CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT: Destiny beckons for the millennium bear

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WHOOP! Well, here we are again, still plunging headlong towards that date with destiny which is 1 January, 2000. Terrific! And, I can tell you, here at Canary Wharf, in London's Docklands, in full view of the marvellous Millennium Dome, the atmosphere is really buzzing! As it clearly is in Widnes, the Amalfi of Cheshire, whence one of my regular correspondents, Mr Brierley, tells me: "A man goes into the butchers and asks for a steak and kidley pie. So the butcher says `Don't you mean steak and kidney?' And the man replies, `That's what I said, diddli?'" Thank you, Mr Brierley, it's good to meet an old friend again. Mr Brierley also notes that ProPack, a north country company, are advertising for the services of a "Temporary Person". Sadly, I understand John Redwood is busy doing something else or other. Actually, while we're talking about the millennium, have you noticed what's on offer in the wonderful world of mail order to aid and abet proper celebration come the big moment? I'm rather taken by the Millennium Bear, an articulated teddy bear with special millennium ribbon and certificate ("I arrived for the new millennium"), only pounds 14.99 from Ambrose Wilson of Manchester. Other examples of outstanding millennium offers most welcome, to be rewarded with either a bottle of port from my sponsors (look up ... NOW!) or a splendid black and silver enamel-effect Moonlight Badge. Next!

ACTUALLY, while we're talking about the millennium, I must tell you that I was boulevarding along in Chelsea the other day, as I do, when my slightly unsteady steps took me past the splendid residence of the Dome Architect, Lord Rogers. Now it might have been a trick of the light, but I would say that the outside seems to be in need of a lick of paint. I know, too, that his lordship is a busy man, even when he's not sucking the end of his pencil, doing a quick doodle and coming up with things like the Dome. So, without fuss, I should like to pass on the name of my decorator, Jason, who will be available just as soon as he has finished our kitchen. Jason, I should also add, says that he might be available, should the right terms be on offer, for future work on the outside of the Dome, too, if they can provide a roller long enough. Sorry? The columnar works? Oh, yes, that: bit of a hiccough last week, but technical support seem very confident that the sponsors' name will be fully lit up this time. Next!

BBRRNNGG! Goodness me, it's a call from my redoubtable political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, doubtless direct from her ceaseless pacing of the lobbies, eternally in search of the Big One! "Captain! Countdown, on the television, Tuesday afternoon! Guest: Lionel Blair!" Ah, yes, good old Lionel. Did you know he used to have a dog named Eric in tribute to his namesake, George Orwell? He did. Eagerly, I press Ms Tributable for more about the legendary possessor of toes whose twinkle is matched only by that of his eyes and orthodontic arrangements. (Panto season alert: "Your teeth are like stars - they come out at night!" Oi!) "Well, Captain, he revealed that he was opening a fete in the summer when this woman came up to him and told him how much he looked like his brother. Which reminds me, Captain: on Wednesday night, in the Strangers' Bar, party for Nigel Evans, Tory MP, there was a Tony Blair garden gnome behind the bar with a cigarette in its mouth. And someone bought it a whisky. Bye!" Well: a Tony Blair garden gnome! More reports, please! But Ms Tributable's right: Lionel and Tony are like two peas in a pod, aren't they? Next!

PORT! Yes, hello and welcome to another instalment of our ever-popular quiz, Ask The Symingtons, in which readers get the chance to fire their queries at the friendly Anglo-Portuguese family which owns W & J Graham's Port, lots of other companies and fabulous estates up the Douro where they often invite people like John Major to stay. I have just been invited to their distributors' Christmas lunch in Berkhamsted, which is where Graham Greene tried to commit suicide. Anyway, on with the fun. And Mr Sladen of Woodstock asks: "Which port in a storm?" And the answer is: "W & J Graham's". Hmmm. Getting a bit cocky, I should have said. Cocky. Isn't there another noted and distinguished port house with a name like that? I must Ask The Symingtons. Next!

BBRRNNGG! It's my celebrity correspondent Ms Britt Bafter! "Captain: more secrets of the celebrity breakfast for you! This time, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh! She has: toast and oatcakes and marmalade. He has: egg and bacon. Sorry? No, no word on brown sauce. Next, the Pope, Captain! Not sure about his breakfast, but last week he sent a birthday card to Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street!" Marvellous.

RUGBY LEAGUE. Actually, while we're talking about Her Majesty, I regret to report that so far there has been no reply to my letter asking Her whether the epic St Helens-Bradford Bulls clash of 1996 has forced her to revise her opinion, only recently disclosed, that the Wigan-Hull cup final of 1985 was the most cracking rugby league match ever. I notice, though, that she has been in South Africa, so she may have had other things on her mind. Did you see, too, by the way, that Nelson Mandela has had a lot of fish stolen from his fish-pond? Well. As you can see from my picture over there, I'm taking no chances with mine. And another thing: in Australia, you can now get boxer shorts bearing the crest of your favourite rugby league side, with the North Queensland Cowboys particularly popular. Do you think Captain Moonlight Boxers would be a good idea? Let me know now on 0171-293 2462. Next!

BBRRNNGGE! Allons, it's a call from my Common Market correspondent, Ms Cher Currency! "Captain! Another triumph for the Tories in Europe! Not long ago, Archie Norman was over here in Brussels and gave a press conference to outline his particular take on the pan-European dream to the thousands of journalists based here. Number of journalists who turned up: two. And now, last Tuesday, on the same mission, that ebullient, emollient man of charm and grace, John Maples, shadow foreign secretary. Number of journalists who turned up: one. Can't wait for William Hague, Captain. Au revoir!" Dear. Next!

YES! YES! That's right, it's time once again for my incomparable Moonlight Miscellany, a glittering, multi-faceted gem of this, that and the other. And, first, while we're on about the Pope, did you know that the population growth rate of Vatican City is 0.0 per cent? And that it's unlucky to have more than three nuns on an airplane? Strange, but true. Next, the Captain's Thingie: Mr Mason of Amsterdam has written asking what's happened to it. Sorry, Mr Mason, it dropped off last week, leaving just "email: moonlight@ independent.co.uk" up there. But now, thankfully, I've got it back. Next, Ms Tributable has been on again to say that there's a large white van parked at the Commons with "Labour Party" written on the side. Probably full of Frank Dobson lookalikes poised for a spot of rapid response. Next, while we're on about Vera Duckworth, this week's My Claim To Fame comes from Ms Field of Marple Bridge, who, several years ago, helped Betty of the Rovers to find her car keys when she'd lost them at the hairdressers. Port! Finally, back to the Pope. This is how an American baseball commentator reacted to the news of the death of Pope John XXIII: "Well, I guess that puts a dampener even on a win for the Yankees.'' Bye!

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