And the winner is... Nostradamus

AS THE seconds of the old century tick away, and we are about to go into a new era which will be totally indistinguishable from the last one, except that it's got a different number, like a car being given false number plates, it is customary on these occasions to give out awards for any acts or deeds of achievement, fame and recognition performed in the last 1,000 years.

Shares in line for a savaging by Saturn

Tips for 2000: astro economists warn of a May meltdown, but industry experts say equities are heading higher

Words: archer, n.

A CURIOUSLY underplayed aspect of Jeffrey Archer's libel case is that he did not settle matters for once and all by volunteering to remove his shirt and display his back - spotty or otherwise - to the public gaze. It has certainly not been photographed since.



The Information on.. `Life is a Dream'

What Is It?

Letter: Stars for horses

HOROSCOPES FOR horses is not a new idea ("To the best horse trainers, feng shui means faster", 22 August). The brewer William Hall Walker, who lived at Gateacre Grange, Liverpool, a century ago, was the owner of The Soarer, winner of the Grand National in 1895. In 1900 he purchased a farm in Co Kildare, Ireland, to breed racehorses. Every time a foal was born, Walker would cast its horoscope. Only if the horoscope was favourable would the foal be kept and raced. Skylights were incorporated into all the stables to allow the moon and stars to exercise their maximum influence. In 1916 Walker gave the stud to the British Crown, and was rewarded with the title Lord Waver- tree. It is still in being as the Irish National Stud, though astrologers are, I believe, no longer employed.

The same view, different eyes

IN THE Channel Islands next Wednesday, 250 of the world's professional astronomers will be watching the eclipse. No doubt they will muse on such technical matters as the precise temperature of any solar flares they may see.

Classical: 1,000 years of Auntie


Letter: Book now

Sir: No wonder Peter Lemesurier (Right of Reply, 6 July) is unable to endorse Nostradamus's apparent prophecy that the world will end in 1999. In his Gods of the Dawn (HarperCollins, 1998), Mr Lemesurier has already earmarked the autumn of 2569 for "the final physical extinction of terrestrial humanity" (page 109).

The End of the World was nigh

EUROPE, ASIA and much of America are already in the clear. But, as you read this over breakfast, people are still crossing their fingers in Alaska, Hawaii and Tahiti. In that part of the globe, the world has not yet not ended.

Leading Article: False prophets

THESE ARE worrying times. And not just because Nostradamus is thought to have predicted that the world would end this week. For, even if humankind survives the next few days, we must still prepare to face terrible and cataclysmic occurrences. Companies will go bankrupt, jobs will disappear in their thousands, airports will close, ferries will be mothballed. Or is it just that the sayings of the travel industry during its long, boring and duplicitous campaign to save duty-free shopping were as bogus and rooted in reality as those of the 16th-century French astrologer?

It's the end of the world as we know it (but I feel fine)

It brings out the worst in all of us, the end of the world. As you read this, there is a chap in Sussex preparing for the final reckoning, getting ready to go up onto the Downs next Saturday night with his Bible to await the end of everything, which comes sometime on Sunday. In rural hideaways in Japan, whole families are conducting last-minute surveys of their bunker's stocks of dehydrated soup, dehydrated milk, dehydrated meat - everything except dehydrated water. The Internet is pulsing with messages from people desperately asking questions such as whether they should move out of New York before the weekend - as if Armageddon is going to be so particular.


Geminis work best in pairs, for obvious reasons, and are best- known as right pairs. No matter how clever, they operate on half a brain and can only achieve their destiny as twins. John Maynard Keynes would never have got the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money to the West End had it not been for Cole Porter's hot rhythms and exuberant brass; Sir Francis Crick would only have discovered the left hand spiral of DNA; and Thomas Mann (that great teutonic pseud) would have been nothing without his moustache. When Geminis fail to find their collaborator, they end up like Margaret Drabble, whose expressive name combines the ineluctable elements of "drab" and "drivel" - Nathan Hale, for instance, failed as a patriot because he only had one life to give for his country, and James Ivory ended up in Merchant Ivory. As insiders know, Robert Maxwell did so well in publishing only because he had a Siamese twin hidden in his suit. But what is less well-known is that Prince and Tom Jones are not only astrological twins but the same person (who has ever seen them together?).
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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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