The Belfast Telegraph’s new daily horoscopes columnist Frank Pilkington (‘I’m between 40 and death, darling’) tells Judith Cole about his ‘gift’
When Scotsman Frank Pilkington was first invited to Belfast for a weekend away some years ago, he thought: “Belfast? You must be joking.”
But he fell in love with the city so much that he has returned several times — and is delighted to have just been recruited as the Belfast Telegraph’s psychic columnist. He should have seen it coming, really.
Pilkington writes a horoscopes column every day for the paper in which he explores such issues as love, work and money for each star sign.
“I’m delighted to be writing for the Belfast Telegraph again — I wrote for the paper a long time ago and it’s great to be back,” he says.
The bulk of his work currently consists of newspaper, magazine and broadcasting work as well as some live shows. He also “reads” for people who are “looking for answers” in their lives, hosting personal consultations a few days a week in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel.
Pilkington first suspected he had psychic abilities when he was eight — although he spent years trying to avoid the possibility.
“I remember sitting in a classroom at school and the teacher came in with a pendant she had acquired,” he recalls.
“I told her I liked the photographs that were inside it. She asked me to tell her what they were, and I said they were of her and a child on one side and a man with the same child on the other. She opened it and said that there was nothing inside.
“But many years later I told my local priest about the incident and he said he could confirm that I was right because he had blessed it and indeed there was the teacher and her daughter on one side and an uncle and the child on the other.
“But I was out of step with everyone else — thankfully that priest was a great help to me and helped me adjust to accepting a lot of things which I had tried to deny. My brothers are builders and I was supposed to be the same ... but I’m not. It took me a long time to accept it.
“I was lucky I was able to speak to this particular priest — I could have got an older, rackety one who might have said I’d burn in hell.”
Pilkington went on to work in the catering industry but did ‘party tricks’ on the side and readings for friends.
“As soon as I accepted that I had a psychic gift doors began to open for me. I had been a catering manager and then decided to open a bread and breakfast house by the sea. But everything I did collapsed until I followed the way I had to go. I contacted an agency and soon had secured work in regional papers throughout Britain.”
In 1990 he became the first Scottish male astrologer to write for a weekly national magazine, Woman’s Realm, and worked with the publication for 10 years until it closed in June 2001.
He then hosted a daily live radio phone-in with Scot FM from 1994 to 1997, and followed this by working for Scotland’s biggest radio station, Clyde 2.
After his regular guest slot on Scottish TV’s Scotland Lunchtime Today programme he was then invited to become resident astrologer for The Sunday Mail, and in 1998 he became Channel 4’s resident astrologer on Teletext.
“When I worked for Scot FM, I got 80,000 calls in one week,” Pilkington boasts.
“But when I did my first big show I just didn’t know what I was doing. When I walked out on to the stage there were 1,000 people, and it was scary to realise they weren’t there for an actor or singer, but for me.
“What I do is a big responsibility and that’s why I have always taken supervision — by that I mean I never make assumptions even though you might think a person who comes to you is a certain type. You could be completely wrong so I never assume anything.
“The client is always the most important thing in the room and I work as responsibly as I can — I need to put my head on the pillow at night.”
Pilkington believes he is popular because of his style — his website speaks of his “soothing Scottish tones and individual way of looking at life”.
So what are some of his most outstanding predictions?
“One woman came to me a long time ago and I told her she would marry a strange guy with a very different background to anyone she’d ever known ... I read for her about once a year ... and she is now my wife, and we have three children — Luke (17), Josh (15) and Aimee (10).”
But what about an event on the world stage — does he know who’s going to be the next US president?
“I actually predicted Clinton would win years ago. He was up against George Bush and Ross Perot, and everyone said it would be Perot. When I said Clinton would win, people asked me how I knew, and I told them I didn’t know anything about politics but this was my feeling.
“This year? It will definitely be Barack Obama. Apart from being my prediction, I think that people want a change — but he is up against it with that other guy, that older guy, you know ...
“What else is going to happen this year? The economic crash is big news but it will be even more so next year. The last time something like this happened was 1929 (the Wall Street Crash) and the fact that next year is the anniversary is significant.
“During the last 10 years or so, if you wanted something you just got it. And now the price has to be paid.”
Pilkington explains that he mostly reads for people who are “looking for answers”.
“Hopefully I can help those who have problems,” he says. “My no-nonsense approach seems to be appealing. I'm not frightening but I will say something if it's there. I tell people that I will say what I see.”
Can he tell what’s in store for himself?
“No, the gift isn't for me. It’s for other people — it highlights things to look out for in your day, like there may be a shower so take a brolly,” he says.
“I don't say ‘you will do this today’ — because obviously you won't do it then. What I say works because people love free attention, as long as they're getting something for themselves.
“Now, I'm really delighted to be in the Belfast Telegraph and writing for your readers. I love Belfast, I love Ireland and I’d love to do shows there in your big venues.”