My life among the stars

DO you follow your stars? Are you one for the horoscopes? Does it mean anything? Who knows?What I do know is I'm not sure I fit the profile of my star sign - Virgo - simply because I was born in September.

DO you follow your stars? Are you one for the horoscopes?

Does it mean anything? Who knows?

What I do know is I'm not sure I fit the profile of my star sign - Virgo - simply because I was born in September.

My latest information tells me that someone, me, born between August 23 and September 22 has a number of characteristics and traits including:

Dominant in relationships, conservative, always wants the last word, argumentative, worries, very smart, dislikes noise and chaos, eager, hardworking, loyal, beautiful, easy to talk to, hard to please, harsh, practical and very fussy, often shy, pessimistic.

Hardly a smorgasbord of compliments is it?

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I acquiesce that I may be very smart, beautiful, and dislike noise and chaos - but hard to please? harsh? argumentative?

Who do these astrologer types think they are?

Apparently someone born between October 23 and November 23 - Scorpio - can be self-centred at times and a Taurus - April 20 to May 20 - is prone to temper tantrums.

Well, I was prone to temper tantrums when I was two and even I have been known to be a smidgeon self-centred, though that is hard to believe I know.

From what I can work out everything applies to everyone.

And that's my final word on the subject.

IT wasn't my wedding but I was heavily involved.

As regular readers will know I was asked to read at the wedding of my old journalist friends Mark and Liz at the weekend.

It was a most convivial occasion.

Naturally I was a soupcon nervous - but nothing that a couple of gin and tonics, ice and slice, couldn't remedy.

The reading, my little performance in the proceedings, went quite well, at least I hope so.

Several people - people who didn't know me as the nuptials were held in the rural splendour of Leicestershire and not the Felixstowe peninsula where I am much better known - commented on my moment in the spotlight.

One gentleman said: “Well done James, I enjoyed your speech.”

Of course I was gracious with my reply and suitably modest.

I didn't like to tell him my bon mots were, in fact, written by a gentleman called St Paul - formerly Saul of Tarsus until he changed his name after what sounds like a rather unpleasant incident on the road to Damascus which left him temporarily blinded - who wrote lots of rather long letters the thick end of 2,000 years ago to people all over the eastern Roman empire.

Weddings are always over very quickly aren't they?

One minute you're having a bucks fizz in the gardens, the next you're struggling to put the key in the door of your hotel room and it is all over.

Except for the happy couple - they are in Mauritius as we speak.

OVER in the west of the county - where I spent my boyhood - in the small village of Icklingham, which is just like The Archers but without the constant discussions about sausages and Borchester Land board meetings - I found myself at a strawberry tea , a most English of occasions complete with sandwiches, coffee sponge and, well, strawberries.

While the ladies of the village turned on the urn and cut up slices of things homemade we were entertained to an alfresco performance by the Anglian Accents - a ladies barbershop singing group of which my mother Susan is an enthusiastic and long-serving member.

They sang very well and, according to Susan, the girls are on a roll at the moment and have recently been asked to perform at a wedding. They were spotted singing by a groom to be who just happened to be at the same jumble sale in the Breckland town of Brandon.

You couldn't make it up could you?

AS many of you will know I live in Suffolk's premier seaside resort - the Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe where I have a small flat with sea views (distant).

It is a nice little place.

I recently learnt that that “spa” of the “Edwardian spa” fame never really took off despite a visit by a German empress and other bigwigs.

According to my source no one really knows why because the water that seeps out of the cliffs not far from the modern Spa Pavilion theatre has the same properties as Baden Baden in the Black Forest.

GOOD old Camilla.

She's game for anything isn't she?

Of course she's my favourite royal - partly because no one else seems to like the poor woman much and I bet she's lovely really.

I note with some amusement that she and her husband have been trying out bean bags - very brave at their time of life and with his back - a piece of furniture that I have never found particularly comfortable nor easy to leave.

Dear James,

LIKE you I am a wordsmith and love language. In halcyon days, when having tea with a particular swain, his mother would sigh “Oh dear, better fetch the dictionary I suppose!”

Yes, hushwing is a lovely synonym for barn owl.

You request other examples.

Shufflewing or Hedge Betty - dunnock.

King Harry - goldfinch - one of the few good acts of brutal Henry VIII was to legislate to protect goldfinches. They were still caged until the late 1800s however.

Bottle-poke - long-tailed tit (often referring to exquisite bottle shaped nest)

Jenny Wren - part of singing includes whirring, clicking like spinning Jenny (machine).

My seriously Suffolk Nana never referred to big - but “master great spiders” (whatever).

Anything without a flow was declared, not to have a “wem” in it.

My mother called snapdragons, nipnoses, and to her uncle, song-thrushes were always the “mavis”.

Well cheerio together, and mind how you go.


Mill Rise,


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