Friggatriskaidekaphobia

There have been 30 this millennium and another one is due in October – Friday Thirteenth – and we’re not counting the number of times they put on the interminable repeats of the series of films with the same name, just the day. The rather convoluted title of this post is the scientific condition of anyone suffering from a fear of Friday 13th: Frigg – the Norse goddess of wisdom, after whom Friday is named; Triska – Greek for 13; and Phobia– for fear.

[S]tatistically there cannot be more than three Friday thirteenths in any one year, but every year has one and if a month starts on a Sunday then there will be a Friday Thirteenth.

Alfred Hitchcock ‘The Master of Suspense’ was born on Sunday 13th August 1899 in Leytonstone and would make his directorial debut with a film entitled ‘Number 13’ for the studio which would become the famous Gainsborough Studios in New North Road. Unfortunately the few scenes shot of Number 13 ended up on the cutting room floor as the studios pulled the plug on the production.

Hitchcock died at the age of 80, but should he have reached his 100th birthday that curiously would have fallen on Friday the Thirteenth.

On Friday 13th September 1940 five German bombs hit Buckingham Palace narrowly missing the Royal Family, destroying the Palace Chapel, leading to the Queen to declare “I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face”.

Mark Twain once the 13th guest at a dinner party, at being warned about accepting the invitation admitted to the doom merchant later that “they only had food for 12”. He should have dined at the Savoy where 13 are never allowed to sit to eat.

Whenever a party of thirteen dines at the Savoy Kaspar the Cat is brought to sit the table, has a napkin tied around his neck and is served every course, just like any other guest. Winston Churchill became very fond of Kaspar, to the extent that he insisted the cat should be present at every meeting of The Other Club, a political dining club he had founded in 1911, and so Kaspar has been at all the fortnightly meetings — always held at the Savoy — since 1927.

This, of course, is the fear of the number thirteen and not just the date. The anxiety is referred to as ‘triskaidekaphobia – just saying.

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