COMMENT: CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT - A nervous ferret is a smelly ferret

AHOY! Everything all right? Bit dark and gloomy at the moment, isn't it? I know: let's cheer ourselves up with a bumper edition of Nature Notes With Captain Moonlight! And let's start with the Captain's Top Ferret Tip: they don't have to be smelly, you know. I've been reading about it. Feed them on a complete ferret food, change their bedding twice weekly, shampoo once a fortnight; and remember: a nervous ferret is a smelly ferret, so try not to shock them by, say, coming up behind suddenly and shouting "Trousers!". Actually, I've got some pictures of ferrets somewhere. Next week?

IGUANA! Talking of nervous creatures, the Captain was much moved, as he frequently is, by the terrific column Betty Shine, the medium, writes in that fine journal of record, the Daily Mail. Last week "Guy" from Carlisle had a problem for Betty: "I have a pet iguana called Rocky. Since moving house he has refused to settle into his pad at night. I am not getting much sleep, which is affecting my health. Is there any way you can persuade him to calm down?" And this was Betty's reply: "Guy sent me a photograph of his iguana and I could see this was a lizard with attitude. Having held his picture in my hands, I also sensed that Rocky was extremely sensitive. The house move had unnerved him. When I linked up telepathically, I was able to reassure him. A week later I received a letter from Guy to say that Rocky had returned to normal. I have been able to heal hundreds of reptiles through instant healing, because there is an instant telepathic response." Amazing, I think you'll agree. Next!

FISH! But then I got to thinking about Cherie, one of the Barbs in the Captain's fish tank, who, as you can see (she's the lowest one), has been looking a bit peaky lately, too. So I've now written to Betty, enclosing the said picture, to see if she can link up telepathically and do for Cherie what she has done for Rocky and the hundreds of others. Actually, while we're here, I hope you know that the Captain and his fish have started quite a trend. Did you know, for example, that Noel Gallagher and Meg have hired a maid to look after their goldfish? "Noel's very fond of the fish," says a friend. "He finds them relaxing." Splendid. Next!

MILLENNIUM! Steady on, it's the Captain's Big MM Round-up! Did you know that Marty Wilde was born in Greenwich? He was. And, it so happens, Marty celebrates his fortieth wedding anniversary this very week. Next, as the excitement pitches yet higher, we have news from Maple Road Market, Penge, where, according to Ms Palmer of Beckenham, Men's Millennium 2000 socks are going for pounds 2.99 the pair. Now, Ms Palmer: a reward. And, praise be, look up NOW and you will observe that the logo of the Captain's splendid sponsors has been restored to its pristine glory, all repairs finally completed, coinciding uncannily with the arrival of a fresh delivery to replenish the rapidly diminishing stocks of the rich red ruby elixir! Port for All!

LORDS! You'll miss it, you know, when it's gone. Take this, for example, from the Lords, last Wednesday evening. Lord Strathclyde: "I must apologise for my late arrival. I was present earlier this evening with the Captain of the Gentlemen At Arms and the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard who are now standing at the Bar. The difference between me and them is that they had the courage to remain correctly dressed while I had to get changed." That's the stuff! And how unlike the legislative element in the House below them! Did you know that the messenger from the House of Lords has, by ancient tradition, always to walk in a straight line? He does. But now these New Labour types, eyes no doubt welded to their pagers, are failing to get out of his way? They are. The man is being positively jostled. Shame! Next!

BBRRNNGG! Break out the breezers, it's a call from my showbiz correspondent, Ms Britt Bafter! "Captain! You will have seen the publicity surrounding the remake of the old Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) detective TV series starring Reeves and Mortimer. But did you know that the balding Kenneth Cope, who played Hopkirk, wore his wig back-to-front in the early episodes before realising his mistake? Or that the late Mike Pratt, who played Randall, wrote "Rock With The Caveman" for Tommy Steele with Lionel Bart? And Little White Bull? And do you know about Marty Wilde's wedding anniversary?" I thank Ms Bafter for this, and then replace the receiver, reflecting that as long as Ms Bafter is on the beat, this column will offer an unrivalled showbiz coverage. Next!

MAYOR! I understand that London is going to get one. Well, I haven't heard much about any possible candidates, so today I thought I would announce that the Captain is drawing up a short list of candidates to receive the columnar endorsement. And today I would like to introduce you to a man with fierce powers of persuasion and vast experience who doesn't have a beard, and doesn't write novels, or act. He lives locally, and is at a bit of a loose end. Step forward, Augusto Pinochet! He'll make the trains run on time! Any other nominations?

RUGBY LEAGUE! Well, we've lost the Queen from this coach trip I'm organising to Beirut to watch the Lebanon side; but I have had a message from Mr Hall of Clock Face to say he's game. Any more? Meanwhile, there can be only one winner in my competition, inspired by Wakefield Trinity's appointment of a poet laureate, to compose an Ode To A Rugby Ball: Mr Barnard of Leamington Spa, who writes, "Dear Captain M, Your picture [of said ball] inspires the following haiku: Large, ungentle hands/Steal the crowd's breath away in/This leather bottle." That's class, that is: Mr Barnard, you're a veritable vollenhoven of the verse game. Port!

PURSED! That's what happens to the lips of my rivals when they scan my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a class menagerie of this, that and the other. And first, Captain Moonlight's These Names Make You Chuckle: did you know that there is an Italian church furniture manufacturer called Genuflex? Next, Take Care Out There With That Fast Food With Captain Moonlight: Ged Mann of Stafford has broken his nose in two places after falling onto a doner kebab, while, in Dessau, Germany, nine cars skidded on burgers and crashed after a delivery van exploded. And, finally, this week's leaf from The Captain's Commonplace Book comes from Al Capone: "You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Thanks, Al. Bye!