The boy stood on the burning deck
Selling kippers at a penny a peck
Did he sell 'em?
Did he 'eck.
So, at this time of National Poetry Days and nominations of all-time favourites, I thought I would share that with you, and another we used to recite, stood round the old battered piano on a Sunday evening after our simple supper:
There was a young boy named Paul
Who went to a fancy dress ball
He thought he would risk it
And go as a biscuit
But a dog ate him up in the hall.
What finer demonstration of poetry's unique power to move and define our condition?
Yes, it's competition time again! And last week, compers, you will remember that I asked what on earth all that writing meant at the bottom of my exclusive photograph of Mr Tony Blair in great leader mode (which I reproduce again in case you want a smaller version for your bedside table). Well, the entries have been pouring in, no doubt slightly encouraged by my offer of a bottle of sponsor's port for the winner. Mr A Jones of Mountsorrel, Leics, thinks it is the front of a packet bearing the inscription, "New Labour, New Noodles." Mr C Withall of Sheffield similarly failed to achieve the lofty tone required with his offering: "Get your hand off my wallet or I'll belt you one as soon as the photographer has gone". This leaves the bottle free and clear to a Mr Kim Il Johnson of North Shields, for his inspiring and inspired translation, "The aspirations of a Party Leader who talks from the bottom of his heart are enough to fill 1,000 balloons". Thank you, Kim Il Johnson, thank you everyone. Perhaps at this stage I should advise you of a slight hiccup. The sponsor's port is yet to arrive. It is on its way from Acton, which is a long way. Let us see if the sponsor reads the column. Please call the Captain, it is urgent.
NOW you all know the Captain: I like to help. This week: Mr Gummer, Environment Secretary, bouncy little chap, slightly squeaky voice, who started his speech at Bournemouth: "This is a speech which will get no coverage in the press". Sadly, such is the flippancy and triviality of the press today that they all took him gleefully at his word. But that is not the Captain's way. Give a person a fair crack, that's my watchword. So I telephoned Conservative Central Office, determined to pass on to you, very probably exclusively, the Gummer message. Sadly, again, I have to tell you that they didn't have a copy, and, indeed, seemed unconvinced that he had in fact made a speech. Undeterred, indomitable, I pressed on, pursuing my duty to the Truth. And so, now, I can give you the key phrase from the oration. It is this: "We Conservatives will hand the world on to our children better by far than our fathers gave it to us ... Trust us - Trust the Conservatives". Er, right, John.
Plop! A letter lands on the Captainly laminate. It is from a psychic called Madame Tarona, of Coalville, Leicestershire. She is unhappy with Madame Vasso, former confidante of the Duchess of York. Madame Vasso, says Madame Tarona, has behaved in an unconfidential and disgusting manner. Madame Tarona once worked with Madame Vasso at a "psychic fayre" and was not impressed. Madame Tarona offers me her services. You know what I think, Madame Tarona. Meanwhile, following my special offer last week of a Madame Vasso cut-out-and-keep blue pyramid, many of you have been in touch to point out that the Captain's place of work, Canary Wharf, is topped by a pyramid. This explains a lot. Actually, the designer of this section told me the other day that Canary Wharf is positioned on the intersection of a great number of negative ley lines. This also explains a lot. And, Mr P Galbraith, of Northampton, when I gave you instructions how to construct the pyramid, the bottom to be glued was the bottom of the pyramid. Nor did I recommend super glue, and so feel absolutely no responsibility for your present predicament. Thank you.
BBRRNNGG! It is the Captain's old and playful chum, Mr Peter Tatchell, of OutRage. Pete has come by exciting new research from the United States which lends support to his suspicion that the most virulent homophobes might be just a teensy bit, you know, concerned about their own sexual orientation. In a fascinating exercise, reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, a sample of men expressing virulently anti-homosexual opinions had their relevant body part attached to a machine designed to register, how shall I put it, the mechanical stirrings of romantic interest. They were then shown videos of an explicit homosexual nature; half their dials flickered. Peter is now challenging a selection of pundits who have expressed strong anti-homosexual opinions in the past, including Paul Johnson, Richard Littlejohn, Garry Bushell, Terry Dicks, MP, and Sir John Junor, to submit themselves to trial by wire, clamp and video. No response as yet, but I hope to be able to reveal next week that all of them have cheerfully submitted themselves to the test. Come on, lads, walk this way!
The Captain thought you might like to know that 28 members of the "Opportunity For All" Party took advantage of the opportunity to drink a glass of Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac at pounds 55 a shot in Bournemouth last week. No doubt our turn will come when the "Opportunity For All" Party is re-elected. Oh, and they also got through 9,000 glasses of champagne during the week. Next!
For many of us, the approach and promise of winter lie in that snap in the air, the pungent aroma of baked chestnuts mingling with the scent of fallen leaves, and the arrival of the Home Free mail order catalogue. HF beguilements this season include a "Day You Were Born" display in a faux walnut and gilt effect plastic frame (pounds 9.95), a Phone Cord Detangler (pounds 2.99), the Video Rewinder (to avoid wearing out your expensive recorder, pounds 29.99), the Insulated Gravy Boat (guarantees piping hot gravy without the unsightly skin forming, pounds 14.99), and the Katcha Bug (transparent contraption, simply cover the bug, twist the handle to automatically close the shutter, then deposit the insect safely outside, pounds 5.50). Must buy!
Listen, don't get me wrong, I like politicians, I do, but every so often, I do sort of, like, wonder about them...Take Norman Lamont, round, bit of a waddle, former chancellor. Anyway, he was on the radio last week, being interviewed, when he said, impatiently, "Everyone knows my position on a single currency". Of course they do, Norman, of course they do. Everyone. Everywhere. They do. Now just sit down and breathe slowly and evenly. Relax. That's better, Norman. Next, please!
Captain Moonlight's Miscellany... Next week is London's Medical Museums Week, featuring the opportunity to take along an onion and extract its DNA... Wing Commander T F H Hudson of Bucks can help Mr T Fort of Sonning Common, who asked last week why there are so few squashed animals on the roads of France. The Wingco says this is because they have all been shot and eaten by French hunters before they can cross the road... Mr D Hayward of Bristol writes, again. He reminds me that I had grudgingly offered to repeat a nice story about John Major if someone wrote in especially to ask for it. Mr Hayward notes that he has submitted such a letter but that the said story has failed to appear. That's right, Mr Hayward. You can't trust anybody these days, can you?...
Praise Be! A message has come through: the sponsor's product has arrived! Porters have been fetching and stacking for hours. My beautiful assistants will start dispatching round the clock immediately. By the way, while we're on port, did I mention that George Sandeman, of Sandeman Port, has invited the Captain to a party tomorrow to celebrate the publication of his exciting book, Port to Port? I shall not be going, of course; one does have a certain loyalty to one's sponsors, you know. Bye!
Dodgy videos? Not on the Moonlight beat. Take the one that arrived last week, a frame of which I reproduce here. It has been checked, re- checked, and then checked again by the Moonlight forensic department, which has pronounced it "the real bananas, no danger". The Moonlight legal department, after some deliberation and consultation, commented: "Blimey! Strike a light! Who'd have thought it?" It then advised me that further comment might be inadvisable, particularly anything pertaining to the red rubber gloves being worn by Miss Crump, 19, of Bexleyheath, in the foreground.
Captain Moonlight's Catch-up Service
Allow me to bring you some of the stories you may have missed last week ... Tony Chadwick, a goalkeeper, was dropped from his team for eating a bacon sandwich during a match at Langley, Berks. He got it from his mother, who was on the touchline ... Otto Jantzer, a traffic warden in Bremen, a born-again Christian, preaches to offenders rather than book them ... Gilbert Menezes, of Campinas, Brazil, is awaiting trial for killing his wife's lover and serving his liver, fried with onions, to diners in his restaurant ... Ambassador Travel, of Great Yarmouth, is offering a 117- mile day trip around the M25 to celebrate the motorway's 10th anniversary ... A 6ft-tall blow-up hippopotamus wearing pyjamas was stolen from a shop in Wellington, Salop ... Last year, it was revealed, no fewer than 643,059 tumble driers were sold in Britain, more than anywhere else in Europe. Fancy.