Captain Moonlight

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TAKING no chances: Conservative Party worker Orlando Tollemache shows off the sealed container in which the chairman Jeremy Hanley will be kept until next month's party conference. Inside are all creature comforts bar a telephone. 'We just couldn't take a chance on that,' said Orlando. Hanley will communicate by passing notes under the door. No, I'm making it up, honestly. Actually, its Liberal Democrat worker Eric Eager showing off the venue for next week's party conference. All right, all right, an old joke. Joke about the Labour Party conference? They're not allowed since Tony Blair took over. Those among you paying attention will have noticed the word 'Everest' on the door. This is, in fact, the stainless steel lavatory that will be installed nearly 20,000ft up Everest for the convenience of the British Mount Everest Medical Expedition, which will scale Everest in October. Sorry? Well, no, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing did not have one, and pretty chilly it was, too. Hence the expression, Sherpa Tensing up. Besides, privacy is important, and there are just so many people wandering about on Everest these days. The expedition will, of course, be taking plenty of loose change. No, there probably isn't piped music, so we can forget The Sound of Music gags. Let's just hope nobody gets stuck inside.

Th Captain's catch-up service

YES, IT'S time to ponder with the Captain some of the news you might have missed last week . . . Alice Crader, of Jackson, Mississippi, hasn't spoken since Elvis died. She has vowed to stay silent until there is concrete proof Presley is dead. Five years ago her husband, Jim, got fed up and divorced her. 'He packed his bags and said he was moving to Florida. We haven't heard from him since,' said Alice's sister, Freda . . . There was a controlled explosion in Southampton when council officials decided a package from a Spanish city containing a twinning invitation might be a bomb . . . Shelves put up with the wrong bolts fell on an assistant returning books to the DIY section of Frimley Green library, Surrey . . . Men who make girls under 18 pregnant in a village in central Ghana are being fined dollars 50, one sheep and three bottles of gin by the chief. The girls have to pay dollars 25 . . . A rail commuter, who minutes before had apparently clinched a deal on his mobile telephone, was asked for the loan of it by an unwell passenger. He demurred for some time before confessing it was a toy . . . Marshlands Captain the Fifth, of the winning team in the One Man and His Pig contest at the Royal Lancashire Show, involving an obstacle course, hurdles and time trials, has been bought by the Emperor of Japan for the imperial stud . . . And, finally, some confusion at the Central Hotel, Glasgow, where there were two Mr Knapps staying. Callers for Jimmy were instructed to ask

for 'the Mr Knapp not from Pennsylvania'.

Home, home on the mantelpiece

THE CAPTAIN is ever alert on your behalf to nice little earners. So, when I saw that an old bisque porcelain doll called Daisy had been sold for nearly pounds 10,000 at Christie's, my thoughts turned immediately to all those lovely little fluffy dolls constantly on offer in magazines. Like my especial favourite, pictured here, Savannah. Just over 16 inches high, Savannah, I have to tell you, is 'as fresh as the wide-open prairie, and warm as the sun-drenched skies'. That is an eleven-button prairie calico blouse, and the rustic split log bench on which her dainty little foot rests is included at no extra charge above pounds 79 (p&p inc).

Should your taste be a little more robust, there is always a 16in Elvis in black jumpsuit with adjustable microphone, for pounds 99.95; or Marilyn Monroe, or the crew of Star Trek, or Bill and Ben, or James Bond (with Goldfinger and Oddjob) on a plate edged with 22- carat gold, all for around pounds 20.

An adornment to any home, obviously; but an investment, too? Christie's were very cagey, to be honest. The firms making them preferred to stress the attractiveness of the product: 'We promote the product, Charles, because it's beautiful, will stand the test of time and will be worth passing down,' said a spokesman in Philadelphia for the Franklin Mint, which shifts dollars 600m worth of plates a year in the United States and has 8 million people in over 20 countries on its mailing list. What sort of people are they? The Franklin Mint and the Hamilton Collection (of Florida), creators of Savannah, agreed that they were 'people, Charles, from all walks of life'. Well, I toyed with Meagan Rose, 'from a special garden up in heaven', fully-poseable beanbag body floating on a fluffy cloud scented with baby powder, only pounds 39.95, but in the end it had to be Savannah. I hope they haven't run out. There is a space on the Moonlight mantlepiece next to my Lladro figurine, my oil bubble lamp and the snow scene of the bridge at Avignon. Do you think, by the way, that she looks a little like the Duchess

of York?

ONE OF the Captain's runners had lunch with Eddie George, the Governor of the Bank of England, last week, and was struck by the way he prefaced every question with the phrase 'complete idiot boy', as in 'consider me a complete idiot boy, but I always thought that . . .' My man was impressed. 'Charming fellow. Son of a Carshalton Post Office Savings Bank clerk, you know. Lives modestly in Dulwich. Retired the Bank's official Roller and makes do with a Jag. Religious. Speaks fluent Russian badly. Sails, plays bridge, played scrum half, rugby league club once tried to sign him. Much more autocratic than he seems. Speaks with a low voice, smokes like a chimney . . .' Hold up, I said, the Governor of the Bank of England was almost signed by a rugby league club? Can such things be? Which one? Has the North missed out on, say, Eddie George, chunky Bradford Northern points machine? I rang the Bank. They promised to ask. They did, but Eddie couldn't remember. Someone must. Call me.

SOCCER latest. No, no, not another piece in praise of the intellectual and emotional stimulations of the beautiful game. This is about Arsenal. Bad start to the season, not scoring enough goals, victory in Cyprus midweek soured by row with hosts, you get the picture. But now their luck could be about to change: Roger Levitt, the Captain hears, has secured a box at Highbury. That's right, Roger Levitt, the convicted fraudster with the moustache, last reported here for his amusing claim to be a folk hero after paying his debt to society, if not the pounds 34m owed to his creditors, with 180 hours community service making toys in Hackney. Duane, my demi-monde correspondent, tells me these boxes can set you back as much as pounds 40,000 a season. Surely some of Levitt's seemingly unending good fortune will rub off on his team. Captain's suggestion: have a word with him about defence, lads.

BORED with politics? Feel there's been no real thrill since Communism fell and Jeffrey Archer went away? Well, the Captain has news that may just carry you through the conferences. Anarchy is back. Next month anarchists from all over Europe will arrive in London for a 10-day festival modestly entitled Anarchy in the UK: Ten Days That Shook The World. But this is not the boring old anarchy, this is postmodern anarchy: fun, fun all the way. On Sunday, 23 October, for example, thousands of anarchists will gather in Parliament Square for an attempt to raise the Palace of Westminster 500 feet into the air. Funny] There will also be comedy performances, film shows, rock concerts, raves and, praise the lord, George Melly.

Anything to interrupt the fun? Well, there's a mass rally and march against the Criminal Justice Bill, and the presence of some original Spanish anarcho-syndicalists is threatened; I'm a little worried, too, about the potential for humour in the German anarchists, although the squatting exhibition being laid on by the Berlin section sounds promising. And the football match in Hyde Park between the Pacifist Anarchists and the Non/Anti-Pacifist Anarchists should be a real cracker.

I AM about to leave for a well- deserved lunch, red beef, steamed pudding, when my zealous political correspondent, Miss Una Tributable, calls with hot news about Baroness Chalker, the Minister for Overseas Development. 'Fed up with it, been doing it too long,' says Una, who tends to talk in sharp bursts between coughs. 'And she had a very nasty experience in Uganda in July. Visited the Kidepo game park with President Museveni. President's plane, light aircraft, crashed on landing, Museveni fell on top of her. Not been that keen on flying since, understandably. Anyway, the position of director general of Save the Children has just become vacant, and the word is that Lynda wants it.' Apparently, last week, they talked of little else at Save the Children headquarters. The Captain tries to contact the baroness, who is in Harare. She rings back, late at night, at pains to deny the report, happy to serve as long as John wants her to, you know the form. Funny how these rumours start, isn't it? Oh, well. I wonder if the Princess of Wales would be interested in the job?

THE CAPTAIN'S eye was taken by that advert in the Independent from an American law firm offering salaries of up to pounds 400,000 a year for new partners to set up a London office. You will know that I myself received the finest legal training that the University of Oxford could provide; not unnaturally an income of that size, believed to be the largest ever advertised, has its attractions. So I rang up. I am not, though, an easy catch. Big money is all very well, I said, but what about perks? A parking space, for example; and what about luncheon vouchers? The man at the headhunters laughed nervously, and said he would ask. He called back to say there were perks, but he couldn't say what they were. Your loss, guys.

TROUBLE with clerical staff, I'm afraid, at the MSF union, which has started a section for priests. (Yes, yes, lots of jokes about dog-collar workers, shorter sermons and free collection bargaining.) The MSF's problem is that clergy opposed to women priests have signed up, including the delightfully named Rev Stephen Trott, Rector of Pitsford with Boughton, Northants, who is now an MSF organiser. Asked how he could defend both the rights of women priest members and members of the Trott persuasion, Chris Ball, MSF national officer, replied: 'It is certainly very obvious that this is an issue of considerable complexity.' Quite. We should all pray for him.

(Photograph omitted)