There’s wrong, and then there’s wronger than wrong. Two South African girls joined the train this morning at Putney, and proceeded to have a loud conversation with each other right across me. So far so normal. When they’d finished character-assassinating all their colleagues (this part was actually quite amusing) they switched on to the topic of why South African Girl One’s eye was twitching:
South African Girl One: That means someone’s talking about me doesn’t it? That my eye is twitching?
South African Girl Two: No, when someone talks about you, your nose itches.
South African Girl One: No, I’m pretty sure it’s your eye.
Me (silently screaming inside my head): No your ears burn, you utter morons…
And yet I know that, in fact, when somebody is talking about you behind your back, your ears do not burn, nor do your eyes twitch nor your nose itch, as that is of course a complete old wives’ tale, with no basis in physical reality whatsoever. It’s just that it is still somehow MORE wrong to say that your nose itches than it is to say that your ears burn. I spent many happy hours as a philosphy student debating why this should be so, and never came up with an answer. I still don’t know. But I stand by my original judgement: they were morons. And I wonder how their colleagues’ ears were feeling early this morning … a little warm, perhaps?