n CAPTAIN Moonlight Hot One. There I was, toying with my bread stick in Shepherd's, you know, Marsham Street, SW1, when I noticed a particularly winsome couple twinkling over the linen: Dr Brian Mawhinney, debonair chairman of the Conservative Party, and Dame Sue Tinson, ennobled associate editor of ITN, the commercial television news broadcasting company. This is very exciting indeed. That nice Trevor McDonald is not getting any younger and Dr Mawhinney, who, as I often remind you, is the first former assistant professor of radiation research at the University of Iowa to attain cabinet rank, will be in need of a new job shortly. And that gentle brogue would go very well interspersed with the odd bong. The clincher for Dame Sue, though, must have been the prospect of that avuncular, basking smile greeting the "And, finally" bit.
BAT'S bat, then: many of you will have been fascinated by research published last week which showed that a Lancashire bat is different from a Yorkshire bat. Well, I was, anyway. Lancashire bats send out signals on 55 kilohertz, while Yorkshire bats send out signals on 45 kilohertz. The Pennines, as in so many cases, have created these clear differences. I present pictures of a Lancashire bat next to a Yorkshire bat so that you can observe the distinctions for yourself. You will note that the Lancashire bat has a pinker face, while the Yorkshire bat has a more pointed snout. Note, too, that the Yorkshire bat has a larger mouth, while the Lancashire bat has a better sense of humour. Actually, while we're on this, I thought you might be interested in a little note which appeared in the Daily Star last week: "Sorry, folks ... we got it wrong. We left readers puzzled trying to spot the differences in our Double Vision cartoon teaser yesterday. But there were no differences because the same picture was printed twice..."
n CAN we please stop knocking Americans for all manner of imagined crassnesses? I'm thinking in particular of Disney. Fashionable to knock the Disney output, isn't it? My young friends in this section, of course, laugh when I tell them, but I regard Dumbo's goodnight visit to his banged-up mother as one of the most affecting moments in 20th-century Art. Now another insidious attempt to denigrate Walt's successors reaches me. The new Disney film is The Hunchback of Notre Dame (complete with lovable talking gargoyles!). Anyway, according to this frankly incredible report, a Disney executive approached the cathedral authorities to ask if they might throw their launch party for the movie in the nave. And when, with absolutely typical Gallic over-sensitivity, this entirely reasonable request was refused, the Disney exec is supposed to have said: "Listen, we are going to make your cathedral famous". Now, I ask you, is that believable?
AND SO, with ado, and fortified by the promise of all those Pink Vouchers, welcome to Interactive Corner, the niche in the column devoted to your observations on matters of pressing current concern. You will remember that last week I outlined my quandary when the cook Marco Pierre White came to the luncheon table and my companion stood up. What, I wondered, was the proper form? Ms Dufort, of Appledore, says you should stay put, although she thinks it acceptable to invite the cook to sit down and join you "should he have the time and not need to depart instantly to trepan the vegetable-chef with an egg whisk". But she warns that the cook may then order himself a drink on your bill. Mr Dowding, a cook with a restaurant in Seaford, confirms non-standing, and waits to be invited to sit down. His worst moment was having to repeat loudly for a large party his amusing little tale about the Ayatollah Khomeini and the aphrodisiac effect on Iranian women of peeling aubergines. Mr Stallybrass of Bognor writes to inform us that this year is both the centenary of A E Housman's collection of poems, A Shropshire Lad, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Bognor Regis Training College. Mr Douch of Wellingborough says that Tunbridge Wells joins Rome and Sheffield in being built on seven hills. Pink vouchers all round! And now for a competition. And because I can't think of a competition, the competition is to think of a competition. Next!
n BRRNNGG! The telephone shrills in its attention-seeking way. On the line, Ms Una Tributable, my parliamentary correspondent. "Captain," she shouts. "William McKelvey, Labour, Kilmarnock and Loudoun. On the train to Scotland. Sleeper. Asks the attendant to wake him at Motherwell. Wakes up to find train stationary, silent. In Glasgow. Berates attendant in most fearful manner. Quite probable that colourful language was used. Attendant replies: 'You think you're upset. You should have heard the man we put off at Motherwell'." I thank Ms Tributable for a most interesting anecdote and replace the receiver, wondering at the sheer variety of parliamentary life.
STRESS Watch: readers will know that the Captain takes a keen interest in counselling, and, indeed, would have only half my pips if it were not for the attentions of my personal stress counsellor, Ingrid, who is Swedish. So I was delighted to see that market traders in Horsham have been banned from shouting about their bananas because it is disturbing counsellors "trying to build a rapport" with their clients at the nearby Horsham Therapy Centre. But, equally, I was most concerned to see that Kate Moss, the supermodel from Croydon, had to miss an appearance "at a top Italian fashion show" last week. A doctor diagnosed "extreme stress". Ingrid writes: "Pah! What this girl needs is regular helpings of algbullar with dumplings". Captain's Translation: algbullar is, in fact, elk balls. I also append pictures of both Ms Moss and Ingrid to show you what she means. Did you notice, too, that American men find their dogs more helpful in dealing with stress than their wives?
n THE Captain receives a message from Mr Edward Poultney, Head of Special Editorial Services, Newspaper Publishing, parent company of this newspaper. It reads as follows: "Why did the hedgehog cross the road? Because it wanted to see its flatmate." Thank you, Mr Poultney.
LOYAL Subjects of the Crown! This is Captain Moonlight's Safe Haven, established in the teeth of the rampant republicanism which otherwise infests this newspaper! Viscount Stansgate for President, indeed! I should like to tell you that both the Duke of Kent and Princess Margaret are customers of Mr Pink. Next, you should know that on Thursday evening, in an upper room at L'Etoile restaurant, Soho, there took place a meeting of a shadowy group dedicated to the overthrow of our monarchy. The diners included that republican blowhard, Prof Stephen Haseler, the Labour MP Denis McShane, and, yes, The Editor of this newspaper. Shame! My agent present concluded that the masterplan must be for Prof Haseler to bore the Windsors into abdication and oblivion. But, thank the blessed memory of Charles the Martyr, there are some organs that remain vigilant to the threat posed by these desperate men: the dinner was doorstepped by uninvited, flashbulb-popping photographers despatched by the outraged editors of the Sunday Times and the Observer (good to see that this erstwhile radical newspaper is on our side, subjects!). Finally, this week's "Hasn't The Poor Man Suffered Enough" slot is provided by Mr Olley of Maidstone, who points out that The Prince's Youth Business Trust is housed in that pioneering cinematic building in Regent's Park known as the Diorama.
n THAT picture down there? The Captain has discovered this great new mail-order catalogue, Modern Originals, of Liverpool. And what I'm featuring here, my friends, is "all the pleasure of an aquarium without the fuss". It has multicoloured fish, constantly on the move, which "will keep you absorbed throughout the day". But, "best of all, there's no need to feed them or change their water, and you can go on holiday without worrying! That's because ... these agile fish are ... actually clever imitations and brought to life by the Electronic Aquarium. Powered by batteries (not included) ... pounds 39.95." Just fancy that! Next week: your own personal Geiger counter.
LASTLY, you have been wondering about the bit of sticking plaster firmly affixing the Captain's spectacles to his head. This is because, following the European directive pointing out that HGV drivers who wear spectacles pose a grave safety risk because those spectacles might fall off at any time, I am taking no chances. Have you ever seen a column out of control? Thank you and goodbye!
THIS week's special table-mat offer features one of the near 200 works of art that have gone absent without leave from the Ministry of Defence's 900-strong collection. It is the View of the Board Room of the Admiralty, the famous print by Rowlandson and Pugin which was, appropriately, stolen from the Board Room of the Admiralty. You know the form: buy eight copies of this newspaper, cut the picture out and stick it on to something quite thick (a cereal packet will do if you can't find a Tory backbencher). Alternatively, you could wander into your nearest MoD establishment and find yourself an original. Actually, I'm not that surprised: the Captain's father, a Major, often told me of his heroic efforts moving supplies around a Colchester depot so that they could be counted twice by an inspecting superior officer because half the stuff had been nicked by the rude soldiery. As you were!
Photomontage JONATHAN ANSTEE
The Captain's Catch-up Service
YES, here it is, once again, the weekly news digest that takes a gentle wander along the slip road of the super information highway ... There was a small earthquake in Shropshire. Nobody was injured and nothing was damaged ... Gary Duda, of Georgia, has applied to have his middle name changed from Eugene to Zippidy ... A cartoon competition has been launched to dispel the stigma associated with constipation. A prize of pounds 1,000 will be awarded in advance of National Constipation Day, 16 April ... The Vatican dismissed that story that the Pope wears Doc Martens. A spokesman said: "This story makes no sense" ... The African elephant nose fish has been found to have a more energy-hungry brain than humans. "This takes away the last gross physiological measurement that makes the human brain unique," said Goran Nilsson of Uppsala University, Sweden, the man who made the discovery ... Jeanis Caty and Wesley Steny tried to rob a grocery store in Miami. Caty fired his pistol by accident and shot Steny in the thigh. Steny squeezed the trigger of his pistol in shock and shot Caty in the hand and leg. Police had little trouble arresting them ... The first person to be subdued by police CS gas was the one-eyed rugby league international, Barrie McDermott, who became upset outside the Cabaret Club, Oldham ... Scotland Yard estimates that a man has stolen around 1,500 pigeons in three months from Trafalgar Square. They are thought to be destined for Greek restaurant tables ... Mike Walpole, of Cardiff, spent 10 years making a matchstick replica of Cardiff Arms Park. But just as he was gluing in the last of 31,900 sticks, Welsh rugby officials announced that the stadium was to be bulldozed to make way for a new one. "I'm absolutely gutted," said Mike ... Nayir Bagnar, a Hindu mystic, has just ended 18 months spent pushing a radish 211 miles with his nose ... Rick Swenson was disqualified from the Iditarod Trail Race in Alaska on the first day because a dog in his team died. The rule, instituted because of protests from animal rights activists, upset Rick. "A lot of people running the dog race don't understand dog mushing," he said ... and, finally, a tremendous kerfuffle at Windsor Castle when a telephone instruction to a BBC film crew there to "shoot the troops" was overheard and somehow misinterpreted ... Earthquake latest: Misty, hamster, from Harmer Hill, thrown from plastic house, but OK.Reuse content