There was a magpie in my garden this morning. Just one, which gave me a bit of a shiver. It made me think of that rhyme. You know, the one about magpies and how many of them you see at one time:
One for sorrow, two for joy
Three for a girl and four for a boy.
Then I got stuck on the the next one and I just leaned on the windowsill for a bit and watched it. It was watching me too, I'm sure of it. It had its head facing to the side and it kept cocking its head.
Because of that rhyme I'm always a little uneasy when I see a single magpie. Not that I'm at all superstitious, of course. I walk under ladders and never mind when it's Friday the 13th. So, how does the next bit go?
Five for silver, six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told.
Anyway, then Cleo appeared - she must have come round the corner from the front of the house. She started stalking it and was flicking her fluffy black tail back and forth and licking her chops. I was hoping she'd scare it off as it was really giving me the creeps. Either that or that another one would appear. They're fine in pairs... But there wasn't much chance of its friend turning up now the cat was there. She started doing that thing cats do when they see birds - they chatter their teeth and meow at the same time. It sounds really funny, as if they're talking to them.
Eight's a wish and nine a kiss
and ten... Now what on earth was the tenth one? I don't suppose it matters really, as it must be unusual to see as many magpies as that. all together at one time.
But it started bugging me. I knew I'd seen it somewhere. Suddenly I had to know.
I remembered I'd seen a book of nursery rhymes somewhere. Oh yes - it was in the spare bedroom with the rest of the kids' old things. We'd had a clearout and they were waiting to go the the charity shop. I went up and looked for it. There it was, in a pile of old books at the back of the room. I opened it and started thumbing through it as I walked along the landing.
I found it just as I reached the stairs:
Ten for a time of joyous bliss!
And was so pleased I missed my footing... Which is why I'm sitting here, in traction, in this hospital bed.
I can see the hospital car park from here, which is nice. Oh look! There are two magpies...