You may have already noticed a marked improvement in the hat department. Where formerly there was a "space to let" sign there now blossoms a rose. Not any old rose, either, but the white rose of Yorkshire. (Note to management: this stylish redesign, the price of an 80p cricket programme, has cost some pounds 4,999,999 and 20p less than the BBC's new logo. Excellent value, n'est ce pas?) Foolish, I think you'll agree, of the Nevin fellow to mock the mass singing of "On Ilkla Moor baht 'at" on Yorkshire Day just a week before this space was to be occupied by a proud son of the white rose county. But envy is understandable in those who have not been born with that singular blend of talent and modesty found in the likes of Mr Bernard Ingham, Sir Geoffrey Boycott, Sir Arthur Scargill, Sir Roy Hattersley, Lord Justice Pickles, Sir Fred Trueman, Sir Harvey Smith and Yours Truly! Those unfortunate readers not born in Yorkshire now have a chance to get an inkling of how it feels with the Moonlight Instant Yorkshireman Kit. It contains a black pudding from Jack Scaife Butchers of Keighley, a quart of Black Sheep Bitter from Masham, a tin of Farrah's Harrogate Toffee and a voucher for fish and chips for two at any branch of Harry Ramsden's. By 'eck! Nearly forgot the big inducement - a copy of Sir Geoffrey's autobiography, Boycott. There is an old and true Yorkshire saying: "Hear all, see all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt. And if ever tha does owt for nowt, do it for thissen." Wise advice. But sadly liable to be taken the wrong way these days. Time, then for a new Yorkshire Motto for the Caring Nineties. The best suggestion on a postcard wins the kit. This contest, by the way, is not open to Mr B Calderbank of Chorley, Lancs, who writes: "As the lyrics of 'On Ilkla Moor baht 'at' refer to Yorkshiremen being eaten by worms and ultimately by other Yorkshiremen, I have no objection to their singing and may even join in myself." Any more in that vein and I may have to send t'boys round.
My Islington correspondent tells me that Will Hutton, author of The State We're In, a book, and editor of the Observer, a newspaper, is a patron of a local hostelry called Filthy McNasty's. Filthy's, according to my expatriate Dublin chums, is a favourite watering hole of Shane MacGowan, the clean-living former Pogue. It was also recently the scene of a reading by the American author and former armed robber Eddie Bunker, who played Mr Blue in Reservoir Dogs, of an extract from his new and very violent thriller Dog Eat Dog. According to the Big Issue, whose reporter covered this literary gathering: "At Filthy McNasty's the dress code is pretty strict. It's either a Keith Richards-style Southern rocker outfit: black clothes, big brass belt buckle and optional stetson. Or it's the ratty old T-shirt look.... When Bunker gets to the part in his story where his hero twists his girlfriend's head to meet the blade of the butcher's knife, one of the vibe merchants standing next to me yells 'Cut her throat!' That's the moment I begin asking myself what kind of ungodly crowd I'm shucking shoulders with." Gosh. From egghead to gangster cred. Perhaps I should send "Mr Pink" Hutton to Chorley, Lancs, to have a quiet word with B Calderbank.
Storming into the lead in the Exciting Holiday Snaps competition is the stunning example of the lensman's art over there on the left. It was taken by Stewart Wilson of Altrincham, Cheshire, in a field at Cookham, Berkshire, in 1971. He has waited a quarter of a century before sharing it with the world. Do think of us again in 2021, Mr Wilson.
Let it not be said that John Gummer is anything but brave (we all remember the gallant way he offered up his daughter, Cordelia, as official food taster to the nation). Last Sunday's News of the World ran a story with the poetic sub-headline: "Strumpet sells crumpet near Tory minister's summer home". The village in question is Thorpeness, Suffolk, 20 miles from the Gummer gite in Debenham. As residents and holidaymakers settled down for their weekly general knowledge quiz in the Thorpeness country club on Sunday evening, Mr Gummer gamely strode into the hall. He was not answering questions, however, about the ''aromatherapy centre'' run by the strumpet in question. In fact he wasn't answering very much at all, as his team failed to get anywhere near winning the pounds 5 jackpot. The loot went to my sister-in-law, Miranda Moonlight. Simon Hoggart - spookily, a close colleague of the aforementioned Mr Hutton - won it the week before, but that's another story.
Nestling on top of the compost heap that doubles as the Moonlight "desktop" filing system is a postcard from Mr Eric Hogg of Sheffield. Mr Hogg was fascinated by last week's item on how the Captain has joined forces with Mr Peter Tatchell of OutRage! to protest against the fact that neither gout sufferers nor gays are allowed to give blood. (Gay goutees, presumably, face double discrimination.) Anyway, Mr Hogg says he assumes the new protest group so formed will be called GoutRage! Thank you, Mr Hogg. I will pass it on.
Meanwhile, the "outing" of Sean, the landlord of the Cat and Fiddle in The Archers, draws a communique from a previously unheard-of far-left group, the Ambridge Socialists (motto: "Neither Jack Woolley nor Phil Archer but International Socialism"). "We welcome the news that sexual orientation is at last out in the open in Ambridge," it says. "We look forward to seeing the Ambridge Lesbian and Gay Group banner on the next Lesbian and Gay Pride march." Class struggle, claims the AS, simmers just below the surface in Ambridge, but is a taboo subject. Pat and Tony Archer, for instance, are regarded as deeply suspect by the Ambridge establishment because of their espousal of organic farming, while Eddie Grundy has been spotted selling Socialist Worker in Borchester on Saturday mornings. But do we hear a word of it on air, eh? The Ambridge Socialists' programme is straightforward: "Expropriate the lands of the Archers and the Pembertons for the people! Down with the small capitalists, Sid Perks and Nelson Gabriel! Smash the Redwoodism of Simon Pemberton and the Majorism of Jack and Peggy Woolley! Expose Lynda Snell's role as organiser for the so-called New Labour party! Turn Grey Gables into a community centre! Eddie, Joe and Clarrie Grundy to power on a socialist programme!" The AS's chairperson, one K Flett (now where have I heard that name before?), smells a conspiracy. "Joe Grundy once sang 'The Red Flag' in a weekday edition," he tells me, "but it was cut out when the omnibus edition was broadcast at the weekend." To the barricades!
PS. Moonlight readers will not have joined in the general amazement at the discovery of life on Mars. Remember, you saw pix of the little green critters on this page last Sunday, three days before Nasa's "bombshell". Yet another great Moonlife exclusive!
Times were hard for Tony Blair in Oxford in the early 1970s. He had to supplement his student grant with part-time work as a photographic model. That's him, third from left, in our exclusive, previously unpublished picture, modelling with Self the Irish wolfhound for The Dog-Lover's Calendar 1972. Even in those days he had that visionary look in the eyes that is sometimes mistaken for self-satisfaction. Oh, all right, before Alastair Campbell comes round to break my legs, I'll admit it. The picture illustrated an article in last month's Dogs Today magazine headlined "Does Size Matter?" which discussed what the size of a man's dog may or may not tell you about his other bits. The Blair lookalike is called Nick Dunkin. At far left, protecting his modesty with Mocha the miniature dachshund is Daniel Taylor. His mum doesn't know he posed for this, so if you know her please don't tell.
Photograph by TIM ROSE
The Captain's Catch-up Service
A prisoner at Parkhurst jail on the Isle of Wight spent two days colouring himself yellow with a marker pen in the hope of persuading doctors to transfer him to hospital with jaundice ... Austrian Karl Machhamer has invented a "liquid condom". The latex, applied with a paintbrush, takes seven minutes to dry, so Karl recommends using a hair-dryer for greater spontaneity ... Police investigated a report of a body under a bridge in North Yorkshire, and found a life-size model of Elvis Presley ... Elaine Pingree put down her pounds 50 camera on a stall at a jumble sale in Rotherham and turned round to find it had been sold for pounds 1 ... Helen Jamieson walked 12,000 miles round India then broke her ankle tripping over the doorstep as she arrived home in Bates, Kansas ... Kuba, a mongrel in Shrewsbury, is looking for a new owner who knows the Polish for "sit" and "roll over". His elderly master, an immigrant who died recently, only spoke to the dog in his native tongue.Reuse content