“You will never be rich,” she said. That was prophetic

The mists are parting...

The mists are parting... - Credit: Archant


While I am Aquarius, astrologically speaking, I feel my destiny is less in the stars and more a matter of human design. Through our lives we are subject to so many influences that surely we are moulded by them more than a chance date...

According to Hoyle, an Aquarian is truthful, curious, just, affectionate, frank and imaginative (tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick... bit of a question mark over truthful, perhaps) On the negative side she is unpredictable, detached, has a tendency to go off-track, and is inefficient. I am none of those things, probably because I'm on the cusp.

I was born in a snowstorm on February 18 1955 and have been cold ever since but this is less a matter of planetary alignments and more about my birth weather... or, more prosaically, bad circulation. But having said that, if I see a horoscope, I feel compelled to read it.

'The 2017 forecast for Aquarius zodiac sign asks you to try to date someone who loves exciting things like you do.'

Ah yes, those exciting things such as reading books, watching telly, clipping my toe nails, tweezing my chin hairs, getting in a fish and chip supper... now, where could I find a man who shares these thrills? It's not going o much of an online dating profile, is it? Well, I suppose my husband will just have to do, despite his restless legs (in bed) and vocal antipathy to newspaper columnists who don't share his point of view.

Once, in the Seventies on Clacton pier, I think it was, I crossed a gipsy's (she called herself a gipsy) palm with silver to hear my fate.

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In fact, it wasn't silver at all, it was a 50p coin but she also accepted notes, she said, rather killing the air of mystery inside her booth.

She then gave me a few observations such as: 'You will never be rich.' She got that one right. She studied my hand and took me to the brink... 'I see something terrible looming in the future... and if you want to know what will happen next, you must cross my other palm with a £1 note.'

At this point I bravely decided not to go further with this consultation because I couldn't afford to pay any more. You would have thought she would have known that as she seemed to have all the gen on my finances. My fiancé (reader, I married him) asked me what she'd said and I told him.

He told me not to worry and asked if I'd like an ice cream. A much better way to spend the £1.

In early 1981, when I was heavily pregnant with our first child, a woman came to the door with a basket of pegs, heather and lace. 'Lucky lace for the baby?' she said.

I still have the eight-inch strip of cotton lace that cost me a mighty £5 (it lives alongside the £10 faux chamois leather I bought from a young man who said he was trying to rebuild his life after leaving prison). I'm not sure if the lace brought me luck but, when you're expecting a baby, you can be emotionally fragile.

If there is such a thing as a lucky person, my grandmother was one. She used to tour the East Anglian coast with a coach party from her community centre winning money at bingo – Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth. I don't think they have a bingo game on Southwold pier... yet.

What shapes us is not our stars but other people. My mum who sang to me; my nanna who chided me for talking sing-song Suffolk and talking during card games; my auntie June who taught me to make Yorkshire puddings; the teacher who, when I was at infant school, made me learn all the imperial measurements over school lunches. To this day, knowing that there are 4,840 square yards in an acre has been of absolutely no use to me whatever and I have rarely been called upon to share how many inches are in a mile. But they do remind me of lumpy mashed potato.

Then there is my husband has undoubtedly tamed me... not that I was feral, merely temperamentally unsuited to being told I am wrong. I think this is because it so rarely happens. My children too have moulded me – and helped to ensure the gipsy's prophesy regarding my financial situation would come to pass.

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