Lady Lucky Peg

I’ve had a few people tell me my fortune, one was while I was legging it out of Balham Woolworth’s when I was a kid.

However, I have sought more professional routes: when I was seventeen, an industrial psychologist told me I should seek a career in hotel & catering.  As I assumed all hotels were on the coast, I feared it would bring back an attack of the ague (and other diseases prevalent in the 17th Century) plus I can’t cook; my guests would soon become disillusioned with nothing to eat but toast (my piece de la resistance) and an array of broken biscuits on one of my home-made doilies.

As a kid I often bought fortune fishes to tell me my destiny.  While they didn’t show me which career path to take, they did tell me whether I’d be jealous; indifferent; in love; fickle; false; tired or passionate.  As a nine-year-old I’d had to look up half the words, so tired it was, regardless of the position of the fish.

Most fortune fishes are made in Taiwan – it took me three sets to realise this and became even more tired translating the instructions from its original from Cantonese.

I tried it with real fish once (I’d lost my Mandarin/English phrase book) – after a while it remained motionless (it was dead rather than tired, as the explanatory chart said) – it curled up more than the fortune fishes.

These days, if I want my fortune told, I go to the Derby and buy as much lucky heather as I can until I hear what I want to hear: “in the future you’ll be less tired”.

You’re not nicked!

I’ve never stolen anything in my life.  

As a kid, the likely reprisals from either parent, would have been more daunting than facing a multi-tattooed, hooded torturer in the Tower.

Temptation was certainly there.  The pick ‘n’ mix counter in Balham Woolworth’s was so near the front of the shop, it might as well have been on the High Road pavement! 

But, when I walked past, the Kola Cubes, Pineapple Chunks and Jelly Snakes remained intact.  I like to think they stayed this way and almost gathered dust – but this was Balham in the ‘60s.

My not stealing anything was quite the opposite to my dad; he stole ashtrays – from pubs, restaurants, stately homes.  He was a heavy smoker and there was the need (he would say in his defence) for an ashtray in every room – it was like the flat was sponsored: Watney’s Lounge; Playboy Club Kitchen and Chartwell Small Toilet. 

But the bug never caught on with me. I’d watched Papillon and the thought of spending my days on an island off the coast of French Guiana, kept me from straying. 

I also believe, had I have started a career of petty crime, I’d have panicked and gone into the wrong shop.  Instead of swiping a load of Fruit Salads from Balham Woolworth’s, I’d be down the road in Boot’s – filling my pockets with lipstick – and none of them my colour.

Lights out!!