Media Medium
30 November 2000


Middle England or bust for Desmond

Sagittarian Richard Desmond may have galloped away with the Express,
but his success depends on not riding roughshod over the paper's traditions.

At first sight, it's a puzzle why the world of The Express should be so dominated by the slow, earthy Taurean Bull. The paper itself has the Sun in Taurus (April 24 1900), like its arch-rival The Mail (May 4 1896). Its editor Rosie Boycott is a Taurus (May 13 1951), and so is its last proprietor, Lord Hollick (May 20 1945). Now it has been sold to Richard Desmond's company, Northern and Shell, another Sun in Taurus (May 7 1982). Apart from the temptation to write all this off as a load of bull, the Taurus symbolism is a reminder that despite the speedy Geminian turn-over of news and opinion, a newspaper's success depends on Taurean endurance and a firm base of Taurean capital and resources.

Northern & Shell has a striking horoscope on two counts. Neptune, the fantasy planet, was rising at its incorporation. This is the symbol of celebrity, glamour and image, perfect for soft porn and OK! magazine but 180 degrees opposite The Express's Neptune, a foggy mis-match of divergent visions. Despite the shared Taurus, Northern & Shell's bewitching Moon in sexy Scorpio is exactly opposite the Express Sun. This is a further indicator of the clash of spirit between Big Ones International and the values of middle-England.

So far, it is not obvious that Richard Desmond can handle these contradictions. He has none of the stability, endurance or wealth characteristic of Taurus. Desmond is a lusty Sagittarian (December 8 1951), half-man and half-horse, and his horoscope bursts with extravagant, entrepreneurial fire. His reputation as coarse and boastful smacks of the worst side of the Sagittarian gambler and empire builder. Astrologer Charles Carter says of the 'primitive' Sagittarian type: " There may be extravagance, carelessness over detail, waste, exaggeration, too great faith in luck, superficiality, a tendency to know a little of everything but all of nothing, with sudden crazes for people, intellectual interests and hobbies, which blaze up and die away, and also a certain degree of loudness and vulgarity."

Primitive Sagittarian clown he may appear to be, but Desmond is no fool. His Jupiter is conjunct the Express Mercury, planet of communication, and this bears out the obvious possibility that he desires the paper for political status and a voice of power. So if he wants the Express to work, despite his fiery ego, he is unlikely to pepper it with Asian Babes.

The Express horoscope looks better than might be expected with signs of a turn-around after summer 2002, but the big question raised by the astrology is how long its new owner will stay. His restless Sagittarian Sun enjoys the thrill of the hunt but transform-or-bust Pluto threatens to stop his game in the coming year. If he has enough savvy to know that he has stepped into a different league, Desmond could produce an amazing rebirth, but only if he works WITH the paper's existing journalistic traditions, and not against them. He could equally surprise everyone by galloping off with the Daily Star and selling on The Express. Watch for make-or-break moves next March.

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