Friday, July 04, 2014

Pow! Wow! Comics Unmasked

Woweeee Zoweeeee! At the tail end of the twentieth century, I used to write FutureShock stories for 2000 AD magazine. The longest comic I wrote was eight pages, but I always wanted to know how to write a 100 page graphic novel.

My prayers were recently answered: As part of the British Library’s compelling Comics Unmasked exhibition, imaginatively curated by John Harris Dunning, Paul Gravett, and Adrian Edwards (ends August 19th), the library organised a four session course on how to create a Graphic novel – from Beginner/Intermediate to Advanced level.

 

The course leaders consisted of Ariel Kahn, the Senior Lecturer in creative writing at Roehampton University, and John Harris Dunning (John's sublime graphic novel Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers was the first graphic novel published by Walker Books).

Ariel Kahn

John Harris Dunning


Special Guests included Sarah Lightman, director of Laydeez do Comics, and Emma Hayley, MD and Publisher of SelfMadeHero, which she launched in 2007, after spotting a gap in the market for high-quality graphic novels.

As the courses were all held in the evening, the participants were given the perk Of viewing the Comics Unmasked exhibition, ‘the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states’ after opening hours, when the public weren’t admitted.

 The first course (titled: Who is in Charge? The dynamics of image and text) was in the PACCAR gallery where the exhibition is held. Ariel Kahn co-hosted the workshop with John Harris Dunning.

One of the students told me he had just graduated from Kahn’s creative writing course at Roehampton university and exclaimed he was a Brilliant teacher. I have to say Kahn was one of the most exhilarating lecturers I have ever come across.

 If all that wasn’t stimulating enough, I actually had a one to one encounter with the charming John Harris Dunning, who showed me how to write AND draw a comic script. I illustrated Crushed, my YA novel but drawing thumbnail pix is another learning curve.


During the last From Pitch to Publication course I attended, SelfMadeHero’s Emma Hayley gave an inspiring talk before making herself available for us to pitch our stuff at her. If that wasn’t fab enough, a handful of us then went into the exhibition to have another look round. The exhibition space was designed by award-winning comic book artist Dave McKean, and I really felt I was inside a living comic.

  Kissley Leonor, who covers fashion, film and design at the British Library reminded us how lucky we were, saying the exhibition is always PACKED.
 Kissley Leonor

One of the great things about attending creative courses is meeting like-minded people. The viewers going round the gallery with me included Edward Fletcher, the creator of the Meiosis webcomic, and Royal College of Art student Fionnuala Doran - the winner of Comics Unmasked Arts Thread x British Library competition.
Fionnuala Doran 

 We all stopped ogling the Comic Art for a few minutes to discuss PhotoShop. And that reminds me I might now have to go on a course on how to learn Inking and Lettering!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Victor Olliver Lifesurfs into 2015


Victor Olliver is my Fave Rave astrologer. It's just as well, as his new Astrology book, Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2015 is just out/available from Amazon.

The prolific way Victor Olliver is going, I predict I shall have to build extra bookshelves to house his new astrology books, a new one for every year.

 I've still got his previous book, Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2014 by my bedside, which I regularly consult.

But before I put away his new Lifesurfing book for 2015, I couldn't resist reading his intriguing 'Astro-X-Ray' features in the final part of the book. Pope Francis, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie are amongst them.


 If one didn't know anything about these avatars,  thanks to Victor Olliver's astute Astrological magnified intrusion,  it seems one learns everything there is to know about them and more.

 The subjects whom Victor knows personally are even more riveting. One of his X-Rays is the tabloid hack/writer Julie Burchill, whom Victor knows personally. I was enthralled, as he was able to perfectly illustrate her astrological makeup with fascinating anecdotes about her.

Julie Burchill 
I hope Ms Burchill can take it as much as she dishes it out, but reading Olliver's feature on her, I'm not sure if she will be able to.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Make space for the Buenvino cookbook on your kitchen shelves


I need another cookery book like I need a hole in my head. But after attending Jeannie and Sam Chesterton’s heaving and very glamorous book launch, I have succumbed and pre-ordered their book, the Buenvino cookbook from Amazon.

So why didn’t I buy a book at the actual launch? Because, although I arrived early at The Instituto  Cervantes in Eaton Square where the launch was held, all the hundreds of books which the publishers took sold out before I got there. At least I managed to get my hands on the ham which had arrived directly from Spain.  


Jeannie and Sam Chesterton with Tim Clinch in the middle. 

Sam Chesterton is an ancient friend, with whom I used to run around London during the Seventies. This was before he met and married his lovely wife Jeannie who is a brilliant gourmet cook.

For the past thirty years the Chestertons have run their unique Bed and Breakfast in their unique pink coloured farmhouse called Finca Buenvino on their 100 acre estate, near Seville, Andalucia, Spain.


The estate is in a protected park, with unspoiled scenery, so if one wants an idyllic holiday with beautiful views and superb food, this is the perfect place to be.

 The Chestertons grow their own certified-organic vegetables, keep their own chickens and pigs, and have apple, pear, quince and fig trees, all of which ingredients are used in the dishes, as well as local game and other seasonal produce such as mushrooms foraged from the woodland. And that's just for starters.

Jeannie also runs exciting and innovative cooking courses, explaining the Mahgrebi (North African) influences in southern Spanish recipes, many of which date from Moorish times.

All the Chestertons’ guests and friends love Finca Buenvino’s naturally produced food so much, over the years they have continually begged them to produce a cookery book and finally the couple have  done it.

Titled The Buenvino Cookbook: Recipes from our farmhouse in Spain with illustrations by Tim Clinch, this book is already a success by word of mouth alone.

The book looks gorgeous and I’m already drooling at the thought of reconstructing the unique Spanish recipes, but I shall have to wait until the official publishing date of April 15 before I can get my hands on it. Then, I shall be able to personally start cooking the Chestertons’ recipes from their wonderful farmhouse.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Terence Pepper Does Audrey Hepburn

Even though Terence Pepper (OBE) is in the middle of curating his 2015 Audrey Hepburn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, he used his precious coffee break by escorting me round the David Bailey show at the museum.

As Bailey’s show takes up the entire ground floor, Terence ideally needed to have taken a break during lunch and dinner besides his coffee slot.

 David Bailey used to be my illustrious boss alongside David Litchfield when I slaved for Ritz Newspaper in the late twentieth century.

Bailey had hung his own show, so I found it poignant he had included ancient copies of Ritz in glass cabinets.


 Incidentally, I have a library of Terence Pepper’s signed books of all his exhibitions he has curated at the National Portrait Gallery. I look forward to adding his Audrey Hepburn one to my vast collection).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Crushed Is Saved For Posterity


I'm so pleased that Sarah Wilborn's fantastic review of Crushed my Young Adult novel has now been saved for posterity in the Archives section on the USA Reader Views site.

Sarah was twelve when she reviewed the book after my novel first came out in 2007. Now, she is at university! Sadly, the novel is now out of print. On Amazon, I see a copy is now going for $291.32.

Thankfully, the novel's publisher Eiworth Publishing has put the book on Lulu. (The paperback costs far less on Lulu).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Stars Turn Out For Richard de Lone's Benefit

How intriguing: I’ve heard a wild rumour going around the San Francisco Bay Area that Star Names could be amongst the Special Guests at the 7th Annual Richard de Lone Special Housing Project Benefit.

Richard de Lone
Even if the Surprise Guests at the concert, held at Bimbo’s 365 club in San Francisco on October 6, don't include any shocks for you, the concert promises to be a WOW! Especially, if one is besotted with bluegrass, Americana and rockabilly, which will be exquisitely delivered by some of the genres’ most starry and scintillating musicians around:
Austin and Caroline de Lone
Nick LoweBoz ScaggsBuddy MillerLoudon Wainwright IIIJim Lauderdale, Bill Kirchen, the Legendary Austin de Lone and his talented daughter Caroline de Lone  ..... as well as the RDSHP Rockers.

Nick Lowe
Boz Scaggs
Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller
Loudon Wainwright III
Bill Kirchen
The Legendary Austin de Lone
Caroline de Lone 
The concert, which  will undoubtedly blast the club's roof off its rafters is guaranteed to be a heart warming rock fest for a worthy cause.

Richard de Lone was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, and the de Lone family (Austin, his wife Lesley and Caroline) hold a concert every year for their son's Special Housing Project, a non-profit organisation with the goal of building a state-of-the art residential community for children and adults with Prader-willi Syndrome, a rare and complex genetic disorder with no known cause or cure. For more information, visit the RSHIP site.

 The gig starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 and available from Bimbos 365 club's box office Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm. There will also be a limited number of ringside tables available for $450, includes special seating for four.
Robert Plant 

There will also be a Silent Auction with some really Drool to Have items including a wonderful Gibson Acoustic signed by Robert Plant, with photo; a Jimmie Vaughan Signature Model Gretsch Synchromatic; a beautiful Montage from Scaggs Vineyards; Sammy Hagar's autographed brand new cd along with his autobiography and a bottle of Beach Bar Rum; Patti Smith tour jacket, and more.

For more information, please visit Bimbo’s 365 club or call (415) 474-0365. You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FRANTIC NOVEL THROWN UP FROM THE EARLY SEVENTIES


People who weren't around in the Seventies, tend to solely associate those frantic days with punk and disco. But the early part of that decade was so revolutionary, that survivors of that fast-changing period in time can only look back in retrospect, and marvel how unpredictable the new decade turned out to be.

When I started writing Frantic in 1971 I had just returned from an extended vacation in San Francisco, where I had seen a new theatre group called The Cockettes perform at the Palace Theatre in North Beach.

 I had never seen anything like them before, and during Les Ghouls, their Halloween spectacular, I was so enthusiastic  I impulsively jumped up onto the stage at the end of their show. I wasn't the first person to be so spontaneous. In the late Sixties, audiences ran onto the stage nightly after gyrating in their seats during Hair.



 The Cockettes were the original creators of Glam Rock. Performers like David Bowie were sartorially influenced by them.


If I had started to write Frantic today, I very much doubt I would have remembered intimate details of those crazy days, but as I actually started writing my novel in the early Seventies, I managed to record fresh sartorial and visual details of that extraordinary period in history.

At the time, I was too young to be allowed into bars in San Francisco, and was too naïve to realise that the entire city was in the political grip of a gay lib sexual revolution, which would eventually lead to same sex marriages over three and a half decades later. Unthinkable then.


All I was concerned about at the time was the newness of those innovative times, and the visuals of how freaks of all three sexes looked, and the beautiful interiors of their communal squats. The hippies in the previous decade hadn’t seemed so extreme in comparison.

Vintage clothes are in Vogue now, but in the early Seventies, second hand clothes were the norm. All the kids put their individual looks together from charity shops, which helped make street fashion more daring and innovative than ever before. I didn’t have to invent what my characters wore in Frantic, as I described their fabulous costumes from first hand observation, but fictionalised them.

For instance, Alice, the heroine in the book wore a 'pink basket cloche hat decorated with scarlet ostrich feather plumes, a Thirties pink satin sailor suit, spider web fishnet stockings, and a pair of skyscraper stilettos saturated with red rosettes.’

As I  started writing Frantic shortly after I returned to London, and because my San Francisco experience were still fresh in my mind, I was able to describe friends' apartments down to the last exact detail in the novel.

‘The bedroom was a mass of ostrich feathers, which hung down from the rhinestoned ceiling to diamonté covered rugs in whispering waves. All the walls were sequin thick, illuminated by psychedelic rays tinkling from flashing prisms. Glitter of a thousand hues washed over the entire apartment, sporadically lit by flickering Chinese umbrellas concealing pot-pourri light bulbs. Garish kimonos hung on every doorknob, and piles of fancy dress lay knee-deep on the floor.’

In London clothes were equally as stylish as on the West Coast, and in Frantic Alice the heroine always looked realistic, that’s because I invariably dressed her in exaggerated versions of costumes I wore in real life:

‘What with her exotic cardigan, her Mr Buddha rayon black and silver flared skirt, silver jazz shoes and freaked out hair, plus her trademark thick smear of indelible scarlet lipstick, she looked a divine mess.’

 I really did have an outfit like that, so in this instance all I did was create "Mr Buddha",  the fictitious name of Tommy Robert's Mr Freedom shop.
Tommy Roberts



But it wasn’t only the clothes which made the early Seventies unique. In the first part of Frantic, the music was still hardcore rock and roll, before the invention of glam rock, spearhedaded by bands like The New York Dolls, who incidentally were the forerunners of punk music.

I had been to several rock concerts in San Francisco, and re-invented the musicians and the music in Frantic solely from my observation.


‘She'd never heard a singer make noises like him before:  raspy, grating ear-splitting groans, similar to a stuck pig slicing on an old fashioned corrugated iron washing board. It was a refreshing departure from traditional acid rock improvisation, when infinite guitar solos were executed before vocals. Now the music and voice were One.’

Survivors from the Seventies say that Frantic seems wildly authentic, but that's because Observation, Adaptation and Fantasy were my main tools for writing my first novel. They do say that writers should write about what they know about and I am no exception.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Richard Young Goes Vintage





It’s an ode to Richard Young’s popularity as a global celebrity photographer that during a snow blizzard, glamorously dressed people flocked to his vintage champagne fuelled bash at Banqueting Hall in Whitehall last night.


Richard and Susan Young with Stephen Webster

The Champagne Bureau UK and the Richard Young Gallery (owned by Richard and his wife Susan) hosted ‘The First Ever' event with Le Prix Champagne de la Joie de Vivre UK, who awarded a prize to Richard in ‘celebration of his long-standing contribution to Joie De Vivre.’

It was certainly a joie de vivre bash, and even though most of the guests (including Geordie Greig, editor of the Mail on Sunday newspaper) confessed they hadn't fancied venturing out in the Siberian climate, they were all pleased they had made the effort.

I was 'thrilled' I had braved the elements as the first person I met was the party's host, the tall dark and handsome Champagne King Bruno Paillard, who advised me to clutch my champagne glass by its stem.

Hollywood casting director Jeremy Zimmermann definitely looked pleased as he was surrounded by a bevy of women, including perennial party girl Nancy Dell'Olio and actress Perdita Weeks. (Perdita's mother Susan used to take her and her sister Honeysuckle Weeks to castings when they were young).

Hannah Young. iPhone Photo Richard Young
It was certainly worth going out for the limitless flow of champagne alone. It was also soothing to see Richard and Susan's daughter Hannah Young photographing the guests, leaving Richard to schmooze all night instead of snapping.

Richard told me his Celebrity Exposure documentary, directed by Don Letts (which I feature in) and made by Brassneck TV , has not only been showing in HBO’s Latin America, but is also currently being viewed in Australia, and should soon be doing the rounds in North America.

Some of Richard's iconic photographs were mounted around the banqueting hall, limited editions of which can be bought in the Richard Young Gallery in London.

One of Richard's nostalgic snaps showed Halston, Victor Hugo, Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol, Steve Rubell and Bianca Jagger which brought back memories.

Frances Lynn interviewing Steve Rubell. Photo Mervyn Franklyn

When Richard and I worked together on Ritz Newspaper in the late twentieth century, I interviewed Steve Rubell at the Savoy.

While I was interrogating Steve about Studio 54, Halston and Andy kept popping into the room. At one point, Victor Hugo (Halston's friend) came in nude except for the dollar bills which were glued to him. Those were the days when the publicists didn't control the media.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

DJ HOWARD SOUNDS OFF AT GROUCHO'S

DJ HOWARD
I have discovered some novel new music: a form of addictive 'Balearic dance', which covers the eclectic nature of the Dance Scene which erupted from Ibiza. I can actually listen to it while I write, and do the ironing!

A sublime Disc Jockey called DJ Howard (read about him on his blog), whose Eclectika Sessions have been building a worldwide following with his monthly broadcasts on the US dance station Frisky Radio, is my new best friend.

 (Listen and download his eclectika sessions sounds on this iCloud link, and download them onto your computer).

 Fortunately for me and his besotted fans, Howard, who performs all over the globe will be appearing in the Upstairs Bar at London's Groucho Club on Friday, November 30th from 9-3ish pm until 3'ish.

'I am a child of the Sixties raised on Zappa, Grateful Dead, Beatles etc but in the late 80's became entranced by the emerging dance music culture because I recognised the creation of new sounds in it. Subsequently the movement has mutated to form many different sub genres embracing everything from Latin, Jazz and minimal Techno. I try to reflect this diversity with Eclectika Sessions,' he said.

 'I play lots of echoes from things gone by which serves as a doorway,' Howard informed me after I asked him to try and describe his eclectic sounds.

 So how did I initially meet DJ Howard? I had a crisis with my ancient MacBook and heard on the Mac grapevine, Howard's alter-ego by the name of MAC MAN was a genius with anything to do with Macs.

 In desperation, I contacted the MAC MAN at his h2@mac-man.info.e-mail address.

 'I  go to offices and homes. I have been doing this for ten years and have literally hundreds of satisfied and long standing clients round  London. I am rarely defeated,' Howard said, while I sobbed hysterically.

 He was right. Not only did he revive my old Mac in one session, he also alerted me to his refreshing, addictive sounds.

 I predict I shall be dancing at his illustrious gig at Groucho Club on Friday, November 30th. I can't wait!


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Blood Month


Matthew McAllister

If Patricia Highsmith, the psychological crime thriller writer was able to read the newly published crime novel Blood Month in the solitude of her grave, I am certain she would award Matthew McAllister, the book's fictitious author a Medal. For the novel's central character 'DV' makes Highsmith’s psychotic creation 'Tom Ripley' pale in comparison.

"DV is one of the most terrifying young men since Tom Ripley," says Karen Duffy, Publicity Director of Atlantic Books – one of the many glowing quotes from the rave reviews on Blood Month's publishers' Atrium Editions umbrella website.

Iain Finlayson

 In fact, if Highsmith were able to award Blood Month’s author a medal, she would have to donate three medals.

This thrilling crime novel, which incidentally I was unable to put down after I started devouring it on my Kindle, was co-written by two authors: the playwright/novelist Simon Burt, and the acclaimed writer, journalist and book critic: Iain Finlayson.

For buffs: Iain, who scribes non-fiction book reviews for Saturday’s The Times, as well as being the book editor on Saga magazine, is also the author of numerous highbrow biographies including Browning, Boswell, and other literary non-fiction titles, including the sublime Tangier: City of the Dream.

Finlayson and Burt are not only the co-creators of Blood Month, they have also penned two other titles in the Blood Month trilogy, details of which are on the Atrium Editions website: The Benevolence of the Butcher, to be published in 2013, and No Go to be published in 2014.

(Atrium will, over a period, publish Iain and Simon's back list, including some of Simon's unpublished stuff, plus some screenplays they've written together. And,  if other good writers want to come under the Atrium umbrella, they will be able to do so).

 So why are the illustrious writers Iain Finlayson and Simon Burt bypassing Traditional Publishing for their crime novel trilogy and releasing their titles as e-books?

Firstly, Iain's top literary agent declined to read Iain’s first (co-written) fiction novel. I.e. Blood Month. And secondly, Iain predicts digital publishing is 'the way to go'.

The Atrium Editions Publishing site boasts glowing reviews from a conglomerate of major publishers who have already read Blood Month.  Could this indicate a future traditional publishing book deal for Blood Month and its sequels?

 All I can say is Blood Month is the most compelling crime novel I have read in as long as I can remember, and I drool to read the rest of the trilogy. Patricia Highsmith, eat your heart out!

(Read this fascinating interview about Iain Finlayson on Madame Arcati).

 Blood Month: a new Kindle release (currently priced at £1.92), is also on the Kindle app for iPad.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Universe's most sizzling Astrological Website


WOW! Victor Olliver, my international Fave Rave Astrologist, whose e-book Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2014) will be released (in paperback too) by Equinox Books on July 13 2013 has got a spectacular new Astrology Website: Click Here to ogle: Victor Olliver's Astrology Site.

 Incidentally, Lifesurfing:Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2014 sounds fascinating, as Victor's book includes astro-profiles of Twitter newbie Hilary Clinton (will she be the next USA President of the USA?), ‘How evil is’ Google Inc, the ‘legendary’ Molly Parkin and Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, who according to Olliver has got a ‘spectacular new Astrology Website.’ This is one book I shall be pre-ordering on Kindle.

When you explore Victor Olliver's site, you will see Victor, who is a member of the Professional Astrologers International has even left you his personal audio messages, which  humanises and makes his site appear three dimensional.

 It was this time last year I blogged about Victor.* He had just done my Solar Returns/my astrological forecast for my year ahead. I.e. 2012.

 Now, a year later, I'm amazed how accurate he has been (he even correctly predicted President Obama would win the USA 2012 election on his Madame Arcati site). In fact, I'm so impressed I have just ordered myself a forecast for 2013 from his OnLine Shop, which has a wide spectrum of astrological goodies to purchase for Christmas presents.

* Incase you missed my blog entry about Victor in 2011, here it is in its entirety:


I was on the verge of treating myself to some bespoke perfume for Christmas, but decided to get my astrological chart done instead after reading Victor Olliver's astrology column in The Lady magazine.
When I listened to my personal audio message on his (new) Astrology site, I was sold.

Both my horoscopes were so uncanny, I thought Victor Olliver, who is also the resident astrologist on the global Peter Ross Show on Apple FM, and The Astrology Show could well be a rival to the late Patric Walker, who once wrote the compelling Celeste column in Harpers & Queen.

In fact, I was so impressed with Victor's forecast of my horoscope that I decided to consult the ex-showbiz journalist.

I cautiously decided to first ask Victor do my Birth chart and solar returns. If I thought he was accurate, I would then hire him to do my birth chart (normally about 5-6000 words) followed by a solar return chart which 'identifies major themes ahead'.

The first thing Victor Olliver asked me was the location and date of my birth.

'Please note a horoscope is based entirely on time and location of birth. If the birth clock time is not accurate then the chart won't be accurate,' he warned me.

Luckily I knew which time of day I was born, and after he assured me my personal information - i.e. my birth date would be strictly confidential I gave him my personal details.

Literally a day later, I received my Birth chart and solar returns analyses complete with my own astrological chart.

Fortunately, Victor used to be a prolific showbusiness journalist, renowned for his identifiable well-written prose. So my 'basic introduction to my birth chart' was beautifully written in comprehensive Astrology Speak.

I was so impressed by the accuracy of Victor Olliver's Birth Chart and solar returns analyses, I immediately hired him to do my in-depth chart and be my own personal astrologer.

I thought I would get my request in quickly, now that Victor Olliver is already regarded as an accurate and fashionable astrologer.
Madame Arcati

Victor also moonlight/writes the 'controversial'Madame Arcati blog, which in the past has had so many louche scoops about his victims: disgruntled hacks, shamed politicians, convicted showbiz pedophiles (Jonathon King) that the National Press, all of whom openly subscribe to Madame Arcati printed the stories immediately afterwards.



One of Madame Arcati's pet subjects was actor/Old Victor Artistic Director Kevin Spacey, who was so provoked, he eventually banned Victor from his Twitter page.

It was thanks to Victor Olliver's legendary Madame Arcati blog, that Rachel Johnson, hired him to write The Lady's astrology column.




'It happened by accident. Rachel read Madame Arcati and loved my review of her Channel 4 documentary The Lady & The Revamp. She wrote me a lovely fan letter wishing that the likes of me endured forever.

'Then, she wrote another letter pointing out that Madame Arcati was mentioned in her book, A Diary Of The Lady. A number of tweets later she asked me what I would like to write for The Lady and I replied that what the mag needed was a horoscope. She instantly asked for a sample, loved it and hired me – through Twitter.

'When we talked later on the phone, before I started the column, she plainly did not realize I was an actual astrologer.

She said, ‘You’re not really an astrologer, are you? But all astrology is rubbish, isn’t it?’

She thought that as Madame Arcati, I was posing as a stargazer for satirical purposes. I firmly believe to this day that my hiring was a lovely misadventure on her part. She always calls the horoscopes the ‘horrors’.'

I remember the jealousy surrounding Victor Olliver when he was anointed as the features editor of the defunct Woman's Journal at the age of 'twelve' in the Eighties.

'It was a dissolute place. My favourite person was the Martini-sipping deputy editor Betty Reyburn who sadly became incontinent before her enforced retirement. One always knew where to find Betty – follow the trail!" Victor fondly reminisces.

Victor was originally trained to be a lawyer and was even called to the Bar.

'The law didn’t interest me. I much preferred reviewing magazines every week on Lorraine Kelly’s old LBC radio show.'

Besides working for IPC, the Mirror Group and the Daily Mail and General Trust in various editorial roles, Victor was also once editor of  The People's magazine supplement.

'Robert Maxwell would fly in on his helicopter and drown out phone conversations as he hovered aloft.'

Victor, who also pursued a freelance writing career and won two PPA awards in the 90s even worked for Teletext for a while.

'I swanned off to Cannes every May for seven years on ludicrously high expenses. No wonder the company died (almost).'

Becoming an astrologer is a complete juxtaposition from Victor's showbusiness hack days culminating in his infamous Madame Arcati blog, which Olliver describes as, 'a potty-mouthed media warrior who took on all comers and engaged in psychic warfare with swine, bullies and useless c.....k c......ters. I am now above all that sort of thing.'

I couldn't resist asking Victor why he decided to become an astrologer.

'In my teens I was fascinated by astrology and read books but was put off by all the calculations – this was pre-personal computer wizardry. In any case, how could planets influence life? I thought it was rubbish.

'I just couldn’t see how celestial bodies could influence Earth life. A modern view of astrology doesn’t speak of influences any more, but of ‘correlations’. In a sense, the skies and life have come to reflect each other through long evolutionary development. I firmly believe that one day physicists will be able to explain these correlations in scientific terms. I can’t believe astrologers, who are usually highly educated, intelligent people, are all deluded.




'Then in my 40s I took a course at the respected  Mayor School of Astrology in London, and was instantly intrigued at how accurate astrology could be, provided you have the correct time of birth. I passed the Mayo’s advanced certificate course, and am now in the final stages of the diploma.

'My family is steeped in Spiritualism. My brother reads Tarot cards. My mother is clairvoyante and has uncanny predictive powers. But astrology is a practical divinatory tool and may have nothing to do with mysticism. I once had my chart done in Sri Lanka on a travel trip and the astrologer said I’d end up being a guru – whatever that means. At the time I thought he was rubbish but perhaps he foresaw my astrology career.'

'Media astrology is very different from casting birth charts, much simpler as a methodology, but tricky to interpret. It’s been a huge learning curve and I am delighted to be The Lady’s debutant astrologer – the first in its 126 year history.

'The Lady is my first media gig as astrologer and naturally I intend to break into other markets and media. I have had private clients via The Lady but I can’t mention names.
Laura van Wormer 

'I am however allowed to mention the American author Laura van Wormer, who wrote the Dallas novels and co-wrote a history novel with the Duchess of York.

'Laura van Wormer found my astrological birth analysis and forecasts to be spot on and it’s generous of her to offer me a public testimonial.'

Currently, Most of Victor Olliver's private clients are based in New York but as I have now alerted all of my London friends about his clairvoyant astrological reading, I predict he will be shortly doing charts for people on both sides of the pond.