I love superstitions. They are the colour element of thought and imagination. They are the opponents of common sense. The aim of your society seems dreadful.

Oscar Wilde on the London Thirteen Club

At the Last Supper, thirteen people -- Jesus and his disciples -- were seated at a table. One of them famously died not long afterwards. This is the common explanation for the superstition that, if one should dine at a table of thirteen then one will fall ill soon after. Like all superstitions, of course, this is seem by many to be a load of old bollocks; among these people were the members of London's Thirteen Club.

The club was formed in October 1889 by a group of London journalists. It's one aim was to educate people against their 'slavery to superstition'. The extent of its activities is not well known, but its most public show was the annual dinners. At these dinners, the guests would sit at one of thirteen tables, each seating thirteen, in room number thirteen. The meal consisted of thirteen courses and they were served by cross-eyed waiters. Whilst the guests ate, they would liberally spill salt and continue to break as many superstitions as they could. This culminated in speeches and toasts and finally the guests would run around smashing mirrors and getting drunk.

At its peak, the club counted numerous Members of Parliament and peers among its ranks as well as refusals from such people as Oscar Wilde -- from which the quote at the top is taken -- and the Prince of Wales. The members of the club seemed not to have been singled out for revenge from Lady Luck; its mortality rate seemed as low, if not lower, than the city around it. Of course, given the wealth of its members, this is not difficult to explain.

Fate seemed to catch up with the club quite quickly, however; the London Thirteen Club was not very long running. After the turn of the century, its popularity waned somewhat and it eventually faded away, although there were at least twenty-four annual dinners up to January 1906.

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