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6 August 2014



By New Statesman


Set by J Seery

We asked for an astrology column, written for the New Statesman by one of our regular columnists.

This week’s winners

Well done. You liked this one, although one comper did complain (“I thought this was so difficult . . .”), as she guessed that everyone would send in entries as Will Self – because of which she would have to make do with being Nicholas Lezard to stand out from the throng. There was just one Peter Wilby (from Bill Greenwell: “Is this the moment to abandon the lunacy of free schools?”) and one Laurie Penny (see below) – and, unexpectedly, one John Pilger entry (“You either worry about something or you don’t . . .”) that didn’t seem very Pilgerish to us. But who are we to say? Otherwise, everyone sent in Hunter Davies, Nicholas Lezard or . . . pace the complainant, Will Self. The winners get £25, with an extra fiver going to Michael McManus for nailing it.

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Will Self

Taurus. Rise early, eschew the matutinal hinterland of nondescript domesticity, or the sedulous piety of the quotidian workplace. A bull is nothing if not odorous, optic, auditory, haptic. Go for it, engorge.

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Virgo. Your condition, sans quotes, is not a fact but an
obtuse, fetishised, misanthropic cause, sclerotic in its statis. In an
age of moral vacuity, it attracts obloquy as worthy, backward and dull. It is, in inner-cities at least, evanescent. Whoring has a future tense. Let it go, babe.

Aries. Ram, verb. An explosive injunction applied to sordid, neo-fascist intercourse. Ram, noun. Descriptive of a delusional, boorish Casanova who can never be more than Giovanni-lite but justifying the imperative that as long as you avoid the ones with the testicles, humans are pretty nice to get along with. Make this the week you cut your
balls off . . .

Michael McManus

Hunter Davies

Apparently, Leo is named after the beast slain by Hercules – a big number nine any ambitious club should be checking out. Carlisle might fancy him, perhaps? A pity the World Cup is over, ’cos the stars right now are auspicious for the three-lions jerseys. A shame they played like the sign of the crab.

Better news, however – now is the time for a new hairstyle. That neat side-parting look is so last season. Think wild, think lion’s mane! The planetary alignments naturally favour the team whose home is the New Den, so it’s well worth a flutter on Millwall’s opening games. And Peter Wilby’s team, Leocester City (geddit?), with its “Ritchie 3” momentum, will be the surprise package in the Prem – until Sagittarius takes over, anyway. Oh, nearly forgot, Lionel Messi will remain the shining star in the global footie firmament.

Derek Morgan

Laurie Penny

At the start of the week, your indignation will cool. There is no cause for alarm. It is merely a recharging of the emotional batteries. By the end of the
week, your indignation and outrage levels will show the usual readings on the Melanie Phillips scale. The realisation that Venus is the only female-named planet is no reason for you to alter your world-view.

Family complications may cause you to rethink your concept of patriarchy. Surges of optimism and idealism should not be confused. An unexpected event will provide opportunities to evaluate and separate both these strands in your temperament. Allow yourself an ego massage, but
be wary of acting as a lightning rod for somebody else’s thunder. Midweek, you will
be glad you have a thick skin. Keep your emotional armour
in good repair – you may need it on Thursday.

J Seery

Nicholas Lezard

It was somewhere near Kentish Town, last year – there was a warthog’s head over the bar and, while I was trying to count my change in the malodorous darkness, a man next to me said, “I know you. You’re the Jack Trevor Story de nos jours. Trouble is, you think you’re the Jeffrey Bernard de nos jours.
Or vice versa. Whatever. And your readers think . . .”

“That’s enough,” I said toughly, buying him a drink. I knew my Fleet Street history as well as my French. He was heading for insult territory at land-rush speed but “the new Russell Grant” I wouldn’t have expected.

However, that seems to be my destiny, or as the editor
put it, “Go on, it’s all bollocks. Even you can do it!”

Spoken like a man delivering a fatal googly but here goes: chequered fortunes for all star signs, rain in the south-east.

Basil Ransome-Davies

The next challenge

No 4336 By Gavin Ross

Eric Hobsbawm wrote, “Jane Austen wrote her novels during the Napoleonic wars, but no reader who did not know this already would guess it, for the wars do not appear in her pages, even though a number of the young gentlemen who pass through them undoubtedly took part in them. It is inconceivable that any novelist could write about Britain in the 20th-century wars in this manner.” We want excerpts from well-known 20th-century wartime novels (by Pat Barker, Greene, Hemingway, and so on) as told by Austen without explicitly mentioning the war in question.

Max 150 words by 21 August