Walking back home on a warm evening I’m thrilled to see a black cat cross my path halfway down Finsbury Park Road. I’m already anticipating the good luck vibes, when a second black cat emerges from the shadows a couple of doors further down. It waits and watches me. A double black cat path-crossing… it’s a confusing situation. Does it mean twice as much good luck or (more likely) does the second black cat erase the good luck of the first? Or perhaps even create bad luck? If this is the case, are there any complicated hand signals I can offer that might block this black cat magic? I’m confused and contemplate crossing the road… but the second cat makes a run for it and nips in front of me – clearly a genuine crossing of my path.
These could be long term Luck Cats, in which case it might be several years before I can safely say what the final result of this strange incident will be. Interestingly*, it would seem that it’s only in Britain that black cats symbolise good luck. Everywhere else in the world sees them as bringing bad news.
* Obviously I’m using the word “interestingly” to mean “not-very-interestingly”
A walk down to the
fairy fields at the end of the Cahermacrusheen boreen where we have a grand
picnic of cheese sandwiches and Tayto crisps and a flask of tea. The sea is
still and the Aran Isles look very close. Most of the land around North Doolin is
parched and the grass dry and brownish as if this was August rather than early
April. But here, on the way to the rocks at the edge of the Burren, the turf is
thick and wet like black gold and little patches of intense green burst out
from beneath the stones.
The kids do a cow
attracting dance that achieves its objective, expect these are bullocks not
cows. On the way back we see a thorn tree decorated with ribbons, materials,
toys, holy water and candles. Next to this is the dry stone wall part of which is
made up of massive horizontal stones, which I have a feeling had once been the lost
On Riversdale Road today, on the same part of the road that was the other day covered in rubbish, one of my neighbours was trying to put the chain on her bike.
“Her chain’s bust,” shouted the tall Irish bloke from across the road, out tending his front garden on the other side of the road.
I stopped to help. The bike wasn’t in good nick and I couldn’t get the chain to work. The Irish bloke came over and we started discussing how this part of the road might be haunted, as my hands got more and more covered in oil.
“It’s bad feng shui” said the tall Irish bloke. “All the chi is flowing off down Wyatt Road. That’s why I’m poor,” he laughed, pointing at his jumper full of holes. I told them about the New River which used to flow under their houses and we started discussing plans to reinstate a stretch of it on Riversdale Road.
“Did you know there was a battle between the Danes and the Saxons round here,” said the Irish bloke. I said I did, though I can’t remember how I found it out – perhaps on a rainy afternoon in Guildhall Library from an obscure book whose title I wrote down in a now lost notebook. The area was once known as Dane Bottom, a reminder of a group of Scandinavian lads who came over for a European away tie and never went home. We discussed the possibility that the road might be haunted by the ghost of a Viking, then the tall Irish bloke realised he hadn’t done any front yard tidying for at least 15 minutes, and scooted off home.
As I was flicking through the Stoke Newington OS map from 1868 (it’s a gripping read) I noticed that, north of the avenue and embankment that was once the New River, was a stone. No other explanation. Just “stone”. Was it a milestone, like the one on the bend of the New River near St Mary’s church? Maybe this is the same stone and it was moved into an enclosed area for safe keeping. Or was the “stone” something else, something older still? Like a neolithic marker which, though long gone, still gives off a strange magnetic pull that attracts summertime frisbee throwers and the Turkish football team (it’s near the spot where they do their windsprints).
There must be a historian around who knows these things, some Professor of Invisible Ancient Stones of North London at University College.