Bitter lessons ... advantage Cliff ... I buy a guardian

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Bonjour! Wilkommen! It has been brought to the Captain's attention that, according to a survey conducted by that estimable body, The Brewers' and Licensed Retailers' Association, many foreign visitors have trouble with the "subtle social rules" that govern correct behaviour in our pubs. This is an area where, happily, I have considerable expertise. Just follow the Captain's instructions and you cannot go wrong. 1) Getting served. This is not a formality. It is a fierce contest with the other customers. Remember, too, that bar staff are trained not to catch your eye, so waving money or smiling is absolutely no use. Subtlety is required. My opening gambit, developed over many years, has yet to fail me: "What ho, Landlord! A pint of cooking for me, please, and whatever you and your charming daughter are having! What? She's your wife? I don't believe it!" 2) Conversation. The saloon is not the salon. Never look at the other person. Stare into your drink or at the middle distance. If addressed, you need only two responses: a) "You're not wrong there" b) "Myself, I blame the Government". As a general rule, you should avoid initiating conversation, but if you must, I have always found this a safe and suitable opener: "Warm enough for you?" 3) Miscellaneous tips: be very wary of men in cravats, men with road maps sticking out of their pockets, women sitting with their legs crossed on bar stools with drinks with cherries in, and pickled eggs.

Killer Sheep update. Below I reproduce alarming photographic evidence of this growing and worrying tendency among sheep to attack humans. You will remember my first report, from the Brecon Beacons, had sheep mugging hikers for their lunchpacks. Today's pictures, though, do not come from there. No. I'm sorry to add to your worries this Sunday morning, but this bloodcurdling charge followed by a savage and unprovoked attack took place in Norway. Is nowhere safe? They were sent to me by Ms Southern of Hove, who, as you can see, has lately returned from Geilo. Ms Southern does not reveal either the identity or the fate of the poor chap. All she says is: "Think carefully before you visit Geilo." I will, Ms Southern, believe me.

Tony Blair's joke: late news. Recently I told you that Tony had risked a joke. It was at a youth employment press conference when he pointed at George Pascoe Watson, the fresh-faced seeker after respect who is the Sun's parliamentary correspondent, and said, in best jocular fashion: "There's the only bit of youth employment here!" Well, young Pascoe, as I told you, wasn't best pleased. And now I learn that Tony rang him the next day to apologise. Your reaction to this will be a) what a top bloke, how considerate, or b) blimey, what a creep. Next week, for balance, I shall be bringing you some exclusive extracts from "It's The Way I Tell 'Em: Chuckle Along With Dr Brian Mawhinney!"

BBRRNNGG! It is The Editor, again. "Sir Cliff Richard, singing at Wimbledon, good thing or bad thing?" The Captain does not hesitate: "Good thing. Good old Sir Cliff. And all those game lady champs. They don't write songs like that any more, do they? English knack for smiling through adversity, committed Christian, could have been worse, didn't bring Hank Marvin, just a bit of fun, what the country..." This fluent flow was interrupted by The Editor: "Bad thing. Did you see the people's faces? Can you imagine what it feels like to have your eye caught by a 56-year-old man singing "Theme For A Dream"? Where will it end? That's what I want to know. Will he be popping up at every sporting event on the off chance of a shower? At the bus stop? I'm told the BBC switchboard was flooded with complaints. Find out." Well. So, I call the BBC, who tell me that calls praising Sir Cliff outnumbered critical ones by four to one. I replace the receiver, proud to be English.

Cooking is not all fun, you know. Ask Delia, ask anybody. Ask Raymond Blanc. I mean, you come over here with a mission to educate us about food, and does anybody thank you? Non. In fact, in Oxford, where Ray has just opened Le Petit Blanc, the neighbours are complaining about cooking smells. I ask you. And now I hear of more bad behaviour, from some guests Ray took down from London in a champagne charabanc for his launch party. Were they tempted by Ray's finest canapes? Non. Instead, before getting back on the chara, they popped over the road and bought large portions of fish and chips. Sacre bleu!

Sir Cliff having been disposed of, time to turn to the other sporting event of the week. Mrs Gazza's lovely pink wedding dress was spot on, the cake was extremely tasty, and the speeches pithy, but the Captain's eye was particularly taken by the very wide men who were protecting the wedding party's privacy. A man, I thought to myself, could cut a bit of a dash down St James's with a few of those chaps clearing the pavement and growling in front of one. Eager to discover more, I telephoned my old chum, Mr Maxwell Clifford, aide-de-camp to the stars. Maxwell said that the protection afforded Mr and Mrs Gazza would probably have cost something above pounds 10,000. But, he told me, he was in the habit of protecting his clients with a company whose "close protection agents" melted into the crowd, or "men and women you wouldn't dream were bouncers". I told Maxwell I had something a little more visible in mind and turned to the Yellow Pages. After several attempts at contacting firms in Bow and Millwall who seemed no longer to be in business, I spoke to a charming, if terse, man at Red Circle Security Services in Pimlico, who offered me a one-day special rate of pounds 12 an hour each for four bodyguards. Would they be, I wondered, big? "No problem". Could they take care of themselves? "No problem". The prospect of the first minded diarist is very near. Watch out, Bloomsbury publishing parties.

On your way to our exciting peach-coloured business section? Just hang on here for a second. You know the Chancellor of the Exchequer, husbander of the country's finances? That's right, round fellow, suede shoes, smokes a cigar. Well, things are tighter than we thought. Ms Una Tributable, my parliamentary correspondent, has disturbing news. She tells me that in February, at the time of that little local difficulty involving Harriet Harman's highly individual interpretation of Labour education policy, the Chancellor had a bet with Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's revolving medicine man, that Harman would resign. She didn't. But, sad to report, still no sign of the fiver. Ms Tributable's interpretation: this is highly significant; don't rule out a snap devaluation. Something else, something else. Oh, yes, that's right: Gordon Brown has some new offices, behind the cloisters near Westminster Hall. And Gordon sits on the same spot where Cromwell signed Charles I's death warrant. I bet Tony wouldn't have risked that, Gordon.

Now, listen: nobody, but nobody, is keener on a bit of an artefact than the Captain. And I was particularly taken with the news that a 2,500-year- old statue of a Celtic prince had been dug up near Frankfurt. And then I saw a picture of it, and I thought: "hold up a second!" Call me a cynical old officer if you like, but it did seem to be in remarkably good shape for a 2,500-year-old statue of a Celtic prince. And then I looked a bit closer, and noticed a remarkable resemblance. I suppose those Celts might have worshipped News Bunny, the exciting aid to understanding introduced on the bulletins of L!VE TV by my exciting colleague, Mr Kelvin MacKenzie, but, on the whole, I rather tend to doubt it. Have a look at my pictures and see what you think. Bye!

PICTURE this: you all saw the environmental report last week which predicted that global warming will bring the climate of the Paris Basin to London by 2030. Today, as an aid to understanding, I am publishing a slightly amended version of Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres to show you just how life will be. Yes, that is Battersea Power Station in the background. A lot of people have been telling me how much they are looking forward to the Gallic life; but I'm not so sure. That weather, I find, makes your Parisians a bit surly, unlike our own cheery, loveable cockneys. The North, I note, too, will be wetter and warmer. Next week, perhaps, I will present Manchester as imagined by Gauguin.

Photomontage by EMMA BOAM

The Captain's Catch-up Service

Welcome to the news review that goes straight to the heart of the human condition ... Finnish organisers of an annual Arctic challenge in bare-handed mosquito killing said a lack of the insects had forced them to cancel the event. But the world wife-carrying championships were still scheduled to take place in Sonkajarvi ... Henri Dupier, of Lyons, has divorced his wife because she expected him to kiss her, her mother, the dog and their three cats every time he came home from work ... Three pigeons from the North-east have now visited Mohammed Essofi's pigeon loft in Casablanca ... Chook-chucking, a pub game played at the Fat Ladies Arms in Wellington, New Zealand, in which frozen chickens are bowled at skittles, has been condemned by the RSPCA for displaying contempt towards animal life ... A crystal ball belonging to Maria Gon- zales, a fortune teller of Seville, fell from a first-floor window and landed on Pablo Salvatore's head. "She doesn't know yet, but I'm suing," said Pablo.

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