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Unlucky people

I don't know how many times I've heard the word unlucky used around a TAB or racecourse over the years but it must amount to thousands. When things don't go the way we hope it's all too easy to trot out the excuses for our failure and almost always it is associated with either you or the horse or the dog (or all three!) being somehow cursed with bad luck

You want unlucky? Try Violet Jessup for size. Violet lived in the last century and, as far as ocean travel is concerned, she was about as unlucky as it gets.

She started out her nautical odyssey on board the Olympic - a cruise liner of the early 1900's. Good old Violet scored herself a job as a stewardess in 1911 and, very shortly after starting her on board gig, found herself on board a vessel that had the accursed bad luck of colliding with a British warship. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident but Violet felt quite uncomfortable about her level of safety on the Olympic and moved to a bigger ship.

The new gig was on board, yep, The Titanic. Unsinkable they said. Nothing could go wrong. Sounds like the perfect place for me said Violet. Oh dear. No one quite saw the iceberg coming until it was a wee bit too late and over the side went Violet.

Violet gave up her sea career for a few years after that little fate tempting exercise and worked on shore as a waitress at a pub. But the lure of sea adventure was just too much. Especially with that messy WWI happening so, being all patriotic, and having some at sea experience, albeit a tad unfortunate, Violet signed up as a nurse on the Britannic.

Oh dear. If it's not one thing, it's another. No iceberg this time. Just one of those pesky German mines. Over the side we go again! Now the guys that were supposed to be rowing like Satan was chasing them, didn't get the lifeboat far enough away from the Britannic when it sank so this time it was abandon the lifeboats before they got sucked under to the eternal resting place. Violet somehow survived all this and made it back to dry land.

She died in 1971. And was buried at sea.

Cursed with even worse luck was one Tsutomu Yamaguchi. He was involved in the fledgling automotive industry and was on a business trip to Hiroshima on August 6 1945 when Uncle Sam paid a non return visit with an atomic bomb. Ground zero was less than two miles away from Mr Yamaguchi's meeting place which instantly became a non meeting place.

Deafened by the noise, temporarily blind, he amazingly staggered away from the scene and after spending a night in what was euphemistically called an air raid shelter decided the best thing to do was somehow get home.

He did this - all the way to his birth place - a charming Japanese city called Nagasaki.

A few days later, he was telling his supervisor about this unbelievable "destroy everything" vaporising bomb that the Americans had when - uh oh - again just two miles away, up she all went. Another fireworks spectacular to make New Years Eve at Sydney Harbour look positively uninspirational.

Amazingly he survived that too. And became an anti nuclear campaigner - surprise surprise!

As a registered survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, Yamaguchi owned a pale violet copy of the Atomic Bomb Victim Health Handbook since 1957, which entitled him to monthly allowances, free medical check-ups and funeral costs. More than 260,000 others were similarly covered.

He died in February 2010 of stomach cancer. He viewed his ordeals as a cruel twist of fate, a "path planted by God". "It was my destiny that I experienced this twice and I am still alive to convey what happened," he said.

So the next time you are bemoaning your "bad luck" - which, by the way, doesn't exist - give old Violet and Tsutomu a thought. What a pity they never got together. Imagine the indestructible super hero they could have produced!

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