Captain Moonlight: Diary: Be my guest editor ... Kant do ... Portillo's move

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Ahoy there! A lot of people, I notice, have been rather ungenerous about Cherie Blair guest editing the October issue of Prima magazine. New Labour, Lovely New Autumn Knits, that sort of tired old joke. The Captain, on the other hand, thinks it a splendid idea. I have been mulling over potential guest editors for this column. Inquiring at Downing Street about Norma's availability, I was told, a little wistfully, I fancied, that no one had ever asked her. Other celebrity spouses under Moonlight consideration include HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Mrs Alan Shearer, Mr Ronnie Knight, Mrs Rolf Harris, Mr Imran Khan, Cilla Black's Bobby, Lord Archer, Mrs Naina Yeltsin, Mr Norman Everage, Mrs Mainwaring, and a combined team of the Sultan of Brunei's better halves. I wondered, too, about The Editor's Wife, but thought this might be construed as rather too overt toadying. Turn here next week to see upon whom the Moonlight benediction finally fell!

Ominous news from the north. Did you know that last Thursday was Yorkshire Day? No, I didn't either. But it may all be about to change. Next 1 August, all Yorkshire-born men, women and children, wherever they are in the world, will be asked to sing, all together, "On Ilkla Moor baht 'at". It's for charity, the Marie Curie Cancer Care, but is worrying none the less, because, in addition to that awe-inspiring prospect, there will be other events with a Yorkshire theme, including pudding competitions, and, no doubt, one to find the person who can say most convincingly, "I'm from Yorkshire, and we speak as we find", "We've got one of those in Leeds", and "So what?". So I telephoned Lancashire County Council to see if there was a Lancashire Day. "We don't need one," said a man called Craig. "Because every day in Lancashire is a good day. Every day is Lancashire Day." You will notice the difference in approach. But even Craig sounded alarmed when I mentioned the singing, next August. We are now working on a scheme that will involve a lengthy rendition of "With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock" to block out the caterwauling. Sponsors, please!

Ah, yes, sponsors, and the matter of my hat up there, the most prestigious site in the British media. I am happy to tell you that a deal is very nearly clinched, and that, in addition, our old chums, Graham's Port, seem eager for more punishment in October. So I think I can promise exciting prizes for the winners of this year's holiday competition, which, as you can see from the picture below, is for your most exciting holiday snaps, of this or any year. Today's was taken at Portnahaven, on the Isle of Islay. It was sent in, for some reason, anonymously. Get in touch and Moonlight largesse will be yours!

Bbrrnngg! It is the telephone, and on it, Ms Dee Briefing, eager holiday replacement for my regular political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, who seems to have wangled an invitation to Tuscany. "Captain!" says Ms Briefing. "John Redwood is in America! And he's doing a series of television interviews with the likes of Henry Kissinger and Steve Forbes!" All very interesting, I say, and then pause slightly and cough before hazarding that he must be working for an extra-terrestrial channel. "No, GMTV," says Ms Briefing, completely oblivious to my witty little sally. Come back, Una!

Bbrrnngg! It is The Editor, on the telephone. "Kant!" he barks. I decide on a conciliatory approach and ask him what he means. "This morning, the Sun has mentioned Immanuel Kant! Is that a record? Page 33. Check it out!" I turn to Page 33, where, under Question 28 of "Try Our Flirty Thirty: Sun fun quiz on the wacky side of sex", I find the following: "Which intellectual giant did not die a virgin: a)Sir Isaac Newton b)Immanuel Kant c)Albert Einstein". The questions are taken from an American book written by a Don Vayle. I fax his publishers asking how he can be so sure. I am still waiting for a reply. I discover, too, that this is, in fact, the second mention of Kant in the Sun. The first came in a list of readers' questions faxed by the Sun to Ms Pamela Anderson, the Canadian American actress, swimmer and mother. It was from a Mr Stater of London, and read: "I was interested to learn that you enjoy reading large philosophical and spiritual works. I would therefore be interested to know your opinion as to whether Kant successfully distinguished between the categorical and the hypothetical imperative". Mr Stater is still waiting for a reply, too. Can anybody else help?

Bbrrnngg! Again! This time it is none other than Mr Peter Tatchell, of OutRage!, who is particularly outraged today by the blood transfusion advertisement slogan "Anyone with a heart can give blood". Mr Tatchell points out that gays are not allowed to give blood. The Captain is outraged, too, as he is not allowed to give blood, either, on account of his gout medication. I contact the blood people, who say that the slogan has "an element of poetic licence". Their new slogan is to be "Everyone's got it in them to save a life", which is no better. Mr Tatchell and the Captain are now planning a joint gay and goutee protest march.

Great excitement last week! I was invited to L'Etoile, a fancy restaurant in London, to celebrate an award to the capital's most distinguished maitresse d', Elena Salvoni. What was more, I was assured that Lionel Blair would be there! This was particularly frisson-making because, as you will all remember, Lionel has a dog called Eric. Eric Blair. Is this, I have long speculated, Lionel's own personal tribute to that great penseur and commie- hater, George Orwell? Well, the night at Elena's was to be my chance to find out. Imagine, then, my disappointment, when the guest of honour turned out to be not Lionel Blair but Lionel Bart! Still, he was most charming. Naturally, I asked about dogs. Lionel told me, he used to have two German shepherds called Simon and Garfunkel. Melvyn Bragg was there, too. Interestingly, a friend tells me that Melvyn has one of those china dog thingies in his cottage in Cumbria but he doesn't know if Melvyn calls it anything. Next!

n AND there's more to the exhausting Moonlight social round. Last Saturday evening found me south of the Thames, east of Greenwich, in Charlton, where I watched the London Broncos, a rugby league team, in action. The event was much enlivened by the presence of some fetching "cheer leaders" called the Broncettes (the 'c' is hard). Tuesday discovered me further to the west, in Holland Park, where I had the good fortune to attend a performance of Don Giovanni, which has a lot of singing in it. But I could not help but contrast the approach of the men in charge of the public address system at the two events. At Holland Park, it was a curmudgeonly fellow who forbade us to continue with our picnics after the performance had ended. At Charlton, it was a charming chap who made a point of inviting the entire audience to the bar afterwards, where, he said, the Broncettes "would be available". Chacun a son gout, I suppose.

Bbrrnngg! Again! This is getting too much. It is Ms Briefing, again. "Captain! Someone has moved into the space where that photocopier used to be in Nor- man Shaw North!" Fascinating, I murmur, before wondering to Ms Briefing why this should be of any great interest to my busy readership. "Because," says Ms Briefing, with a slow, portentous delivery, "the someone is Michael Portillo's constituency secretary!" And? "Well, quite obviously, Portillo has decided that the next election is lost and is making the bridgehead for a strike on the luxurious offices across from the photocopier presently occupied by arch Euro-sceptic Richard Shepherd!" And? "That's it, Captain! Extremely significant, you'll agree!" I thank Ms Briefing, replace the receiver, and decide to go on holiday for a couple of weeks.

Quite a lot of talk about UFOs at the moment, have you noticed? Perhaps it is time for the Captain to reveal a secret closely and zealously guarded by Whitehall and Westminster for the last 40 years. Codenamed "The Downing Street Files", this bombshell of a dossier contains the three pictures which I reproduce above. Familiar, aren't they? Apart from the little green man who appears in each one. Who is he? Where is he from? I don't know, but I do feel it explains quite a lot about recent Tory administrations. There are other mysteries, too. Where was John Redwood when they were taking pictures of Edward Heath? Am I alone in finding the little green man uncannily reminiscent of both Mark Thatcher and Terry Major Ball? And isn't there a hint of Lord Hailsham in there, too? And did Harold Macmillan, with that languid Edwardian drawl, in fact say: "UFOs never had it so good"? I suspect we will never really know. Photomontages by JONATHAN ANSTEE

The Captain's Catch-up Service

Welcome to the news review that idles along the super information byways ... Patricia Kemp, wife of the Rt Rev Eric Kemp, the Bishop of Chichester, is working as an usherette and ice cream vendor at the Chichester Festival Theatre... Lester Piggit won the first of a series of piglet races over five foot-high hurdles at the Clogher Valley Agricultural Show in County Tyrone. Not quite so successful were Desert Porkid and Linford Crispy Bacon ... Vets in Sydney are to give a koala bear 10 days of varying degrees of love and attention in an attempt to determine whether too much handling upsets the bears ... Gerd Dehon, a chef from Brussels, made a strand of spaghetti 170 yards long to celebrate his 50th birthday. Those crazy Belgians ... Karen Carmichael, of Chelmsford, Essex, revealed that her pet hamster, Foggy, had become drunk after secreting bits of apple and pear under his bedding which then fermented ... Greg Osborne, a teacher from Leicester, has a collection of 5,045 pencils...

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