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Rubbish curses from crummy enchanters

shoelaces

The author graphically displays the annoyingly rubbish curse currently afflicting the males in his family. The laces take about 35 minutes to undo, and if left to their own devices, will spiral. It's a good party trick, but little else.

That enchanters, enchantresses, witches and wizards once existed in wales is beyond dispute - as loyal readers to this column would attest, given the 721 known human/arboreal transformations.

These, of course, are the top-end level of enchanting, the real crowd-pleasing stuff that grabbed headlines then as much as now. But what, you ask, of the other enchanters who were just a little bit, well, crap? Is there any evidence left behind from the second raters, the enchanters who struggled to make ends meet, the ones whose power was never that good?

There is, although it can be hard to spot. Worn out and diluted 2nd rate spells abound, and it is entirely possible that YOU might be harbouring a hex or curse, that has cascaded down the years, carrying from generation to generation, often without the holder knowing it. A perpetually running nose, for instance, or a peculiar penchant for naming males in the family 'Nigel'.

Here then are a few of the ones that have passed to me by friendly chats over friendly pints, and by listening outside windows.

My own very personal one is that my shoelaces won't stay tied up, a small yet annoying enchantment placed on my father when he refused to buy some lucky lichen from an unknown witch in 1952. The curse as originally cast was to go to my father's 'first born, who shall be afflicted by a limp'. I was his third born, so clearly she was well off the mark in that department, and instead of a limp I have the annoying business with the laces. My eldest son has the same thing, but curiously, only to his left foot - and to my 2nd daughter, whose hair-ties failed to stay in, no matter what we did.

My researches show that my father was not the only one to be afflicted by an ineptly woven curse. Mr Williams of Lampeter and all his children are unable to have a picture taken of them without them all blinking - an annoying curse that was the result of a similarly poorly executed Hex done two generations before that was meant to curse 'every williams to blindness' but did nothing of the sort. The third generation of Williams photograph normal, so it is thought it has worn off.

Another rubbish hex that annoyingly shows no sign of losing steam is the 'unable to tell let from right' curse that was spelled sometime around the 12th century and is now thought to inflict several hundred thousand people. Details are patchy, but it was though to be related to Wizard Malahide of Chepstow, who cursed a farmworker to 'be forever loste in his own parishe'. The farmworker, it was said, didn't get lost but had a lot of children - the reason for the prevalence of this spell to this day.

Crappy spells of mediocre power have on occasion been known to actually increase over time, rather than diminish, but this is not usually the norm. What started off as a low-level spell to punish a friend for apparently burning down his barn, the first generation of Hicksons just felt mildly hot and sweaty, something that has become more acute over the years until finally, in 1958 Gerrard Dickson spontaneously combusted while shopping in Abergavenny. The Dickson family have taken to carrying fire extinguishers with them at all times - and if this were to fail, a steel plate in their pockets with engraved their name and address and the plea 'Please scatter ashes on the Severn'.

If you think that YOU might have a rubbish curse cast by a crummy enchanter, submit them to me at: jasper(at)jasperfforde.com, subject line 'Rubbish Enchantment'.

Written exclusively for Jasperland , 22nd May 2020 - my Mum's 93rd Birthday. She's with us at present, and a merry time was had by all. The wonders of modern technology. (By that I mean the telegraph, naturally. We are in quite an isolated backwater)

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