Bournemouth must have had slabs, not tar.
My real reason for remembering all that is my reaction. I wasn’t a rebellious child in any overt way whatsoever; but I did like to harbour satisfying little mutinies in my head, possibly to be deployed at a later opportune moment. (I still do that.) So eight-year-old me decided, there and then in Watcombe Road, to step on every pavement crack I could manage. I was reminded the other day that I still do that, I still step on the cracks.
That led me to remember my grandmother, who had a superstition for every occasion. I’ve googled, and she had all the usual ones – black cats, ladders, crack’d mirrors and so on – but also one or two entirely of her own. (Quite probably of her own making.) Because she died before I’d learnt the importance of remembering trivial detail, I can only recall one of these, but it’s worth passing on:
“If you see an ambulance, you must touch your lapel until you see a dog.”
I don’t actually obey that one anymore, but can anyone top it? I’d hate to think I was ignorantly putting myself at risk.