Thursday, 24 June 2010

"Find a Penny..."

Does everyone pick up a penny lying on the pavement or is it just me? I must have made more than a few pounds over the years with this habit, but it also means that I spend most of my time looking at the ground as I walk. A character flaw? It was Ani Difranco who said:

“When I look down, I miss all the good stuff, when I look up, I just trip over things”

And why is it usually a single penny? Why never 2p? Every now and then I get lucky and find a 5p coin and on one occasion a 20p coin, but it’s usually just the lone penny. I have a special pot in which I store these lone coppers – it is amazing how they mount up over time.

However this compulsion is not without its dangers. I have, on many occasions nearly tripped the person walking behind me by suddenly stooping, backside in the air, to collect said coins. Once I was nearly run over by an unseen car as I spotted a copper on the road. Every hobby should have its risks!

I was in York in February and everywhere we went people had found excuses to throw pennies into various holes or pits. Superstition? Or a generous heart’s tiny contribution to our heritage? It has been suggested that tourists throw around £3,000,000 a year into ‘wishing wells’.

Another quote suggests itself:

“pennies in a well, a million dollars in the fountain of a hotel” – Pink

The superstition behind pennies apparently comes from the time when metal (specifically iron) was believed to protect against evil. This is why people used to hang horse-shoes over their doors, so carrying pennies should have the same effect (lucky me)!

I also discovered the idea of the ‘wishing well’ stems from the Germanic people who used to throw the armour of defeated enemies into pools as their offering to the gods. Oh yes, I have done research – as I said before, I am a glutton for the details!

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