26 JULY 2003, Page 32

Language of fate

From Brenda Scott Sir: Apropos Matthew Parris's comments on his efforts to propitiate fate (Another voice, 12 July), I shared his desire to touch wood until I lived in Italy, where I discovered that fate speaks another language.

There they touch iron, not wood. Our dinner guests laughed at our anxiety at having 13 at table: the Italian evil number is 17. And our amazement was boundless when we learnt that a friend had not enjoyed her excursion to the mountains because shortly after setting out a black cat had crossed the road ahead of them and her husband had (naturally) driven straight home.

Brenda Scott

Guildford, Surrey