Why pigeons are a ‘must’ for Horsham

IS it just me or does anyone else feel slightly intimidated by those ladies in Horsham’s West Street who thrust a sprig of heather wrapped in silver foil at you while saying: “Happy Christmas, darling”?

I mean would YOU refuse to put your hand in your pocket and give them some cash? Maybe you’re braver than I am. But I don’t like to tempt fate and worry that I’ll be cursed with bad luck if I don’t pay up.

And then what do you do with the unwanted heather? I mean you can’t throw it away, can you? That would surely mean Something Terrible would happen. I end up stuffing mine into my handbag and leaving it there forever until it turns into dusty fragrant fragments among other bits of fluff, old receipts and discarded sweet wrappers. Euw.

Not that I’m overly superstitious. But there’s nothing wrong with Being On The Safe Side, is there? I mean why walk under a ladder and risk who-knows-what when you can simply walk around it?

And what’s wrong with giving a salute if you happen to see a lone magpie? Or touching wood to prevent some catastrophe from befalling you or yours? Or even crossing your fingers behind your back when feeling a teensy bit worried?

It does, after all, work the other way, too. Hey, if you see TWO magpies together, there’s no mistaking the slight feeling of relief that some good luck is on its way. Probably. Well, it could be.

And a black cat crossing in front of you? Bring it on. Found a four-leaf clover? Yippee. Or a horse shoe? - lucky you. Got a rabbit’s foot? Hmm. Well, overlooking how you actually came to get hold of such a thing - that’s lucky too. Bird poo-ed on you? Don’t wash it off straight away.

But, come to think of it, there seem to be many more things that could be portents of doom than those that could bring you loads of luck.

Dropped a knife on the floor? Uh oh. Spilt some salt? Dear oh dear. Put some new shoes on the table? Oh no. Opened up an umbrella indoors? Oh heck. Broken a mirror? Oh no, that’s seven years of back luck.

For some reason I’ve always been slightly worried at the prospect of the ravens leaving the Tower Of London. I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to herald but it could be the end of civilisation as we know it, or some such thing.

That’s why I don’t mind seeing pigeons in the Carfax. Even when they fly within a hair’s breadth of my head when they’ve been scared into the air by a little kiddie chasing them.

Make no mistake, pigeons are Horsham’s equivalent of ravens. We need them, especially if you’ve just said “No, thank you” to a lady in West Street proferring you a sprig of lucky heather.