by Fernando Magnifico
Buongiorno my friends, it is I, Fernando, I shall be your astrologer today, for the Lady Asterisk is sick in her boudoir with the hipplopotamus flu.
Since Fernando first came to this magnificent city, almost as magnificent as Fernando himself, he has been receiving the very many fine letters from his readers every month. My friends, you can be sure that Fernando reads the every one of them, yes, even the ones written with the crayons on the backs of old envelopes. Sometimes the letters are to tell Fernando how magnificent he is, sometimes they are to ask for Fernando's advice or help, and many of them from the young signorinas (and a few of the young signores) are to promise their undying love for Fernando. So this month, Fernando is going to answer a selection of the questions sent to him by his readers. You too can have your questions answered magnificently by Fernando! Just send your questions by C-Mail to <Magnifico@Astrochelonian.AM> or by the Roundworld E-Mail to <magnifico at pearwood.info>.
The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr
The first letter is from a Hogger, who writes:
"To Mr Fernando Magnifico, I am a young Dwarf working in a responsible position for a high-profile arm of the City government. A few years ago I 'came out' to my colleagues and friends as female. I have met a nice Dwarf who I am very nearly sure could be male, and he's been hinting at some, er, exotic practices. I think he wants me to, um, you know, shave. Up there. My beard. Some of my more conservative relatives and colleagues, to say nothing of the Deep Downers, are still upset that I wear dresses, so I think this would possibly cause them to go completely spare. I don't think I can handle the embarrassment of being beardless in public, but at the same time the idea is strangely attractive. What should I do? Signed, Not So Cheery Now."
Fernando knows well the conflict you feel. Not for Fernando himself, you understand, for when Fernando makes up his mind to do a thing, he does it, with no regrets, but for the many people, their first "full Tezuman" is the very big decision. How much more so if the Tezuman is visible in public, and not just in the privacy of your bedroom or kitchen? This is what it must be like for the Dwarfs and their beards. Fernando has learned much from the great Dwarf lover Casanunda, who has shaved his beard off, but such a cost! For Casanunda now spends all his time away far from his family, his people and the mines. The stars say that this is not a burden that all are prepared to carry, and Fernando knows that this is so! But perhaps you could have your beard made into the face-wig, for wearing in public? Fernando hears that more Dwarfs than you know already do this thing.
The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May
"Hello dearie, this is Dotsie here... and this is Sadie kind sir, I'm a Muncher and dear Aunty Dotsie is a Spooner, but I'm sure that won't cause such a talented boy as you any trouble. I'm sure a kind boy like you doesn't want any trouble. Aunty Dotsie and I have a question for you, if you would be so kind. A very important question, kind sir, one which Dotsie and I know you will answer very carefully. Where can we get a nice strawberry jam for our cream tea? There's a bit of a shortage of strawberries, you understand, we've looked everywhere. Something about unseasonable cold weather. Dotsie's even opened her handbag at some of the merchants, but they can't do anything about the weather, the poor things. We've tried raspberry jam but it just isn't the same."
This letter is the challenge for Fernando's astrology, for it is written by the two peoples, of different signs. But do not fear, for Fernando is "up for it", as they say, and will not let you down! Fernando has consulted with the stars, and there is the bad news and there is the good news. The bad news is that the strawberry shortage will continue for a while, but not forever, the stars say that next year will be a bumper harvest. And in the meantime, the stars suggest checking with the Sto Lat Importers in Bread & Cheese Passage, for they may still have some. Or you could try Quirm: weak, insipid strawberries, like their footsballers, but better than nothing.
Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun
"Good day Mr Magnifico, as you may be aware from the sensationalist reports in the daily newspapers, especially that scurrilous rag The Ankh-Morpork Times, His Lordship recently suffered considerable embarrassment, to say nothing of the loss of a significant amount of money, after signing an unwise contract against the advice of his accountants and lawyers. As three verbal briefings, two written memos and a large note written by Mr. Slate himself pinned directly to the front of the contract were insufficient to impress upon His Lordship the dangers of the contract, I take full responsibility for failing in my duties. Mr. Magnifico, do the stars have anything to say advising me on how I can better serve His Lordship in future? Signed, the Hon. Lucian Plumm-Brownnose, Esq., Secretary to Lord Rust."
Fernando knows that when a signore nobile has set his mind on something, he is like the bull who espies the lady cow in the next field: single minded and very hard to stop, and with a tendency to bellow. But Fernando has consulted with the stars, and checked the horoscopes, and all is not lost. For unlike the bulls, many lords are the easily distracted, like Fernando's cousin Tomas, who tries so hard but is distracted by the ladies who undress at night without drawing their shades, even if he has to climb two fences and a tree to get distracted. The stars say that the best way to serve His Lordship is to find something to keep him busy until he has forgotten the papers you don't want him to sign. Fernando believes in making the love, not the war, but for such a good cause, perhaps a small pre-emptive strike against Quirm might be in order?
The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul
"Dear Mr Magnifico, Ai am a respectable hwidow hwoman and hyour most devoted fan. Ai halways turn to hyour horoscopes first thing when Ai get the newspaper heach day, it is the hnext best thing to having a witch to read hyour tea leaves. Ai am a 'Staffie', like many of the fine gentlemen for hwhom Ai works for. One hof these fine gentlemen has taken to following me around like a lost puppy since hwe were lost together on a tropical hisland some time ago. Don't get me wrong, he is the perfect gentleman at hall times, but it is very tiresome to have him follow me around hoffering to help with the hironing and folding. Ai have gels for that sort of thing. What do the stars say Ai should do? Signed, Devoted of Unseen University"
Fernando knows what it is like to have the people follow you around making the puppy-dog eyes and asking to do your chores. Sometimes when Fernando leaves his small but tastefully decorated apartment, he finds two, or sometimes three, of the young signorinas fighting over him in the street. It is very sad, because Fernando has enough love in him for everyone.
Fernando has never had a problem with an unwanted suitor who needs to be discouraged, but his sister Rosita is often plagued by the young mens who won't take no for the answer. She kicks them in the voonerables and then runs out into the street crying and wailing. After a couple of nights in the stocks being pelted by the rotten fruit, and they understand the meaning of no. Fernando has checked the stars, and they say that a delicato approach would be more appropriate. Have you considered perhaps putting the bromide in the gentleman's tea?
Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug
"Dear Mr Fernando, I need your help, for I have done a foolish thing. Last week I went to the pub and had a few too many beers, and then I had a few too many more beers, and maybe one or two whiskies, and one thing led to another and on the way home I stopped at the clacks office and sent a naughty c-mail to the ex-girlfriend and offered to, well, you're a man of the world Mr Fernando, I'm sure I don't need to spell it out. But I gave the clerk the wrong c-mail address and sent it to me mam instead. So now the old man doesn't know whether to give me a hiding or ask me for some lessons, and me mam won't talk to me, and somehow the lads at the factory found out and keep making jokes about it. And to rub salt into the wound, the bloody clerk (excuse my Klatchian) at the clacks office short-changed me! What do the stars say I should do? Signed, Never Should Of Let Me Mam Get On The Clacks."
Fernando can understand how this is the very embarrassment for you, but you must understand, you are not the first, and will not be the last, who this terrible thing has happened to. Especially in Ankh-Morpork, can anyone put their hand on their heart and say they have never done this themselves? I don't think so -- even Fernando, as magnificent as he is, has made this mistake once or twice. It is an easy mistake to make, especially with the Ankh-Morpork pennies, so what you must do is to be as brave as Fernando and walk straight back to that clacks office and demand to speak to the manager, then ask for your correct change. The stars are in your favour!
The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept
"Hello Mr Fenardo, I am Chalky der troll and I am der Parsnip astrologery kind of ting. Please excuse my riting, cos der kiln is on and its' a bit warm in here. I makes der potteries and stuff from der finest clays. I am reely good at makin pottery statchews for export, and I been tinken about branching out into der fine arts wit dem statchews. What does der stars say about dis?"
Fernando approves very much of the fine arts, and is very pleased that the stars say that this is the molto excellente idea. Fernando believes that having the most attractive models for the statues is most important, and so Fernando offers to be the model. Did I mention that Fernando has his own figleaf? It is very large.
The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct
"Dear Mr Fernando, I am a Boring'un interested in collecting stamps, papier mache hats and competitive paint-drying. The regional semi-finals are coming up soon, and I am hoping that astrology could give me a small advantage against last year's champion. Yours, Dagbert Nodule."
Fernando has cast the horoscopes, and the stars say that the outlook for victory is promising. The stars recommend an unorthodox under-arm fanning motion. The secret is in the wrist action during the backstroke, cara mia.
Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov
"Dear Mr Magnifico, This letter will no doubt come as a surprise to you but I can assure you by all the gods that this is GENUINE. My name is Mrs Maria-Theresa Slug and my dearest husband was the Supreme General in the Theocracy of Muntab's Hubwise Army until he was MURDERED by his political rivals. These same RIVALS have seized my home and assets but by the will of the GODS they didn't know about the bank account in the name of my CAT where my LATE husband deposited AM$10,000,000 just the night before he was SO CRUELY murdered. As a POOR SIMPLE WOMAN unused to international finance, I beseech you to help me TRANSFER the money into a secret Ankh-Morpork bank account before my husband's MURDERERS discover it. For your trouble I will give you a share of the money, twenty-five percent or ONE MILLION A-M DOLLARS for your trouble. Please reply by C-Mail to
Fernando's heart is filled with the sadness that people could be so cruel to a poor widow, and so he is determinded to help this poor signora in her hour of need. Fernando has cast the horoscopes, and the stars predict that much money will change hands, and that the writer of this letter will be very happy afterwards. Fernando is sure that this will work out for the best.
The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec
"Dear Mr Fernando, I am a Spooner small businessman supplying the working-man of Ankh-Morpork with his daily need viz a viz salt, grease, BCBs and other essentials. Competition is getting tough for us servers of honest Morporkian food what with these new curry shops and dwarf delicatessens opening up, and if the stars have anything to say about keeping my share of the edibles market I want to know about it. And make it snappy. Signed, S. Harga. (P.S. mention this letter for 15 pence off your next plate of Burnt Bacon Crunchy Egg and Stale Toast House Special at the House of Ribs.)"
Fernando loves Ankh-Morpork, but the food! In Brindisi, we have the saying, "it is a Morporkian lunch" (only it is much more beautiful in Brindisian, you understand), which means it is badly made and not good for you. If it were up to Fernando, I would say, Morporkians, throw out your burnt chips and greasy sludge, but Fernando is scrupulous and would never change what the stars themselves say, no matter how much it hurts Fernando. For the stars know that the peoples of Ankh-Morpork, otherwise the finest of all peoples outside of Brindisi, have little place in their stomachs for the sun-ripened tomatoes, plump olives and juicy table-grapes. The stars have this to say: on the wall of your shop, you should put the many iconographs of the big, fat sandwiches, filled with the finest salads and meats. But the sandwiches you serve should be half the size, with a few sad pieces of salad and a mean, greasy, salty minced-meat patty inside the soft, sweet bread roll, half-filled with sugar and air. Your customers will love them.
It is enough to make Fernando weep. But Fernando is strong.
Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan
"Dear Fernando, I am a Hokian recentlly arrived in Ankh-Morpork from Llamedos. Father was relluctant to llet me go, but as he can't work on account of his bad lleg, and I am the olldest of a familly of seventeen girlls, I have come to the big city to find work. I am working as a barmaid for a smallll hotell just off Sator Square, and having once mentioned that I'm tallented at sewing and darning, many of the patrons have told me I shoulld consider becoming a Seamstress. What do the stars suggest I should do? Signed, Miss Edith Llewellewellewellyn. P.S. I'm not entirelly ignorant Mr Fernando, I'm aware of the difference between needllewoman and Seamstress, I just pllay dumb for the tips."
Fernando knows that such a job is the very hard: the customers are either disrespectful and unpleasant, or they are needy and demanding; the long hours, no prospects, and the terrible working conditions. And that's for needlewomans -- the job of the barmaids is much worse. The stars also say that as a Seamstress, it will be exactly the same, but you will be paid a lot more, and Fernando knows that you will have the satisfaction that the most unpleasant customers will wake up in an alley with the strange parrot-head shaped bruise on their head. Fernando is friend to many peoples, of all professions, and he knows that as Seamstress your job will be scandalous and messy, at least if you do it right. If this excites you as much as it excites Fernando, you could reach the very top of the Guild.
The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb
"Dear Mr Fernando, I hope you will publish my letter, I was just saying to my Henry, oh Henry, wouldn't it be wonderful if that nice Mr Fernando published my letter, and then he said yes dear, and I said that would just go to show that stuck-up Mrs Petty, and he said yes dear, and then I said could you believe it, she actually said that you made up the letters you published, not my Henry you understand, you Mr Fernando, and then my Henry said no dear, and I said I know I could hardly believe it myself, but Mrs Mariachi told me, and she heard it from her Andy, who heard it direct from the gent that Mrs Petty said it to, and then my Henry said that's practically official, and I said oh shush Henry, you don't want to be boring everybody with your yabbering, and he said yes dear, he always has to have the last word my Henry I do love him so but he does go on something terrible. Signed, Mrs Analgesic."
How could Fernando not publish this letter? It would be cruel and heartless to not do so, and Fernando is not cruel or heartless. Fernando has the very big heart filled with love for all (except for Carlos, who we do not talk about, and the Quirmian footsballers, the filthy cheaters that they are). So Fernando can assure you that he does not make up any of the letters, they are all "the genuine article" as they say in Ankh-Morpork. Fernando has checked the horoscopes, and the stars say that the hat you like, the one with the cherries and stuffed birds, will be on sale soon, and if you hurry, you can buy it before Mrs Petty.
Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar
"Dear Mr Fernando, due to a thmall mithunderthanding by my former employer, Very Nearly Thane Again Doctor Fauthtith Dithtemper -- when you order thomeone to pull the thwitch on the thircuit, make thure you're not thanding in wet grathth with one hand on the capathitor terminal -- I find mythelf without employment in Ankh-Morpork. I have a thmall thum put athide for emergenthieth, but I wonder whether it would be prudent to vithit my couthin Igor in Thlithe until the Doctor'th will hath been read in cathe hith heirth want it back. What do the thtarth have to thay about thith? Thigned, Igor."
Fernando knows very well the importance of the good communications, and sometimes the importance of avoiding the bad communications. Fernando has checked with the stars, and they say that Slice is too close. Perhaps you have the relatives back in Uberwald you could visit? It is important to see your family, Fernando knows this is true, which is why Fernando always goes back to Brindisi to see his family, even his cousin Donatella, who looks like the terrifying ghoul and behaves just as badly.