Friday the Thirteenth

Today is the only Friday the 13th this year and as per previous ‘thirteenths’ we have our believers in the number’s bad luck.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the scientific condition of anyone suffering from an irrational fear of Friday 13th: Frigg – the Norse goddess of wisdom, after whom Friday is named; Triska – Greek for 13; and Phobia – for fear.

Statistically, there cannot be more than three Friday thirteenths in any one year, but every year has one (this is that only one), and if a month starts on a Sunday then it will be followed by a Friday the Thirteenth.

In 1993, which like this year had a single ’13th’ in August, a tongue-in-cheek study was published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers analyzed the traffic flow and number of injuries from car accidents on the southern section of the M25 during the five months that the 13th fell on a Friday between 1990 and 1992.

Comparing these results to data collected on Friday the 6th of the same months, it was found that although there are consistently fewer vehicles on the road during the 13th (no surprise there, the superstitious preferring to stay in bed), the researchers hypothesised: ‘the risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 per cent on the thirteenth’.

It should be noted that although the data were authentic, the authors didn’t mean for their conclusions to be taken seriously.

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 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 at 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 was at all the fortnightly meetings — always held at the Savoy — until it was wound up in 1970.

The probability of being born on Friday the 13th is 1/214, but the chances of being hit by a meteor on that day are now are somewhat longer.

On Friday 13th April 2029, asteroid 99942 Apophis, which was discovered in 2004, just misses Earth. It was thought to have a small chance of colliding with Earth, scientists have revised their findings which show that there is absolutely no risk of the asteroid impacting the Earth or the Moon. Mind you the experts said the Titanic was unsinkable.

2 thoughts on “Friday the Thirteenth”

  1. I managed to go all day yesterday without even realising that it was the 13th. My identical twin step-daughters were born on a Friday the 13th, so they always celebrate the day and refuse to be superstitious about it.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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