Fish for victory! ... lost croc ... BT phone home

Captain Moonlight

Battlefront latest. Stalemate, phoney war, no movement, the odd bit of blocking in Brussels for community plans to harmonise hedge heights. And the fishing dispute, of course. But where are the bold strokes of a Bonaparte or a Marlborough? Must this all be dragged out and on and on? Such were the captainly thoughts, only moments before they were electrified by John "Mad Jack" Redwood on the radio as he outlined his famous fishery retaliation scheme, the declaration of a 200-mile UK fishing limit. A masterstroke! I didn't know the fellow had it in him! Just look at my map down there and you'll see what I mean: the Seine to the south of Paris, the Rhine down to Dusseldorf! Just think of the fishing. My hands are twitching for the rod just at the thought of it! Bully for Redwood! Which is more than I can say for the Prime Minister. Did you see that he's gone off for a short break in the south of France? France! Did Churchill trot off to the Munich Beer Festival in 1940? He did not! We left behind on the Home Front say, all together: Shame! And let us pray he didn't take any sweet tea biscuits or jelly babies with him.

n IT'S A Funny Old World With Captain Moonlight. I thought about this one; I did. Irony, metaphor, Yeatsian change, historical lessons, relevancy, piquancy, poignancy, whimsy: I toyed with them all before deciding that the best approach would be to present this exclusive piece of Moonlight Information bare, unadorned, stark. Barry Denny, the industrial correspondent of the Morning Star is, I hear, resigning to take up a position as a security guard.

TORY backbenchers. A lot of people scoff at them, don't they? Parliamentary sketchwriters give them a dreadful time. Lobby fodder, fawning toadies, timorous time-servers: these are the kinder descriptions. The Captain says: Enough! Tory backbenchers have feelings, too. The wearing of hair oil and pinstripe suits does not entirely preclude pain, you know. These are remarkable people who should be closely studied, not mocked. Take Lord Margadale who, as John Morrison, was a legendary chairman of the 22, and who died last week. Asked if he had taken a degree at Cambridge, Margadale replied: "No. I never intended to be a schoolmaster". Then there's Dr Robert Spink (Castle Point) who has just had this correction published in the Daily Express: "Dr Spink ... has asked us to clarify his views on capital punishment reported on October 31, 1995. He does not consider it acceptable for any person to hang and is only in favour of re-introduction of the death penalty if the criminal justice system is strengthened so that there is no real risk of this occurring." You will be surprised to learn that Dr Spink is not one of the 143 MPs deemed worth sending a copy of the new magazine for thinkers, Prospect. Others not included: Michael Fabricant, Terry Dicks, Edward Heath, any Dames, Gerald Kaufman, Tim Boswell, the junior minister who was so impressive over milk, and, of course, Virginia Bottomley. What can they be thinking of?

Moonlight Limelight. Fleet Street's sharpest celebrity service. Who's hot, who's not... news, views, sightings. And first up, lovely Joanna Lumley, whom I happened to spot near the household bleach in Sainsbury's at Nine Elms, south London, on Bank Holiday Monday. Next, Jess Conrad. Now don't tell me you haven't heard of Jess Conrad! Singer. Very big in the Sixties. Well, all right, quite big. And the other day, Jess returned to find his car had been clamped by an operator who told him it would cost pounds 65 to have the clamp removed. Jess told him he was a singer who did a lot of work for charity. The clamper asked Jess if he had sung anything he would know. Jess launched into one of his big ones, "This Pullover",

and the wheel clamper said, "That will be pounds 75". I guess that's showbiz. Keep those celebrity sightings coming!

Spooky Corner. In which the Captain brings you to a close acquaintance with the uncanny and a nodding relationship with the unexplained. So there I was, on Tuesday, driving through Deptford; and, it being Deptford, one's thoughts obviously turned to Christopher Marlowe, or Kit as some of us know him, who met an untimely and mysterious end down the pub there (much speculation about him being a spy, that sort of thing; I suspect, being a poet, he didn't stand his corner, which they have never liked, down in Deptford). Anyway, such were my thoughts when, blow me, what should hie into view but a large lorry with "Shakespeare (Maidstone)" emblazoned on the side. What more proof would you need that Kit was, in fact, the Man of Stratford? When I telephoned Shakespeare's, Nick Verrall, the managing director, told me they had chosen the name for its recognition factor, much better than "Fred Bloggs, Road Haulage" or whatever. And then he added that, purely fortuitously most nights they took a load to Warwickshire. Allow me to quote Helena, from one of Kit's hit comedies: "We must away; Our waggon is prepared, and time revives us: All's Well That Ends Well." Next: what odds would you give against an RSPCA inspector out walking his labrador discovering the body of a five-foot crocodile just next to the North Circular in Finchley? Quite. But it happened last week. The RSPCA say it was a discarded pet and London Zoo seem certain that it's too cold for crocodiles outside in Finchley, but I for one will not be stopping round there. Finally, a parrot called Houdini has gone missing in Colchester, while a cat called Houdini has gone missing in Greenford. All makes you think.

Battlefront Update ... Battlefront Update ... And I knew it wouldn't be long before truth became the first casualty. We old hands have been through all this too many times to doubt it. The Captain, doubtless many of you will recall, was the last man into Port Stanley. Working for another newspaper, then. I relieved heroic colleague who had yomped and all that. Followed another colleague's suggestion by walking into the bar of the famous Upland Goose hostelry, ordering a pint, taking a sip, and then saying to the irascible mine host, Mr Desmond King, "Have you had some trouble round here?" Our relationship never really recovered. But, the point, the point. Allegations of censorship in the Jelly Baby War. My source: Neil Kinnock. Who was told that because of the nine o'clock watershed, morning, lunchtime and early evening bulletins could not use the vital word: "Semen". Could it be true? ITN and the BBC both deny it firmly. The BBC, though, were a little dubious about the ITN denial. Independent hearings, please.

Hello!... Hello!... Can you hear me?... Is there anybody there? A devoted few of you may remember that last week I mentioned my little problem with BT, about how I had spent so much time listening to that music they put on while they keep you waiting that I had asked what the tune was called and when they were going to change it. I also mentioned that I was still waiting for them to call back. And I'm still waiting. Hello!... Is there anybody there?... Sir Ian Vallance, call!

THAT'S the thing about bus stories: you don't get one for months and then two come along at once. Last week I told you of my life-enhancing encounter with Sir Nicholas Scott on a bus in Fleet Street. This week: the East London Bus & Coach Company. They don't have conductors, you know. They have receptionists. A would-be conductor applied, only to be told there were no vacancies for receptionists, and that there was a height restriction of 5ft 11in as taller applicants "may experience problems standing correctly on the upper deck". (Historians among you will recall that this is why John Major is not now a Brixton bus conductor.) Receptionists, though! Splendid! Presumably, they say, as you hop on, "Hi! I'm afraid the omnibus chief executive is a little tied up at present, behind the wheel. Coffee or tea?" Reports, please!

COME a bit closer. Have you seen the front of this section? Do you notice anything different about it? That's right: they've demoted me! That bit on the right hand side (known in the trade, for some reason, as puff boxes) trailing the contents of this youth-orientated part of the paper, used to feature me on top. And now I'm on the bottom. They've fobbed me off with some pathetic story about the puff for the back page belonging logically at the bottom, but I don't believe a word of it. Logic! I ask you! It's quite clearly petty revenge for my staunch anti-republican stand and my belief that yes, the middle-aged and older do have a point. Write in to The Editor protesting and I'll pretend it's all spontaneous. These things are important, you know. They are.

COMPETITION TIME! Listen, your response to my competition for uninspiring advertising slogans was, frankly, uninspiring. The best I got was for Healy's Hotel in Co Mayo, which has a cigarette lighter bearing the slogan, "A good spot", but that was submitted by someone here who took pity on me. So, a new one to mark the penultimate Mr Pink week, winners announced on his final appearance. One prize: two pounds 50 vouchers for Mr Pink products. What do you have to do? Look at my picture. The Captain has discovered, exclusively, which instrument the Archbishop of Canterbury used to play in his happy-clappy days as vicar of St Nicholas's, Durham. Using your skill and judgement, tick the appropriate box and send it in, together with your tiebreaker, which must be the corniest joke in your entire repertoire. Happy comping!

The Catch-up Service

Welcome to the news review that makes you think ... Police are hunting a long-legged thief who rode off on an original penny-farthing bicycle, taken from its stand at a museum in Rochdale ... A private detective in Los Angeles who specialises in tracking down missing pets for a fee of pounds 230 a day plus expenses goes by the name of Sherlock Bones ... More than 20 people were injured in the traditional Bank Holiday cheese-rolling races down Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire ... David Williams, 21, of Telford, has been delivered an ultimatum by his fiancee, Suzanne Mossett: if he doesn't get rid of his 16 pet snails, she won't marry him. David keeps them in a bag hanging on his bedpost and took them on a camping holiday last year ... A man bitten by a rattlesnake in Edinburg, Texas, bit the snake's head off and used the skin for a tourniquet ... Berndt Ostman, a square-dance caller from Malmo, Sweden, is being sued by seven men and nine women dancers who claim his irresponsible calling led to painful collisions ... A driver in New York who left a sign saying "No Radio" on his car returned to find every window smashed and a note saying "Get one".

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: HVAC Project Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will b...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Accounts Administrator - Fixed Term

    £13500 - £14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Business Services-£70,000 OTE

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + OTE £70,000 + car + pension: h2 Recruit Ltd: A wel...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Receptionist / Warranty Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game