Captain Moonlight

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In the shadow of a Sixties messiah

IMAGINE being Adrian Laing. Just think if R D Laing was your father. Laing wasn't just a psychiatrist; he was a rebel, an acid-head, a pop-shrink poet, mystic and musician. Eventually, he was famous just for being famous. If you'd been a Sixties youngster like Adrian, you'd have been the son of a star and all your friends would have known it.

Laing burst on to the scene in 1964, with the publication of Sanity, Madness and the Family. He tried to persuade people that madness was the only way to deal with our crazy world. Along with Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, Laing became one of the 'messiahs' of the time.

Five years after R D's death, Adrian, now a barrister, has written a book about his controversial parent entitled R D Laing: A Biography. He has tried valiantly to be fair about him, which certainly couldn't have been easy.

Adrian is one of five children R D had with his first wife, Anne Hearne. He was born in Harlow when Laing was being psychoanalysed at the Tavistock Clinic in preparation for becoming an analyst himself.

Adrian was eight when his parents finally separated for good. Anne took the family to France to make a new life and, when that failed, to Devon, London and eventually to Glasgow. When R D 'came to see us two years later, I had forgotten what he looked like', says Adrian. Adrian's eldest sister, Fiona, suffered a severe mental breakdown, and another sister died of leukaemia.

Adrian became a barrister specialising in media law. Next month he starts a new job as director of legal affairs at Century Hutchinson, the publishers.

Meanwhile, by the mid-Seventies, R D's renown had begun to wane. 'His fame was like a pop star's. A period of discovery, then intense attention - books, films, records - then it began to fall back.'

Laing started to drink heavily. He married again and had many lovers. He fathered 10 children in all, some of whom like Adrian he abandoned for years at a time. 'The first thing I felt when he died was relief. Then sadness, and then anger,' says Adrian, who has four children of his own.

R D might have changed the way people felt about schizophrenia, but he was clearly a pain to live with. 'The more successful he became, the more self-destructive,' Adrian says. 'In the end, brilliant psychiatrist though he was, the person he was least able to help was himself.

'Many people have asked 'Has writing this book made you feel closer to your father?' to which I could only answer: 'My relationship with him has greatly improved since his death'.'

THE CAPTAIN'S CATCH-UP SERVICE

IMPRESS your friends. Improve your knowledge. Here lies wisdom . . . Gabe Dallino of Los Angeles tried to frighten his mother out of hiccups and gave her a heart attack . . . James Beardsmore, aged 79, ran over his wife when he mistook her for 'a large pile of leaves' . . . Sven Harkus, aged 72, lost his way to a fishing lake 20 miles from his home in Sweden and finally came to rest three days later in a snowdrift in the Arctic circle . . . In Romania, heat was the problem. On Friday, after two days of temperatures in the 100s, the body of a recently deceased elderly man exploded . . . After Romania, Woodstock. A couple cancelled their holiday at a pub in the Oxfordshire Woodstock last weekend saying they didn't care for large crowds and pop concerts . . . Miguel Arroya of Barcelona chopped off his ears because he was sick of his mother-in-law's nagging, but found he could still hear her . . . A 3ft lizard called Dr Lecter, after Hannibal, is on the loose in Sheffield . . . the obituary editor of the Times, Tony Howard, reports that Tony Blair is the fastest eater he has ever met . . . A forger, who picked the name K R Robbins from a phonebook for a fake chequebook, was nabbed using it at a store in Minnesota by the owner, K R Robbins.

Whistle-stop tour of that Getty wallet

IT IS understandable that J Paul Getty Jr was deeply upset when Timothy Clifford said Getty had offered pounds 1m to stop The Three Graces going to the Getty Museum in California because he 'never got on at all well with his father'.

What the director of the National Galleries of Scotland didn't say was that there is one particular trait Mr Getty does share with his father, and that is the careful divisions of his assets into separate companies. Here is how it works.

The bulk of Getty's fortune came from the sale of Getty Oil to Texaco in 1984. That was when the trust established by his grandmother, Sarah C Getty, was broken up. Getty, his brother Gordon, and the three daughters of another brother, George, each received dollars 750m. George Getty died in 1973, and the sisters are known as the Georgettes.

Getty put his money in the Cheyne Walk Trust, named after his old home at 16 Cheyne Walk that once belonged to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The trust is registered in California, but for tax reasons is managed from Reno, Nevada.

Getty cannot touch the capital, which will be passed to his children only after he and his siblings are dead. While he is alive, he has use of its income. When interest rates were high, this amounted to dollars 150m a year. Today, it is dollars 35m. By investing it wisely, he has made about dollars 1bn of his own, although only dollars 100m is in liquid assets.

Getty likes to keep his financial affairs discreet. And today most of his assets are kept offshore. His magnificent yacht, the Talitha G, is registered in Bermuda. But it belongs to a Jersey company called Project 407. When Getty and his partner, Victoria Holdsworth, went cruising around the Caribbean aboard the Talitha G in April, it was the first time he'd left these shores in 18 years.

Another company, Project 5487, is the entity in which he keeps his stock market investments. Getty's magnificent collection of rare books and manuscripts, meanwhile, is housed in the turreted library he had built at Wormsley, his estate in the Chilterns. The books, which are insured for pounds 50m, belong to a Geneva company, Press Promotions.

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, which Getty bought for pounds 1.68m in 1993, belongs to Transon Holdings Ltd. Until 1991, Transon was also the company that owned Wormsley and the pounds 1.1m lease on his flat in St James's Place. In November 1991, ownership of the estate was transferred to Abacus CI, a Channel Islands company that also owns the Chelsea house where Ms Holdsworth lives.

Getty bought Wormsley in 1984 for pounds 3.4m. Over the years, he has made considerable improvements to it, adding a cricket pitch and a deer park. By 1991, when the ownership of Wormsley was transferred offshore, Getty had spent pounds 32,533,447 on the estate.

A million for The Three Graces amounts to a speck of a dent in Getty's fortune. A fortnight's income, to be precise. Earning money has never been difficult for Getty. It's only giving it away that gives him a headache.

A MAGAZINE for the millennium - no, not called Zeitgeist, but Miracles. It explores all those niggling little questions like what is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Who is John Major?

Did you know that 68 per cent of people have had a spiritual experience and consider it one of the most significant events in their lives? Why am I never around when something's happening?

Miracles promises to expose the evils of Hollywood, debunk therapy and explain the nuts and bolts of hypnotism. It also offers an insight into medicine and health care for the future. Yes, throw away your Lucozade. Now, all you need are brain boosters - full of all those useful nutrients we miss out on from not enough fish and Brussels sprouts. So go on, stimulate your cortex] But if it's the cure for Aids that you're interested in, this had been carefully omitted from the copy sent to the Captain. For that, we must await the launch on 8 September, and pay pounds 2.50. Real miracles don't come free.

A VOYAGE around plutonium, or 10 reasons why you should have done A-level physics:

1 Contrary to popular belief, plutonium can't be dug out of the ground. Nor has it any connections with the planet or the dog. Someone has to make it for you. 2 Don't try and cook it yourself. Plutonium is a heavy metal that has nothing to do with Iron Maiden, but it does have a high number of protons and neutrons. The more complex the nucleus, the more unstable the element, the more impossible it is for us to understand the recipe. 3 Unsophisticated bomb-makers would need about 10kg of highly enriched plutonium 239 and at least 12kg of highly enriched Uranium 235 to make a nuclear bomb . . . not to mention a couple of suicidal scientists, the utmost secrecy, and a few million quid. 4 Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,000 years. On the other hand, if you have a lump of plutonium 238 in your pocket, it will all have disappeared in 88 days. But then, if you're in the habit of putting plutonium in your pocket . . . 5 You need 2kg of plutonium to make an atomic bomb. There are 200 tonnes of it in the world of which 40 tonnes are in Britain - enough to make 20,000 bombs. 6 You can run, you can hide, but you can't escape radiation. If the passenger sitting next to you on the plane has some in his briefcase, you're in trouble. 7 In 1968 a B52 bomber carrying plutonium crashed in Greenland; 500 involved in the clear-up campaign fell ill and 90 are now suffering from cancer. 8 Don't mess with it. Plutonium clear-up campaigns have already cost somewhere around pounds 300m. 9 On the other hand if it's money you're after, plutonium could be just the thing. Three hundred grams recently found in the luggage of two Spaniards and a Colombian on a flight from Moscow to Munich could have fetched pounds 20m. That's why airlines always ask you if you've packed any electrical objects in your luggage. 10 But have no fear. In the last four months German police have seized weapons-grade plutonium four times, and we've only got 150kg of plutonium irradiating the European black market left to capture.

(Photograph omitted)

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