Friday 23 December 2022


Wednesday’s Words on a Friday

This meme supplies prompts as a means to encourage people to write. The words for this week have been supplied by Elephant’s Child and can be found here.


Grandmama, on holiday,

Visited a gallery.

Art, she said, was not for her,

What she really would prefer

Would be to purchase a machine

That stitched a perfect winter scene

To hang upon her bedroom wall,

Or even in her entrance hall.


Her grandson, ruthless brain at work,

Thought he’d found the perfect perk;

He’d build the system very cheap,

(But make his pricing very steep

To fleece his Grandma of her wealth

And then, by steps, her wits and health)

As he started plans in motion,

Grandmama perceived his notion.


She raised her hand, said, ‘Thank you, dear,

It strikes me it would be quite drear

To look at winter all the year.

I’ll buy instead a moving frame,

Digital is I think its name,

Then no two days will be the same.

Duplicity is the road to Hell.’

She smiled, he frowned, they said ‘Farewell.’











Wednesday 21 December 2022


Pavement artist with a difference

Ben Wilson has been transforming abandoned chewing gum into miniature works of art since 1998, starting with occasional paintings. In 2004, he began working on them full-time. 

Ben Wilson at work
All images copyright Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes known as the Pavement Picasso, Ben Wilson also creates works of art from rubbish.

You can learn more about him here

Tuesday 20 December 2022


Thank you for your concern, Minister

As we contemplate, or, rather, continue (another) winter of discontent, with strikes all around, one of our Health Ministers (*how many are there?) has uttered some sage advice, before a proposed ambulance strike scheduled for tomorrow, 21st December. 

On television he said, “Where people are planning any risky activity, I would strongly encourage them not to not to do so because there will be disruption on the day.”

He didn’t specify what sorts of risky activities should be avoided.

Here’s my list:

1: Home decorating should be avoided. Ladders are dangerous and paint pots are heavy. A fall from one or a blow from the other if it is dropped from a height could be very injurious.

2: DIY is a hazardous exercise at the best of times. Saws, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers all have the capacity to inflict pain and/or serious injury.

3: Gardening is not something to be undertaken in December in the UK, even on a beautiful, sunny day like today. The ground is soggy from recent heavy rain, leading to the possibility of a nasty slip and potential broken bones. Secateurs should not be used, though there is a balance to be struck between carving one’s fingers or being blinded by stray creepers, or possibly being tripped by low-growing vines.

4: Driving cars is always dangerous. Avoid!

5: Shopping should not be undertaken unless mandatory. (Online shopping is probably okay, but see below re: computers, lap tops, tablets) Shopping in person is best avoided. Think of the hazards:-

 a: travelling to the shopping area – driving: see #4 above

                                                        public transport: sitting or standing cheek by jowl, breathing in who knows what from fellow passengers, or infection by accidental contact with fellow travellers

b: entering and leaving shops – constant changes in temperature, leading to chills  which could escalate to pneumonia

                                                    mingling with crowds, or, more precisely, being barged with shopping trolleys or jostled by overwrought seekers after the perfect gift

c: carrying overloaded, heavy bags and awkwardly-shaped parcels. The dangers here are twofold, possibly threefold – 

                                                          i: pulling a muscle or several

                                                          ii: tripping over because unable to see

                                                          iii: hysteria/panic attack brought on by overtiredness, despite repeating, ‘It’s only one day, it’s only one day’

6: Taking an afternoon nap because it’s well-deserved – probability of falling off the bed because of disorientation or sheer exhaustion, resulting in concussion and/or broken limbs

7: Use of computer or similar: risk of dowager hump development, carpal tunnel syndrome, headache, neck ache, backache, eye strain, electrocution from drink spilled on electrical device/s

8: Cats/dogs/small children – all of these are trip hazards. Ignore at your peril.

9: Food preparation – sharp knives, hot ovens, boiling liquids. Make the decision to eat cold finger foods and drinks

All of this may seem very silly, but there are people in the world who will call an ambulance for many inane, insane reasons. It is incumbent upon sensible citizens to take responsibility for reducing risk and therefore limiting the requirement for ambulances.

Have a lovely Christmas, everyone!

* “As of October 2022 there are 6 ministerial posts at the DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care), including: the Secretary of State, two Ministers of State, and three Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Brave Heart Award


   Jellicoe received a Brave Heart award from our vets. He is very proud!

This cute cat is Jellicoe, and he also has diabetes like a few of our other brave hearts❤️
He was diagnosed during a severe medical emergency called DKA using up one of his nine lives for sure…
As you can see, we’ve had several diabetic cases this year, and it’s because it is a very common disease, in fact diabetes is one of the most common hormonal disorders found in cats. It mostly affects middle aged to older cats and causes a marked thirst, hunger and weight loss🐈
Jellicoe’s owners are really happy to have him back, although needing to give him insulin every day, but they report that HE IS THE LIVELIEST HE´S BEEN🥰🙌🏼🍀
Jellicoe is always very brave and patient throughout all his visits and whether that be in hospital or for recheck appointments!
We are so happy for you Jellicoe🤩

Thursday 15 December 2022


Wednesday’s Words on a Friday

This meme supplies prompts as a means to encourage people to write. The words for this week have been supplied by Elephant’s Child and can be found here.

Jacques the jelly fish was relaxing, idling the day away, when, to his consternation, he found he had drifted away from his salty environment into the fresh estuarine water. He was agitated, even though he knew that some of his distant cousins lived in fresh water lakes. He feared he would not find the minerals he required and thought he would soon be in extreme difficulties.

It was pure luck, then, that through the thick stems of the cattails, he spotted a wash of blue. It was the ocean, his true home, and he knew that he must swim towards it.

He was speeding on his way when suddenly, he was jolted awake. He smelt the citrus scented soap his beloved owner used in her bath. He knew he was about to be pressed into service to exfoliate her lovely legs. Jacques sighed happily. Life could not get any better than this!




Tuesday 13 December 2022

Overcoming adversity - a lesson for us all

Peter Penguin

Image by Bethan, aged 8

When Peter Penguin hatched he looked like all the other penguin chicks and was the *fluffy sea apple of his fond parents’ eye. When he and the rest of his crèche had gained their waterproof plumage it was time to approach the sea and learn to swim.

At first, they dabbled in the shallows, becoming accustomed to the lapping waves. Gradually, the bolder ones ventured further into deeper water until they suddenly discovered they could swim. Peter was perfectly content to paddle and he was almost the last chick to immerse himself, but when he did it became apparent that he had a serious disability. While all his friends and relations confidently bobbed about on the surface or dived deep, Peter sank like a stone. His parents and aunts and uncles shook their heads. 

‘Negative buoyancy,’ they muttered. ‘What can we do?’

Peter’s parents went to consult Principal Penguin, a wise old bird, who nodded as they told him about Peter. From beneath his throne he brought out a box. Unlocking it, he withdrew five flat brightly-striped articles. ‘These are water wings,’ he intoned solemnly.

Peter’s parents glanced warily at each other. ‘Peter has wings,’ they said. ‘We all have wings and we use them in water, so are they not water wings? Peter’s water wings do not work properly. He can never be a proper penguin.’ Peter’s mother gulped and turned away so that Principal Penguin would not see her distress.

Principal Penguin regarded them gravely. ‘These wings are inflatable. They will help Peter.’ He proceeded to blow air into them and showed Peter how to wear them, one on each wing, one on each foot and one on his tail.

His parents watched open-beaked as their son flapped his colourful limbs and twitched his ornamented tail. They wondered uneasily if the rest of the colony would ostracise him for looking so different.

‘Watch and wait,’ said Principal Penguin.

Peter Penguin felt very self-conscious as he waddled to the water’s edge but to his joy he soon found that he was able to swim like the rest of the chicks. Diving was a little more difficult but with much practise he succeeded. In a short while he was able to dispense with his swimming aids and everyone forgot he had ever had a problem. 

When he returned the water wings to Principal Penguin he looked shyly at him and said, ‘Thank you, sir.’

Principal Penguin smiled kindly at the young bird and patted him on the shoulder. ‘I had the same disorder as you when I was little.’

 Peter Penguin gasped.

‘One day, you may be Principal Penguin like me. Principals are always chosen from those who have had to overcome adversity. Be happy, young man, and be kind.’

Peter Penguin pattered home with a smile on his bill and a song in his heart. Sure enough, many years later, he became Principal Penguin and was revered for his compassion and wisdom.


*Sea apples are colourful sea cucumbers. They are not fluffy!

Monday 12 December 2022

Christmas lambs

Bocketts Farm in Surrey (UK) have given their newborn lambs Christmas jumpers to keep warm whilst the cold, frosty weather dubbed the “Troll of Trondheim” continues to hit the UK. The farm are expecting a number of lambs this winter with the first being born this week.

Sunday 11 December 2022

Reflections on Christmases past

The holly . . . but no ivy
In the post-war years of the mid to late forties, and even into the fifties, the UK was struggling to recover from years of devastation and hardship. Food was still rationed and people thought carefully about how they used their allowances. Christmas was a time to enjoy something a little different, a treat.

'Rationing remained in effect until the early 1950s. Meat was the last item to be derationed and rationing ended completely in 1954, nine years after the war ended. The UK was the last country involved in the war to stop rationing food.'

In our house we children would wake to the exciting heaviness of a Christmas stocking at our feet. Although we would try to stay awake on Christmas Eve, we never saw the person who delivered the stockings and so could be deceived into half-believing that Father Christmas really existed. Packed inside would be all manner of small inexpensive gifts and in the toe of the stocking we would find a tangerine and a handful of nuts.

I recall my mother drawing and plucking a chicken for our Christmas dinner. I wonder how many ordinary people would do that now? Certainly, I have never done it. I wonder, too, how many children, today, accustomed to seeing 'oven-ready chickens' never make the connection to the feathered, living birds they might see on a school trip to a farm. Having said that, my soon-to-be son-in-law's nine-year-old son recently presented us with a pheasant he had drawn and plucked himself. I was very impressed!

Chicken was a rare luxury and we had one at Christmas and perhaps another at Easter. Dinner was roast chicken 'with all the trimmings' which allowed the meat to go a little further. My mother cooked roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, carrots, giblet gravy and bread sauce. To follow there were mince pies and Christmas pudding with brandy butter with the hopeful anticipation of finding a silver sixpence in your helping. Christmas crackers were fun and we liked the silly hats and trinkets inside and the groaning jokes.

In the afternoon we would unwrap presents. Each child would take it in turn to pick a parcel from beneath the tree and give it to the named recipient. The (real) Christmas tree, delightfully pine-smelling, was decorated with glass baubles and tinsel and real candles. Lighting the tiny candles must have taken a long time and there was obviously a real fire risk, but I don't recall any disasters. Cutting one's hand on a broken glass bauble was a more likely event.

We would all enjoy the pleasure of the unwrapping and the final display of the gift. Often it would be an item of clothing which would have to be tried on and modelled for our delight. When that present had been thoroughly appreciated by everyone the next parcel would be picked. So an enjoyable afternoon would be spent giving, receiving and thanking.

Christmas robin

I remember how shocked I was to discover that the 7 and 8 year-olds I worked with in the seventies and eighties, knew in advance what they were getting for Christmas. Not only that, they knew exactly how much it would cost. Where was the fun in that?

Tea followed – Christmas cake with silver ball decorations and a Father Christmas standing on the white icing 'snow'. After that, before bed-time, we would play board games or cards or read. It was a warm, relaxed time in front of a crackling fire. Thinking back now I wonder just how relaxed my mother felt by the end of the day!

On Boxing Day we would have soup, cold meat and bubble and squeak. My parents tried to make the special feeling of Christmas last a while longer by holding back a few little gifts which were always said to be 'from the tree.' Around the room were small boxes of chocolates, dates, nuts, figs and bowls of fresh fruit. We enjoyed them for their rarity and because it would be another year before such a feast was spread again.

Shopping for food in the late forties and fifties entailed visiting many specialist shops – bread from the baker, dry goods like tea, flour and sugar from the grocer, meat from the butcher, fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer, fish from the fishmonger, confectionery from the sweet shop.

The shopping list would follow the route to be taken, starting with the greengrocer at the far end of town. Shops were open for a matter of hours, from 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. for five or five and a half days. They shut at close of business on Christmas Eve and opened again on the first working day after Boxing Day. If someone had forgotten to buy something they needed they would have to go without it until the shops re-opened. Provided all the necessities were in the larder, there was a tremendous feeling of relief once there was no possibility of shopping again until after the holiday.

Now everything is available throughout the year. The seasonal foods no longer hold sway since whatever is desired may be purchased at any time, fresh, frozen, dried, produced locally or thousands of miles away. In the western world we live in a bubble of self-indulgence, able to satisfy our every whim and fancy at any time of day or night. If the local shop is closed there's always an all-night garage or a twenty-four-hour store if we really cannot wait.  Nonetheless, a siege mentality persists and supermarket aisles are thronged with stressed shoppers pushing laden trollies of goods to see them through the 24 hours or so that the shops will be shut.

During the last thirty years or so Christmas increasingly has developed into a festival of greed and commercialism. From August the Christmas catalogues start arriving, each charity begging expenditure on often tawdry items. Later 'Good causes' encourage us to support them and in December, Salvation Army and silver bands pluck at our heart and purse strings with their brassy renditions of carols, many of which will be unfamiliar to young school-children. The carols most young children sing at school will be unfamiliar to all apart from their teachers and parents.

The supermarkets blare out endless repetitions of ghastly versions of seasonal songs old and new and worse still, shoppers find themselves singing along. Television and radio do their best to plug any gaps, so that it is nigh impossible to pass a day without an assault on the eardrums, unless those devices are out of service.

Houses sprout unlikely decorations – blinking, twinkling, nerve-rending flashing lights in all colours, while jolly Santas stride across roof-tops, and inflatable reindeer prance behind them. Is it because our winters are so drear that we embrace these gaudy decorations? Sunlight may be scarce but we can make our own brightness – and it all looks so sad when Christmas is over. There's a brief renewal in the lead-up to New Year's Eve, a final flash of brightness of fireworks as the Old Year dies and finally we face cold, dull January and wonder if there will ever be dazzling days again.

Where is the true meaning of Christmas now? Is our anticipation always to be disappointed because we have so much all the time, and salve our consciences for those who have nothing by dropping coins in a collection tin? Where is the joy? 

For me it is in the faces of my family in the moments when they are laughing or day-dreaming or simply enjoying each other's company, in the wonderment of small children as they see something they have never seen before, in the quiet moments when walking alone or waking in the night when everyone else sleeps. These times are present throughout the year but take on special significance at Christmas. 

There is a tingle of magic about Christmas, a vision beyond the everyday, a hope of better things to come.

Redwing enjoying a meal of holly berries

Whatever your beliefs or lack of them, this annual holiday affords a time for reflection. Take a moment from the rushing crowds or the press of visitors and look up, maybe (probably!) through the rain at the vastness of the sky and consider your place in the universe. We are insignificant organisms struggling towards the light. We came from stardust and to stardust we will return.

'For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return' Genesis 3:19

Older men

I was looking back to entries I made 13 years ago and this one popped up. I apologise to any Australians who might be offended - I think the ethnicity is unimportant.

My apologies if you have read this before – I thought it might elicit a wry grin – or do I mean groan?

An elderly Australian man owned a large property through which a stream ran. He had built a dam some years before to create a pool for swimming. 

One evening he strolled down to check that all was well and took with him a bucket to collect apples from the trees that grew nearby.

As he approached the pool he heard voices shouting and laughing and when he drew closer he saw that a number of young women were skinny-dipping in the water. When the bathers saw him they moved into deeper water and called out, 'We're not coming out until you leave!'

The old man frowned. 'I didn't come down here to watch you girls,' he said. Holding up the bucket he continued, 'I've come to feed the crocodile.'

The moral of this tale is that older men may walk slowly but they can still think fast!

Friday 9 December 2022

The devil makes work for idle hands


The devil makes work for idle hands

Note: The photographs were taken at odd angles. It adds a certain 'je ne sais quoi', I think.

It is said that the devil makes work for idle hands. In an effort not to be bedevilled, I undertook several jigsaws and cross-stitch projects during our endless lockdowns. I also bought more sheet music and hammered my way inexpertly through Satie and Debussy as well as revising old favourites like Bach and Handel, Mozart and Beethoven. It was to everybody’s benefit that I donned headphones so that the screeching mistakes I made were heard only by me.

How many lockdowns did we have? Time has numbed my memory and the days, weeks, months, thread seamlessly together, like a large, untidy quilt. To revisit what has happened, or, on most days, failed to occur, I have to refer to my journal. Now, this is supposed to be a discipline and I am meant to write in it daily, but very occasionally several days pass before I set pen to paper, and then I write masterful – mistressful? - comments, such as, ‘Can’t remember what happened this week. It’s now Thursday.’ In further deathless prose, I record, ‘Not very warm today. Barry lit a fire.’ On yet other occasions, I rail against politicians, setting out chapter and verse, conscious that as a diarist it is my ‘duty’ to document current affairs. Who am I kidding? I am no Samuel Pepys and no-one is ever going to read my trite offerings.

On odd occasions – very odd – I have read my old diaries and experienced once again the emotions and reactions I felt at the time of writing. Memories are stirred by words as potently as by photographs.

So, my unbedevilled hands were occupied and my brain was prevented from entirely atrophying by all these pastimes. While doing jigsaws or cross-stitch, I also listened to audio books, some fiction, others non-fiction, so my ears were kept busy, too. Does the devil make work for idle ears, I wonder?

The cross-stitch I undertake is counted cross-stitch, the oldest form of embroidery. It has been in existence since mediaeval times, that is, from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries. I clarify that in the vain hope that the information will remain in my head. I remember once asking a history teacher whether the Middle Ages changed over time, that is, moved with the times. It seemed eminently logical to my 12-year-old brain.

Counted cross-stitch requires concentration and the ability to count squares or threads in the material to be embroidered. It’s very simple and also extraordinarily easy to make mistakes. Experienced embroiderers excuse inaccuracies by claiming them as ‘personalisations’, but that doesn’t work in symmetrical designs.


Thursday 8 December 2022

Wednesday's Words on a Friday


 Wednesday's Words on a Friday  07.12.2022

It was just nine days to Christmas and Charlotte hummed to herself as she lit the candles in the dining room. Everyone, the whole family, was coming for the holiday. There would be twenty-five in all, ranging in age from eighty-nine–year old Elizabeth to her youngest grandchild, aged four. She had missed them all so much, even her Aunt Elizabeth, who could be very trying.

She knew, in her heart of hearts, that Elizabeth tried to be sociable and cheerful, but she monopolised every conversation, and, being slightly deaf, spoke very loudly. Her sole topic of conversation centred on her many ailments and operations. The rest of the family had heard her stories too many times and found it almost impossible to strike a balance between sympathy and irritation.

The younger members did little to disguise their boredom and Charlotte worried that Elizabeth would notice their lack of interest and take offence. She giggled as she pictured herself dancing a bizarre ballet between the various groups, trying to be a good hostess, and make sure that everyone was happy.

Then she sighed. It was no good. She had to face facts. The worst offender, and the most likely to upset Aunt Elizabeth, was her eldest grandddaughter, a lovely girl, full of humour, but not overly sensitive to others’ feelings. She was, however, easily offended herself. Charlotte knew that she would have to bite the bullet and broach the subject of tact and diplomacy with her granddaughter quietly before Elizabeth arrived. Her granddaughter would soon recover from any discomposure, Charlotte was sure.

Her mobile chimed its cheery tone. It was her cousin, Elizabeth’s son. When she had disconnected the call, she gazed blindly at the candles and wished that she could listen to Elizabeth’s stories just one more time.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Barry's seasonal work


Barry’s seasonal work

Every December, Barry’s self-imposed task is to replace the batteries in the Christmas lights. 

No matter how many rechargeable batteries we have, there never seem to be sufficient. This may be on account of my desire/need/compulsion to add ever more light arrays.

If there should happen to be a power cut, we would still be able to find our way around, thanks to the blazing LED-powered candles and other light-emitting devices.

Of course, if the power were to be off for more than 24 hours, we would be in dire straits, because of an inability to recharge said batteries. We would then have to resort to wax candles and torches, always supposing we could remember which ‘safe place’ we had stored them in.

After Christmas, on Twelfth Night, when the decorations are taken down and the dark days of January shiver our souls, to be followed by the ‘nothing much’ dank, miserable, blessedly short February, it can seem strangely bare. The glittering, twinkling lights have gone, but wait . . . the flameless candles are still in situ. This is entirely so that Barry can keep his hand in replacing batteries and doesn’t have to relearn the skill every December.                                                                 

Meanwhile, Jellicoe observes events and indicates that, as long as he is warm and comfortable, he's not bothered about lights - after all, he is a cat and can see in the dark!

Sunday 4 December 2022

Twelve Days of Christmas

Lovely, talented people


An anonymous person with a kind heart has fitted this crocheted scene onto a post box near my home.  
I think it's the same person who makes little keepsakes for young children to find on their way to school. 
So clever, so talented, so modest.

Friday 2 December 2022

Just a short rant


Just a short rant

I am becoming ever more pedantic with the passing . . . days. I find fault with so many things. For example, why cannot The Times of London employ a proofreader? Every day there are glaring inaccuracies, misleading headlines and grammatical errors in the reports that are printed.

I have an issue with the use of ‘gifted’ as a verb. When did ‘gave’ pass out of the English lexicon?

In fact, I am irritated by the use of nouns as verbs. To hear that someone has ‘podiumed’ or ‘medalled’ makes my teeth itch. ‘Hoovered’ has long been established as a verb but why don’t people ‘Dyson’ or ‘Shark’ or ‘Miele’ or ‘Numatic’?

However, maybe my greatest bête noire, is hearing ‘of’ used instead of ‘have’, as in, ‘I could of screamed’, ‘They might of forgotten’.

‘Fun’ can never be an adjective either, as far as I am concerned, but it is easier to say things like, ‘It was a fun time’, rather than think of a more appropriate adjective. Certainly, I know some teachers who use ‘fun’ as an adjective.

Perhaps the truth is that language is evolving and I’m just not evolving with it.

Perhaps the truth is that I’m a miserable pettifogger, out of touch with the times.

English is a rich and beautiful language and we do it a disservice to reduce it to hackneyed phrases and impoverished vocabulary. Please tell me I’m mistaken;-)




A family birthday


A family birthday

Frankie’s cake

It was Frankie’s 10th birthday yesterday. His class had a trip to *Sky television studios, which made it a very special day for him. The children made a ‘television news special’, which was most impressive. Some were scriptwriters, others operated the cameras and the rest were presenters and reporters. Frankie was a reporter.

He had a lovely day and felt he had a better understanding of what his mother, Susannah, does. She’s a television producer and he was pleased and proud to tell the people he met about her, some of whom she may have met through work, anyway.

After school, we had a birthday tea at our house. Susannah made a delicious chocolate cake, which was of enormous interest to the dogs. 

I know chocolate's bad for me, but couldn't I have just a little piece? 

In addition to Roxy, we had Susannah’s dog, Arthur, and Lottie, James’s dog. James is Susannah’s fiancé, but he was away doing what barristers do best, so couldn’t join us.

Rare photo of Arthur asleep. 

Usually, he's moving so fast that it looks as though there are two of him!

*Sky Academy

Giving schools a unique, interactive learning experience with the Sky Academy Skills Studio.

The Sky Academy offers children the chance to work with its cutting-edge technology, including broadcast-quality cameras, green screens and touch screen tables. Visitors write, shoot and edit their Fact, Fiction or Future video.


Thursday 1 December 2022

White rabbits

White rabbits

I was reading something by David Sedaris last night and he mentioned that someone had told him that saying ‘white rabbits’ on waking on the first day of the month would ensure good luck throughout the ensuing period. I have known this superstition for years and always try to remember to say it (though, of course, I am not in the least superstitious!) but I didn’t know where it originated or that it was universal.

Actually, on looking it up, Wikipedia informed me:

"Rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a superstition found in Britain and North America wherein a person says or repeats the words "rabbit", "rabbits" and/or "white rabbits" aloud upon waking on the first day of a month, to ensure good luck for the rest of it.

Then I investigated a little further and found this:

Apparently it was a common belief among RAF bomber aircrew during WW2 that saying "white rabbits" the very first thing upon waking would protect oneself.

Another source claimed:

During World War II, British fighter pilots were known to say “white rabbits” for luck every day—not just the first day of the month. Other variations of this superstition include saying “rabbit” three times in a row rather than just two.

Now I was engaged in finding more:

In the United States the tradition appears especially well known in northern New England although, like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. The superstition may be related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare being a "lucky" animal, as exhibited in the practice of carrying a rabbit's foot for luck. Rabbits have not always been thought of as lucky, however. In the 19th century, for example, fishermen would not say the word while at sea; in South Devon, to see a white rabbit in one's village when a person was very ill was regarded as a sure sign that the person was about to die.

President Roosevelt, no less, admitted to observing the custom and would not dream of not doing so.

The following extension to the superstition seems a little foolhardy to me:

" must be 'White Rabbit' ... but you must also say 'Brown Rabbit' at night and walk downstairs backwards." Reported in a small survey that took place in Exeter, Devon in 1972.

However, I have added my own idiosyncrasy to the procedure: I have to say ‘Grey hares, grey hares, grey hares’ on the last night of the month before I go to sleep. It’s tragic, really . . .

 I bet you’re all longing for January 1st now, so that you can respect the tradition and guarantee your portion of good fortune!