CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT: Ever met a rich Big Issue seller? Exactly

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AHOY! Captain speaking! And today I would like to start with a few words about the new Government initiative aimed at relieving poverty by identifying and tackling its many indicators, such as poor housing and education. This is an excellent and overdue approach, but I do feel that, in the interests of equality, there should also be a list of indicators for the rich. So, with ado, here are my Nine Tell-tale Signs that Someone is Not Without A Bob Or Two. 1) They are not much help with bus routes. 2) I've not found them that much use cashing personal cheques, come to that. 3) Unlike you, they do not loll on sofas, or stand around. They get on with it. 4) Actually, they don't stand a round very often, either, in my experience. 5) And they do tend to look over your shoulder when they're talking to you. 6) They don't sell The Big Issue. 7) And if you ask them the time, they go into a karate position. 8) One of their cars is always a convertible. 9) Not many of them are happy, you know. Thank you. Next!

BBRRNNGG! Ah, what would the week be without one of those wonderful insights into the world of Celebrity invariably vouchsafed by a telephone call from my showbiz correspondent, Ms Britt Bafter! "Captain! Liam Gallagher, drinking coffee! In Barnes! Danny Baker booed for leaving the Notting Hill premiere of the new and excellent documentary about The Clash early! Bee Gees to be honoured with a set of stamps on the Isle of Man, where they were born! And did you know, Captain, that more people would trust Dale Winton to sell them a pension than Iain Duncan-Smith, the Tory social security shadow? It's true, there's been one of those surveys. Alistair Darling, social security secretary, tied with Del Trotter from Only Fools And Horses. Sorry? The least trusted? Ah, yes. A tie between Geri Halliwell, Peter Mandelson and the late Robert Maxwell. Top? You need to ask? Sir Cliff, of course! Bye!" Remarkable. But who is this Danny Baker? Next!

MILLENNIUM. No, don't go! This is interesting, I promise you! Dogged readers will remember that the Captain is compiling the definitive list of Innovations That Didn't Define The Millennium But Were Jolly Useful Anyway; and here are a few more before I move on to the main and exciting business of this item: pre-stressed concrete, 1926; rotary clothes drying hoist, 1924; the croissant, 1683; the lamp post, 1669; and the first British cabbage,1539. But now, another cracker: The Captain's Millennium List of Captains! For, as you will be aware, the Captain has made a contribution to the past 1,000 years far outweighing the comparative modesty of his rank. And so, over the coming weeks, I am asking you to vote for your favourite Captain. Successful nominations will be recognised by the award of one of my exclusive black and silver effect Captain Moonlight Badges. Now, to get you going, stand back for the Captain's Top Twelve Captains Of The Millennium (it would have been 13, but modesty, etc): 1) Captain Haddock. 2) Captain Sensible. 3) Captain Corelli. 4) Captain Pugwash. 5) Captain Beefheart. 6) Captain Bligh. 7) Captain Hook. 8) Captain Bobby Moore. 9) Captain Cook. 10) Captain Scott. 11) Captain Kirk. 12) Captain Mainwaring. Over to you!

BBRRNNGG! Goodness, who can this be Calling The Captain now? Well, strain my Brussels, it's Ms Cher D Currency, Moonlight Common Market correspondent! "Captain! I think your readers might be interested in the first real test of the incorruptibility or otherwise of the new European Commissioners! In times past, you would be amazed how many of them found themselves in London on official business in the late autumn and somehow found time in their busy schedules to pitch up for a day's shopping in Harrods! Keep your good eye open, Captain!" Remarkable. Come October-November, I shall have a man watching every door! Next!

CUCUMBER. That's what it is, in the picture over there. Sorry? You thought cucumbers were long and thin? How quaint, how very unsundried of you! That, I will have you know, is a Crystal Apple cucumber. Not only that, but it is a Crystal Apple cucumber similar to the one that helped make up the five salad vegetables that secured third prize for the sister of Mr Howitt, our production editor here, in the Eastney and Milton Allotment Holders' Autumn Show; and helped secure Mr Howitt a Moonlight Badge for a most arresting entry in the Captain's My Claim To Fame competition. Almost as arresting, indeed, as this week's winner, Ms Higgins of Hyde, who has submitted photocopies for both her Children's Newspaper National Handwriting Test Award of Merit and her Cadbury National Essay Competition Certificate of Merit, and also claims a slight acquaintance, many years ago, with Tom Wilkinson, the actor. Well done, Ms Higgins: Badge!

BBRRNNGG! The telephone, a stentorian voice over a background of tinkling china and homespun advice delivered with loud flat vowels: yes, it's my political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, calling from Harrogate! "Captain! Important Liberal Democrat policy decision! Following the indisposition of 15 party stewards here who went out to a restaurant and all had chicken, it is now laid down that members of the Parliamentary party are no longer allowed to order the same thing from the menu! Unless Charles says Tony says they can, of course. Speaking of which, after this scone, I'm moving off to Bournemouth. Toodle pip!" Remarkable. Next!

TRANSPORT News. And it's here at last! After many months of mishaps, alarms and excitements, I finally, today, publish, down there, a photograph of what might be the least used bus stop in Britain, between Lewes and Newhaven. just where you turn off to Kingston, kindly supplied by my most patient reader, Ms Swann of Newhaven. Thank you, Ms Swann. You shall have a Bar to your Badge as soon as I can work out what that Bar should be. And what a fine photo! Meanwhile, my transport correspondent, Euston Temple- Meads, tells me that he has great news about the Tory party conference in Blackpool. Yes, Virgin Trains are completely confident that there will be none of the unfortunate hiccoughs that marred the smooth progress of New Labour in general, and Mr J Prescott in particular, last year! So that's all right, then. Just remember where you read it first!

BBRRNNGG! Goodness, it's Ms Britt Bafter with a Celebrity Update! "Captain! Thursday night found me at the Metropolitan, in Old Park Lane, for the launch of The 100 Best Album Covers, chosen by noted designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell. Album covers, Captain. You probably know them as Long Player sleeves. Deliciously retro! Bill Wyman was there, and a member of Supertramp! I can't remember what the Supertramp man's favourite cover was, but Bill, eschewing a plug, despite my prompting, for Sticky Fingers, also the name of his chain of restaurants, went for one which had Howling Wolf sitting in a rocking chair. Summed it all up, he said. Yes. And he's got a very soft handshake, Captain. Bye!" Thank you, Britt. Most interesting. Next!

AT LAST! Yes, that's right, we're rapidly approaching the end of another typically provocative, punchy column, which means that it must be time for my Moonlight Miscellany, an enticing ragout of this, that and the other. And first, a bit of late news from Lichfield, where, some weeks ago now, a break-down truck crashed into the camouflaged Army truck it was sent to rescue. Next, this week's top mail order offer is the "pine loo library" offered by House of Bath, elegantly combining a loo roll holder and book rack, available in cream or pine, pounds 29.95. Bottom too big? Break down that fat with a blend of fennel essential oil with lavender. Mix 10ml of sweet almond oil with five drops of fennel and lavender, then, once a week, massage firmly into the buttocks, using a pummelling motion. Now, another new series, Captain Moonlight's What's That All About? So, tell me, why don't we have road hauliers any more? Why are they all deliverers of logistical support now? And why do the people in health food shops always look so pale and wan? Finally, this week's entry from the Captain's Common Place Book comes from a Prussian, Blucher, hero of Waterloo, on his first visit to London: "Was fur plundern". Which translates as: "What a place to plunder!" Bye!

PSSSST! Journalists travelling to the Labour Party's Bournemouth conference today will be greeted by the familiar sight of Dr Ali Campbell, the legendary bagpipe-playing Yorkshire Scotsman policy pedlar, offering spinning herrings at a very persuasive price. No? All right, it's a Mr Tony Blair trying to raise the extra pounds 45 a month he needs to keep his two promising sons in full-time education. No? Damien Hirst in reflective mood after being expelled from New York? OK, it's a Russian fishmonger outside Moscow. It is. AFP