Reading the stars

A young American woman at the safari camp asks me what my star sign is.

“Gorillas don’t have star signs, Miss,” I explain. “The zodiac is a human invention for the classification of humans.”

My answer seems to puzzle her.

“But you know your date of birth, right?” she inquires.

“Certainly,” I reply. “I was born on the 7th day of Hairygus in the year of the She-Elephant’s Udder. What that is in the human calendar I could not begin to guess.”

“Uh huh,” she says. “My boyfriend’s really into astrology and did my charts based on my exact time of birth.”

“How thoughtful of him,” I remark. “Did you discover anything interesting about yourself?”

“The position of Venus when I was born means I’m, like, passionate and sensual,” she answers. “I’m a woman who needs to give men pleasure to be happy.”

“Is that so?” I muse aloud. “Tell me something, Miss. Would your boyfriend’s star sign happen to be The Bull?”

“Yeah,” she replies in a tone of earnest surprise. “Howja know?”

“Lucky guess, Miss,” I say, shrugging my shoulders.

We part on amicable terms.

I have no idea whether there’s anything in astrology, but it seems to me that its best days are behind it. Back in ancient Rome, the city’s leading augur had more respect than the Senior Vestal Virgin, which was saying something. When his star charts showed that the emperor’s number was up, the imperial food taster snuck off to Asia Minor on the next available galley. The emperor might try and wriggle out of it by making the palace eunuch wear his purple robes on the day of his predicted demise, but it never got him anywhere. You can’t escape your fate when you’ve been fingered by a badass soothsayer who knows his Saturnus from Uranus.

The last practitioner who really hit the big time was Nostradamus, although how much astrology he used in his prophesies is debatable. It was rumoured that he saw glimpses of the future when he gazed into a cauldron of water, which might explain the haunted look in his eyes. (My peepers look the same after I’ve stared into the Congo River, but that’s probably because of the crocodiles.) The thing about Nostradamus was that his astrological expertise would have been worthless without his supernatural powers. This principle applies to all the great seers. Take Miss Solitaire in Live and Let Die, for example. As long as she had her virgin’s intuition, her predictions with the tarot cards were 100% accurate. But once she got porked by Bond, she was as hopeless as the next floozy.

Incidentally, I’ve often wondered what happens to Bond’s leading lady after the movie ends. A long-term relationship with 007 would be out of the question, given that he’s married to the Secret Service and as frisky as a goat on Viagra. Yet it wouldn’t be his style to drive her to a Tesco Superstore and desert her while she’s shopping for kitchenware. Perhaps he has a rich cousin called Felicity Carruthers, who takes his conquests in hand and grooms them to be hostesses in her raunchy ladies’ clubs. Sizing up beefcake talent for burlesque shows might be the best remedy for a Bond infatuation.

Getting back to the subject at hand, I’m glad to say that my circus never allowed fortune tellers on the venue. That sort of thing creates bad vibes for performers who do dangerous stunts. A trapeze artist can lose his mojo if he gets funny looks from a spooky-looking dude in a turban. We did once have a spat with an old gypsy woman who incapacitated one of our lily-livered clowns by putting a curse on him. When I tried to solve the dispute by diplomacy, the silly old crone actually threatened to put a hex on me! The cheek of the woman! Little did she know that we gorillas are unhexable. I eventually got her to see reason by turning her urine blue. This was not achieved by magic, I should add, but by doping her groceries.

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