Tuesday, February 28, 2006

February 2006

This month, as Spring rumbles to sap-pumping wakefulness in the civilised world and the fabled Continent of XXXX is in full-on summer party mode, we turn to the exploration of how the stars affect our social calendars. Yes, it's true; month by month, your Sign dictates just what sorts of social engagements will turn out best for you, or at least, least disastrous. This can be very handy as an excuse for declining unsuitable appointments: "It's written in the stars that I absolutely must wash my hair next Saturday, whether I need to or not!" Of course, the downside is that your stars might show that you simply daren't miss your great-aunt Petrolena's milkman's eldest daughter's third child's christening. Ah well, if so then let's hope said milkman's daughter is a recent convert to the Church of Bilious! Right, then, off you get. Go forth, read your horoscope, and party hard...

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Recommended: Weddings
Best to avoid: Military recruitment meetings (unless you're the recruiter)

All Hoggers know about the benefits of good organisation, and what better time to put your organisational skills to use than when planning a wedding? Of course it doesn't matter whose wedding you're planning; the couple has yet to betroth who won't be better off for your exacting directives, um, directions. Who needs wedding planners when there's a Hogger in the house? Don't forget to colour-coordinate the serviettes with the bridesmaids' dresses, or to see that the band follows your by-the-second timetable, or to ensure that the wedding vows are tidy and respectable with none of that newfangled not-agreeing-to-obey nonsense. Make sure you save up some of your best shouting techniques for the caterers and the mother of the bride. Do it right and the entire wedding party won't know what hit them until after the honeymoon! Well, actually, they will, because it will likely be you. Hoggers excel at starting wedding brawls. With both sides of the family.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Recommended: Stag Nights
Best to avoid: Klatchian coffee mornings

Speaking of weddings, no blushing bride need ever fear her intended not turning up at the temple on time when there's a Gahooligan involved in the groom's Stag Night! Gahooligans aren't exactly known for being the life of the party. In fact, they're more often the death of the party, or at least the afterlife that skulks around the outer edges of the crowd, distributing Fresh Start pamphlets while everyone else's eyes are glued to Miss Veronique Va Voom and her Seven (but rapidly decreasing in number) Veils. Fine for some, but you already know how it feels to have your eyes glued. And this "last night of free life" lark is overrated: the only freedom, really, is the freedom of postvitality. Of course, you could always try stapling on your happy face and having some fun for a change. Come on, who's the last person who ripped your clothes off, apart from that cute mortuary assistant?

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Recommended: Barn dances
Best to avoid: Martial arts demonstrations

Whether you're celebrating the end of harvest time, the dedication of the new village pump or just the opening of last week's vat of vintage scumble, a barn dance is the perfect place to let yourself go and dance, dance, dance. Hernians may tend to uncertainty, but you're always among friends at a barn dance. Spend some time practising some well-loved country dances. Try your hand at baking scones. If you go into the evening with a good heart, you may find that people look on you in a new light, and your dance card will be full until dawn! No need to practise the Last Waltz though; you'll find that one comes naturally. Beware strange men bearing sparkly dresses, smelling of lilies and sounding like maracas.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Recommended: Wine tastings
Best to avoid: Get-fit classes

Wine, the elixir of life! So many vineyards' best to sample, so little time; that's why wine tastings are so popular. Not only do you get to sample the many delights of the noble grape, but you have to spit each sample out again, so you can spend far more time socialising - and eating canapes - before the floor rises to meet you. Ahh, the canapes...bivalves a la Genuenne en croute...little cubes of Lancre Blue...delicate bites of squishi...bite-sized Bonk blutwursts...and then there's the wines, from Vieux River champagne to the finest fortified Quirmian cabbage cordials. Do be careful at reannual tastings, however. You could end up with the worst mixed-alcohols hangover long after you've forgotten which octacongeners to watch out for.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Recommended: Pub crawls
Best to avoid: Temperance Society meetings

My dear Bilians, we've been down this road before...and we'll no doubt go down it again, in the usual full morning-after technicolour. This, then, is a good time to point out that pub crawls do have their own special etiquette. There's the ceremonial Stringing of the House Keys (around your neck, so you can get in when the night-cart pours you out at your front door); the time-honoured Ritual of Pre-apology (leaving some damages money with your designated staggerer helps); the Donning of the Fishermen's Oilskins (serious pub-crawlers know that this saves on laundry bills); and of course the Sacred Chant of "It's my shout!" (so you can remain a functioning member of the party long after your higher cognitive functions have shut down in horror). If you follow these guidelines, you may have an especially good time, even if you won't remember it any better than usual afterwards!

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Recommended: Birthday celebrations
Best to avoid: Backstreet gambling sessions

Mubboons tend to be the perfect birthday party guests: the typical Mubboon is kind, honest, lacking in pretentiousness, unsophisticated - in other words, just the right sort to find enjoyment in singing silly celebratory songs, playing embarrassingly childish party games, creating a fire hazard with half-blown-out candles and taking far too much delight in humorously shaped birthday cakes. Oh, and wearing ridiculous paper hats. And I can see that you're already panting with excitement and checking your calendars in the hope that someone close to you will be celebrating a birthday this month. If you find yourself short of birthday celebrants, you could always try getting together with some Gahooligan friends and throwing a deathday party.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Recommended: Funerals
Best to avoid: Invitations to go hang-gliding

As has often been observed, it takes a Boring'un to put the fun back into funerals. As it happens, that observation is entirely untrue, but funerals certainly are the right sort of get-together for those born under this Sign. No true Boring'un can tolerate adventure, excitement, risk-taking or loud noises, and a funeral rarely has any of these. Funerals, apart from being, well, as quiet as the grave, are so reassuringly, undemandingly final (except in the cases of some Wizards, most Vampires, and quite a lot of Gahooligans); best of all, they're a very real reminder that the deceased is one more being who will never again burden you with social engagements! So off you go, with a suitably sombre outfit, a sombrely serious face, and a secret song in your still-beating heart. Enjoy.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Recommended: Random spur-of-the-moment inadvisable interactions with total strangers
Best to avoid: Gatherings of Thudmeisters

Andies come in two flavours: lovers and fighters. All right, three flavours, because some of you Andies are worryingly good at combining the two. Many of you will remember the famous "wrestler d'amour", Casanolda the Magnificent, who was born under Androgyna Majestis and whose most famous show-stopper was his all-in tag team bout with two pole-dancing- um, sorry, I got a bit distracted there. Yes. Loving and fighting, those are your strong points, and this is a good month for seeking out those singles bars and tough-neighbourhood street corners you never tried before. True love is elusive, but there's many a plausible imitation to be had in random anonymous meetings, especially out in the back alley behind Mrs Palm's...and nothing, er, nothing else can put a healthy glow on an Andy's cheeks like a good brawl. The choice is entirely yours!

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Recommended: Soirees
Best to avoid: Book signings

Soirees. Cocktail parties. Fondue evenings. Happy Hours. Call them what you will, these sunset-lit social events are your kettle of lobsters this month. Now is the time to make the rounds, flaunt the fripperies, flash the frocks fantastic, and broach new benchmarks in the fatuous folderol of glamorous gossip and scandalous small talk! No event is too minor, no ceremonial celebration too pointless for the attentions of you large-living Footys. Have you been accused of being willing to "attend the opening of an envelope"? Prove them right by popping along to Mr von Lipwig's drinks evening to honour the issuing of the new Quirm Real stamps. Test your new wheel of Sto Helit Farmhouse Runny at a cheese 'n' wine fiesta. Seek any opportunity to display your festive Footy fashion sense. Every soiree will be your little triumph. Absolutely fabulous, darling.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Recommended: Harvest or Planting festivals
Best to avoid: Gytha Ogg's cookery classes

It's that time of year again! The time when maidens run friskily and young men get their bells and hankies out and all sorts of innocent-looking things and activities take on sudden cartloads of double - and single - entendres. Hokians, though sometimes shy, also tend to be magically adept, and this is certainly your month for casting the sort of spells that would make anyone but an Ogg blush. Polish those Maypoles. Oil those threshers. Study the dark and amorous secrets of both Morris dances. Run with the horned stag ("horned" being pronounced with two syllables here) and dance sky-clad under the - why, hello, Mistress Weatherwax! Lovely to see you here! I'd quite forgot you were born under Hoki. Move along, readers, nothing to see here. Of course we can't be having with that sort of thing.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Recommended: Baby showers
Best to avoid: A day at the races

Before the patter of little feet comes the patter of large amounts of coinage. It's no cheap or easy thing to bring up a child in today's modern society, so isn't it a good thing that baby showers are so lucrative, um, forward-looking? This month, make your friends' or relatives' baby showers Events to Remember. Come dressed in nappies. Bring the kinds of gifts that a child will find truly useful further down the Road of Life - why bother with the same old pink and blue knitted booties, cot blankets and playsuits shaped like humorous bunnies, when you could give gifts like cottage-thatching lesson vouchers, cookery books, football boots, pre-paid medical care under the new Lawn Plan, even some of Mr Sonky's finest rubber goods...believe me, when those children grow up you'll be top of their "people to help" list during hard times. Be original!

† But not Mrs Ogg's Joye of Snacks, unless you're definitely including the rubber goods.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Recommended: Anniversary parties
Best to avoid: A night at the opera

And so we come to the last Sign, and it looks like you Umbragians got the boring end of the stick: anniversary parties. But they don't have to be boring! Anniversary parties may traditionally be about bad calamari, drunken uncles, doddering grandparents and Black Uberwald Gateau, but there are many far more interesting anniversaries you could choose to celebrate. There's the anniversary of the founding of Unseen University. There's the anniversary of the passing of the Golem Rights Act. There's the anniversary of the explosion of Old Humbert, the B.S. Johnson-designed Different Engine at Grabpot Thundergust's cosmetics factory. There are anniversaries of nations and of the births of demigods and of natural disasters and even anniversaries of the unfortunate demise of the favourite pet vermine you kept rather inattentively as a child. Every day is a day of remembrance for something, so find yourself something truly amusing to celebrate. After all, someday you'll be that doddering grandparent and you won't remember what the Black Uberwald Gateau is meant to celebrate.

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