Monday, January 09, 2017

Donald Trump: Meryl Streep and the accidental existentialist

Darling Meryl Streep needs no support from Madame as Donald Trump brands her "over-rated" for calling him a bullying cunt (in effect). How can a mere clairvoyante medium top all those articulate movie, TV and theatre awards that she's truffled away over the decades? - there are so many that Wikipedia has a separate entry on them. I'd be jealous except I can't act jealous. You just can't be jealous of genius. You tend only to envy the first-raters; the merely very, very good. Genius is beyond our grasp so we tend to be big about being small.

Trump is so grotesque, such a liar, deceiver and fool, that it is beyond my modest gifts to send him up or even mock and revile him in any effective way. Alec Baldwin gave it his best try - but his target out-did the send-up all the way. Trump is his own circular, self-creating satire, a fake whose absurdities depend on the paradox of his authenticity of self-manufacturing: he truly believes every word that passes his mauve lips as each day he resets his man-cave coordinates, for the best back alley ahead. He is utterly committed to the moment and the fact of his being beyond role, status or anything extraneous to the self-Trump. This is why he pays no account to his word, to what he said the minute before, to reality - except functionally to navigate from A to B - or even to his new role fast approaching, that of US President. He is an accidental existentialist. In his world there is no good and bad; both are relative terms that are moulded into matters of pleasure and pain by other people's flattery or insult (of the Trump-self). And good or bad things are just as likely to happen now as never or tomorrow, and with no consequence that cannot be seen off with a resetting of the Trump man-cave coordinates - and/or with an expensive lawyer.

This by far makes Trump the most fascinating US commander-in-chief ever. A philosopher-president with no philosophy at all. Before you stands 6ft 2ins of opportunist impulse arising from the selfish sentience that once dreamt of playing US President. There's no God or Devil to defer to, not even a non-God/Lucifer: he may be atheist or he may be a cod evangelical - which interest must be served in this moment for 'belief'? What anchors him in this or that moment of reality is not conscience or even any concept of good or bad but the visceral, sensation-hungry ballast dangling between his legs. These bestow a sense of power, entitlement; of timelessness (for they enable procreation of the self, among other things) as well as giving him something to think about when the mind wanders from business, politics or pussy. Bollocks, c'est moi. He talks bollocks, thinks bollocks, acts bollocks. So full of bollocks is he that we already start to forget what he said yesterday or this morning or ten years ago. In a few moments, the Streep tantrum will be forgotten by just about all. For that too was bollocks.
I suspect I shall have much more to say about Trump.It is of course an irony that this accidental, amoral existentialist most probably has opened the White House door to the pious Christer-evangelical by his side. Such an outcome would be in keeping with the low comedy to which we are witness Stateside. I'd laugh but I've just been diagnosed a hernia. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Queen and the new Holocaust book

Much excitement today. The Queen has emerged from her Kleenex snot-igloo to attend church at Sandringham. The poor poppet. I don't catch colds any more by the simple policy of declining parties, especially around Yuletide and New Year. People only invite you to parties to give you their colds. They disguise the symptoms with Sudafed (other brands available). I know these things.

My point of course is that HM has demonstrated that she is still alive. A rumour was put out recently that she had passed away on account of her sneezing. Twitter got all excited while the rest of us slept. Suddenly a conspiracy was afoot. You can see how Holocaust deniers gain traction with their absurd claims and questions. Just say something and before long a moron will believe you as a symptom of her/his/its self-diagnosed illness-career.

Thinking of the Holocaust, may I draw your attention to a new book out next week. It's called Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1939-1949 by David Cesarani. It makes "extensive use of previously untapped resources such as diaries and letters from within the ghettos and camps (many of them in Polish or Yiddish and therefore previously largely inaccessible to Anglo-American scholars) and by adopting a rigorously Judeocentric approach the whole narrative of the march to genocide."

It appals me that Google has only lately started to act against anti-Semitic sites that peddle Holocaust denial, amending its algorithms so that neo-Nazi trash do not top the search. What's wrong with these bedroom-bound beards that run Google? Do they have some self-diagnosed illness-career we should know about?

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Esther Rantzen and anonymous internet swine

Madame was most distressed to learn that Dame Esther Rantzen is the victim of false, disgraceful allegations. From memory I can't quite recall what these may be but the eating of raw rhubarb was not among them. Something to do with turning children into fine dining recipes courtesy of Masterchef. This is the problem with sharing expertise with the sofa-bound sedated - a little knowledge in the wrong brains too easily leads many astray. Just ask Dr Google!

But let not my forgetfulness, doubtless brought on by living too close to a main road, distract us from the fact that Dame Esther has suffered grievously.

Her abuser, it emerges, is an anonymous website poster, unwittingly aided by the monstrous Google and its scheming algorithms. It has long been my view that people who veil their identity to launch malicious cyber attacks are plainly not entirely to be trusted with a sharp axe - a point the Dame herself makes, kind of. You can just imagine some lonely, pathetic male person posing as someone else (a notable woman, say) in order to vent his spleen or advertise his psychopathy. Dignitas would be too gentle a fate for such a person.

Nonetheless I was fascinated to learn that though Google unforgivably declined to remove the offending website or the grossly offensive items on Dame E - which might lead a post-That's Life millennial to think that Dame Esther was up there with the late Myra - it did delete a copycat entry on a Blogger site. This does not surprise me. Google has long treated Blogger as the equivalent of a holiday camp where everyone must smile and stroke their pussies and post tiresome items about their boring day. Nice cosy crap from cradle to grave. All in the name of responsible blogging.

Btw, Dame Esther had no idea what Blogger was, writing of it as if an obscure Inuit cultural artefact. What world does this woman live in I wonder. Easy access to the Mail editor has made her soft. But I wish her well in naming and shaming the filthy swine who uses a cyber mask so horribly. Exposure! 

Trump to meet Graydon Carter? Oh my....

The US President-Elect tells his growing Twitter mob that American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour paid him a visit at his indebted Trump Tower suite in the last few hours, inviting him to meet fellow Conde Nast editors. He said he would graciously do so "this AM". This is a canny move on the part of CN's artistic director who really should now be called Dame Anna. Dame Anna (to repeat myself - do please keep up, Donald) herself backed Hillary and Obama before her - and then there's the problem of Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair editor. His dislike of "short-fingered" Trump is one of the wonders of journalism in its mainstream, imperilled current form. Why, only this morning, my new copy of Vanity Fair arrived in the post, and scarcely a good word may be found in its silky pages on the topic of Trump and his clan. Oh my! Just read Graydon's very rude editor's letter. But perhaps he's being post-ironic, confecting a rage that disguises a love of celebrity and success. And when Trump turns up, Graydon will throw out a welcoming hand in an attempt to latch onto those elusive short fingers, hoping not to crush the titchy digital petals in his mighty manly paw, assuming he doesn't miss them altogether.

Graydon's campaign against Trump did smack of playground big cockism, in its focus on size. In photos, Trump's hands look 'normal' to me and not appreciably smaller in scale to the rest of his over-sized, big-burgery booming self. My suspicion is that Graydon may take the day off when Trump pops in - I mean it would look most odd if the two men were photographed all bromantic after the anti-Trump propaganda unleashed by Carter's pen and commissioning. One has to think about credibility even in these times of post-truth and post-irony and hacked email posts.

I do hope that Graydon is not about to disappoint Madame.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Donald Trump - made in China

Bone-headed Trump and China
President-elect Donald Trump really must do better - if we suppose he's serious about anything he has to say. I see nothing but doom with this dreadful fraud.

New Year's Honours 2017 list suffers from lack of anal

I do wish the newspapers and BBC would get it right. It's the 'New Year's Honours list 2017'. Not 'New Year Honours list 2017'. Unfortunately the press release from HM Government also gets it wrong - 'New Years Honours list 2017'. I had hoped that the UK Telegraph would set an example in anally retentive practice but sadly we just get the couldn't-be-arsed 'New Years Honours....' It's possible that some under-paid sub-editor or unpaid intern will tidy up these solecisms on discovery. Then again, probably not. Madame enters 2017 faintly distressed.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mary Beard (nearly) blows up over Henry VIII tapestry tale

My favourite historian Mary Beard has asked me (and about 10 million others) to make it clear that the Christmas tale of her discovery of one of Henry VIII's Caesar tapestries is not quite as reported in the excitable newspapers. She is threatening to blow up! She writes on her TLS blog apropos her chat with The Times: "I insisted that M Beard should not emerge from this as some Indiana Jones style discover. Anyway, what appear is this article in the Times (to see it all, you need to subscribe), and the BBC Radio news has an item on how Mary Beard has found one of Henry VIII’s lost tapestries. Aggghh." Oh dear, these pesky hacks are so desperate to fill space while famous people die all around us in a rush to catch the 'cull of 2016' headline. Fashion  queens! The actual story should read: "Cambridge prof discovers on Google a later version [my italics] of a lost tapestry owned by Henry VIII". She admits this sounds a lot less sexy but I think she's just being humble; oh but look, read the whole thing yourself.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Madame Arcati Uncut

Before she went to back to prison, Farah Damji conducted this interview with moi - in 2010!
Just to warm the cockles of your frozen heart this chilly Sunday night, here's a previously unpublished i/v with media blogger and celebrity scourge Madame Arcati. Just last week, Darling MA exposed an X Factor contestant's raunchy granny's porn / escort past in true tabloidese, and the blog which was established in 2006,  peaked at over 40 000 hits in a week. Be warned, you are no longer in Kansas, Dorothy. 

What made you start writing up the trivia and torpedoes of the media / showbiz world's gossip? Was there a shortage of good gossipistes? Did you fill the *ahem* gap? Who is your favorite gossipiste du jour ( I know this is subject to change hourly, double Gemini just take a tabloid and stick a drawing pin on a page. Ouch)

My dear, Madame does not gossip. Gossiping is what you do when you don’t know anything: I’m sure Peter McHackey of the Daily Mail will concur. A more accomplished bottom feeder of others’ droppings I have yet to encounter. Madame shares what she knows with her discerning public (and a few loafers indentured on newspapers seeking a free lunch) and in turn a few of them tell me what they know. 

This exchange is less complicated than sex and no one ends up stalked.

The best supplier of actual information is probably Nicky Haslam - he has the stamina and memory for all the parties. The best gossip (in the sense of not knowing anything) is the above mentioned Peter McKay (aka McHackey)  who daily fills his Mail  Ephraim Hardcastle ‘column’ with the bruised peel of yesterday’s fruit nibblings

What was your biggest scoop?

Where do I start, poppet? Certainly my best recent scoop was breaking the news of Sebastian Horsley’s untimely death - his body was still warm when the news went up, and for half the day a great many arts hacks thought I’d made it up. People say I’m tasteless but at least I didn’t put up the photo of Seb fucking that quadruple amputee woman.

The scoop I’m most proud of was my revelations about a London newspaper editor who left his wife and family for the London mayor’s comely PR person - a potentially tricky matter given that the mayor had a say in where the editor’s paper could be sold on London Transport property. Happily there was no conflict of interest; but it’s best to know of these things than not know. The newspapers ignored the story, natch. Editors like to cover each other’s back. 

What was your biggest disappointment?  

So many, my sweet.  So many. I am by nature a trusting person. The writer Precious Williams deeply wounded me. She assured me over and over again (in emails I still possess) that she did indeed have a relationship with the Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow - which he denied. He even denied knowing her. Precious promised me proof. I am still waiting. My thumbs have been twiddled to limpness. My finger nails have been drummed into the bone. I find it astonishing that Mr Snow then married Precious - another Precious, that is. Such a common name.

What do you wear while you blawg? Do you blawg naked? Do you have an aperitif to get you in the mood?

It depends on the time of day and who’s in the room. Mornings I have been known to face the blog in my lace and poly silk negligee designed by Jane Woolrich while a stranger’s hands search my person fervently for signs of (re-)arousal. Writing about the likes of Kevin Spacey in such a situation adds a frisson to one’s online breakfast. Of an evening I have been known to sip a certain anise-flavoured beverage as I deliberate on the fate of some unfortunate TV host favourite - a few words and it’s all over for them. Power must be exercised responsibly. Top up!

What's the view from your desk? Keep it clean dearie.

Well, I’m most concerned about the Union Jack that used to flap about in my peripheral vision in a neighbour’s garden. It has disappeared. I think a storm the other night brought down the pole, most distressing for the Dame Vera Lynn fans who erected it. You just can’t get the wood nowadays. Otherwise a copy of Lady Colin Campbell’s novel Empress Bianca sits on my desk as a paperweight. Any attempt to read it would lead to much documentary chaos.

Tell me your most perverse fetish. Don't keep it clean.

Cling film aside, I curiously delight in Royal Doulton’s Bunnykins collectables based in the mythical village of Little Twitching. I have only to run a finger along the cool English Translucent China of Reggie Bunnykins’ floppy-stiffy ears and my thigh muscles relax somewhat. God help you if you're in the same room as I should I be caressing a Reggie figurine and his floppy-stiffies. My cleaner gives me a wide berth at such times.

Which Jean Genet character are / were you in your last / next life?

It would have to be the straw in Un Chant d'Amour through which smoke is exhaled in what must be the smallest prison glory hole in 20th Century movie history.
What do you have to say to those calumnist columnists who steal your copy and lift your exclusives like peeling skin when the SPF 50 has rubbed off?

Fucking heterosexuals. They’re all the same.

Who are your favorite subjects? Who are the most devoted Arcatistes and why do you think they return for more love / ego-stroking / abuse, for another ride on the carousel of desire in your tunnel of love?

Madame Arcati is the only website conductor in the world who drew in Kevin Spacey’s entire family (almost) and then artfully set them against each other for years. On my blog you will find a textbook-sized amount of info on the clan - it was the blogosphere’s very first reality soap. People come to me to spectate, to observe living slebby drama, to conduct feuds and serve up the Revenge dish. Madame Arcati is indeed a tunnel of love, and one dripping with authentic lubricant.
Steph Mastini
Cock pic by Steph Mastini
How do you bring your alleged psychic powers into your work?

Alleged? How dare you. Madame Arcati casts her horoscopes and sees beyond the rational spin and din. But I am responsible. People must go through certain experiences for karmic reasons, such as public and humiliating exposure on Madame Arcati. It’s not my business to editorialise fate’s design.

Can you tell me (privately of course) who some of your sources are?

I find that death makes people garrulous.

What's your 'scope and how does it effect the vapours and whims of your blogging?

By ’scope you mean horoscope? It’s a little like illegal phone hacking. The trick is to find a trail that disguises the illicit means of discovery. The PM’s spin master Andy Coulson will know what I mean.
Quentin Crisp
What happened to the most requested author of HMP Holloway, Susan Hill and you?

I don’t know about Susan. One minute she was confiding the most extraordinary things in me (my lips are… coated in a Tom Ford Private Blend). And in the next she had swanned off to the Spectator and now writes a very tiresome right-wing blog there about hedgerows and Wellington boots. I don’t know why I thought she was a socialist. But anyway, I have a soft spot for Sue who I think should be made a Dame for her services to ghosts.

What do you think about celebrity bloggers? Tell-all biographies? Boxers or Y Fronts and on the Brighton sea front is it a one piece cozzie or a tankini?

Like gossips (or gossers as I prefer), sleb bloggers know nothing about slebs, except what they’ve read in the weeklies. Perez Hilton now thinks he’s a sleb when in fact he writes his PR sheet from his mum’s house and has to wank a lot cos he can’t find enough living spunk buckets. At this time of year Brighton sea front is scrotally challenging.

What's your philosophy in life? if you could be the gusset in someone's drawers whose would you choose? Just for a day of course. Health and Safety and all that.

Do unto others before they do unto you. I would be most interested to be the scented paper in Kevin Spacey’s chest of drawers. Perhaps I’d find my neighbour’s Union Jack.

Chanel or Adolfo?

I have no time for Hitler.

You're often heavily criticized for your unflailing support of some of your protegees and your long, actually unending engagement to bad girl Molly Parkin is leg-end-ary. Will you ever tie the knot or will you just continue to tempt and tease your many paramours by putting them always in second place.

Madame Arcati is loyal, poppet. Pure and simple. The joy of an engagement is the delayed gratification itself - so why end it? Why spoil it by gratification? I’d make a splendid agony aunt.

That bicycle. Comment please. Do you have the panier for packages and testubes of animal sperm and parcels or did you dump it for aerodynamics and the power of speed?

Animal sperm? Enough about Perez, please. I cycle very fast and as close to pedestrian elbows as possible.

If you could be anyone in history who would it be? And no, you can't be the Child Catcher. That is already taken.

Eva Braun. The mountain views from the Berghof were enchanting, and think of the things that usefully could be dropped from a very great height.

Sometimes the comments on some of the articles look like the mess after a sixth form common room (co-ed) party. How do you decide when to censor and when not to?

I rarely censor - the very idea! People feel relaxed in my drawing room blog, they let go, along with the syntax etc. But accusations of prime ministerial bestiality cannot be encouraged.

Is it true about Duncan Fallowell's cock? Evidence please.

The picture of his cock is on Madame Arcati. I rest my case.

Do you think people are generally good or generally evil?

I think people are generally.

Do you believe in god? Don't give me the Nick Cohen atheist lisp please.

There is no God but we were invented by something recurringly sentient. Even George W Bush was invented by something recurringly sentient.

When you dance naked around the ouija board what is the music piping from your iPod?

Oh Justin Bieber! Isn't he adorable? I wonder if he’s had his first wet dream yet? Plus I love Cliff Richard dance remixes on YouTube.

Blackberry / iPhone?


Jordan / Katie Price?

Jordan is a safer place to holiday.

Christmas / Hanukkah / Eid?

Winterval darling with touches of Dickensian reinvention.
and anything else you wanna add......or leave out of course.
Thank you for your wonderful questions, Farah. 
And to think we’ve unleashed Piers Morgan on a blameless America. 
Love, MA xxx

George Michael: 'entrapment' interview and tour of his charming Oxfordshire mansion

Well worth a watch, this 2004 Oprah interview promoting his Patience comeback album (NB the sycophantic lengthy applause for Oprah at the start - such acclaim! - oh, the ego!). Love the thought of the sexually aroused cop pleasuring himself in the bog and staring come-hitherly at George - something I had not fully realised till now about the encounter. 'They don't send in Columbo', said GM of the entrapping police and their bathroom games. 'They send in someone good-looking.' Then at the cop station he had some interesting reading material - a copy of the National Enquirer.

He also gives a guided tour of his Oxfordshire 16th century house (from 23:40 in the vid) that he bought in 1999 and passed away in. The library's full of leather-bound books bought in bulk that he had no intention of reading, just part of the 'antique' look, he admits. Some problem with the neighbour Lady Buscombe at the time, but I think she was won round later. Perhaps his £200,000 swimming pool was the problem. I must rewatch to remind myself.

Monday, December 26, 2016

I'm back - but keep it quiet

I have decided to make a return to your world - but I'm not telling anyone, just you. If you found out it's because you're fortunate, attentive or fated to find the truth at this time. This is not part of some New Year's resolution. I have come to the settled view that fear of personal deprivation (as a from of censorship) is not a good enough reason to deprive you of moi. Perhaps the greatest challenge is knowing what I am for. I see that other long-in-the-tooth bloggers like Guy Fawkes are still going strong, churning out the samey stuff - and hasn't Paul Staines done well! What an adorable poppet is Paul. Do I feel kinder? Not really. The same things enrage moi. Let's see what happens. If anything.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Julie Burchill: Beware the cat

This piece on Julie Burchill first appeared in The Astrological Journal earlier this year under the title 'Julie Burchill: the crab that roared'. It's part-astro-analysis, part mini-memoir

Julie Burchill: the crab that roared

By Victor Olliver

British writer Julie Burchill’s middle name may as well be Acrimony (making the acronym JAB). Whichever publication she writes for (it would be simpler to list the no-go titles) controversy is certain to follow. In addition to her countless print media opinion pieces and reviews, she has written books – including bestselling novel Ambition and lesbian teen romance Sugar Rush, adapted into an Emmy award-winning Channel 4 TV series. The self-described militant feminist and ‘Christian Zionist’ lives a hedonistic lifestyle by the English south coast in Hove, East Sussex. How come she seems not to be like her Crab Sun-sign but more a Lion?

Over the last four decades Julie Burchill has discharged a prose blunderbuss at assorted targets, scattering brilliant and irregular shot for the entertainment of the cross-legged or hunched: for tetchy seated people who post a lot of short messages on Facebook and Twitter. 

Her word-projectiles rip through the faux flesh of exaggerated or self-concocted or celebrity stupidity or cupidity so that we, the seated, may wallow vicariously in the tomato sauce of manufactured gore. No one really dies or suffers injury – though a hit may trigger performance rage in ‘victims’ prior to return fire in self-serving media storms comparable to a Mardi Gras. No one loses in Burchill rows, least of all Burchill herself: she lives in some comfort on England’s sunny south coast for which she gives her money’s worth. She produces all the effects of controversy without the risks of real-world fatwa or vendetta. Her genre is like a video war game such as Call of Duty through which the ambient and purposeless anger of consumer loafers can be vicariously doused. Recliningly.

God knows how many murders and random acts of violence she has headed off. Arise, Dame Jules!

Burchill’s passions may be countless and variable, long- or short-term: Israel, transsexuals, Madonna, Thatcher, ex-husbands, God or god; you name it – but each hate or love lacks nothing in authenticity. She’s even taken a pop at astrology. A visceral passion is stirred, precipitating an internal storm of memorable phrases in a chain-reaction of guided, populist irrationalism. These phrases are the building blocks of (at best) sublime comic invective (or occasional, romantic billet-doux, depending on her mood) that can be tailored to suit just about any medium’s demographic profile, whether The Sun’s or The Spectator’s or The Jewish Chronicle’s or anything in between or beyond.

Around the time of her second Jupiter-Jupiter opposition, she was plucked from nowhere at the age of 17 by a youth-slavering New Musical Express. She never really looked back and these days is still the biggest of the very, very few big freelance beasts of British journalism, the periodic newspaper star-signing and banner marketing name. She is also a notable salonnière, drawing any number of writers and others to her table – once at London’s Groucho; these days, at Brighton venues – for friendship or a cross-pollinating natter. Her manner at these leisurely craics is that of an adoring fan who seeks your instant intimacy (personal space soon narrows as she fills you in on her alcohol, drugs or literary consumption): yet, no matter the opiate of choice under which she claims to steer, the wise guest will notice how very alert she remains to her company, preternatural in her mind-reading and conversational anticipations. And she exudes a great blast of mind-altering warmth.

All this contrasts wildly with the public persona which is uncompromising, predatory, boastful, bombastic, insulting; sometimes cruel or shameless – culturally sussed and super-canny and dedicatedly notice-moi. The pose prose is crystal sharp. Humour is her weapon of choice. No vogue word or idea dodges her conscription. She is a creative, hot-desking opportunist with multiple causes, even if at this moment she calls herself “semi-retired” and is planning an autumn life of voluntary work.

The Burchill natal chart

She was born on 3 July, 1959, in Bristol, UK. Burchill told me herself that birth clock-time is unknown so I have drawn up the midday chart and we should ignore houses and angles. I’ve heard people express surprise that she is a Cancerian. Her ‘superior’, mercurial, erratic and confrontational life-approaches hardly fit the traditional profile of the conservative, supposedly risk-averse Crab. Her horoscope reveals why the apparent disconnect. She’s not labelled a ‘firebrand’ for nothing. She has four planets in fiery, proud Leo – Mercury, Venus, Mars and Uranus in a dominant stellium – and pars fortuna in Leo, an indicator of means of success. She needs others’ recognition to experience contentment, as well as ample space to demonstrate her gifts in a showy, noisy, possibly flamboyant way.

Self-expression is integral to her primal nature to a highly advanced extent.

Horoscopically, she’s one of nature’s show-offs, a conclusion any astrologer would reach even if s/he did not know the chart in question was Julie Burchill’s. An added power bonus to this stellium is out-of-sign Pluto, just seven degrees off in Virgo; the sign of its putative fall (unlikely to be of discernible relevance in my view in a personal chart). Here is the execution through the rigour of self-control. This underlines, among other things, her prose punch and analytical/critical bent, the withdrawal into the solo world of the mind and keyboard where her power is sourced (Mercury ruler and Pluto).

So, in many respects, Burchill is leonine: the socially adventurous queen bee (to mix species), generous and loyal – and capable of amazing generosity (Venus); bold, passionate and courageous, and an excellent organiser (she does not miss deadlines) – but inclined to pushiness, impulsiveness and boastfulness (Mars); an expressive and versatile ‘dramatist’ in speech and writing (Mercury); and abundant with creative energy, hugely self-confident but probably highly stubborn and bossy and certainly inclined to perversity or surprise perspectives (Uranus).

Though Leo is traditionally a warming sign, Uranus masks calculation and perhaps signals a blowy hot-cold sort of person: this, with social Venus close by in the blending stellium, suggests an individual who can adeptly and quickly turn on the charm but often for specific ulterior purposes. Leo Venus ramps up the showiness and likelihood of good earnings and a dynamic social life. Note, also, that her Venus is exactly conjunct pars fortuna, often denoting exceptional charm, striking good looks and the role of ‘partnership’ (business or personal) as integral to progress. Uranus here draws her into unconventional relationships and friendships: even if I didn’t know her personal history I would have to say that private life is likely to be turbulent and prone to sudden partings (she is twice divorced). Saturn trine Venus can denote major difficulties and duplicities in close bonds, but also growing happiness in partnership with maturity.

Uranus however assures a break from the norm in domestic set-up. She says she now lives with husband Daniel (who otherwise occupies a place in another part of town), but who knows? Few outside their long union are certain. Does she still talk to his sister Charlotte Raven, her former lover? She has been very rude about ex-husband Cosmo Landesman yet last December the pair made an appearance together at a public reading, recalling affectionately their first-ever meeting (lots of hot sex and cold vodka).

The Leo archetype blazes in an unhindered natal chart – as in the case of Burchill – displaying an almost regal sense of entitlement to life’s gifts and perquisites. If her Cancer Sun inclines her, perhaps surprisingly, to the personal security and cosiness of family – and/or to the adopted ‘family’ of her social coterie – then Leo makes her their uncompromising defender. She will be ferocious in seeing off attackers, though the large-heartedness of Leo may allow forgiveness even if Cancer clings quietly to the hurt. When the newspaper columnist Suzanne Moore was accused of transphobia in 2013, close pal Burchill valiantly counter-attacked critics as self-appointed champion and drew a lot of flak. Burchill’s personal needs are expressed overtly. The home theatre seeks a drama.

(Fans of Black Moon Lilith [i.e. not a planet but a geometrical point - Moon’s farthest point from Earth] – defined by some as an emerging feminine power archetype in the horoscope – may note that it is square the Leo stellium via Mars and Venus, indicative of power-related conflicts in the life and, at the very least, turbulent associations.)

When I met Burchill

I had some small experience of Burchill’s leonine nature a few years back, for good or not. The summons arrived by email one day: my then Madame Arcati media blog pleased her and she invited me to join her and others for lunch at the Hotel du Vin, Brighton. The moment we met she soaked me in charm, affection and admiration, as if we were old friends. Venus-pars fortuna could not be bettered in display. I was responsive: her Venus conjoins my Pluto (opposition Lilith); so that’s another story of complicated mutual attraction and power triggers. How we all purred. I wondered whether we’d rubbed noses before. At table she seated me between herself and her local vicar. When in later conversation the man-in-frock asked me what was the point of my Madame Arcati website, she suddenly turned from mid-bantering with someone to her left and replied for me – “to tell the truth”. I was impressed by that. Not just by the answer (judged correct if not flattering) but by her perceptual multi-tasking and feline sharp ears. Afterwards, she invited some of us back to her apartment in Hove. There she said to me, “I read your blog - and I never read blogs.” It was meant as a compliment but it was also another way of saying that big is looking down on small. I thought it mean-spirited of me to interpret her otherwise big heart in this way, especially after she spontaneously took down an Italian ceramic wall tile (featuring a pussy cat with the words “Attenti al Gatto” – beware the cat) and gifted it to me on my way out.

The next day she emailed me an invitation to join her and another at very short notice on a 5-star overseas holiday at her expense – yet another example of extraordinary Leo-Venus liberality. I refused of course. Friends thought I was mad not to say Yes to a freebie with (omigod!) Julie Burchill. But experience has taught me to beware idiosyncratic charm offences. It had struck me as odd, for instance, that she had asked me no questions about my personal life situation at the lunch or her flat – she never did. Later, she wrote of our “bromance” in an email. And she sent me a truly excellent lyric poem she’d penned for a pop star. Leo was in full gush; Leo-Venus at her most Santa-esque.

But the truth in my mean suspicion was proved to me at a subsequent get-together in London. She’d invited a few friends to join her and husband Daniel at a drinks in One Aldwych’s Lobby Bar – she was celebrating a Sunday Times Magazine deal or something – I think she’d sold them a short story. One well-known female tabloid hack was off her head on booze and gazed at me with undisguised dismissiveness as she draped herself over a sofa and chirruped at Julie. A small-time radio jock treated me to his absolute certainty that there’s no such thing as an afterlife and that all psychics are frauds. No research was mentioned. I prepared to get away sooner than planned. Perhaps Julie sensed an attitude in me – I was now in an offish mood -  but at some point she leaned over and muttered in a pissed, whispery snarl, “Just remember, I’m the star here”, before quickly moving on and talking sweetly about something else.

The distant roar of the lioness had just been heard in this boutique hotel jungle. Attenti al gatto? I had been put me in my place. It was a mark of her journalistic royalty that she had not even bothered to discover what my place might be.

Burchill and Israel – a love story

Returning to Burchill’s horoscope: Cancer Sun usually bestows a maternal air, moodiness and/or fluctuating interests (likely more so in Burchill’s case with Moon in capricious but ever-curious and clever Gemini). In person the Crab tends to gentleness and accommodation as a rule, resorting to sidling ways if confounded.

The combination of Cancer-Leo upholds fidelity and self-responsibility. Leo’s wild, creative exuberance is restrained by the Sun-Saturn opposition – this is an individual who does not in general forget her responsibilities, but she tends to clash with authority. An uneasy alliance exists between others’ power and her ego.

What else? As I just mentioned, her Moon (emotional nature – and ruler of her Sun-sign) is in Gemini (the communicator/writer, ruled by Mercury in Leo): this tells me that she is a dominant presence, and comfortable in media settings. She will like the company of fellow communicators, writers, speakers and teachers. Her responses are sharp and direct. She won’t be slow in repartee or reply to emails or texts. The instinct to speak up and out will be irresistible; nervous strain sometimes palpable. She has a need for much surface stimuli; is easily bored. Moon’s trine to North Node in Libra speaks of excitability and a pronounced admiration for courage and achievement; but also of a less obvious quest for serenity and/or soul connection – through partnership, or relationship with a god or God or Life. Her growing interest in volunteering may apply here.

Astrologically, the life challenge is to view all sides of an argument (see the nodal Aries-Libra axis). Given the tyrannous Leo richness of the chart this may appear to be a tall order. Nonetheless, the lesson is indicated – beneath the posing, posturing, blather and noise, the soul yearns for synthesis or harmony even if the ‘professional’ in her seeks this through vain, one-sided victory. Perhaps her sense of kinship with Israel is part of this.

On this last point, astrologers may like to note that modern Israel – which Burchill strongly identifies with - has (like Burchill) four planets in Leo (including Mars, widely conjunct Burchill’s Mars) and that Israel’s Mercury is one degree short of exact Burchill’s Moon in Gemini, suggesting that the nation’s extremely bold and courageous or ruthless qualities resonate sympathetically with her internal need to live life through passion, demonstration and certainty. Her heart is drawn to the country’s spirit and turbulent narrative, quite aside from other considerations.

Typical Cancerians are already sensitive to mood. In Burchill, both Jupiter and Neptune are found in delving, sensitising Scorpio. Neptune here especially intensifies peripheral awareness, bolstering capability for picking up on all sorts of subtle cues (social, psychic, etc – think about the way she followed my conversation at the Hotel du Vin with her vicar while she spoke with someone else) and using this data both for insight and assault. Her claim to be indifferent to criticism is not really borne out by her Neptune (or Moon) – quite the reverse in fact. This blustery hubris is her Leo stellium talking, a proud beast that rarely admits a bleed. Neptune trine Sun, sextile Pluto (which co-rules Scorpio) - artistic talent and psychological insight are formidable. Square the Leo stellium, Neptune’s love of dreams and glamour can get the better of Burchill – her celebration of a hedonistic lifestyle being but one expression of this escapist trait. Jupiter square Leo stellium points to huge creative energies but also to larger-than-life characteristics, a tendency to exaggerate, dramatise, over-spend or distort. These are not inevitable features, simply potential.

The chart shape of Burchill’s chart is called a Locomotive because the principal planets fill about two-thirds of the wheel, leaving about one-third unoccupied: the planetary arrangement resembles a train and is often associated with people who leave their stamp on all that they do. The primary ‘engine’ of this pattern is the Gemini Moon. If I did not know this was Burchill’s chart I would say: “At a glance this tells me of highly emotive judgements, excitability, volubility, endless curiosity about people and powerful reaction to opposition or disapproval. At best, intellect and intuition form a powerful duo for analysis and expression. This person knows how to hit a nerve. In some with this combination, distrust of the so-called irrational way of life sits uncomfortably with a highly subjective life perspective.”

With a beneficial sextile between Moon and the Leo stellium planets, media accomplishment is directly linked to contentious, mischievous and lion-hearted performance. It would be entirely fair to say that Burchill is making the most of her natal gifts – and you don’t have to be an astrologer to see that.

PS: This piece, but for a few amendments, appears in my book Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2015. At the time of release, I was no longer in touch with Julie – partly because of the goings-on at One Aldwych (as described above), partly because I didn’t like her public comments on transsexuals following the Suzanne Moore social media eruption; and generally because as much as I admire the Beast That Is Burchill I did not feel any sense of personal communication between us: we were just semaphoring at each other in a one-sided opiate haze.

One Monday morning in February 2015 there was a warm surprise message for me on my Facebook page – from Julie. This is what she wrote: “I'm reading your book LIFESURFING, with me in it! The Israel stuff is UNCANNY! It's SO good! - JB XX PS Sorry if I was a pain, I was in my Neely O'Hara years. Failure has made me FAR nicer”. How could I not be moved by such an outrageous play to my ego, leaving aside the hearty compliment?

What impressed me most was her failure to be predictable. She could have said, “How dare you write about a private occasion and not seek my permission first! How you’re going to suffer!” A surprise can cause me to warm to just about anyone, provided it’s not a kick in the butt. But then her Mercury conjoins my Uranus, making a mutual friend of impulse and open communication.

If I know JB at all it’s largely thanks to her horoscope. And she has not challenged anything in this piece (yet).

Julie Burchill’s latest book is Unchosen: The Memoirs of a Philo-Semite