CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT: Portillo, palindromes and primary school

BBRRNNGG! Gracious, it's the telephone, already! What whisper will this be? What item of intelligence is about to be vouchsafed, innocuous and insignificant in itself, but when placed into the great jigsaw of life likely to set in train all manner of momentousness? Who, in short, is Calling The Captain? A wheezing cough, the Ladbroke Tannoy in the background: yes, it's my redoubtable political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable! "Captain, Michael

Portillo! Did you know that when he was at school he entered a classroom of juniors and introduced himself thus: 'I am your form prefect. My name is Portillo - but if you write it backwards, it spells ollitroP.' " Hmmm. I have been pondering on this since, but, frankly, I am not altogether sure just what it tells us about the Conservative Party's most famous semi-Spaniard. Perhaps you can help. The most convincing explanation will be rewarded with a photocopy of the photocopy of a school play programme typed by the young Portillo (who also helped with the refreshments) which has found its way into the Captain's possession. Steady. Next!

THOUGHT For The Week. A new, challenging series in which the Captain challenges cosy preconceptions. So there I was, in this rather pleasant Italian restaurant near Hampton Court. Pleasant company, pleasant fare, and pleasant staff, who coped indulgently with my faltering attempts to thank them for the rigatoni - grazie tanto! - and with the interesting table habits of the young Moonbeams. After lunch, as you do, I found myself in the loo. One of the waiters was there, too. "And what part of Italy," I asked, in my best visiting-royalty manner, "do you come from?" And he looked at me, curiously, and said: "Brazil." Nor, when I came to think about it, is it the first time this has happened to me. I have, for example, come across the odd Spaniard pretending to be an Italian waiter. How much of this do you think is going on? How many real Italian waiters are there, exactly, out there? And are there Thai waiters, too, pretending to be Vietnamese? Chinese pretending to be Thai? Unsettling, I think you'll agree. On!

BBRRNNGG! And it's Ms Tributable, again! "Captain! Ian Paisley has been spotted in Tunbridge Wells!" I thank Ms Tributable for this and replace the receiver. Things are clearly worse than we thought. I didn't even know Tunbridge Wells was threatening to leave the Union. Next!

BOARS. Wild ones. Really wild. Yes, those are they, in the picture. It was taken by Mr Mason, of Amsterdam, while he was visiting Santiago de Chile. Why is Mr Mason sharing this with us? That's right, it's the latest instalment of yet another fascinating long-running Moonlight series, What To Do On Encountering A Wild Animal! And the keeper in Santiago told Mr Mason that "should you be pursued by a wild boar, the best thing to do is to run in a straight line and then go off at a right-angle suddenly: the boar is supposed to carry on without swerving from its path. He didn't tell me whether the boars have cottoned on to this. Nor have I yet tried rushing headlong at a boar and chasing it until it swerved off to the right". Thank you, Mr Mason. I'm not sure I can get champagne to Amsterdam. And you say you don't want one of the 19 videos of the Royal golden wedding celebrations that I rescued from traitorous knock-down sale (99p indeed!) in a Windsor post office. Perhaps you might like one of the Praying Teddies I have come across in my Bright Life mail-order catalogue: "This little kneeling friend will help your child learn a traditional first prayer. When you squeeze his paws he recites the entire 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' in a little child's voice. Nearly a foot high." Just let me know.

MEDIA Corner. And you can imagine my excitement last week when a circular plopped on to the Captainly mat advertising a magazine called Penge. It's long been my contention, shared by, among others, Pevsner (Nikolaus rather than Baldy), that The Gateway To Bromley has been unfairly sneered at by Metropolitan types who've probably never even seen the Blenheim Shopping Centre. A glossy magazine proclaiming the truth could be the start of something that would leave its northern rival, of which you might conceivably have heard, Notting Hill, The Gateway to Harlesden, for dead. Imagine, then, too, my disappointment when I read further and discovered that it was, in fact, a Danish magazine, and that Penge is Danish for money; a disappointment almost certainly unmatched since Betjeman hot-footed to what he thought was a lecture by Lord David Cecil on Reading, but which turned out to be a lecture by Lord David Cecil on reading. On!

BODGE and tinker, fiddle and botch. I wonder if this government has ever heard of a most useful saying the Captain came across only the other day, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? I ask because I am now seriously alarmed about the plans they've got for The House of Lords. And so would you be if, every time you tried to telephone the Lords, you got put through to Teresa Gorman. Next!

POLE. I doubt that many of you can have forgotten a gripping item I brought you, just before The Editor kindly told me I should take a little holiday, about what was possibly the oldest telegraph pole in Britain, on Culver Hill in Gloucestershire. The pole bears a stamp reading "1886" and BT says that it has "no reason to suspect that this is not a genuine marking". Sadly, owing to communication difficulties, I was not able to bring you a photograph of the actual pole at that time, but I promised to bring you the real thing as soon as possible. And the Captain is a man of his word. So there it is. Not much else to say, really, is there? Actually, I'm put in mind of Richard Nixon, when he was asked, on a visit to China, for his thoughts on the Great Wall, and he replied, "It's a great wall". Next!

BBRRNNGG! Well, knock me down, it's my literary correspondent, Hugh Advance! "Captain, consternation in the gentlemanly world of publishing! Johnny Vaughan, host of Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, has come across something novelish he wrote in prison while doing time for what I believe is termed 'a drugs rap', and is wondering if it might interest a publisher. But his agent is demanding money upfront for a sight of the manuscript. It's unprecedented. It's appalling. The tweeds are in shock! Salman's green and Martin's positively apoplectic!" I thank Hugh for this, replace the receiver, immediately telephone Johnny's agent and offer to hand over my autographed CD of Sir Cliff's last hit, "Can't Keep This Feeling In", in return for a sight of the first sentence of the diary. The agent flatly denies Hugh's story and rejects Sir Cliff. But she says they might be interested in a Frank Sinatra CD. I don't mention the royal videos.

WESTMINSTER Watch. First sighting: Angela Smith, charming, New Labour, Basildon, in the Members' Lobby, talking earnestly to Jack Straw while clutching a 2ft stuffed penguin under her arm. This is rather more difficult to read than Second Sighting: Ken Clarke, smiling, on the Tube. This means Wee Willie is in deep doo-doo and Ken, still hopeful, is jacking up the common touch. Next!

SADO-MASOCHISM. That's one of the few topics we won't be touching on today in my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a thing of asides and sundries. And, first, speaking of teddies, Christie's are warning about faked antique bears: "I saw three fakes in one morning," says their expert. "Sometimes their noses have been shaved to make them look worn ... people should watch out for inconsistencies such as plastic eyes in supposed pre-World War I bears." Next, worrying news from Wales, where an innocent man was temporarily jailed in Cardiff after a juror's cough drowned out the word "not" when the verdict was read out. Next, a bottle of bubbly for Ms Lane of Lea Marston, who Writes To The Captain following my item last week: "Could it be the reason women speak twice as many words as men is that we have to repeat ourselves because men don't listen!" What!? Next, the substitute for a Notts football team has been sent off for "intimidating an official" after the linesman reported him for repeatedly whistling the Dad's Army theme tune. And, finally, the Captain Recommends you make a trip to www.hamsterdance.com. Most diverting. Bye!

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

    £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

    Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

    £8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable