But Captain, Captain, I hear you implore, almost feverishly, what do we have to do to get our hands on this prized piece of peerlessness, this truly winning complement to the wardrobe of any lady or gentleman of discernment (and matchlessly versatile, with stunning earring and cufflink potential) which will really make you stand out from the crowd? Well, look upon it as the Captain's version of a Blue Peter Badge; it will be awarded to those lucky readers who make outstanding contributions in the battle to keep the Captain pre-eminent in the teeming field of postmodern diary columnists. Anecdotes, reflections, useful information, fascinating facts: all are welcome. Do not forget, either, that I am still compiling my Ultimate Moonlight Millennial List, which will give long overdue recognition to the 100 most important trivial events, happenings, innovations and inventions of these last 1,000 terrific years. Rush in your entry now, and a badge could be yours (just imagine the envy of your friends)!
BBRRNNGG! Goodness, a Call to the Captain already! And it is none other than my transport correspondent, Euston Temple-Meads. "Captain! An encounter on the Eurostar, Paris to London! Who should enter my economy class carriage but Lord Lamont of Lerwick, late Chancellor of the Exchequer! Anyway, a fellow traveller shouts out that it's nice to see the mighty travelling at the back, and Norman, cool as you like, replies, `I'm very good in economy', pauses professionally for a beat of two, and then adds, `especially when its my money!' Brought the carriage down, Captain! And you've got to admire the old boy's nerve, haven't you? Tell me again, how much did he spend on Black Wednesday trying to keep us in the Exchange Rate Mechanism?" Just the pounds 4bn, I tell him. Temple-Meads whistles, then wonders if there's any chance of a Moonlight Badge for his "little story". I ask him to detail the contents of his Lordship's bag of duty-free goodies. He cannot. The Captain has his standards: no badge!
KRAY, Reg. He, you will remember, was this column's favoured choice for Poet Laureate, for people's poet. Personable, knack of making people listen, way with a rhyme - brown bread/dead, for example. Alas, it was not to be. But the Captain is not a man for "might have beens". The new man, Motion, is clearly the next best choice. People, though, particularly his fellow poets, are being sniffy. One has even gone so far as to describe the appointment of Motion as, lyrically, "a bag of shite". Andrew is unlikely to be rattled by this; indeed, he might even take pride in it. Because, as I am sure you will all remember, it was a moving poem by Motion, graciously lent by him, which became the clarion call of this newspaper's award-winning campaign to get doggie-doo off our streets. The sniffers - who accuse Motion of such various crimes as lack of passion and failure to rhyme - might do worse than to consider the final couplet of his doo-doo effort: "On the one hand it's only shit; on the other, shit's shit/ and what we desire in the world is less, not more, of it." And best of luck with the Edward and Sophie poem, Andrew!
BBRRNNGG! Yes, it's another call to the clearing house of all that is choice in gossip! And this time, on the line, my showbiz correspondent, Ms Britt Bafter. "Captain, I've just been to this early morning launch for Sky's new youth career website! Vinnie Jones, Ewan McGregor! Really exciting! Any chance of a Moonlight Badge?" Hmmm. I suggest that the item needs a little more, how you say, pzazz, to merit a badge. "Well," replies Ms Bafter, "the fire alarm went off, and the sound on the presentation video was dodgy. Oh, and Elisabeth Murdoch spent most of the time canoodling on a sofa." Hmmm. I'm afraid I have to disappoint Ms Bafter in the matter of a badge: false fire alarms are, sadly, a frequent occurrence; it happens all the time here. Next!
KERRPLIP! Yes, that's the sound of an e-mail as it insinuates its way into the captainly computer thingie. It's from Mr Lymath of Calne, Wilts. "Dear Captain," he writes, "Regarding your suggestion that wild boars tend to carry on when the fugitive turns at right angles, may I add a caveat for the benefit of your readers? In the days when I kept pigs, I would often join them in a jog round their patch. After a few circuits (with me leading, and attempting to keep ahead of their jaws), they would apparently realise that they were on a loser. They would then stop and cut straight across to confront me head-on. Luckily, they enjoyed the apples and plums which I took the precaution of carrying, which is why I still have hands to type with." Thank you, Mr Lymath, the first Moonlight Badge is on its way! As it happens, I have just read that about 100 wild boar are living free on the Kent-Sussex border, where they are reported to have damaged cereal crops, caused road accidents, rooted among woodland bluebells and broken in to outdoor pig units to indulge in illicit relations with domestic sows. So take care out there, and remember, always carry a plum.
BBRRNNGG! MERCY, but my correspondents are keen this week! Now it's Ms Una Tributable, legendary political observer: "Captain! Wee Willie Hague's next bonding weekend for his MPs is going to be in Leeds! They'll need their jumpers up there! Any chance of a badge?" Certainly not, I tell her, after that foul slur on the Rimini of the West Riding. Next!
UNBELIEVABLE. That's just one description that has been applied to my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a thing of snippets and sundries. And first, Moonlight Crimewatch: Two men have appeared in court in Leicestershire accused of breaking into a house and stealing three left-footed slippers. Next, I note from the pages of the Evening Standard that a local insolvency practitioner has gone bankrupt. Next, Ron Swarbrick, of Eccles, was about to eat a piece of sponge cake when his son pointed out that the pattern on it bore an astonishing resemblance to Elvis Presley. "It's definitely him," said Ron, "You can see his hunched shoulders and quiff clearly. I'm a fan of the King, so this was very special." Finally, despite my appeal last week, and a number of attempts, no one has yet provided a convincing account of what the Lord Great Chamberlain actually does. So I have written to the Marquess of Cholmondeley to see if he knows himself. Could very well be a Moonlight Badge in it for him. Bye!
HEY, some of the lines in there are this long: Lisa Mona and Tad Crick, two of film's hottest young stars, pictured at Cannes welcoming guests to the party that followed the screening of their new movie, a remake of Brief Encounter entitled On Your Bike, Bitch. Worries are growing in Hollywood about the effects of a hectic lifestyle on the glamorous couple. No? All right, it's HM The Queen showing her new Scottish First Minister, D Dewar, the size of her sceptre. No? A Manchester barmaid demonstrating Roy Keane's overhead technique? Actually, it's some tour guides at an old fort in Maine. It is. ROBERT F BUKATY/AP