Sunday, 10 July 2011

Horoscope horror

 It was a cold grey and wet January morning as I set off to school at the usual time of 07:30.  Raindrops caressed  my face, washing away the last vestiges of sleep along with the tears I often shed on my way to school.

I didn't like school for the first couple of years in London. Language was a problem, I had no friends and longed to return to my old school in Portugal.

The bus stop was heaving with the usual multitude of familiar faces. Faces I knew well but couldn't speak to. Faces too engrossed in their own lives to notice my sadness. Faces indifferent to my anxiety, gazing intently at the on-coming traffic like rabbits staring at the headlights of cars seconds before being run over.

Uxbridge Road was busy with rush-hour traffic and people scurrying around like ants out of a trampled nest.  On their way to work, I figured, maybe even school or job centre; the latter the more probable in the days of high unemployment.

An old Ford Cortina drove past, windows open to the elements and blaring out "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder. Later that day I would remember that song again, in a very different context altogether.

I hopped on the bus and climbed the stairs to the smoke-filled upper level (smoking was allowed back then) and sat down among the emaciated faces of  the nicotine addicts who constantly coughed and gasped for air between puffs. I remember deciding there and then I would never become a smoker. A decision I overturned some two years later and have since lived to regret.

I arrived at Shepherd's Bush Station and bought the Sun newspaper to read on the short journey to Ladbroke Grove.  Aged fourteen, I always chose easy-reading, sports filled newspapers such as The Sun or Daily Mirror. Still do, come to think of it, for a different reason. Less news means less bullshit.

My eyes paused on the horoscope page and I felt compelled to read my entry.  It read ' you will receive good news from abroad...' and I smiled at the thought of messages from the extended family I so dearly missed. I also remember thinking how silly it was to take notice of horoscopes.

Some years later I remember listening to zany DJ Kenny Everett on Capital Radio, reading out his own version of the horoscope.  He would say things such as " Aries, you will have your house burgled and on your way to the police station you will find £20...Libra, today you will lose £20 on your way to burgle a house".

Arriving home some hours later I witnessed a scene that still brings tears to my eyes. My poor dad stuffing some clothes into a suitcase, eyes filled with tears, telling me granddad had passed away and he was on his way to Portugal for the funeral. I so wanted to go with dad. I wanted to be with him, to comfort him for his loss - a loss I imagined far greater than mine, if that was at all possible. I loved my grandad and so did dad.

I remembered the horoscope's false and cruel promise that morning and vowed never to buy The Sun newspaper again. A decision never to be revoked.

As I fell asleep later that night, Stevie Wonder's words were ringing in my ears....'if you believe in things you don't understand, then you'll suffer...'

Horoscopes and superstitions have no place in my life.

 And the greatest superstition of all is religion


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