Captain Moonlight: Rabbit stew ... too much Hurley (ed) ... fan male

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Freedom. Tyranny. It's a narrow gap, isn't it? And that is our job, we workers in the communications media: guardians of that gap. Zealous. Fearless. Indefatigable. This week I want to draw your attention to a danger to that gap. He is Air Vice-Marshal D R Hawkins, Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod. A man who is trying to gag one of my colleagues. That colleague is Mr N Bunny, better known perhaps as News Bunny, the friendly creature who appears on the news broadcasts of our sister cable channel, L!VE TV, as an aide-comprendre. If Mr Bunny is happy, it is good news; if he is sad, it is not. Naturally, Mr Bunny went along to the Palace of Westminster to cover the Queen's Speech. This, for some reason, has exercised Black Rod. He has written to L!VE TV in the following terms: "I have received a report from the Metropolitan Police that your crew were in possession of a life-size bunny suit, a Prince Charles lookalike latex mask and a blond wig, all in contravention of the Palace of Westminster photographic regulations. Further, the police report that Mr Bacon [the L!VE reporter] told the policeman: 'We are going to do a report of the State Opening with a man wearing a rabbit suit in the foreground and the soldiers and carriages in the background' ... Please could I have your comment on the above so that your suitability to attend any functions in the Palace of Westminster can be considered." Pretty rich from a man in wig and tights, I should have said. L!VE have responded in brave, robust terms, pointing out that Mr Bunny stood for Parliament in the SE Staffordshire by-election, polling 85 votes, and asserting his right "as a major player in the political arena" to Westminster access. Power to the Bunny!

There's more of it about, too. The Serjeant at Arms, another tights man, has just turned a reporter with a leg in plaster away from the Press Gallery because his crutch could be an offensive weapon. What on earth is going on down there? Must be the time of year. Historical resonance for security, man with beard found with wick near barrel in the basement, that sort of thing. I must remember not to take my Bruce Lee Super Avenger 18in combat knife with me next time I visit. Anyway, the Serjeant, Mr Peter Jennings, is now considering a crackdown on journalists who don't sit up straight in the gallery and who snigger behind their hands. He'll be closing the place down and going on strike next.

Now then. Action Man was 30 years old last week. Did you know that the total number of Action Men sold exceeds the entire population of the British Isles? You didn't? Do try to keep up with popular culture. I do my best, but you've got to help as well. Next: the total weight of all the Action Men ever sold is roughly equivalent to the weight of 2,500 African elephants. More? Well, perhaps you're right. But I must tell you about that picture. It is a clever illustration of one of my favourite jokes, told by a Northern comedian, but exactly which one I now forget, who announced that he had given just such an empty box to his son for Christmas. The son, a trifle disappointed, asked what it was, to be told: "Action Man Deserter". Oi!

Hot news from the soaraway Sunday Telegraph, the voice of the grumpy classes: rejoice, press the tweeds, Elizabeth Hurley is to be guest editor! Sources at the newspaper, clearly dismayed that the Captain is on to their little game, insist on denying it; but what other possible construction could be put on the presence of Ms Hurley in its offices last week? Exactly. The arrival of Ms Hurley, as it happens, is timely, since some of us are rather worried about the Hon Dominic Lawson, the man currently at the helm, son of Lord Nigel (and the fastest swallower of a creme caramel currently on the lunch circuit). The other day, in an editorial meeting, an executive was describing a potential story for the newspaper which involved nipples. But every time the word "nipples" was mentioned, Dominic placed his hands over his ears and shouted "Don't mention that word!". What can it all mean? Over to you, Liz!

Rather a lot about morals at the moment, isn't there? Which is why I am happy to bring to you a contribution to the debate from that titan in the field, Mr Reg Kray, the murderer. Mr Kray's inspiring work, Villains We Have Known, features friends of his with names such as One-Armed Lou. "During the Fifties and Sixties," writes Reg, "these people were of a minority, and had strong moral codes and ethics of their own standard, and violence was kept within their own jungle, but today criminal boundaries have spilled out to national proportions, hence the lack of morals we see today." Thank you, Reg. One of the many examples of what he means comes in his fond reminiscence of the famous Jack Spot, who once underpaid him for a bit of business: "Many years later Jack opened a club in the West End of London and I arranged for someone to set fire to it." Thanks again, Reg.

Thought For The Week With Captain Moonlight. And, as you continue to grapple every waking moment with the rights and wrongs of the morality business, the Captain invites you to ponder on the following: should misbehaving pupils be excluded from morality lessons? Don't write to me, though: write to Nigel De Gruchy, Mr Major, Mr Blair, Nick Ross, and Reg.

No matter how caring a society, there will always be gaps in the safety net, needs to be identified, causes to be taken up. The gross slight to my colleague, Mr News Bunny, has already been touched on. But there are other victims who demand a voice. The Captain, for instance, has long been concerned with the rights of soft toys, which, in my experience, are given a frightful time. But who, pray, speaks for the teddy bear? Well, worry no more. I can tell you that both the RSPCA and the Cat Protection League speak for the teddy bear. So much has become clear as a result of the sad case of Teddy WarmHeart, whose picture I reproduce on the right. Teddy WarmHeart is designed to be placed in a microwave oven and then in the arms of a slumbering infant needing to be slightly warmed up. "Heat Me & Hug Me" is the motto of Teddy, slightingly referred to in the mass-circulation newspapers as an "oven-ready" teddy. Both the RSPCA and the CPL have attacked the practice, pointing out that it could encourage children to put pets into the microwave. Mr J Howard, who markets Teddy WarmHeart, is indignant, pointing out that "the bear is not put directly into the microwave but first has to be put into a special sleeping- bag." The Captain writes: sounds to me like another one for Nigel, John, Tony, Nick, and Reg.

Captain Moonlight's Miscellany, a thing of snippets often rewarded by a gift of port. Mr J Livingston-Learmonth of Putney calls. He wants to know if we were at Eton together (as if!), and to tell me that imported Chinese truffles are seriously undercutting the local variety around Carpentras. Thank you, Mr Livingston-Learmonth. Port! Now, my competition to outlaw various tired and too frequently trotted out quotations. And I am indeed honoured to report that my trifle has been distinguished by the attention of that legendary comp doctor, Basil Ransome-Davies, of Lancaster, who nominates Hamlet's "more honoured in the breach", pointing out as a bonus that the barmy Dane means it would be more honourable to stop, the opposite of its common usage. Port! And Mr A Murphy of Boughton, near Chester, is fed up with the endless variations on Clemenceau's "War is too important to be left to the Generals". Port! Finally, a fan letter! From three Scandinavians working for a company called Megrin in Paris anxious to secure a bottle of port for a forthcoming "British Evening". They say the column is very funny. Highly suspicious. And no reply when I telephone. Lars, call me!

The Captain's Catch-up Service

And now, your chance to catch up on some of the news you might have missed last week... Brian Goodman, a plumber from Tamworth, Staffs, has turned his attic into the cockpit of a wartime B17 bomber ... Pet owners can now choose animal coffins by mail order: Pet Funeral Services, of Uckfield, Sussex, offers coffins lined with padded, pastel-coloured satin priced from pounds 24.50 for a hamster to pounds 78 for a large dog ... Walter Poppe, 53, of Seattle, discovered his wife had a lover when he stole the man's wallet by chance and found her photo in it ... American dogs are being fitted with plastic testicles after being neutered: vets say the implants prevent them from suffering psychological trauma at their loss and help to return the dog's esteem

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