Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man


With all the disasters that seem to be following me, it’s something I’ve thought about a bit. Why do bad things keep happening to the places I visit? Then I wondered why nothing had ever happened to Scotland. I was there for 17 years and I couldn’t think of anything major that went wrong with the place.

I realised it was more the fact that it was me leaving a place (or planning to go there then calling up to say ‘Sorry, can’t make it this weekend but I’ll see you soon’) rather than me just being there that made things go wrong. But Aberdeen didn’t collapse when I moved to Edinburgh, did it? Of my recent holiday destinations, nothing happened to Croatia, Ireland, Tunisia or Morocco once I’d been and gone. So what was happening now?

It’s almost like I’ve left a string of girls and they’re all reacting badly – they’re doing things that they hope might hurt me but in reality they’re only hurting themselves. Instead of girls, though, it’s cities. They’re flooding themselves, inviting cyclones in, setting things on fire or shaking themselves to their foundations. None of these are healthy things for a city to be doing. Or a girl, for that matter.

James reckons it’s similar to the butterfly effect. In Edinburgh I’d found my calling and now without my constant butterfly flaps of my keyboard’s ‘c’ and ‘v’, the world is going to pot. It’s a cute idea, but I’m not convinced.

Events recently have been closer to my departure and a bit more destructive. At the start, perhaps it was more gentle. The earthquake in Christchurch happened just three hours after I’d left; earlier in my travels cities were taking around a month to go mental. Maybe I did have an effect on Scotland after all; maybe I left her cold. As weather generally seems to be my ‘thing’, I’ve started to wonder if the vast amounts of snow in Scotland/Edinburgh were my fault. I didn’t hear too much about it over here, but I know parts of the UK (Bristol included!) had their coldest winters ever. Was Edinburgh the same? I’d obviously left Bristol feeling unloved. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I had been cursed. Or maybe reading Dorian Gray has just put silly ideas in my head.

Then I remembered a night out I’d had in Edinburgh just before I left. I was out with Jemma and a few other people who don’t have blogs to link to. That night we were both vilified for our hair: me for being a boy with gloriously long locks, Jemma because ‘someone‘ said she was ginger. Do you remember, Jemma?

We were on a ghost tour of Edinburgh and the vaults. Apparently, our hairstyles would’ve had us burned as witches ‘back in the day’. Towards the end of the tour we were shown a room with a stone circle. Our tour guide, who had a cute but unidentifiable accent, told us how that circle marked where all the evil spirits had been banished to. All the murderers and whoever else you think has a bad soul had been put inside that circle and trapped there. People could go into the circle, but the spirits couldn’t get out. She told us stories about how some risked stepping inside and they felt strange, or had marks left on their body or generally their luck turned sour. If nothing else, she could spin a yarn.

I attempted to be fearless and to show off, mainly because I thought the beliefs of others were stupid. I distinctly remember the look on Jemma’s face. A look that said ‘It’s not their beliefs that are stupid, Oliver, but you, or at least your current actions’.

There were no immediate effects, I didn’t drop to the floor and I had no marks on my body, and I laughed about it with JD. We ‘awwed’ at Jemma for being so worried and cutesy superstitious and girl-like.

I’m not laughing any more. I’m sure the people of Chennai are oddly mirthless at the moment as well.

Filed under: life, ,

8 Responses

  1. Dave w says:

    I hope no fundamentalist Christians find this blog, because they would completely agree and take it at face value (but would have a handy solution if you accepted the baby Jesus into your life).

    Just if you are concerned about the witchy circle ‘curse’ (which you’re probably not), you can rest assured that lots of the historical details in these ghost tours are made up. I knew tour guides and I’ve met some of the people who created some of the most famous ‘ghosts’ that were later stolen and relocated to more atmospheric surroundings by tour companies.

    What’s happening to you is weird and improbable, which is fascinating enough without having to find a tenuous explanation. Okay, rationalist lecture over (it’s never over!)

    • Oliver says:

      I see what you’re saying, Dave, but it’s definitely the stone circle. KT used to go on about all her SSPIA (or whatever the group was called, I can’t find anything similar using a popular search engine) stuff (“We use tools that are clearly never going to work to prove there’s nothing there” – perhaps not a direct quote) and all her tour guide friends and their made up stories. This one was clearly real though – look what’s happened! The cute probably Eastern European girl wouldn’t lie to me, she warned me about the consequences and everything. I think she even said the curse was irreversible. I’m going to bring destruction to the world wherever I go. There’s probably a biblical passage about me.

      • Jemma says:

        On the one hand I see where Dave is coming from, as an old FWB of mine worked as a tour guide and said that they used to all sit in the stone circle and play truthies after their shifts and nothing bad happened to him.

        But then I’m reminded of an ex bf of mine who did stand in the circle just before going to Whistler for his year out. A few months in and he fell off his snowboard, breaking his back and forcing him to come home. Which is when he started dating me, which is probably bad luck in itself.

        Come to think of it actually the FWB hasn’t had the best of luck. The previously successful pub he worked in shut down. Twice. And now he works in the Hive, and I’m pretty sure he’s caught chlamydia and that.

        So yeah. Maybe it’s bullshit, maybe it’s not, but you won’t see me standing in a stone circle any time soon.

        Also am I fuck ginger, I just dyed my hair red for shits and giggles.

        • Oliver says:

          So to sum up Jemma’s story, she knows of a group of people who thought themselves cool enough to go in the circle. Of the three she knows the fates of, all of them had a downturn in fortunes. I’d say with a sample group of that size, it’s pretty conclusive.

  2. Jemma says:

    Why did my comment not post? 😦

  3. Dave w says:

    As much as this post makes me automatically jump into debunking mode – pointing out how the universe doesn’t conspire to create cataclysmic events and punish innocent people just so one person can learn a vague life lesson – I have to admit I’m still glad that I’m spending a month in Thailand *before* you’re there, rather than the month after you leave…

    • Jemma Porter says:

      Well if we’re talking about superstition then we have to think about the bible and all that bullshit and like if you read the bible loads of stuff happens like that. FOR EXAMPLE God wanted to teach Noah the ancient art of ship building, so he killed everyone so that Noah could build a big boat.

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