Hello, Mr. Magpie

Hello, Mr. Magpie

I'm a huge fan of BBC's show Top Gear. I remember when I first started watching it a few years ago. I had some trouble understanding their accents and didn't get a lot of the slang they regularly used. After a couple of years, in which I've caught up watching 15 seasons, I've learned to appreciate a bit more of the British culture and slang. I can now join in on the crowd's laughter when Clarkson talks about a gentleman sausage or a lady garden.

I was only able to watch the latest episode, that aired last Sunday, today. Since my cable subscription doesn't include the BBC, my only option is to snag the episodes when they're available for download. Anyways, in the latest episode the gang is talking about highway safety and speed cameras. The discussion moves onto how birds can cause accidents on the carriageway, with the magpie as the target culprit.

It turns out that the magpie is associated with a bunch of superstitions in Europe. Clarkson, Hammond, and May all had different ways to avoid the bad luck when encountering a lone magpie. When you come across a single magpie, you're supposed to greet it with "Hello, Mr. Magpie", or salute it one of a thousand ways. These superstitions are sure to cause confusions!

But what is more confusing is that after some further reading, the magpie is considered favourable throughout Asia. In China, the bird's name directly translates into bird of joy, and recently became the national bird of Taiwan.

What a strange bird.