Well armed ... Labour expose ... Vulcan wink

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Indy Lifestyle Online
There you are. Come in. Today I want to talk to you about the silent champagne cork, on sale in some champagne bottles from next month. What a good idea! How often have I wished for one at around eleven in the morning when, in delicate mood, I have approached the bottle that effervesces with a hand too unsteady to wield a sabre. This abhorrence of noise and din runs in the family. My grandfather, I remember, liked to be awakened by Scotch whisky dripped from a feather. I have some other proposals which would be of help amid the incessant racket of modern times: 1) The silk-bristled toothbrush 2) A total ban on soup 3) Silent ice 4) Tills without bells 5) Trappist house music 6) Did you know that there is a dog, the Basenji, which cannot bark? 7) Goldfish tend towards the taciturn, too 8) Burglar alarms that go "Boo!" 9) Package holidays by glider 10) A curfew in Islington.

You might have noticed those manly forearms down there. Tough, capable, but with a hint of tenderness. They are mine. I have included them after reading Lady Archer, Jeffrey's wife, confess that the clothes she finds sexiest on a man are shirt sleeves rolled up: "I don't know why it is so attractive," she said. "Something to do with hairy forearms. It means Jeffrey is about to do some work of some sort - playing the piano or getting down to some writing." I was also interested to learn that she is trying out a new scent, Soleil, by Fragonard, which interested her "because I work on solar energy conversion". What a girl!

BBRRNNGG! The bell rings on my instrument, harbinging telephonic communication. It is Ms Una Tributable, my political correspondent. "Captain!" she shouts. "You know this chap Bob Gavron, 66, self-made millionaire, magazine and book printer, just given pounds 500,000 to the Labour Party? Well, he turned up in Provence during my summer villa hopping. Big crowd, Tessa Blackstone, Brian Lapping, Labour luvvies, a posi- tive sea of linen and non-fiction paperbacks. As soon as he arrived, Gavron took off his clothes and dived into the pool stark naked. And so did Mrs Gavron. What do you say to that, Captain?" I do not hesitate: "Clearly, Una, New Labour, Nudism".

Do you know, I think the Daily Telegraph might be on to something. A poll published in the Voice of the Lawnmowing Classes on Thursday showed that the Liberal Democrats are the party of the disaffected, don't knows and the confused. The Captain can certainly vouch for the confused bit. Come with me now back to the last election campaign, and the arrival of the redoubtable Baroness Seear one Sunday in Bath to boost Don Foster's bid to unseat some forgotten Tory figure called Chris Patten. (Lib Dem Fact File: Nancy Seear, 83, travelled 57,000 miles last campaign. Paddy Ashdown, former marine commando and trained killer, travelled 55,000 miles. And he had a helicopter.) Anyway, Nancy was very keen to get into Don's van and use his megaphone thingie. And so the voters of Bath heard her confident tones urging them to vote for "Don Foster, Christian Democrat". And he still beat Chris.

Time now for our new regular feature, Mrs Moonlight's Handy Household Hints, introduced to augment all the useful advice for those little domestic problems currently being provided by Ms Cherie Blair and Mrs Norma Major. Today the Captain's Consort tells you How To Get Rid Of Those Annoying Rings From Glasses and Mugs On the Coffee Table. Mrs Moonlight says: Chuck it in the grate, burn the thing and have another gin. Next!

Now then. Some time ago, I told you that I was in exclusive possession of a story showing John Major in a good light. And all that was necessary for this good light to see the light was one letter from just one of you requesting it. I have to tell you that no such letter has been received. Still. And now I am in exclusive possession of a story showing Malcolm Rifkind in a good light. It is set in Pisa. Again, all I need is a letter. Ladies and gentlemen, the image of these two political titans is in your hands.

Well now, friends, a most interesting letter has come the Captain's way. It is from Maurice Cerullo, the famous evangelist. Maurice wrote it to his wife,Theresa, in July, from the Hotel Bristol, Warsaw. Theresa was so moved she circulated it to Maurice's followers. "My dearest Theresa," he writes. "I wish you were by my side to experience how powerfully God is moving in Poland. I've never seen anything like it! My heart is so grateful to God as He faithfully pours out his Holy Spirit upon the depressed, the hurting, the sick - bringing new life and healing into their lives." But Maurice has some pressing news: "Darling, in the midst of God's mighty Spirit flowing in our meetings, I've received some very bad news from our accounting department at San Diego's Mission Control." Yes, indeed. Seems that Maurice is a bit short of readies. Seems that Maurice needs $813,010 if he is to continue on his way to Brazil and Africa. Theresa, in her covering note, suggests that his followers give up that new car and give the money to Maurice before it is too late. You will want to know what happened. Friends, Maurice made those trips to Brazil and Africa. Friends, Maurice is coming to Scotland next month. Friends, hotel rooms at the Hotel Bristol cost more than $325 a night. Friends, Maurice's British spokesperson is unaware that Maurice has had any financial problems. Friends, the Captain says: Praise Be!

It is, the Captain confidently asserts, the one they would all kill for. Yes, a joke told by John Redwood! This singular event occurred shortly after the charismatic Conservative leadership contender had steered his Eurosceptic cricket XI to a famous victory over a Europhile XI (I think they agreed on the same number of players) last week. Despite this unaccustomed success, JR announced that he would not be available to lead the team next year. Why? Because he would be "too busy" with "the agenda" of a "Conservative government"! And then he winked! But perhaps, on reflection, he was entirely serious. The wink? Something in his eye, or wrongly programmed, probably. Bye!

The Captain's Catch-up Service

Here it is, the news review that goes beyond the headlines to the little bits at the bottom of the page ... Dariuzs Urban spent three years building a 63ft pyramid with 26,000 cans of soup in Katowice, Poland. Unfortunately, just before he put the last one in place, the structure collapsed and killed him ... A Doctor Who exhibition at Longleat was destroyed by a fire which started in the Doctor's mechanical hound, K9. "It is very sad, especially as K9 would have been celebrating his 20th birthday next year," said a spokeswoman ... Rambo the Gerbil, of Hull, dug his way out of a 2ft deep garden grave after Mrs Linda Brown, the mother of his owner, mistook hibernation for death and buried him ... Maria Odalo has been stopped by a judge in Barcelona from having a handbag made from her husband's skin. It was his last request.

Ready for the off: Mr Major, the Prime Minister, pictured in Grange- over-Sands yesterday at the start of a new campaign intended to underline his commitment to serious political debate with an accent on the moral choices that face the nation. Mr Major, with a new slogan, "Tories Ain't Chicken", raced on a bicycle against Dr Brian Mawhinney (inside chicken) down the front, winning a close encounter by a neck and a giblet. Dr Mawhinney was slightly hampered (!) by the weight of Sandy Beech, Miss Young Conservative (North Lancs and Whitehaven Division). No, it is not a shot from Oban which gives a hint to the whereabouts of the reclusive Bishop Roddy Wright. It is in fact, Alex Zulle, overall leader of the Tour of Spain, posing with a chicken. Why? The caption does not record. You go figure it.

Photograph: AP