Friday, September 30, 2011

Jonathan King autobiography hits the No 1 spot in Amazon's Kindle chart

I am delighted to see that Jonathan King's autobiography 65 My Life So Far hit No1 on the Amazon Kindle pop culture chart. This is amazing given the near-universal attempt to edit our tastes by our nation's media by ignoring the intriguing tome. Thanks to Madame Arcati's review and that of Roger Lewis in The Lady, however, and a little PR by the author himself, and... well, success!

You don't have to be signed up to the JK Fan Club to appreciate his priceless anecdotes about bisexual John Lennon and sooo many other stars he worked and (well) hung out with. Despite the BBC's best efforts to delete him from public record there's no denying his huge contribution to pop culture, for better or worse.

Madame's review can be read here. To buy the e-book, click here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gavin James Bower interview: 'Big Society? Big fuck off and die'

Gavin James Bower
Gavin James Bower is back! Britain's best-looking male novelist, former runway supermodel and strategic tweeter has survived the forbidding hell of first novel acclaim (Dazed & Aroused - see labels for more) and just got on with the second. Made In Britain is a very different kind of fiction, urban grungy to the first's mannequin glam, which gets down with the post-industrial 'feral underclass' kids - the kind of hoodie urban cunties who back in August gave great copy by tearing down our cities in order to return animal sentience to certain vegetative newspaper columnists. As marketing ploy for Made In Britain, the riots should surely win Gavin's publishers Quartet a Campaign award for product placement prescience. Naturally, Madame Arcati was most keen to catch up with a man whose literary antennae miss no societal nook.....

Gavin, poppet. Such a joy to be interviewing you again! I have forgiven you for not attending Duncan Fallowell’s launch party for How To Disappear as my gossip-spy. I hear you went shopping instead. What did you buy?

GJB: I really should have gone. My shopping partner would attest to that. I spent a good hour looking at plaid flannel shirts, only to discover that every other man in London has at some point in the last twelve months done exactly the same. I've since ceremonially set fire to the bastard. (The shirt - not my shopping partner.)

Now, it’s been about two years since you published Dazed & Aroused and your new novel Made In Britain is just out - will it make me dilate the way your debut novel did?

GJB: I'd like nothing more. In fact, when my publisher and I plotted world takeover earlier this year, atop our white board of primary action items was 'Dilate Madame'. To carry on the conceit, it's a bit of a stretch from my first dip, the length feels just right - and, even though it's bittersweet, there is something of a happy ending. 

I gather - because I’ve not read it yet (except for a few pages on Amazon) - that Made In Britain dwells on the so-called teenage ‘feral underclass’ of Burnley - their drugs, dreams, dicks, etc. The August city riots couldn’t have been timed better! (Not that I’m saying….) Did you will the rioters on from your TV sofa? And while we’re on the subject, I think a few of the judges and magistrates got rather carried away with themselves, sending convicts off to the colonies and what have you - middle-aged baby-boomers with fat arses are quite brutal, aren’t they?

GJB: People on Twitter - middle class pseudo-journalists with nothing better to do than spray textual diarrhoea all over their iPhones - cheered these riots on, certainly, while the government couldn't get enough. Big Society? Big fuck off and die. Unaccountable though the powers that be may feel, the riots sharpened the discourse about the betrayal of former industrial towns and the working class, which is no bad thing - not just for my book, but for where I'm from and the people left behind.

How would you characterise the present coalition government of Old Etonians and multi-millionaires? Do they cause you to dilate?

GJB: They cause me to constrict; indeed, I've a sort of exacerbated constipation. I'm in rectal retrograde, Madame! The powerlessness that's characterised politics for a decade is starting to dissipate, while power's simultaneously becoming more concentrated - in, and at the hands of, the reactive and the reactionary. There's a perennial sense of déjà vu with capitalism - but nothing's inevitable, one way or the other.

Drugs appear to be a major contributory cause of social and psychic defeat in your novel. What’s to be done about urban chemical romances? And what do you do when you’re offered a line of coke at a party?

GJB: I needed a 'cool consultant' for my first novel, to help with the pills, lines and, even, fags (not that kind). I'm still the same 'clean cut lad' who was told by a mother of a friend at school, after I'd egged her house, that he's 'poison inside'.

I can’t imagine that you, a former celebrated runway model and feted novelist from a northern town, were ever feral or an underclass trog - perhaps you observed your peers from the sidelines and made notes….?

GJB: I needed to leave my home town and get distance from it before I wrote about growing up. I ended up taking ten years - from the point at which I started the book, to the age I was writing about. I went to a state comp, I didn't live far from where the riots were - and I did all the things normal working class kids do (play on the field, smash up derelict buildings, kick a football about when the factory finished). My experience of feeling awkward, like I didn't fit in - that's in all three characters. But the abuse, the drugs, the violence - that's all taken from somewhere else, albeit very close to home. Just not my home.

Gavin in a former life
Made In Britain has already received a very favourable reception. Sophie Waugh, the well known anarchist, gave it a rave in the Guardian, and I see my darling newspaper columnist Suzanne Moore has thrown a critical bouquet. How would you compare the reviews of the new book with those of Dazed &amp Aroused? Any cunt-critics we need to sort out?

GJB: I've had some criticisms - about the fine line the book treads between 'grown up' and YA, and about the leap in subject-matter - but yes so far the reaction's been good. It's a more ambitious book - but also more vulnerable to criticism. The first was premise and style, and a bit take it or leave it. This one's plot and good old fashioned tragedy. The stories and voices have to stand up. There'll always be cunt-critics, though I'm savvy to when it's straight criticism and when it's just personal.

Would you like Made In Britain to be made into a movie? If so, who should be director? Not Ken Loach I hope.

GJB: One criticism I had of the book early on was also a compliment; namely, that the book was very cinematic. So yes, I'd like to see that. Billy Walsh could direct - if he were a real person. Otherwise someone with a bigger chip on his shoulder than mine. Someone who gives a shit about the real consequences of post-industrialisation. Someone who can capture what it is that gives us our identity - as a town, and as a class. 'The next Vincent Gallo' would do, especially as he's retired.

Now Gavin, this wouldn’t be a Madame Arcati interview if we didn’t delve a little into your amatory life department. How many times have you had sex in the period between the two novels and with how many partners?

GJB: I had one girlfriend between the publication of Dazed and this summer. But now les paris sont ouverts.

And just so it’s on the record, I take it that the photograph that came in to my possession, of the headless man with a rather extravagant erection, is not you. Be honest, now.

GJB: You'd almost certainly be correct. Though I'd like nothing more to have my erection described as 'extravagant'. Well, after making Madame dilate.

I see you’re a Scorpio -  said to be unforgiving, among other things. Do you regard astrology and related divinatory practices as mumbo-jumbo? Put another way, how many drug-addicted astrologers and psychics do you know?

GJB: I value loyalty and am unforgiving, that's true. It's a one-strike policy with me. I lack faith, so it's hard for me to accept anything 'divinatory'. I only know you, but I'm rather glad to say so.

And finally, Gavin. Are you working on a third novel? If so, tell us more.

Lady Gaga or Claude Cahun,
 born 1894 (a Scorpio)? GJB is
writing about one or other
GJB: Book three's a non-fiction biography/polemic for Zero Books, on the surrealist artist Claude Cahun. Google her immediately, fall in love and, if you're anything like me, shave your head to get into character.

Gavin! Thank you so much for your time. And good luck with Made In Britain.

GJB: xxxx 

Made In Britain: To read an excerpt and buy a copy click here

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Duncan Fallowell: The night he took off with Muriel Belcher's crutches

Duncan Fallowell
Alas, I was unable to attend 'libertine' Duncan Fallowell's dazzling London launch party for his new travel book How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits the other day. And my appointed gossip-spy, model-turned-novelist Gavin James Bower, substituted retail therapy for promised mission - tsk. It's just as well I am forgiving. However, I learn from the London Evening Standard's Diary that 'an eclectic bunch of misfits, hedonists, socialites and the odd Zoroastrian' turned out and a fab time was had by all. (Click here to read the item]

The Diary, which seems to have lost nothing in the paper's transition from paid-for to freebie, relates an amusing tale told by one of the guests, art dealer James Birch. He 'recalled his first encounter with Fallowell, which left an indelible impression. “He went up to my father and asked if he was heterosexual. When he said he was, Duncan kissed him full on the lips. My father nearly fell off his chair.”'

Ah, yes, the event is recalled and I can tell more.

The encounter was at a large sit-down dinner at the Royal College of Art for the late artist and writer Dicky Chopping's retirement. Birch was indeed there with his father. Fallowell went with sometime lover and Britain's first transsexual, April Ashley; and unfortunately he got incredibly drunk. James Birch was wearing a fetching all-white suit and Fallowell pursued him all round the hall with a trembling glass of claret. Birch proved to be too quick for his pursuer - so Fallowell ran off with Muriel Belcher's crutches which she'd parked neatly beside her seat. This had never happened to her before. The filthy-mouthed Colony crone looked panic stricken - 'For God's sake stop that young man!' she wailed as he ran off out of the hall with them.

I am happy to report that when he gallantly returned them to her 10 minutes later she made him an honorary member of the Colony for bravery. And thereafter Fallowell was always called 'Young man' at the Colony, even after her death. Once or twice I heard Ian Board call him 'Young man' when he was 40 - er, some years past now.

Incidentally, in other matters, my friends in the book trade tell me How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits sold out before the launch - the warehouse cleaned out - but fortunately his canny publishers Ditto kept a couple of boxes in reserve for the party. They are now rushing to reprint.

To read my review of the book, click here. Worth reading (also!) is Byron Rogers' marvellously batty Spectator review. And to think, Byron used to write Prince Charles' speeches - 'Such big hands,' he is wont to say of his once royal master.

(PS: One minute [interview] with Duncan Fallowell in the Independent.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eve Branson: Why can't the mother of a very famous man find a decent publisher?

Eve Branson
I imagined that the mother of Sir Richard Branson - founder of Virgin Books - would have no problem in finding a paying orthodox publisher for her work. Yet Eve Branson has had to 'self-publish' her children's book Sarky Puddleboat via Authorhouse, which charges around £1000 per title (and does not even list Eve's book in its online store, neither nor .com).

The London Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary reports: 'Rescued [by Kate Winslet] from the fire on Necker Island, she is just about to publish her first book [Sarky Puddleboat] at the grand age of 90.'

Ooh, I'm not sure about that. The book appears to have been released in February of this year and is already available through all good online retailers the worldover at various discounts. Even her age may be disputed. She tells the Telegraph she was born in 1924.

The Standard's Diary and Telegraph also report that Eve's working on her memoirs, Mum's The Word, which she hopes will be out for Christmas. As do I. Except that as far back as 2006, Mrs Branson was tantalising us with book news: the Mail reported then: 'She has just finished her autobiography, is starting a book called Life Begins At 70 and has been taking lessons in how to write romantic novels.' Alas, I see nothing of these sorts listed on Amazon.

I really do not like being kept waiting. None of us is getting any younger! And in the light of Eve's latest exciting escape from conflagration, Branson's Pickle is the obviously better title for the promised life story.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Private Eye: The First 50 Years - a non-review

Just after the Madame Arcati blog arrived on this planet in 2006, Private Eye was sweetly among the first of the media to notice. A contributor to its pages even invited me to one of the magazine's regular Soho pub get-togethers - naturally I declined, politely alluding to my osteoporotic fragility in city street breezes. This was one butterfly that had no intention of being pinned in someone's collection cabinet. Let's just say I know how journalists' minds work, dearies. Oh, yes.

(It has occurred to me since that I should turn up one day with fiancee Molly Parkin. That could be amusing)

Private Eye: The First 50 Years is out now and I have absolutely no intention of buying a copy. I say this in full confidence that a relative or ex-lover will read this and pick up on the hint. I could hassle for a review copy but I have no intention of reviewing it as it is unreviewable and can only serve as prompt for a dreary magazine history lesson or analysis of British satire or slagging of priggish editor Ian Hislop. Not that the book is expensive. On Amazon it's only £17; and I notice that you can buy this book, and the Private Eye Annual AND The Best of Matt 2011 for a knockdown all-in £27.32.

If you like your satire small c conservative (hello, Matt), then this is a must.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Johann Hari: As I said, scandal will do him no harm whatsoever

As I wrote on June 28, the fuss over columnist Johann Hari will do him no harm whatsoever. So I told you so. Many privately assured me that he would lose his job at the Independent but I knew better. Once you understand that newspaper editors are craven in the court of celebrity - even a micro-celebrity created by themselves or predecessors - it was rapidly deducible that a laundering formula would be found to retain Hari's services which did not include the words 'You're fired!'

What impresses me most is that Hari has clearly paid attention to Madame Arcati. In my piece (linked above), I lectured that a celeb interview is an 'encounter' not an 'intellectual portrait' as he self-servingly put it: so, in yesterday's apology, what word does he use to display his new wisdom and describe a celebrity interview? 'Encounter'. He learns fast. No wonder he's good at exams.

At heart is not Hari's lack of journalistic education - as his new editor claimed ludicrously last night on Newsnight - but his very low opinion of journalism. You don't stuff up your interviews with quotes from elsewhere and then pass them off as your own work unless you think that no-one will notice or care. You don't pinch someone's name to attack critics on Wikipedia unless you imagine colleagues are stupid. Ease of career passage has bequeathed Hari nothing but contempt and cynicism. His 'apology' is a lesson in cynicism.

Hari does not need yet more education. What he needs is to find a new career he can respect.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Natalie Rowe and Molly Parkin meet in a shop and discuss George Osborne and toff sex

George Osborne and Natalie Rowe
back in the early naughty 90s
What is it about my darling (everlasting) fiancee Molly Parkin and shops?

Only the other day she told us about her encounter with Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and their kids in Ad Hoc, the King's Road cutting-edge fashion store. Now she tells me that about 18 months ago she chanced on another noted beauty of some notoriety in a shop - Natalie Rowe, the lady and 'dominatrix' who claims to have kept the smile on George Osborne's fresh, shiny face long before he unleashed austerity upon us as Chancellor.

This unscheduled meeting took place in King's Road newsagent Lucky Me Enterprise. 'It was early evening,' says Molly. 'I understand now she's a regular customer there. I went in to buy my chocolate eclairs and rubbish celebrity magazines. And this beautiful creature wearing a wonderful perfume approached me and said, "It's Molly Parkin isn't it? I'm one of your biggest fans - I love your writing and reading about you...". And then she told who she was - Natalie Rowe.

Molly Parkin
'She had such glamour, translucent skin and a beautiful mouth, and laughing eyes. An educated girl, an upper class Chelsea accent; high bohemian. She waited for me to make my purchases and then we walked out together and along the King's Road in the Sloane Square direction. I asked her what she did for a living - I didn't recognise her name or recognise her from the famous party photo [above] of her with George Osborne when he was a 22 year-old Oxford graduate.

'She said: "You've not heard of me? I used to be a madam, I ran Black Beauties." And I said: "Oh, I always wanted to be a madam!" I'd conducted orgies in New York and at my old house in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea. She told me she'd sold a story to the Sunday Mirror about George Osborne, and mentioned something about the News of the World and phone hacking (when Andy Coulson was editor) and how George was denying using cocaine at one of her parties [which he has repeatedly denied since].

'I asked Natalie: "Did you fuck him?" She replied: "Absolutely".

'I said that he's a typical Old Etonian, isn't he. [Osborne did not go to Eton, btw] In my experience, Old Etonians have a predilection for vice girls. I told her of an Old Etonian I'd known, an aristocrat, and how he'd asked me to wear a tightly belted mackintosh in a bed with rubber sheets - he loved the feel of them - and I'd asked him, "Are you incontinent?" He'd given me a vintage yellow Rolls Royce and had champagne delivered to my door every morning. He even gave me diamond rings which I gave to mother. Sadly the rings were stolen by a window cleaner.

'We laughed a lot talking about Old Etonians and their love of exciting sex which some call kinkiness and then she told me that publishers had approached her to write her story - I know she mentioned Bloomsbury, which surprised me, as publishers of Harry Potter.

'We must have talked and laughed for about half-an-hour. She said, "I love talking with you and would love to talk again." We hugged and parted our separate ways. I felt we were sisters under the skin; she's a sweetheart.'

Natalie sounds adorable. Do get in touch if you read this, poppet. Certainly bachelor George had great taste in, er, interesting friends.

PS If you're famous and see Moll in a shop, do go talk to her. I'm all ears!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Glenda Bailey OBE: Erstwhile queen of the Marie Claire cocks supplement

Glenda Bailey
New York's other British fashion queen, Glenda Bailey, is keeping docile feature writers busy, I see. The 52 year-old editor of Harper's Bazaar has a book to flog, Harper's Bazaar Greatest Hits (a mere £28.99 from Amazon; or if you prefer, £35.99 from Telegraph Books), and a V&A talk to publicise - September 18. Not to mention 'Harper's Bazaar: A Decade of Style' which runs until 8 January 2012 at the International Centre of Photography in New York. Book return flights now!

In the Observer today, a grazing fawner avers, 'While running the American version of Marie Claire, [Bailey's] penchant for risk-taking was legendary.' I'm sure it was. But nothing compared to her pioneering antics on British Marie Claire - I wouldn't expect any of the newspaper indentured tots to know anything about that time (the 80s-90s, darling); or even to imagine that sentience was alive and kicking even before their own natal birth.

Who can forget (if one knew to start with) Glenda's notorious penises supplement? When I tell people who doze through Glamour now, they think I'm making it up. But Glenda Bailey OBE, and friend of Karl Lagerfeld, actually persuaded the dull Old Spice scrotes of IPC that what the world needed was the gift of a penises supplement. And there they were, dozens and dozens of different disembodied dicks, a bonanza of Bobbitt-like chopped, cropped choppers, all close-shot - and this before pajazzling. An Argos catalogue of sausages, winkles, cigars, buttons (?) all manner of types; some cut, some not; though all flaccid. This exhibition of cock caused a fuss at the time and sales rocketed.

Glenda's genius was simply this: no mainstream women's glossy editor had ever thought or dared to do this before. Like Warhol and his art. She was copied briefly of course; and then the novelty was done. And later, Glenda got her OBE.

Deservedly so, I'm sure.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Molly Parkin: So, what's Angelina Jolie really like in a London shop?

Angelina Jolie
My everlasting fiancee Molly Parkin has told me of her encounter with Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and their von Trapp-like brood in a London shop the other day.

Moll had time to kill before sitting down to Almodovar's latest movie The Skin I Live In at her local Curzon cinema in the King's Road. 'So I popped opposite over the road into my favourite punk boutique Ad Hoc, also known as "Boy",' she says. 'I take all visitors to London to this tiny outlet - it personifies everything that Chelsea was once world-renowned for: originality, flair, theatrical excess; in direct contrast to the dire conformity of Marks & Spencer further up the King's Road.'

There, she bumped into the Hollywood star - whom she'd never met before - and soon got on chatting terms with her and two of her children, daughters Zahara and Shiloh: 'To open the conversation I congratulated Angelina on her family. Not her beauty or her fame or her film performances. At rock bottom she is a mother.

'There were no nannies present. I assumed no security, but I later learnt that before Angelina's arrival, about eight Brangelina security men and women had checked the shop out first and had kept an eye on me when I approached.

'I liked the way she pointed out to the clamouring children that if they spent their pocket money on "fripperies", they would have none left for ice cream later - and they accepted this without demur.

Molly Parkin
'On introduction they offered their hands for a handshake, with enchanting smiles. Heart-breakers; pre-teen. When I told Angelina my name was Molly and that I was an artist she responded, "I can tell that!" Angelina herself was very demurely garbed and devoid of makeup. She had the aura of a schoolgirl chum you could stay in touch with for life.

'She responded eagerly when I said this was the very best shop in London for the young at heart, kids of all ages, confiding that she had been a customer there since the age of 14.

'On my departure I noticed they were being picked up by Brad who expressed admiration for my Andrew Logan brooch - my pulses quickened, I do admit that. His handsome features were those of a younger understudy, or a cloned minder, so maybe it wasn't Brad; but the effect was the same.'

How enchanting. A lovely celebrity encounter for a change. Coincidentally I have just completed Brad's and Angelina's horoscopes (not commissioned by them) and would say she is the disciplinarian of the two while he is the controller of purse strings. A pair built to last together despite periodic rumours to the contrary.

Ad Hoc
And incidentally, in other matters, Molly Parkin talks about her girlhood paper round in Radio 4's The Paper Round on September 20 at 3,45pm (details, click here) - this features her duet with Bing Crosby.

And if you didn't catch her Desert Island Discs appearance on Radio 4 earlier this year, click here to listen to it. She's at 13th if you scroll down the page.

PS I learn from Ad Hoc, that after Moll had left the shop, Angelina asked the staff who that 'wonderful, extraordinary lady' was. Now she knows.

PPS Molly is now certain it was Brad Pitt at Ad Hoc and not a security man. She has examined recent shaved pics.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Jonathan King: BBC edits him out of a Top of the Pops rerun

The BBC's vacuous decision to edit out an appearance of Jonathan King on a 1976 edition of Top of the Pops for a BBC4 rerun sets an intriguing precedent. We all know King was convicted and jailed for sex with underage teenage boys a few years back, but what could be the rationale for this show 'laundering'; this charade that King never existed?

As columnist Terence Blacker writes in the Independent, "Certainly, if the BBC's new policy is to give musicians a retrospective morality test before allowing them on the screen, its censorship department is going to be busy. There will be no room for Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pete Townshend, Ike Turner and many others – and that's before one has even reached jazz."

To this roster of BBC disappearing acts we should perhaps add, among so many others, George Michael, Michael Jackson (OK never convicted, but, y'know....), Boy George, Gary Glitter of course, Sid Vicious. Oh, and not forgetting convicted murderer Phil Spector and all his work. And if past notoriety is a factor in deciding spiritual contagion, should we not even consider Sir Elton John for footage oblivion - after all, that well known hack-moralist Alison Boshoff of the Daily Mail felt compelled to write this line in worthless huffy-puffiness back in 1999: "Sir Elton John was last night facing the possibility of legal action after he appeared with a troupe of male strippers dressed as Cub Scouts at a gay rights concert." Sir Elton still awaits the writ.

Whoever at the BBC made the decision to airbrush King out is in the wrong job. There must be a Murdoch red-top that needs you.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Duncan Fallowell: A Cruel ghost tale of a Craven death

Long-distance followers of Madame Arcati will know of the unclassifiable (yet detachable) bond between myself and writer Duncan Fallowell. I know he had mixed feelings about my publishing the nude photo of him - passed to me by a mischief-maker-by-the-Med. Now we must test our alliance once again: he may not be entirely happy to learn that information has reached me of his mysterious 'ghost novel' - and naturally I feel compelled to repeat it.

One of the episodes in his new travel book How To Disappear (Madame Arcati review) was to be about the so-called Curse of the Cravens: holders of the Craven title are prone to dying young. However, I learn that this turned into a book in its own right, his ghost novel which is titled Cruel - and remains unpublished. This is because it contains a vivid deathbed scene for the actual Dowager Countess of Craven whom he assumed to have died long ago. Oops. It turned out she was still alive (a Gemini, natch) - in her 90s - and very much the matriarch! - so of course he couldn't put the novel forward.

My informant tells me that Duncan had had his eyes peeeeeled for her obituary ever since, desperate to sell his novel - but nothing. Then last week a death notice for her appeared in the Telegraph - she died peacefully in her sleep in June. A cloud with a literary silver lining: Cruel is now unleashed, ready to spook and tell the tale of the horizontal Countess whose two sons tragically predeceased her.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time Fallowell has determined someone's death prematurely. In How To Disappear, he pursues the social climber Bapsy Pavry (aka Lady Winchester). At one stage he is quite convinced she must be dead until disabused. Then he has his 'supernatural Pavry obituary' experience - for more about which you must read the book. (click here to buy)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Anthony Burgess: Listen to his Tarot short story

On Christmas Day last I posted something on Anthony Burgess and his unpublished short story on the Tarot, Chance Would be a Fine Thing. You can now hear it read on BBC iPlayer by John Sessions - my thanks to Arcatiste poet Köy Deli for drawing this to my attention. It's only available for four days from today for reasons not given.

The BBC explains: 'Burgess himself was fascinated by the idea of cartomancy (or predicting the future with cards). He designed his own set of Tarot cards for domestic use, and, when working as a schoolmaster in Oxfordshire in the 1950s, he disguised himself as 'Professor Sosostris the famous clairvoyant' and told fortunes at a village fete.'

Written in the early 1960s, the short story is a slightly amusing cod-morality tale about the perils of misusing the divinatory cards (as opposed to using them at all). A middle-aged woman wants to know if she is ever likely to come into any money but is befuddled by the card-reader's deft ability to avoid specificity. Sessions' crone voice impersonations are a titter.

To listen to the story, click here.