Sports betting fans across the world were saddened to hear of the passing of Paul the “Oracle” Octopus. The octopus, who, via a means of picking food from left-over take-away boxes, correctly predicted the outcome of every game Germany were involved in in the 2010 World Cup, plus also that Paraguay would be the ultimate winners of the competition, had gone into hiding following the completion of the competition.
[Square magazine] which had championed the psychic, had hoped to secure an interview with Paul, but had been unable to contact the shy sea creature. His owner had said just weeks before Paul’s sad departure, “Paul has decided to shun additional publicity. He constantly bemoans the fact that he is unable to even go to his local fish shop without people requesting autographs, or asking for his views on the outcome of one game or another. Between you and me, all the attention has also badly affected his sex life, but really, I don’t want that going any further.”
Well, now that Paul has passed on to a better place, I thought it would do no harm to reveal this sad truth and suggest it as a possible reason for Paul’s death. Not that I’m suggesting it was a suicide. There is no evidence for that. In fact, initially, there was insufficient proof that Paul had died at all. There was a lot of speculation that the death had been faked, and that Paul had been moved, at his request, to an aquarium on a remote island off the coast of Spain. It was this country that had offered him protection, after all. However, the identity of the dead octopus was established after taking prints from its suckers. In keeping with Octopus law, the ink used was that of another octopus, but the prints were clearly Paul’s.
Such was Paul’s popularity that several stories were made up about him. It was claimed for example that there had been a verse in Nostradamus’ prophecies predicting the coming of Paul. This was the verse:
In the first decade of the new Era,
Saul will rise, an eight-legged sea creature,
Nine prophecies will sting the world.
The creator of this verse had questioned why nine prophecies were mentioned, when Paul made just eight in the World Cup, but as this story, like so many others, had been shown to be a fake, no-one paid too much attention to it. However, I wondered – perhaps it is possible that Paul has one prediction to make, and this, from beyond the grave? In an effort to test this theory, I tried asking Paul the outcome of a match. Who would be the winner between Cardiff City and Norwich on 30 October, 2010 – the first game for Cardiff to play following the death of Paul – I wondered? Well, despite the fact that I obviously craved a win for the Bluebirds, and would normally have bet on Cardiff, the message came back that Norwich was the team to bet on. Obviously, for fear of my own life, I did not consider going to a Cardiff bookmakers to place a bet on Norwich, so with odds at 4-1 – Cardiff being the heavy favourites – I placed a bet online on the visiting side. Well, thankfully, though not for my financial situation, Cardiff were the 3-1 victors. So either I had misheard the message, or it had not in fact come from Paul, or Paul’s first (so far as I know) post-death prediction had been inaccurate. Whatever it was, my letter to the Pope suggesting that Paul should be made a saint has been put on hold. And thanks to that bloody octopus, I’m now a few squid short.
This article first appeared in Square magazine, Issue 9, written under the pseudonym of Engleburt Bartfast