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bus tickets


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Fieldwork by Iona and Peter Opie in the 1950s revealed a cluster of beliefs concerned with the humble bus or tram ticket. Children all over the country reported various ways in which the serial number printed on the ticket could be interpreted, the simplest being that if the numbers added up to 21 it was lucky for you and should be kept. More complex ways of calculating the number revealed the initials of your future spouse, when you would be married, and so on. Several reported the use of the rhyme more usually associated with magpies: ‘One for sorrow, two for joy’, etc. Ticket customs are still carried out by some children (SR).

Opie and Opie, 1959: 329–34;Opie and Tatem, 1989: 50.


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