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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 97 - Flourishing days in the world of clairvoyance

I KEEP an open-mind about the occult. Crop circles, I can readily believe, are computer-designed, pastoral patterns created by night-trudging, devilishly-clever, practical-jokers with nothing better to do with their time.

Flying saucers? You pick your indistinct newspaper photographs, fuzzy television pictures and innumerable books on the subject and you take your choice about whether they are fact, cloud formations, weather balloons or fantasy. As for ghosts, headless or otherwise, in some ancient tower, groans in long-deserted dungeons, apparitions in country or council houses, cryptic messages via a table-top tumbler or ouija board, I maintain an unwavering, agnostic stance.

Yet, strange things have happened to me. For years, in our North Bridge office in Edinburgh, a place of labyrinthine corridors and mysterious rooms where pallid workers plied obscure tasks intricately connected with newspaper production, two objects would land yearly and inexplicably on my desk. One was Flying Saucer News, the other, Old Moore’s Almanack. Since mail staff denied knowledge of them, as did colleagues, I concluded that they arrived by no human agency.

For years, the organs materialised, then, without warning, the UFOs apparently skimmed elsewhere but Old Moore kept appearing until about ten years ago, when he failed to arrive, leaving me with no oracular pronouncements that "China is waking up", that "the situation in Palestine continues to cause concern", whether the Lincoln Handicap could be won by a horse carrying eight stones and my "health and happiness assured" by possessing the Lucky Buddha trinket and The Sorcerer’s Book of Love.

YESTERDAY, I saw the 2005 Almanack in a shop. The only one left and obviously meant for me, I bought it: you cannot ignore such signs. As I suspected, it was not Old Moore the merrier. If you think 2004 is bad, wait until 2005 slips on its knuckleduster.

Political instability could mean civil war in Israel, Venezuela and Colombia could have a revolution, nuclear power accidents might happen in America and Russia, possible unrest is forecast in Saudi Arabia, and British schools will face disruptions. "We should," writes the gnomic Dr Francis Moore - presumably a chip of the old bloke who founded the Almanack in 1697 - "expect the unexpected." Including predictions of flood, fire and tempest, national unrest, international confrontations and a plethora of particular generalisations, the only possible upset unmentioned is that the pigmy tribes in Africa might have a small war.

Produced by Foulsham, a Slough company, it sells, say shopkeepers I have contacted, extremely well, and, as an old player in the prediction game, doubtless creates an honoured profit from those who believe in the advertised powers of salt, finger and white magic and the Egyptian scarab on discount offer and, therefore, in my opinion, will believe anything.

The Almanack is only one of many clairvoyance and horoscopic organs that circulate in an increasingly irreligious (excluding Islam) climate in Britain where mystical cults are growing and belief in the occult flourishes.

IF homo sapiens is wired-up for religious beliefs, he has also a superstition circuit. Lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson avoided stepping on lines between paving stones lest bad luck befell him. Hitler had his astrologer, as had Nancy Reagan and, on occasions, the fate of the world could have depended on whether the full moon fell in Aquarius or whether the new moon was square to Pluto. Princess Diana had her pet oracle, as has Cherie Blair, and it is rumoured that some prime ministerial aides have protested: "Mr Blair, your wife cannot be Sirius."

Meanwhile, what does Old Moore predict for our dear leader whose zodiac sign is Taurus? One entry says: "A career move may require a more thorough or cautious approach. Don’t insist on doing everything your own way."

For Gordon (Pisces) Brown an extract includes: "With fiery Mars in your sign, your competitive nature is stimulated. Beware of seeing conflict where there is none ..."

Let Old Man Morris make a prediction. It does not need a crystal ball, crossing palms with silver, reading the runes, sheep’s entrails, playing cards or tea leaves to forecast that our home-grown Nostradamus could forecast a possible end to this tortured planet, adding the vital information that a three-year-old carrying eight stones, four pounds could win a November Handicap at Doncaster. I salute the old, lucky charmer.

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