CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT: Keep a secret? It's the special branches

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
SSSSSSH! This is your Captain speaking softly; with all these spies around, you can't be too careful. Not that these revelations come as much of a surprise to me. You will remember that for a long time now I have been issuing warnings about some pretty rum goings-on at MI6 headquarters, that remarkable confection involving lots of green glass and a row of Christmas trees just by Vauxhall Bridge. Yes, it was the Captain who noticed that the last fir tree on the left, if not dying, would be lucky to see another Yuletide in an upright condition. And, as an officer at ease in the world of the lethal umbrella and writing secret messages with lemon juice, I warned that there might not necessarily be an innocent explanation for this. But did anyone listen? No. And then I noticed that the next one was going, too. And now, I have to tell you, a few of the others are also starting to look distinctly dodgy, and some of the lower-level plants (!), particularly the lavender. Just look at my picture. Mark my words, something is afoot. I have written to the new director of MI6, "C", Richard Dearlove, in the hope that he, as a keen fly-fisherman and skier, can spot dead trees, and their significance, when he sees them staring out of his window. I shall report back. Meanwhile, for goodness sake don't tell your granny, but one of the Russian delegates to last week's TUC conference was a bald bloke called Igor who got booted out of Britain for spying by Edward Heath in 1971. Indeed. Yes. And why did he travel out to the Downs to watch the annual TUC cricket match? Just thought I'd mention it. Usual payment, please, usual drop, Cockfosters tube, northbound platform. I'll be the one wearing the exclusive black and silver effect Moonlight Badge. Thank you.

BBRRNNGG! How exciting, a call from my correspondent to the world of Celebrity, Ms Britt Bafter! "Captain! Who would you nominate as potentially the most embarrassing father and mother of the groom for a reception at Claridges?" I do not hesitate. "Well done, Captain, spot on, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood it is! Both on great form at the posh splice of son Joe and Serena, his partner at the super fashionable knicker-purveyor, Agent Provocateur! What speeches! Viv completely incomprehensible, Mal so rude about Joe and everybody else that it all ended in scenes which wouldn't have disgraced the Cabaret Club, Oldham! What larks, eh, Skip?" Dear. I inquire, a little nervously, if there is anything else going on in Britt's world. "You bet, Captain. A really big one: Christie's of South Ken are flogging off something very exceptional on 30 September. Elvis's alarm-clock radio! They are!" And with that, Ms Bafter is gone before I have time to ask her how he's going to manage without it. Next!

LLAMAS. Recently, you must remember, I was speculating that the woolly South American beast was so named because, when the Spaniards arrived in Peru, they asked an Inca what it was called - "Cmo se llama?" - and the Inca, eager to help, in the Inca way, nodded politely and agreed - "llama!". Yes, all right, mock. They laughed at Christopher Columbus, too, when he said the world was round. And, besides, Mr Wright of the Wirral, despite failing to win a Moonlight Badge in my legendary Where I Live poetry competition, shows the nobility of those who seek knowledge by writing in to support me. And, wait for it: Mr Wright teaches in the Spanish department of Liverpool University! So there, doubters. Mr Wright also takes a close interest in the early Middle Ages, and so was most intrigued by my mention of that eclipse in Portugal in 924 which lasted two months, as he had not heard of it. What, he asks, is the Captain's reference? Well, Mr Wright, academic rigour is my way, too: I found it on a slow afternoon in the London Library, on the right hand walkway in the reading room, fifth shelf along, in a book of amazing facts written by some American bloke at the turn of the century. And, now I check my notes, I see it was actually 934. Next!

POETRY. I must say I was rather taken by Mr Blair's poem at the TUC (is there nothing this man cannot do?!); and, of course, by Mr Motion's rather more densely studied effort. My appeal to Norman Willis, former TUC gen sec, light poet, and regular Moonlight reader, for his contribution has, sadly, gone unheeded. But, my ever-reliable labour correspondent, Dean O'Saur, tells me there was another snatch of rhyme and metre in circulation at Brighton last week, purporting to be the first two lines of Mr Blair's rough draft: "The working class can kiss my cs;X!, I've got the PM's job at last." Splendid, honest, earthy and true. The Captain wonders if you can supply the next couplet. Creative use of the cs;X! effect particularly welcome. Next!

ASTOUNDING. I knew my readership was formed almost exclusively of high- octane, heavy-duty, driven deliverers, men and women whose high ambitions were matched only by their breadth of accomplishments, a sort of fearsome regiment of Tony Blairs and Nicola Horlicks, but even I have been taken aback by some of the entries to the My Claim To Fame competition. For example, this week, I have heard from Mr Robinson of Evesham, who once met a chap who had once worn Earl Mountbatten's navy cap, and from Mr Bosomworth of Rowlands Gill, whose Aunt Winnie (80-odd years and still going strong) was Philip Larkin's cleaning lady when he was the librarian at Hull University. Remarkable. Badges! And, by the way, Dr Essex-Cater of Northallerton (Claim To Fame: Doctor with legible handwriting): you will be delighted to learn that your fellow readers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of awarding you a Moonlight Badge despite your contrasting and almost completely illegible signature. Next!

BBRRNNGG! The cry of the gull, the crunch of the pebble, an urgent whisper: yes, it's my labour correspondent, Dean O'Saur, direct from Brighton, again! "Captain! Alan Johnson, trade minister, former gen sec of the postal workers' union, former postie! Didn't, for some reason, receive an invitation to the union's Brighton gathering from current gen sec, v old Labour man, Derek Hodgson! Had to gatecrash!" Dear. What, I ask O'Saur, can be the meaning of this? Personal enmity? Ideological differences? Warning shot in advance of possible privatisation plans? "No, I think it got lost in the post, Captain." Hmmm. Next!

CHUCKLE With The Captain. An elephant was drinking out of a river one day when he spotted a turtle asleep on a log. So he ambled over and kicked it right across the river. "Why did you do that?" asked a passing giraffe. "Because I recognised it as the same turtle that took a nip out of my trunk 53 years ago," said the elephant." "What a memory!" said the giraffe. "Yes," said the elephant, "turtle recall." Oi!

BBRRNNGG! It's Ms Bafter, breathless: "Captain, am I too late?" Never too late for a "hot" one, I tell her. "It's Leonardo DiCaprio, Captain! I have intelligence direct from the set of his latest film, The Beach! And, apparently he's being really rude to his bodyguard, which is a pity because I thought Leo was such a cuddly little fellow!" Thank you, Britt. Most interesting. Next!

FANTASTIC! That's the label industry analysts are attaching to claims that there will ever be anything to match my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, an overflowing bran tub of this, that and the other. And first, returning to the postal theme, I see that biscuits in the shape of a postman's leg are on sale at the first bakery for dogs, in Raynes Park, south London. Next, you probably know that the first baby show in the world was held in Springfield, Ohio, on 14 October, 1854. But were you aware that the favourite film of Leslie Van de Walle, chief executive of United Biscuits, is Saturday Night Fever? Iceland and Mongolia, meanwhile, are just two of at least 10 countries where sheep outnumber people. Still no sign of the photos either of Kelso Bus Station or the least-used bus shelter in Britain, I'm afraid. Captain's Special Offer: I have a rather fine CD of PJ Proby reading The Waste Land. Want it? Next, I understand, Ice T gives Edith Sitwell a bit of a going over. And now, a late entry for My Claim To Fame, from our Mr Howitt, the production editor here, who tells me that his sister has just won third prize in the "five salad vegetables" category at the Eastney and Milton Allotment Holders Association autumn show. I am negotiating over pictures. Mr Howitt: Badge! Everyone else (and especially Frankie Vaughan, Mr Moonlight, almost one of the family): Bye!

HUSH! British Intelligence's finest masters of disguise moving in after the revelation that Inspector Morse betrayed Britain's nuclear secrets in return for a boxed set of The Best of Mario Lanza and 10 barrels of Gridley's Old Growler. The numbers help them recognise each other. No? All right, it's crack members of Vatfor, the Pope's rapid response squad, scrambling after reports of a sighting of the Virgin Mary in a tomato. No? The BBC's latest plans to pep up the lottery draw? All right, it's some sisters in Killarney running for charity. They are, they are. CHRIS BACON/PA

Comments