n RICHARD GIORDANO, the chairman of British Gas, silver hair, American, you must know him, earns pounds 450,000 a year for a three-day week. Last year he earned pounds 235,000 as chairman of BOC and was paid another pounds 130,000 or so for non-executive posts. There was a bit of a fuss last week, too, when Labour demanded an end to the arrangement whereby he is paid two- fifths of his British Gas salary in dollars to reduce his tax bill. But his PR advisers are on the case. They recognise that Mr Giordano might have something of an image problem. They are worried that he doesn't smile enough. The Captain writes: it's true, I promise you.
SQUIRREL-eating update. The threat posed to the plucky little native red squirrel by the bullying, parvenu, very tasty grey squirrel was debated in the House of Commons last week. But although there was much talk of an official poisoning programme, I could find no mention of putting them on the nation's tables. Indeed, both the Department of the Environment and English Nature told me that a campaign to encourage the eating of squirrels had not even been considered. But then came a breakthrough: Peter Atkinson, the Tory MP for Hexham whose concern for the survival of the red squirrel led him to initiate the debate, confirmed to me that he had eaten grey squirrel, smoked, and that it had been "delicious". He suggests that they should be served on a stick, like satay. So there you have it: parliamentary backing. Remember, the Captain can provide three recipes, Squirrels en Casserole, Sauteed Squirrel, and Squirrel Pie. Just write to me, marking your envelope "I want to eat squirrel". Meanwhile, in Australia they have developed a rabbit lawnmower, involving two rabbits inside a cylinder made out of wire and old bicycle wheels. For more on this one, mark your envelope "Bunny Cutter".
n NOW then: the menu at the What The Papers Say awards lunch at the Savoy a week since was this dish called Manchester Pudding, a little conflation of meringue, lemon rind and fresh breadcrumbs. I understand that it was going to feature as Manchester Tart, but Charles Allen, the chief executive of Granada, which makes the programme and owns the Savoy, thought this a bit rude. So much for the northern virtue of calling a tart a tart. I also understand that they'd never heard of it at the Savoy. Neither had my friend Stan. He says: "Meringue? Lemon rind? Fancy. Manchester Tart is custard and jam." Captain's Note: My friend Stan is from Swinton, and knows about these things.
AND, yes, once again, it's Interactive Corner, the part of the column you write in return for the Captain's Largesse. Which has been a bit in short supply recently; but this will all change next week. I can say no more: trust me. And the first recipient will be the winner of my Now You Too Can Write Like Joan Collins Competition. Last week I revealed to the world, exclusively, an extract from Ms Collins's forthcoming autobiography, Second Act. It went like this: "For a long time, Bette Davis stared coolly at me, blowing smoke rings. Then with a sly, foxy grin, she said..." I then invited you to complete the sentence. It reads, in fact: "You almost have that dress on, dear". But the competition winner, Mr Finlayson of Stratton near Cirencester, was uncannily close: "By 'eck, I could do with a cuppa." Elsewhere, monarchist Mr Buisson reveals that there is a hotel gift shop in Hawaii called "Lamonts"; Mr Clayton of Melton Mowbray tells me that the Russian for hooligan is also hooligan, although pronounced with more of a kkhh sound at the front; and I've lost the name of the gentleman who wrote to say that if you slow down Frank Sinatra he sounds like Eartha Kitt.
n PASSING reference last week to the Captain's personal stress counsellor, Ingrid, has provoked an enormous amount of interest. Unfortunately, Ingrid regrets that she cannot enter into correspondence of a specific nature, fascinating though some of your letters have been (thank you, in particular, Mr Riley of Manchester, for the eye-opening magazine). I can tell you, though, that she is Swedish; and, to give you some idea of her sterling qualities and deeply sympathetic nature, I am printing a photograph of her (left) in typical "listening and sharing" mode. Meanwhile, I have more news from the world of counselling, which is that the BBC television programme Watchdog will be featuring an intriguing new member of the British Association for Counselling tomorrow night, a man whose easy way with sensitive matters is a byword. No, no, I have sworn not to tell.
MY parliamentary correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, has been known to nod, particularly after lunch. But I have to say that I was slightly miffed by her failure to tell me about a little do at the Commons last week hosted by the press gallery for the retiring Downing Street press chief, Sir Christopher Meyer, if only because it reportedly featured strangely untypical behaviour by that nice chap, our Prime Minister, grey hair, glasses, the one who has nothing to apologise for. Anyway, my other contact tells me that the PM was on the chardonnay. Not a good idea: we call it the White Infuriator at Moonlight Towers. As he was leaving, someone congratulated him on his improved performance at Question Time. "Are you taking the piss?" snarled our normally mild-mannered hero. I wonder if something is troubling him. Perhaps I'd better send Ingrid round. Or a case of Chilean. Or perhaps both.
n YOU KNOW this chap Michael Green, the one who runs Carlton Communications, the one who is causing all this frenzy of speculation in our peach-shaded business section and elsewhere about what he is or isn't about to bid for? Well, here's another Moonlight exclusive thingie: the Captain has played him at ping-pong. What can I tell you? Good forehand, slightly weaker backhand, watch out for the topspin forehand smash. Yes, I know it's not much, but these are the sort of details that help build up a rounded picture. Besides, you might find yourself playing him. Next! All right, all right, he won, but I was very rusty.
SO. Several German states continue to ban the import of British beef, even though I retaliated last week by telling a joke in German containing deliberate errors, knowing that this would force many Germans to spend a lot of time writing to me pointing them out and thereby seriously affecting the already shaky German economy. And so it has proved. Friends, the remedy is in your hands! Meanwhile I should like to thank the lady who pseudonymously sent me this: Q. Warum uberqueren die Deutschen die Strasse? A. To get to the other side. And Mr Stewart of Hackney sent me this fascinating addendum to last week's joke (which revealed that one weighed a whale at the whale-weigh station): Q. Where do you weigh a pie? A. Somewhere over the rainbow
n TOWARDS More Colourful English With Captain Moonlight. A splendid new coinage has appeared in the pages of the Daily Telegraph which, I think, deserves a wider circulation (the coinage, silly, not the Telegraph). Summing up a recent version of the Bonnie and Clyde saga, one of the Telegraph television previewers said it was a bit of a "damp squid". Marvellous! We should be using the phrase to describe any event that turns out entirely as expected, such as, for example, government ministers refusing to resign, England losing at cricket, and a pop awards ceremony where pop stars behave boisterously.
WHILE we're on these pop star people, you will, naturally, have turned to the Real Life section for guidance on just what to think about the notorious incident between Jarvis and Michael. You will have noticed, too, that the rest of the section has shirked making a judgement. But not the Captain: I have a duty to Youth, however unpleasant that might be. And it's my view that Jarvis Jackson has got far too big for his boots. Does anybody remember Jack Jackson, by the way? Very big on the radio, he used to be. Band Parade, now that was a show, they had tunes then. Next week: The Captain pulls no punches on Trainspotting and demands to know what is wrong with hanging about at the end of railway platforms with a pencil.
n A WEEK goes by, and not one hereditary peer gets in touch to take up my offer of a lavatory seat emblazoned with their coat of arms as the Captain's compensation for all the flak they've been taking from Mr Tony Blair and New Labour. This is a pity, as the said seats are really tasteful. Just look at my artist's impression of how it would be for Lord Goschen, the Shipping Minister who so cleverly got hold of that chef from the takeaway to interpret for the Chinese tug grappling with the Sea Empress. Come on, Goschers, get in touch!
YES, it's another Captain Moonlight Exclusive Table-mat Offer! Following the overwhelming success of my limited edition of cut-out-and-keep Prince of Wales watercolour mats, today I am proud to offer my Scott Report Souvenir Collection. The mat, as you can see, shows Sir Richard in full flight after a fox on which, amusingly, the face of William Waldegrave has been superimposed. Will he catch him? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, it makes a lively talking point at table. To assemble, simply buy seven more copies of the newspaper and cut out the mat fascias. Then take your various volumes of the Scott Report, rip off the covers and affix your fascias. Those with a sense of adventure and nimble fingers can go through the newspapers and cut out pictures of Sir Nicholas Lyell, Lord Howe, John Major, Kenneth Clarke, Ian Lang, Baroness Thatcher, Alan Clark and superimpose them over Waldegrave. It might also be helpful to write a short note of explanation on the back of your mat to prevent puzzlement among the experts on editions of The Antiques Road Show in years to come. Happy eating!
Print: FRONTPIECE ANTIQUE PRINTS
The Captain's Catch-up Service
HOP ON for a spin around the super-information byways as we digest some of the news you may have missed last week ... Weather forecaster Nigel Bolton warned of thunderstorms, returned to his home in Southampton, went to bed and was woken by a bolt of lightning going through his roof ... Lumberjacks Eric King and Robert Hawes returned to a bar in Ontario after being refused a drink, sliced up the 25ft bar with a chainsaw and took it away ... Derek Singleton of Sunderland has named his baby daughter Z Thirteen after his favourite motorbike. The motorbike, a Kawasaki Z1300, blew up and Derek was forced to get rid of it ... Ma Yonghan, 101, has grown a new set of teeth strong enough to crack walnuts with, the Xinhua News Agency reported ... A pensioner in his 70s mugged a 40-year-old man in Mitcham. Police say the robber, who was at least 75, kicked his victim to the ground and then snatched his mobile phone before making off ... Vito Medugno, a Rome taxi driver, became so exasperated with a passenger's insistence on taking shortcuts that he drove into a shop, passed between two counters and exited out of the back door. "He just snapped," said a police spokesman ... A successful "chat-up line" used by young men in Barnsley is, according to a survey carried out by a local night club, "You don't sweat much for a fat girl, do you?" ... Peggy Woods won the US tobacco spitting championships with an effort of more than 15 feet in Raleigh, Mississippi ... A pub darts match in Caerphilly ended in chaos after 10 players unwittingly ate cakes spiked with magic mushrooms ... Will Carling was voted the least sexy sportsman in a poll conducted by gay magazine Attitude ... Tristan Garel-Jones, Tory MP for Watford and former government minister, keeps a postcard of Marilyn Monroe and a signed picture of Baroness Thatcher on his mantlepiece ... Overweight magician Dave Lee, of the Isle of Wight, failed to vanish when he got stuck in his magic box. Then the secret hatch came down and broke all his toes. The emergency services were summoned.Reuse content