It's my birthday. At least, it was two days ago, when I walked into a shop called Astrology and paid pounds 25 for a computer-generated astrological birth chart, plus a forecast for the year ahead. I need all the advice I can get these days. I still have not made my first million, and as I said, I am getting older by the minute.

The young lady behind the counter fed my details into the terminal, pressed the button and smiled at the screen. I leaned forward, eager for enlightenment. 'Do you know anything about astrology?' she asked. 'This is what we call a splash chart.' I gave her the twisted smile of bemusement. 'Everything is scattered. And both your sun and moon are mutable. Does your mind jump around?

'Sagittarians are energetic seekers,' she continued, handing over the book-like chart. 'They fire their arrows and chase them.' Instantly I found myself in an arcing flight back toward my cold-water garret.

There I turned to Dominant Character Traits: Ascendant Gemini. Opening line, complete jaw-dropper: 'On first impressions people find you witty and quite articulate, perhaps more quick-witted than you really are, especially on the phone.' Sussed] I was hooked. 'You look younger than you are and may adapt your appearance quite often.' Mmmm. A blatant appeal to vanity? 'Essentially restless . . . outwardly blunt and open with your remarks, inwardly sensitive and vulnerable . . . marvellous sense of humour . . . a strong spiritual side . . .' Yes, yes, but isn't all this vaguely applicable to millions of Sagittarians on the planet?

Suddenly it hit me like John Fashanu's elbow. 'Keeping an unblemished driving licence is more of a challenge to you than most people.' My licence is currently dangling from a thread, having accumulated 11 of the 12 penalty points required for disqualification. I settled back to take notes.

Sun in the Seventh House: 'A great deal of your attention and energy is focused on dealing with others on a one-to-one basis.' Only natural, since I am a journalist. 'You tend to take yourself rather seriously . . . concerned that you're not living up to your obligations in life.' True up to a point, but like Bart Simpson I am an under-achiever and proud of it.

Turning to Moon in Pisces, again my smugness was dispelled. 'You need the company of friends or a tight-knit social group . . . you like to feel a sense of mutual support. Most of your closest friends are female . . . It's hard for you to express your true feelings. This emotional block may stem from your childhood, perhaps your parents were at odds with each other.' Gulp.

With Venus in Scorpio in the Sixth House, me and astrology parted ways. Yes, I believe that 'love is all or nothing', but that is a truism, surely. And for the record, to say that 'in any job' others find me 'easy-going and co-operative' is rather like saying Pol Pot was not all bad once you got to know him. Moreover, I do not 'love animals' and have no empathy for pets.

Mars in Aries, 11th House. 'You tend to be defiant, even aggressive, when confronted or ordered around. Though quick to blow a fuse, you calm down just as fast.' Ah, this is more like it. 'Headstrong, rash . . . selfish, dominant, in too much of a rush, yet you can be dynamite in bed.' Music to my ears, this is what I paid a pony to hear. 'Prepared to try anything once?' Well, yes, with the obvious exceptions of morris dancing and incest.

Jupiter in Virgo in the Fifth House. Get this: 'Certainly you're generous with your advice. And you also veer towards indiscretion and exaggeration in your pursuit of a good story. Your telephone bills are probably quite high.' I should point out that neither the lady nor her computer knew my profession. If I was not so taken aback by this little nugget, I would consider a libel action. Too close for comfort.

Saturn in Sagittarius, conjunct the Seventh House cusp. 'Some of your greatest lessons have been learnt either abroad or through experiences with foreign cultures.' Enough said. 'You avoid an eye-to-eye confrontation . . . by opting for a partner who is in some way unequal to you. This is especially likely to take the form of an age gap.' Uncanny.

Neptune in Scorpio, conjunct the Sixth House Cusp. 'Your body may be . . . highly sensitive to drugs.' Well, I like to think so. 'You have a talent for justifying yourself with words that would make trees weep (and) an ability to communicate through the language of myth, symbolism, art, poetry, prose and parable.' Make trees weep? Consider that line stolen.

Finally, Pluto in Virgo, Fourth House. 'You are gripped by fairly strong feelings like hatred, total devotion, jealousy - that completely take you over. Issues surrounding the family, your home and intimacy are most problematical . . . you must cleanse the hurt from your past . . . professional therapy can help.' It already has, I'm glad to say, and continues to do so.

I'll keep you posted on how the forecast works out over the next year. Right now I'm off to chase some arrows.

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