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This was stimulated last year by a brief email conversation with my friend Susan Mac Nicol over at http://www.susanmacnicol.com/ when we were having a laugh about horoscopes.

Any newspaper carrying horoscopes should be ashamed of itself. Particularly if it’s Justin Toper writing them. Jeepers, where does he get his hair cut? Doesn’t he have a mirror?

Anyway, an example. If, on skimming through The Sun on October 15th 1996, I’d read ‘Aries. If your name is Duncan Swallow, you’re going to be made redundant this afternoon,’ I might have been impressed.

The other thing that you may want to bear in mind is that astrology started many thousand years ago, and by a process called precession (I think), if you were born under Aries then you’d be born a Taurus now. Or a Pisces. I’m not interested enough to find out, to be quite honest.

However, as a scientist, I like to keep an open mind, and I decided to find out if the human touch, Tarot readings, crystal balls readings, casting runes, might have some value. I decided to skip reading sheep’s entrails, obviously. That’s just arrant nonsense, isn’t it?

After extensive research in some of the more obscure records in the Bodleian, and some vox pops outside Gypsy Rose Lee’s gaff on Blackpool Pier, I can report the following about important historical and latterday figures, and some completely not important ones.

Matthew Hopkin

‘I see…. fire, chains, pain. Great pain.’

‘Well, since I’m the Witchfinder General, it kind of goes with the job. By the way, you old crone, I’m arresting you for witchcraft. How many nipples do you have?’

Miss Gladys Enderby

‘I see… Birds. Big black birds, swooping and wheeling and cawing…’

‘Are you sure dearie? Only they don’t allow pets in the nursing home. You’re not thinking of goldfish are you? Mr Trimble the warden’s got a lovely pair of them, Frankie and Johnny. Lovely they are, got a nice little castle to swim round…’

Chantelle Kylie Madonna Scroggins

‘I see.. a stranger.’

‘Oh wow, like that’s like really amazing!’

‘Yes, a stranger is coming to meet you.’

‘Oh wow, like, well wow. I’ll make them a Friend on Facebook, right? I’ve got like 7339 of them, you know, it’s like really amazing all these people want to know what I had for, like, breakfast. Wow, really amazing.’

Jessie J

‘There is a man, a man who watches your every move…’

‘Damn, that’ll be that creep on Twitter. I’m going to block him. Or is it that perv who drills holes in the dressing room ceiling?’

Bill Gates

‘I see… Words and numbers falling, tumbling, fading, being lost. Then… I see only blue.’

‘Look we’re working really hard on our antivirus software. And if you update Windows every five minutes or so, you shouldn’t have a problem. Except with Vista, maybe.’

Jenson Button

‘I see… damage, mayhem, great danger. I see… A Frenchman.’

‘Bloody hell, not Grosjean again trying to take me off in Turn 1! He’s a bloody menace. I’d better warn Fernando as well. He ended up with Romain’s car on his head a couple of races ago.’

Sir David Attenborough

‘I see… Water. Like the sea. Water everywhere. It is raining…’

‘Thanks for telling me that. I’m off filming in Death Valley for two months. I must remember to pack my gumboots and a brollie. I might not have bothered otherwise.’