n IF THAT doesn't cook the Blair goose, Tories in Ealing, west London, may have hit upon an election-winning wheeze. Their candidate to fight the present Labour MP for Hammersmith, Clive Soley, for the new constituency of Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush will be one Barbara Yerolemou. Ms Yerolemou, an Ealing councillor, intends to make weeds an election issue. That's right: dandelions, thistles, nettles and stuff. She and her colleagues in the Conservative group maintain that Ealing's weeds grow more vigorously under Labour. Ealing Conservatives' environment spokesman, Jeremy Mindell, has accused Stephen Sears, chairman of the environment committee, of letting the borough's pavements resemble "downtown Phnom Penh". But the most compelling evidence was presented by Graham Weeks, who said he had seen archive BBC footage of Dr Who, filmed in Perivale, which clearly showed weeds growing unchecked, and it was shot under a previous Labour administration. The Tory fightback is clearly unstoppable! Next week: why it rains more under Labour.
WHY pay outrageous prices for gym membership and equipment when you can keep fit at home with the Moonlight personal fitness programme, illustrated here? Everyone has at least one pair of Y-fronts or knickers. Left: Knee squeezes. Place knickers around knees. Stand with feet together. Squat, moving knees about 18 inches apart. Bring together. Repeat 10 times. Right: Neck builders. Put Y-fronts round neck. Lean forward, securing waistband to floor with feet. Raise neck as far as you can. Repeat in sets of 10. The full course can be found in A Brief History of Shorts (Chronicle Books, pounds 9.99).
n YOU KNOW that moment at parties when someone asks "What do you do?" and you reply "I'm a chartered surveyor" or "I'm chief drain inspector in Harlow New Town" or "I'm the Secretary of State for Defence", and there is a terrible, awkward silence in which no one knows what to say next because it would be impossible to reply "How very interesting" and still sound sincere? Sophisticated socialites know that the best way to carry such conversations forward is to make a remark which demonstrates inside knowledge of the ways of your interlocutor's profession. Such as: "You're nicked, chummy. Hahaha!" on being introduced to a policeman, "I'll go and boil some water" to a midwife, or "So you get cheap fares all over the world, then?" to someone who works for an airline. But originality is of the essence. Journalists are not wild about being asked: "Have you just put the paper to bed?" and the Moonlight mongrel's vet is getting tired of people saying: "What's it like, putting your hand up cows' bottoms every day?" On the other hand, it was she who was heard asking a legal academic: "Have you thought up any new crimes lately?" Perhaps the sensible solution is to try and find a mutual interest. My embryologist chum Carol went to a party suffering from toothache and met a handsome dentist who offered to examine her teeth. "OK," she said brightly. "And then maybe I could check your sperm."
TALKING of which ... sperm could be feeling a little neglected, with so much high-profile ovulation going on in the media. Congratulations, then, to Jonathan Tucker-Bull, who has turned masturbation into an art. Mr Tucker-Bull, a sculptor, specialises in self-portrait busts made from a mixture of plaster and his own sperm. He has already had an exhibition in London, called Acts of Creation. "I'm making them all the time. I hope one day to fill a football stadium," he tells me. "I try to do about one a day." Pending the art market's discovery of his special talent, Mr Tucker-Bull is making ends meet by selling any spare sperm to an IVF clinic. He hopes one day to be interviewed on the South Bank Show.
n LET ME be the first to offer 50th birthday congrats for tomorrow to my old Oxford rugby-playing chum Bill Clinton. Just think, Bill, if you had learnt to catch and had got the hang of only tackling chaps when they actually had the ball, you could have ended up being a first-class team captain on A Question of Sport, like Bill Beaumont, rather than a second-class American president! Ah well, it's all water under the bridge, as Teddy Kennedy always says! Lucky Bill shares a birthday with three Moonlight musical heroes: Cream drummer Ginger Baker, "Little Children" man Billy J Kramer and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. Amazingly, they are all older than Bill. Ginger is 57 tomorrow, Billy is 53 and Ian is 51. Makes you think, doesn't it?
THE phone rings. It is Peter Tatchell of GoutRage! Did I know that Buckingham Palace is built on the site of a 17th-century pleasure garden that was a notorious gay cruising area? Nope, that one had passed me by. "The records of the Westminster Assizes talk about 'Sodomie and other Devillish acts of abomination' in the Mulberry Gardens there," says Peter, gleefully. I call Patricia Wright, author of The Strange History of Buckingham Palace. "The gardens were quite respectable at certain times of day," she says, "but certainly at night it was a notorious pick-up point for whatever took your fancy during the Puritan republic and the reign of Charles II. It wasn't exclusively for gays, though." Good spot nevertheless, Peter!
n ENTRIES have been pouring in for my great Yorkshire Motto for the Nineties contest (prize: an Instant Yorkshireman Kit, consisting of black pudding, Black Sheep bitter, Farrah's Harrogate toffee, fish and chips at Harry Ramsden's and a copy of Sir Geoffrey Boycott's autobiography). John Bull, of Hardley, Hampshire, suggests: "Listen to nowt, learn nowt - and if tha does owt, do it with tha mouth." More positively, Brian Wright of Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, comes up with: "Cast thi bread on t'watter an' 'appen it'll come back wi' some 'am on it." He has also sent me a charming photograph of the bottom of the Great Tower at Batley Castle clearly showing the oubliette - "handy for storing recalcitrant Lancastrians", he points out.
WILL "Mr Pink" Hutton was not always editor of the Observer, a newspaper. He was once a columnist on the Guardian, another newspaper. He was not always Will, either. The first byline on his Guardian column, in which he was later to develop the theories of stakeholding which have utterly changed the British political landscape etc etc and need no elaboration here, appeared under the name Wilf Hutton. That's right! As in Pickles. But here's the really spooky bit. Alan Rusbridger, the Princess Di fan who edits the Observer's stablemate, the Guardian, was not always called Alan. When he joined that newspaper as nobbut a lad in 1979, the Grauniad's famous gremlins kept getting his name wrong. His first few stories appeared under bylines such as "Alan Rossbridge", "Alan Russminster" and the like. Eventually the blushing young reporter plucked up the courage to point out that his surname was spelt R-u-s-b-r-i-d-g-e-r. Right you are, said the subs. His next scoop duly appeared under the byline "Arthur Rusbridger". Yes, as in Askey. So, young hacks at the Guardian and the Observer, do not despair if they make you sound like a dead comedian, for it is a sure sign that you are destined for greatness. I thang yew!
Charles Nevin returns next week.
The Captain's Catch-up Service
A MAN died in an Australian hospital after an alarm failed to go off when his life-support machine broke down. He was being treated for injuries sustained when he fell out of a train. His name was Richard Luck ... Four people were questioned in Bristol over the kidnap of Cuprinol Man, a 3ft-tall model used in TV wood-stain ads ... Hollywood stars are queuing to have pounds 12,000 microchips fitted in their teeth; the chips emit radio signals in case of kidnap ... Bus driver Shane Watson has a private army of 4,000 Action Man and GI Joe soldier dolls in his two-bedroom house in Bristol. He knows all their names ... Norfolk electrician Adrian Osborne has collected more than 500 ties ... A restaurant in South Africa is doing a roaring trade in pork ribs after displaying a poster of the film Babe saying: "You've seen the movie - now eat the actors" ... Arnaud Flavole, 72, ate a 5ft 5in black pudding in under 10 minutes to win a competition at Trie-sur-Baise, France... A bank cashier in Buenos Aires sneezed and banged her head on her computer keyboard, instantly sending pounds 600,000 into an untraceable foreign account.