Notes from West London

144 kinds of people

Complete this well-known sentence: “There are two kinds of people in the world … “

Your answer could reveal something significant about your personality, your preferences or your world view. One of the most memorable answers I have ever heard for this challenge is this: “There are two kinds of people in the world …  those who believe that there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t“.

For me, the personality types that define people at the most fundamental level are introvert and extrovert. Knowing what type of person you are, and living your life accordingly, could save you a lot of bother.

Some distinctions between people are not as straightforward as they used to be. Someone who completes the sentence as follows might find themselves in all sorts of trouble: “There are two kinds of people in the world … male and female”.

For some people the most important distinction may be down to circumstance. Ukrainians defending their country from Russian aggression right now are probably not too bothered about introversion and extroversion. The following might be more appropriate responses to “There are two kinds of people in the world …  “: oppressor or oppressed; free or imprisoned; at peace or at war.

As the title of this Blog Post suggests, I have been thinking recently of 144 kinds of people. That’s how many you get if you combine the 12 Chinese Years with the 12 signs of the zodiac. I reflected on these combinations last year, in this piece published on Joe Biden’s 79th birthday: “A Scorpio Horse in the White House”.

Most adults know their star sign, whether or not they attach any significance to it. Here in the UK fewer people know the Chinese Year they were born in. I have known since I was a teenager that I am a Virgo Tiger. Whatever that means.

Like astrological signs, the dates for the new Chinese Year vary from year to year. For the period 1930 to 2030, the earliest that the Chinese New Year began was 21 January 1966 (The Year of the Horse followed on from the Year of the Snake). The latest was 20 February 1985 (Ox followed Rat). The latter was one of the rare times when the change in Chinese New Year happened while the sun was in Pisces. The change nearly always takes place when the sun is in Aquarius.

Over the last week or so I have been speculating about whether I know at least one person for each of the 144 combinations of Chinese Year and astrological sign.

Unsurprisingly I know a lot of Tigers: most of the people in my school year, and many of the people I was at college with. Finding at least one example for each of the star signs was very easy.

For the years either side of the Tiger (Ox beforehand, and Rabbit or Cat the year after) I have been unable to complete the set, even though there were Oxes (or Oxen) and Rabbits in my year at both school and college. I probably do know at least one of each of the following, but I don’t know when their birthdays are: Gemini Ox, Pisces Ox; Aries Rabbit, Scorpio Rabbit.

I have also been unable to track down a Taurus Dragon or a Sagittarius Dragon. Again, I have probably met some, but don’t know when their birthdays are.

Last weekend my wife, son and daughter all joined in with this bit of idle speculation (and apologies to all of them for the time that was wasted when they could have been getting on with other things). They were a big help with their own Chinese Years (Horse, Monkey and Dog respectively) and some of the years either side. I was able to complete the set of all 12 star signs for the Years of the Dog and the Pig. Along the way, we confirmed that there are three star signs for which we can identify at least one example of all 12 Chinese Years: Cancer, Virgo and Libra.

We have question marks over a couple of people we know. Is my wife’s aunt an Aries Sheep (which is still missing from my list) or is she a Pisces Sheep, like my Uncle Jimmy was? (Yes, my lists include people who have died.) Is the sister of one my wife’s old schoolfriends a Sagittarius Dragon or a Sagittarius Rabbit? We will find out at some point.

In the meantime, I can confirm that I have identified, from my own experience, 129 of the 144 kinds of people in the world. The 15 that are missing, some of which are mentioned above, are as follows, grouped by Chinese Year:

    • Rat: Capricorn
    • Ox: Gemini, Pisces
    • Rabbit: Aries, Scorpio
    • Dragon: Taurus, Sagittarius
    • Snake: Scorpio
    • Horse: Leo
    • Sheep: Aries, Scorpio Capricorn
    • Monkey: Aries
    • Rooster: Capricorn, Aquarius

Here is the same information grouped by star sign:

    • Aries: Rabbit, Sheep, Monkey
    • Taurus: Dragon
    • Gemini: Ox
    • Leo: Horse
    • Scorpio: Rabbit, Snake, Sheep
    • Sagittarius: Dragon
    • Capricorn: Rat, Sheep, Rooster
    • Aquarius: Rooster
    • Pisces: Ox

All being well I will update this list whenever I identify previously unknown combinations. If I get through the entire set I will be able to say, “There are 144 kinds of people in the world, and I have met at least one example of each of them”.

2 thoughts on “144 kinds of people

  1. > For the years either side of the Tiger (Ox beforehand, and Rabbit or Cat the year after) I have been unable to complete the set,

    Oh that’s good news, I’d much rather say I’m a cat than a hare. Is there some justification for this alternative?

    I never really paid much attention to Chinese birth signs, until I had a good Chinese friend – and one of the first things she did was a birth sign compatibility check (passed that gate).

    She also doesn’t call it year of the rat (or even metal rat), but year of the “mouthe” – heh heh – she has some cute English “miss pronunciations”. This one she reverts to even though I repeatedly correct her.

    > The 15 that are missing …
    > Rabbit: Aries, Scorpio

    > If I get through the entire set I will be able to say, “There are 144 kinds of people in the world, and I have met at least one example of each of them”.

    Well sadly you can’t count me as a missing Cat/Aries, as the chances of meeting are slim to say the least. Surely the issues in Ukraine are going to have massive impacts on worldwide health, mobility, economic freedom that will affect the entire base of mankind.


  2. Thanks Tom. Your Chinese friend could probably tell you why there are two alternatives in the cycle (Rabbit / Cat and Sheep / Goat). It’s never been explained to me. Our nearest Chinese restaurants of choice (both of them in King St Hammersmith) have been closed for many years but one of them was still open in 2008, and the owner insisted on calling it the Year of the Mouse rather than Rat. I have also seen “Chicken” as an alternative for “Rooster”. Cheers


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