Hillel Slovak (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Best known as the original guitarist and founding member of the Los Angeles rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Israeli American musician Hillel Slovak ‏ was bornApril 13, 1962. Slovak recorded two albums with the band, Freaky Styley (1985) and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987). His guitar work was primarily rooted in funk and hard rock, although he often experimented with other genres including reggae and speed metal. He is considered to have been a major influence on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ early sound.

FREAKY STYLEY http://youtu.be/8QCJL38k0Lo

Born in Haifa, Israel, Slovak immigrated with his family to the United States when he was five years old. Slovak met future band mates Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and Jack Irons while attending school in Los Angeles. He joined the group Anthym along with Irons while attending Fairfax High School; Flea would later join the group, which later changed its name to What Is This?. Slovak, Flea, Kiedis, and Irons started Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1983, which became popular in the Los Angeles area, playing various shows around the city. However, Slovak quit the band to focus on What is This?, which had gotten a record deal, leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers to record their debut album without him. He rejoined the Chili Peppers in 1985, and recorded the albums Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan with the band.

During his career, Slovak developed a serious heroin addiction. He attempted to quit the drug many times, but ultimately succumbed to his addiction, dying of an overdose on June 25, 1988 at age 26. He was replaced by guitarist John Frusciante, who was greatly influenced by Slovak’s playing style. Several Red Hot Chili Peppers songs have been written as tributes to Slovak, including “Knock Me Down” and “My Lovely Man”. In 1999, his brother James Slovak published a book entitled Behind the Sun: The Diary and Art of Hillel Slovak, which features Slovak’s diaries and paintings. Slovak was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on April 14, 2012, with his brother accepting on his behalf.

Reverend Al Green

American soul singer, songwriter and record producer Albert Leornes Greene was born on April 13, 1946, in Forrest City, Arkansas. Al began performing with his brothers in a group called the Greene Brothers at around the age of ten. The Greene family relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the late 1950s. Al was kicked out of the family home while in his teens, after his religiously devout father caught him listening to Jackie Wilson. He also listened to Mahalia Jackson, Wilson Pickett and Elvis Presley. In high school, Al formed a vocal group called Al Greene & the Creations. Two of the group’s members, Curtis Rodgers and Palmer James, formed an independent label called Hot Line Music Journal. In 1968, having changed their name to Al Greene & the Soul Mates, they recorded the song “Back Up Train”. While performing with the soul Mates He was hired him in 1969 to be a vocalist for a Texas show and was asked to sign with Hi Records label.

Green released the album Green Is Blues, which was a moderate success. His follow-up album, Al Green Gets Next to You, featured the hit R&B cover of the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You”, recorded in a slow blues-oriented version. The album also featured his first significant hit, “Tired of Being Alone”, which sold half a million copies and was certified gold, becoming the first of seven consecutive gold singles Green would record in the next couple of years. Green’s next album, Let’s Stay Together, became his first to be certified gold and featured the songs LetsStay Together, I’m Still in Love with You and “Look What You Done for Me”. His next album, Call Me, released in 1973, produced three top ten singles: “You Ought to Be with Me”, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”. Green’s next album Livin’ for You, was released at the end of 1973. Other Green songs include “Love and Happiness”, his cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, “Simply Beautiful”, “What a Wonderful Thing Love Is” and “Take Me to the River”, “Livin’ for You”, “Let’s Get Married”, “Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy)”, “L-O-V-E (Love)” and “Full of Fire”. In 1977 Green released the albums The Belle Album in 1977, and Truth n’ Time in 1978.

In 1974, Mary Woodson White, a girlfriend of Green’s, assaulted him before committing suicide at his Memphis home. Despite being married, White reportedly became upset when Green refused to marry her and doused Green with a pan of boiling grits while he was bathing, causing severe burns on Green’s back, stomach and arms. She then found his .38 and killed herself. Green cited this incident with White as a wake-up call to change his life. He became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. He Continued to record R&B, until In 1979, Green injured himself falling off the stage while performing in Cincinnati and interpreted this as a message from God. He then concentrated his energies towards pastoring his church and gospel singing. His first gospel album was The Lord Will Make a Way and won Green his first of eight Grammy Awards in the Best Soul Gospel Performance category.

From 1981 to 1989 Green recorded a series of gospel albums, garnering eight “soul gospel performance” Grammy Awards in that period. In 1985, he reunited with Willie Mitchell along with Angelo Earl for He Is the Light, his first album for A&M Records. In 1984, director Robert Mugge released a documentary film, Gospel According to Al Green, including interviews about his life and footage from his church. In 1982, Green co-starred with Patti LaBelle in the Broadway play, “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God”. His 1985 gospel album, He Is the Light reunited Green with Willie Mitchell while his 1987 follow-up, Soul Survivor, featured the minor hit, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, which reached number 22 on the R&B chart, his first top 40 R&B hit since “I Feel Good” in 1978.

In 1988 Green recorded “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” with Annie Lennox. Featured on the soundtrack to the movie, Scrooged, the song became Green’s first top 10 pop hit since 1974. Green had a hit in 1989 with “The Message is Love” with producer Arthur Baker. Two years later, he recorded the theme song to the short-lived show Good Sports. In 1993, he signed with RCA and with Baker again as producer, released the album, Don’t Look Back. Green received his ninth Grammy award for his collaboration with Lyle Lovett for their duet of “Funny How Time Slips Away”. Green’s 1995 album, Your Heart’s In Good Hands, was released around the time that Green was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The one single released from the album, “Keep On Pushing Love”, was described as “invoking the original, sparse sound of Green’s early classics.” In 2000, Green released his autobiography, Take Me to the River. Two years later, he earned the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and recorded a hit R&B duet with Ann Nesby on the song, “Put It On Paper”.

In 2003 Green reunited with Willie Mitchell for the album, I Can’t Stop. A year later, Green re-recorded his previous song, “Simply Beautiful”, with Queen Latifah on the latter’s album, The Dana Owens Album. In 2005, Green and Mitchell collaborated on Everything’s OK. His 2008 album, Lay It Down, was produced by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and James Poyser. It became his first album to reach the top ten since the early 1970s. The album featured a minor R&B hit with the ballad, “Stay with Me (By the Sea)”, featuring John Legend and also featuring duets with Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae. During an interview for promotion of the album, Green admitted that he would have liked to duet with Marvin Gaye: “In those days, people didn’t sing together like they do now,” he said. In 2009, Green recorded “People Get Ready” with Heather Headley on the album, Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration. In 2010, Green performed “Let’s Stay Together” on Later… with Jools Holland.

Green currently preaches in Memphis, Tennessee near Graceland. He was also Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum’s site as being “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music”.He has also been referred to as “The Last of the Great Soul Singers”. Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 65.

Richard Trevithick

Pen-y-Darren


BCornish Inventor and Mining Engineer Richard Trevithick was born 13 April 1771 in Tregajorran, Cornwall and his most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train

Catch-me-who-Can

along the tramway of the Pen-y-darren Ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. Trevithick was an engineer at a mine in 1797 and with the help of Edward Bull pioneered the use of a High Pressure Steam Engine, but ran afoul of Matthew Boulton & James Watt, who were working on a similar device and held a number of Patents. He improved boiler technology allowing the safe production of high pressure steam, able to move pistons in steam engines instead of using atmospheric pressure.

William Murdoch also demonstrated a model steam carriage to Trevithick in 1794. In fact, Trevithick lived next door to Murdoch in Redruth in 1797 and 1798. Oliver Evans in the U.S. Was working on something similar and Arthur Woolf was also experimenting on a similar engine whilst working as the Chief Engineer of the Griffin Brewery. However Trevithick actually made high pressure steam work, eliminating the need for a condenser, and allowing the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. Making the engine more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached. Trevithick started building his first stationary models of high pressure steam engines, then attached one to a road carriage. Exhaust steam was vented via a vertical chimney, thus avoiding a condenser and any possible infringements of Watt’s patent, with linear motion being converted into circular motion via a crank instead of a beam. Trevithick built a full-size steam road locomotive in 1801 in Camborne. He named the carriage ‘Puffing Devil’ and, on Christmas Eve it successfully carried seven men from Fore Street up Camborne Hill, past Camborne Cross, to the nearby village of Beacon with his cousin and associate, Andrew Vivian, steering. This is inspired the popular Cornish folk song “Camborne Hill”. However, a steam wagon built in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot may have an earlier claim. During further tests, Trevithick’s locomotive was prone to break down and on one occasion the Boiler was allowed to run dry and the machine exploded. Trevithick did not consider this a serious setback, but rather operator error. In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine.

Coalbrookdale Engine

To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him, but little is known about it, including whether or not it actually ran. To date, the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. Unfortunately The Puffing Devil could not maintain sufficient steam pressure and would have been of little practical use. In 1803 he built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned.

London Steam Carriage

In 1802 Trevithick built one of his high pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803 Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray. Homfrey was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon , a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. The locomotive was relatively primitive comprising of a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more. The proprietor of the Wylam colliery near Newcastle, heard of the success in Wales and wrote to Trevithick asking for locomotive designs. These were sent to John Whitfield at Gateshead, Trevithick’s agent, who built what was probably the first locomotive to have flanged wheels. Unfortunately Trevithick’s machine was too heavy for the wooden track.

Then In 1808 Trevithick publicised his steam railway locomotive expertise by building a new locomotive called ‘Catch me who can’, built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire, This was similar to that used at Penydarren and named by Mr. Giddy’s daughter. This was Trevithick’s third railway locomotive after those used at Pen-y-darren ironworks and the Wylam colliery. He ran it on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London, Admission to the “steam circus” was one shilling including a ride and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than by horse. So Recently a group of dedicated people down at the Severn Valley Railway decided to build a replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can. In 1805 Cornish Engineer Robert Vazie, excavated a tunnel under the River Thames at Rotherhithe and had serious problems with flooding getting no further than sinking the end shafts. So Trevithick was consulted and paid £1000 (the equivalent of £67,387 as of 2014 to complete the tunnel, a length of 1220 feet (366 m). In August 1807 Trevithick began driving a small pilot tunnel and By 23 December after it had progressed 950 feet (285 m) however progress was delayed after The tunnel was flooded twice and Trevithick, was nearly drowned consequently the project was not completed until 1843 when Sir Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a tunnel under the Thames. Trevithick’s used a submerged tube to cross the Detroit River in Michigan with the construction of the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, under the engineering supervision of The New York Central Railway’s engineering vice president, William J Wilgus. Construction began in 1903 and was completed in 1910. The Detroit–Windsor Tunnel which was completed in 1930 for automotive traffic, and the tunnel under the Hong Kong harbour were also submerged tube designs. Trevithick’s high-pressure steam engines had many applications including cannon manufacture, stone crushing, rolling mills, forge hammers, blast furnace blowers and traditional mining. He also built a barge powered by paddle wheels and several dredgers.

In 1808, Trevithick entered a partnership with West Indian Merchant Robert Dickinson, who had supported Trevithick’s patents. Including the ‘Nautical Labourer’; a steam tug with a floating crane propelled by paddle wheels. He also patented Iron tanks in ships for storage of cargo and water instead of in wooden caskS, these were also used to raise sunken wrecks by placing them under the wreck and creating buoyancy by pumping them full of air. In 1810 a wreck near Margate was raised in this way. Trevithick worked on many other ideas on improvements for ships: iron floating docks, iron ships, telescopic iron masts, improved ship structures, iron buoys and using heat from the ships boilers for cooking. In May 1810, he caught typhoid and nearly died and in February 1811 he and Dickinson were declared bankrupt. Around 1812, Trevithick designed the ‘Cornish boiler’. These were horizontal, cylindrical boilers with a single internal fire tube or flue passing horizontally through the middle. Hot exhaust gases from the fire passed through the flue thus increasing the surface area heating the water and improving efficiency. These types were installed in the Boulton and Watt pumping engines at Dolcoath and more than doubled their efficiency.

Again in 1812, he installed a new ‘high-pressure’ experimental steam engine also with condensing at Wheal Prosper. This became known as the ‘Cornish engine’ and was the most efficient in the world at that time. Other Cornish engineers contributed to its development but Trevithick’s work was predominant. In the same year he installed another high-pressure engine, though non-condensing, in a threshing machine on a farm at Probus, Cornwall. It was very successful and proved to be cheaper to run than the horses it replaced. It ran for 70 years and is exhibited at the Science Museum. Trevithick attempted to build a ‘recoil engine’ similar to the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria in about AD 50, this comprised a boiler feeding a hollow axle to route the steam to a catherine wheel with two fine-bore steam jets on its circumference. The first wheel was 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter and a later attempt was 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. To get any usable torque, steam had to issue from the nozzles at a very high velocity and in such large volume that it proved not to operate with adequate efficiency. Today this would be recognised as a reaction turbine.

Around 1811 a miner, named Francisco Uville bought one of Trevithick’s Hight Pressure Steam Engine for draining water from his silver mine at Cerro de Pasco, Peru. In 1813 Uville set sail again for England and, having fallen ill on the way, broke his journey via Jamaica. When he had recovered he boarded the Falmouth packet ship ‘Fox’ coincidentally with one of Trevithick’s cousins on board the same vessel. On 20 October 1816 Trevithick left Penzance on the whaler ship Asp accompanied by a lawyer named Page and a boilermaker bound for Peru where he travelled widely, acting as a consultant on mining methods. The government granted him certain mining rights and he found mining areas, but did not have the funds to develop them, with the exception of a copper and silver mine at Caxatambo.

After serving in the army of Simon Bolivar he returned to Caxatambo but was forced to leave the area and abandon £5000 worth of ore ready to ship. Uville died in 1818 and Trevithick soon returned to Cerro de Pasco And After leaving Cerro de Pasco, Trevithick passed through Ecuador on his way to Bogotá in Colombia. He arrived in Costa Rica in 1822 to build mining machinery. However transporting ore and equipment, using the San Juan River, the Sarapiqui River, and the railway proved treacherous And Trevithick was nearly killed on at least two occasions – he nearly drowned, and was nearly devoured by an alligator.He made his way to Cartagena where he met Robert Stephenson who was on his way home from Colombia. And Stephenson gave Trevithick £50 to help his passage home. He arrived at Falmouth in October 1827 with few possessions other than the clothes he was wearing, unsurprisingly Trevithick never returned to Costa Rica. In 1829 he built a closed cycle steam engine followed by a vertical tubular boiler. In1830 he invented an early form of storage room heater, which comprised a small fire tube boiler with a detachable flue which could be heated either outside or indoors with the flue connected to a chimney. To commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 he designed a massive column to be 1000 feet (300 m) high, 100 feet (30 m) in diameter at the base tapering to 12 feet (3.6 m) at the top where a statue of a horse would have been mounted. but it was never built. he was also invited to work on an engine of a new vessel at Dartford, Which involved a reaction turbine.

Despite his many innovations Richard Trevithick died penniless on April 22 1833 while lodging at the Bull Hotel, Dartford After being taken ill with pneumonia. Following a week’s confinement in bed he died on the morning of 22 April 1833. Trevithick was buried in an unmarked grave in St Edmunds Burial Ground, East Hill, Dartford. The burial ground closed in 1857, with the gravestones being removed in the 1960s. However A plaque marks the approximate spot believed to be the site of the grave on the side of the park, near the East Hill gate. He made a valuable contribution to engineering and technology and many replicas of his machinery have since been built. A replica of Catch-me-who-can has been built at the Severn Valley Railway

Bishop Thomas Percy

Bishop Percy’s House

Bishop Thomas Percy was born 13 April 1729 in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, the son of Arthur Lowe Percy a grocer and farmer at Shifnal who sent Thomas to Christ Church, Oxford in 1746 following an education firstly at Bridgnorth Grammar School followed by nearby Adams’ Grammar School in Newport, Shropshire. He graduated in 1750 and proceeded M.A. in 1753. In the latter year he was appointed to the vicarage of Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, and three years later was instituted to the rectory of Wilby in the same county, benefices which he retained until 1782. In 1759 he married Anne, daughter of Barton Gutterridge.

He was ordained Bishop of Dromore, County Down, Ireland, and was also Chaplain to George III. Percy’s greatest contribution is considered to be his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). Dr Percy’s first work, ‘Hao Kiou Choaan, or The Pleasing History’, was published in 1761. This is a heavily revised and annotated version of a manuscript translation of the Haoqiu zhuan (好逑傳), and is the first full publication in English of a Chinese novel. The following year, he published a two-volume collection of sinological essays (mostly translations) entitled ‘Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the Chinese.’ In 1763, he published Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, translated from the Icelandic. The same year, he also edited the Earl of Surrey’s poems with an essay on early blank verse, translated the Song of Solomon, and published a key to the New Testament. His Northern Antiquities (1770) is a translation from the French of Paul Henri Mallet. His edition of the ‘Household Book’ of the Earl of Northumberland (1770) (The Regulations and Establishment of the Household of Henry Algernon Percy, the Fifth Earl of Northumberland, at his Castles of Wresill and Lekinfield in Yorkshire. Begun anno domini M.DXII) is of the greatest value for the illustrations of domestic life in England at that period.

These works are of little estimation when compared with the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). In the 1760s, he obtained a manuscript of ballads (the Percy Folio) from a source in Northumberland. He had in mind the idea of writing a history of the Percy family of the peerage (the Dukes of Northumberland), and he had sought materials of local interest. He had sought out old tales from near Alnwick, the ancestral home of the Northumberland Percy family, and he had come across many ballad tales. In 1763, Percy, aiming for the market that Ossian had opened for “ancient poetry” (see James MacPherson), published Five Pieces of Runic Poetry from Icelandic, which he translated and “improved.” Percy was a friend of Samuel Johnson, Joseph and Thomas Warton, and James Boswell. In 1764, Dr Johnson and others encouraged Percy to preserve the poetry he was finding at home. Percy therefore took the ballad material he had from his folio and began searching for more ballads, in particular. He wanted to collect material from the border areas, near Scotland. In 1765, he published the Reliques to great success. Appointed a chaplain to the king in 1769, Percy was formally admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge that year, and received a doctorate of divinity from Cambridge in 1770.

Still not having secured an adequate living, Thomas Percy continued with his project of commemorating the Alnwick area, and so he composed his own ballad poem on Warkworth Castle, then a ruin, which the Dukes of Northumberland controlled and which the Duchess of Northumberland favored for its sublime views. Combining the vogue for the “Churchyard Poets” and the ballad vogue that he himself had set in motion, Thomas Percy wrote The Hermit of Warkworth in 1771. Samuel Johnson famously composed three ex tempore parodies of this verse in the 1780s. When an admirer too often told Johnson of the beautiful “simplicity” of the ballad verse form, Johnson pointed out that the line between simplicity and simple mindedness is narrow: just remove the sense.

The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry set the stage not only for Robert Burns, but also for Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. The book is based on an old manuscript collection of poetry, which Percy claimed to have rescued in Humphrey Pitt’s house at Shifnal, Shropshire, “from the hands of the housemaid who was about to light the fire with it.” The manuscript was edited in its complete form by JW Hales and FJ Furnivall in 1867-1868. This manuscript provides the core of the work but many other ballads were found and included, some by Percy’s friends Johnson, William Shenstone, Thomas Warton, and some from a similar collection made by Samuel Pepys. Percy “improved” 35 of the 46 ballads he took from the Folio. In the case of The Beggar’s daughter of Bednal Green (Bethnal Green), he added the historical character of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Evesham. In this version the ballad became so popular that it was used in two plays, an anonymous novel, operas by Thomas Arne and Geoffrey Bush, and Carl Loewe’s ballad “Der Bettlers Tochter von Bednall Green”. A fuller account of the history of the ballad can be found in “The Green” by A. J. Robinson and D. H. B. Chesshyre. Percy sadly passed away on 30 September 1811. however his work was partly responsible for the ballad revival in English poetry that was a significant part of the Romantic movement.

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday 13th is considered unlucky because It is believed that if the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, it will be a day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year and any month’s thirteenth day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday. The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia. The latter word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to Christian scripture and tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention. Although according to many Freemasons, this date corresponds with the slaughtering of the Knights Templar by the Church.

Breaking a mirror

One of the longer sentences dished out by Lady Luck, the superstition says that breaking a mirror will leave you doomed for seven years. The generally accepted explanation is that the reflection in a mirror represents a soul, so damaging a mirror corrupts the soul of the one that broke it. Some believe that the reason for the seven years is that the Romans (who were the first glass mirror-makers) believe that life renewed itself after every seven years, so the soul wouldn’t be fully restored until the next seven-year cycle had passed. However if you are one of the more superstitious amongst us, fear not as there are steps you can take in order to save the best part of your next decade (just don’t walk under them)

Throw salt over your shoulder
Grind the broken pieces into dust
Bury the pieces under a tree during a full moon
Place the broken pieces in a river running south
Touch the broken piece against a gravestone

Black cat

The beliefs surrounding the luck of black cats varies across the world, with some cultures believing them to be lucky and others a bad omen. The most widespread belief is that if a black cat crosses your intended path, bad luck will befall you. Black cats have often been associated with being the familiars of witches and during the Middle Ages, these superstitions led people to kill black cats. This was said to increase the population of rats and hence the spread of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague). However, according to Daniel Defoe – who was alive during the spread of the disease but wrote a fictional account of the Plague – in 1665 the Lord Mayor ordered thousands of cats and many dogs to be killed as they were believed to be spreading the disease, despite it now being understood as the fleas on the rats that were responsible.

Walking under a ladder

This superstition is said to arise from early Christian teachings that an object with three points represents the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A ladder leaning up against a building was seen as a triangle, and to pass through this triangle by walking under the ladder was seen as breaking the Trinity, putting you in league with Satan. Of course it could simply be bad luck for you and the person at the top of the ladder if you accidentally knock it.

Opening an Umbrella indoors

The most common origination of the myth stems from the days when umbrellas were used mainly as protection against the sun in Ancient Egypt. It was designed to capture the goddess of the sky’s (Nut) essence and so were suitable for use only by the highest nobility, and those seen to be holding one were seen to be bringer of bad luck. To open one indoors would also be to insult the sun god (Ra) and invite his wrath on everyone in the household. One legend surrounding the superstition is that it was invented specifically to cut down on the number of accidents that sprang from the umbrella when they had pointy and dangerous metal spokes in Victorian England.

Seeing a Magpie

To see a single Magpie is considered unlucky, so you may hear people greeting the bird with ‘Hello Mr Magpie. How/Where is your wife?’ to allay the bad luck. Magpies are often seen as sneaky due to their penchant for shiny objects, such as jewellery and coins, their lack of a pretty singing voice, and their habit of eating the eggs found in bird nests. An old English folk tale states that when Jesus was crucified on the cross, all of the birds sang to comfort him with the exception of the magpie. In Scotland they’re considered a sign of impending death, but in China spotting one is regarded as good luck. Generally they’re not all bad though, only when alone: The old rhyme goes: ‘One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.’

Spilling salt

For many years, salt was an extremely rare commodity and so the most basic reason for considering it unlucky to spill it was to do with its cost. A valuable preservative, it was also linked with health and longevity so some cultures believed that it might be bad luck to spill salt since it could reduce your longevity or happiness. One prevalent explanation of the superstition is that Judas spilled the salt, which is depicted in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It is also a religious symbol as it is used to make Holy water, and meals at the witches’ sabbath were thought to be salt-free, as it was also believed to ward off evil spirits. A German proverb held that ‘whoever spills salt arouses enmity’. The most common anecdote is tossing a pinch of the spilt salt over your left shoulder, into the face of the Devil who lurks there.

Full moon

Full Moons are traditionally linked with temporary insomnia and insanity due to the folklore that madness can occur in cycles with the moon, hence the term lunatic or lunacy. It is also associated with lycanthropy as the mythological werewolf is said to appear when full moons are out. It was also thought that sleeping in direct moonlight caused madness or blindness and in Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man could turn into a werewolf if he, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on him. Various facts have also been claimed around Full Moons appearing such as Police in Toledo, Ohio claimed that crime rises by five percent during nights with a full moon and the study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common during a full moon.

Treading on cracks in pavement

The fear of stepping on cracks in the pavement is said to originate from an ancient fear of letting the soul out of the Square, the four corners are an ancient symbol of balance and perfection which is said to be disrupted by stepping on the gap between paving slabs.

Never say ‘Macbeth’

According to the theatrical superstition called the Scottish curse, speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre will cause tragedy and so the lead character is most often referred to as the Scottish King or Scottish Lord. Those who believe in the curse claim that real spells are cast in the three witches scene. Productions of Macbeth are said to have been plagued with accidents, many ending in death. The legend of the curse dates back to the premiere of the play when an actor died because a real dagger was mistakenly used instead of the prop.