In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks.
But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES.
The most important thing you should know about REAL WITCHES is this.
Listen very carefully. Never forget what is coming next.
REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS.
That is why they are so hard to catch.
Luckily, there are not a great number of REAL WITCHES in the world today. But there are still quite enough to make you nervous. In England, there are probably about one hundred of them altogether.
Some countries have more, others have not quite so many. No country in the world is completely free from WITCHES.
A witch is always a woman.
I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing
as a male witch.
As far as children are concerned, a REAL WITCH is the most dangerous of all the living creatures on the earth. What makes her doubly dangerous is the fact that she doesn’t look dangerous.
Even when you know all the secrets (you will hear about those in a minute), you can still never be quite sure whether it is a witch you are looking at or just a kind lady.
For all you know, a witch might be living next door to you right now.
Or she might be the woman with the bright eyes who sat opposite you on the bus this morning.
She might be the lady with the dazzling smile who offered you a sweet from a white paper bag in the street before lunch.
She might even – and this will make you jump – she might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment.
Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don’t let that put you off. It could be part of her cleverness.
I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But – and here comes the big “but” – it is not impossible.
Oh, if only there were a way of telling for sure whether a woman was a witch or not, we could round them all up and put them in the meat-grinder.
Unhappily, there is no such way. But there are a number of little signals you can look out for, little quirky habits that all witches have in common, and if you know about these, if you remember them always, then you might just possibly manage to escape danger.