Mad cows ... flogged fags ... Welsh what?:CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT

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NOW then. I understand there has been some trouble about eating British beef. You will, of course, have been waiting for my advice. Which is exactly the same as the Prime Minister's. Which is: you're on your own, pal. Meanwhile, I can provide a few pointers in my Moonlight Mad Cow Round-up. 1HRH Princess Margaret (HM The Queen's sister) is still sending out for steak and kidney pie. 2Burger King, "official fast food supplier to the home nations' football teams" stopped putting British beef in its burgers yesterday. This may be too late for the European Championships. 3Yes, that is Douglas Hogg, the Agriculture Minister in my picture. Curious outfit, isn't it? Perhaps it's too late for him as well. 4The other photograph is self-explanatory. 5As part of my continuing series of Free Offers With C Moonlight (part of this group's specially co-ordinated marketing strategy), I am in a position to offer you three free vouchers entitling you to 10 per cent off your burgers at Bill Wyman's Sticky Fingers restaurant in west London. (Irish beef, naturally; to acquire them, simply write in with just one commendable thing about Bill Wyman). Other offers: "The History of British Military Bands - Volume Two" CD has been claimed by the Rev Partridge, Rector of East Barkwith, on the grounds that he hasn't got Volume One. Still unclaimed: my America The Beautiful calendar, the Finish citro-fresh dishwasher freshener, and, just in, a special commemorative can of Stones Bitter to mark the new rugby league Super League. Next!

n GOOD news at last. I am able, exclusively, to remove one of your worries. What on earth, I know you have been asking yourself, would happen if some terrible disaster befell all the high-ups at the BBC? You know, people like John Birt and Jenny Abramsky, Radio 5 supremo, and Tony Hall, news overlord, that sort of calibre. Well, relax. Because I can tell you that, to avert just such a disaster scenario, they are not allowed to travel together. There, that's better, isn't it?

RECOLLECTION collision: in the red car of truth, Sebastian "Birdsong" Faulks, novelist and biographer; in the blue van of history, Douglas Hurd, formerly the Government's token toff. It concerns an event while Doug was a top man at Eton and Jeremy Wolfenden, one of the brilliant but fated subjects of Faulks' new book, The Fatal Englishman, was a scholar in his first year. According to Faulks, Doug flogged all the scholars to remind them of their place, a course sadly not open to him with these revolting unCommunity-minded Tory backbenchers. Wolfenden, who objected, got twice as many wallops, as I could have warned him. It is my understanding, though, that Doug completely denies the story, claiming the dates make it impossible, and being unable to conceive of beating a whole class just to put them in their place; or of beating Wolfenden, who, after all and dammit, was his fag. Faulks stands by his sources. Independent testimony please! Hurd has been invited to the book's launch party. I should take some padding along. Captain's Recollection: at a meeting of the diplomatic corps during Doug's time as FS, an ambassador present was heard to murmur: "It's remarkable just how many of us have been beaten by Douglas."

n WELL, I must say I find myself a little in sympathy with Sir Jeremiah Harman, the High Court judge who last week denied all knowledge of Oasis. Living as I now do, in this section, I find it quite enervating keeping up with Youth. And I like a judge to behave like a judge (you will recall that, not long ago, I brought you details of the shocking intimacy with north London bus routes displayed by Lord Justice Simon Brown). I have been a big fan of Harman since he met the press outside his home before a Kevin Maxwell hearing. First, he kicked the cabbie waiting for him in the mistaken belief that he was a photographer. "I'm the cabbie, you *******," said the cabbie. Unabashed, Sir Jeremiah then kicked a photographer and struck out at another as he followed the hobbling cabbie to his cab. That's the way to do it! It rather reminds me of Mr Justice Mais, who died last week, and who once had a man arrested in Newcastle for making a V sign at his car. The man was held for two hours before Sir Hugh accepted his explanation that he had mistaken him for the Mayor. Captain's Note: Oasis is that green, spongey stuff you stick the flowers in to keep them nice and fresh.

AS is only to be expected from a man of my rank, I take a close interest in the doings of the Senior Service, as we call it. Did you notice that the bell-bottom has been saved? Excellent news. My thighs wouldn't cut half the dash without that flattering flare, I can tell you. But my eye was caught by another bit of the naval announcement, re kilts. Entitled officers will now be allowed to wear them, I note, including the Welsh kilt. The Welsh kilt. I didn't know the Welsh wore kilts. The Welsh Folk Museum says the Welsh have never worn kilts. A Navy spokeswoman, however, remained unabashed, if vague. She had some recollection of the Prince of Wales wearing a kilt in Wales. A spokeswoman for the Prince of Wales said that this was not in fact so. Captain's Caution To Brother and Sister Officers: should anyone enter the ward room while wearing a Welsh kilt, be very, very careful. Over and out, Blue Peter, Avast, Belay, etc.

n CUE urgent, electronic music, and welcome to Interactive Corner, the part of the column written by you in return for vouchers provided by my sainted sponsor, Mr Pink. Last week, following government health urges, I provided a list of exciting, moderate exercises, including standing up when a lady comes into the room on television. Mr Bourne of Totnes has another: drink in halves rather than pints, thus ensuring double the trips to the bar. Following the news that Yorkshire Water had almost evacuated Bradford last summer, I wondered what you might do with 100,000 Yorkshire men and women. Mr Wicksteed of Petersfield suggested sending them to Lord's to form the England selection committee. Mrs Denby-Gardner of Bath wondered if they could stand in line between Yorkshire reservoirs and full reservoirs and pass a bucket. Thank you, interactors!

MOONLIGHT Monarchy Supplement: I've had an idea; see what you think. Looking at that picture of the Duchess of York "made over" by Hello! magazine (look down now), I noticed an uncanny resemblance to that nice Michael Jackson (look down again now). And then I thought: she hasn't got any money and he's got loads; she needs money and he needs the respectability that an association with our royal house would bring; why not bring them together? I don't hang around, either. I have already sent a fax to Mr Bob James, Michael's US press agent, to ascertain whether he reads Hello! in the hope that he has caught sight of the new, improved Duchess. Strangely, there has, as yet, been no reply. Perhaps I should send a copy anyway, but we run a very tight operation here. You may have noticed, too, that I have gone for a bit of a Duchess myself (look up at my picture now). Bye!

LOYAL Subjects Of Her Majesty! Gather here in the Captain's Safe Haven, established to protect you against the crazed republicans who infest the rest of this newspaper! And today I bring you evidence that their degenerate beliefs are growing in currency. This woodcut here, showing the cruel fate of Charles the Martyr is being made available on a T-shirt accompanied by the legend, "Republic Now", with the "Now" underlined, available for pounds 10.99 from Coldbath, PO Box 10508, London N22 4FQ. I understand that it has been taken from the frontispiece to the memoirs of the poor King's executioner, Richard Brandon. I have been attempting to persuade The Editor to pose with one on, but he has so far refused. Perhaps next week...

The Captain's Catch-up Service

WELCOME to the news service with attitude ... The Stinky Feet Society of America has 3,000 members ... Coffins longer than 6ft 10ins or wider than 2ft 8ins will be subject to an increase in charges from pounds 215 to pounds 430 in Bournemouth ... Following the success of Rolf Harris's Animal Hospital programme, the BBC has signed a deal to produce toy animals that can be bruised and nursed back to health ... Deaf Swedes can report crimes to deaf staff at the first police station for the hard of hearing in a Stockholm suburb ... Sex-crazed British pensioners are wreaking havoc on Madeira. In one case, a jilted 68-year-old from Edinburgh tried to drop a refrigerator on her Portuguese lover from a fourth floor hotel balcony ... The British Sociological Association will consider a paper on the Chinese Takeaway as Diasporic Habitus, "emphasising the power geometries structuring encounters across the takeaway counter" ... and finally, did you know that in India cows are fed mangoes so that their urine can be used as a natural dyestuff?

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