The teletext service on ITV carries advertising pages between those with news and information. One of these, I saw last night, was for a premium rate telephone line called Nostradamus. For all I know this connects you to a biography dedicated to the life and works of the French 16th century hokum peddlar, but I suspect it is probably a thinly veiled horoscope aimed at the criminally gullible.

Anyway, on the page in question was a purported quote from a satisfied caller. “So accurate I phoned a friend” it read. Maybe it’s me, but that doesn’t make it sound like they heard anything earth shattering, if the reaction was just to phone a friend. “So accurate I broke down in tears”, “so accurate I put £100 on the 3.20 at Kempton”, “so accurate I sold all my belongings and moved to Missouri” maybe, but “so accurate I phoned a friend”? Big wow. The only way that’s impressive is if the prediction was about the friend in question. But I’m guessing it’s a recorded message and unlikely to name an individual, so how do you know who to call? If you phone a horoscope line and it says “Your friend Trevor Smith will have a serious accident”, then the vast majority of callers are going to ring off dismissively. It would have to be vague and say “Your friend will have a serious accident”. I suppose you would ultimately then know to which friend it was referring – it was the one who went on to have a serious accident. Who then, to add insult to injury, got a phone call from their excitable friend saying they knew it was coming all along.

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