Captain Moonlight; Keep telling yourself it's gonna be fun

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The Independent Online
PERMISSION to come alongside? Thank you. Now, closely studying, as is my way, a copy of the Financial Times over the shoulder of a rather grumpy fellow on the train last week (sorry, but he would keep turning the pages too quickly!) I was particularly taken by a report expressing worries that Britain was not attracting as many big investors as it might. I think I can help here, as an unconventional approach often pays dividends (!). Here follows the Captain's Top Nine Tips For Attracting Inward Investment. 1) Make it fun! When potential investors arrive at the airport, let's get those chaps holding up their names on placards to dress up as Morris Dancers and jig around a bit. 2) Entertainment can be a clincher. Bernard Manning always goes down well, and, if you're in the area, the Cabaret Club in Oldham has quite a reputation. 3) Actually, talking of the North, here is a case where positive thinking and action can turn a problem into a solution. You will have read about the North emptying as its population moves south: why not give your investor Salford? 4) If you feel the investors are not quite grasping all the benefits of your company, talk much more loudly and a lot more slowly. This often helps. 5) Probably better, though, not to arrange a meeting for them with John Prescott. 6) Jonathan Aitken, on the other hand, is very good at this sort of thing, and he's out really quite soon now. 7) Have you ever thought of hypnotism? 8) Foreigners, I find, are tremendously impressed by our Royal Family. I should be glad, as a help to your presentation wotsit, to loan out one of my 17 copies of 50 Golden Years, a video celebrating the Queen's golden wedding, for a nominal amount, say 12 guineas. 9) And more than that: I should like to announce now that anyone investing more than pounds 2bn in this country will receive one of my prized Moonlight Badges. Roll up!

BBRRNNGG! Ah, yes, the testy trill of the telephone, and, on it, my remarkable showbiz correspondent, Ms Britt Bafter. "Captain, Bono!" Thank you, I say. "No, Captain," continues Britt, "Bono, you must know him, the top man with legendary Irish rock band, U2. There he was, in California, wandering along, minding his own business, when he was asked by one of the local down-and-outs for a small donation. Bono promptly handed over $200. The beggar looked up, startled, and began to stutter out his thanks until he recognised who his benefactor was, which appeared to change his attitude slightly, as he then said: `Jesus, is that it? How tightassed can you get?' Unbelievable, Captain!" I replace the receiver in ruminative mood. You will have seen my celebration up there of today's splicing of good old Posh and Becks; but the experience of poor Bonio, I'm sure you'll agree, does demonstrate that it's not all fun, being a superstar. Next!

BBRRNNGG! Gracious, the telephone, again, and, on it this time, my assiduous media correspondent, Russell Nib. "Captain!" he tells me, "you've got a new editor!" On investigation, this proves to be absolutely correct. The last one, a nice chap, has gone, and now Janet Street-Porter is in charge. She seems very nice, too; and not without a certain acumen where newspapers are concerned, despite the sneers from the old and envious and uninformed. Why do I say this? I say this because the Captain has been appointed her special adviser. He has, too! I went to see her with a few suggestions, and she said when she wanted my advice, she would ask for it. Oi! Thank you. Sorry? My hat, up there? No, no connection at all with the new Editor's fondness for rambling. Dogged readers will know I've been rambling for years. To the hills!

JUST Mind Your Manners With Captain Moonlight. Today, conscious that the boating season is upon us with a vengeance, I have some advice about When To Call. As soon as a yacht is in harbour, and the ensign is flying at the stern, calls may be paid to those on board. The ensign is a sign that the party is "at home". It is taken down if they are absent for a day or more, and is flown again directly they step on board on their return, but if they are gone only for a short sail or a row it is not taken down. Speaking of flags, quite a common mistake is to lower the burgee, as well as the ensign, to half mast on the occasion of mourning. This is quite wrong: the ensign only should be at half mast, the burgee should never be lowered. Another point which should always be borne in mind is that it is also quite wrong for any of the yachting party ever to go beyond the foc'sle hatch; the space beyond that belongs to the crew entirely, and should never be invaded. Thank you.

KKERRPPLLOPP! Yes, that's the sound of a Letter to the Captain hitting the veneer, narrowly avoiding the illuminated pencil sharpener in the shape of Blackpool Tower. It's from Mr Jenkins of Kensington. "Dear Captain," he writes. "Not everyone who goes to Glastonbury is in the first rocket stage of their salad days, you know. I myself have accumulated a very respectable number of years, yet I was there, `getting down' to Miss Love and her remarkable band, Hole, not to mention the Manics and the Chems. But I did have one disappointment. Approaching the vendor of an interesting- looking magazine called Green Anarchist, I noticed the legend in the top corner of its front page, `Free to Pensioners'. When I demanded my free copy, the vendor, a tad impatiently, I thought, pointed out that it said, in fact, `Free to Prisoners'. Rather embarrassing. Yours aye, D Jenkins." My sympathies, Mr Jenkins, please accept an exclusive black-and-silver enamel-effect Moonlight Badge in the hope that it will in some way soften this unfortunate encounter with raw youth. Next!

BBRRNNGG! Busy, busy, busy! This time it's Miss Una Tributable, my redoubtable political correspondent. "Captain! From tiny beginnings, great political movements grow! And I think I detect such a small beginning, the first fissure in the mighty monolithic monster that is New Labour. A revolt is afoot, Captain, and you can judge its seriousness by the identity of its leader!" So just who might this Danton, this Havel, this Mandela be, I ask? "Ben Bradshaw, Captain, the young member for Exeter, whose previously unswerving devotion to the project has been a matter of awe even in the innermost nooks and crannies of Millbank!" And what it is, exactly, that has turned even young Bradshaw into the path of dissent, I ask? Freedom of information, Ulster, the Lords, cronyism, Kosovo, the passport crisis? "None of those, Captain. It's this plan to introduce on-the-spot fines for cyclists! He's put down an early-day motion protesting against `rough justice'!" I replace the receiver, warmed once more by the thought that while there are people like Bradshaw about, democracy truly will be secure. Next!

WHAT? The other picture? That, I will have you know, is Mrs Davis of Baldock, MBH (Moonlight Badge Holder), providing further evidence of the existence of the Moonlight Badge, an existence that some cynical observers have sought to question. Nice hat, Mrs D! Sorry? The Captain pursuing some sort of anti-youth "agenda"? Bah! You should know that I have received an e-mail from a teenager! I have: Miss Magnavacca of Walton-on-Thames says the column is "quite funny", too. Take a Badge, Miss M, even if you are the niece of Mr Hicks of Sport, who also looks after the Captain's fish tank. A new, young reader! Onwards and upwards! Next!

KAPOW! Yes, it's my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a sizzling, scorching assemblage of all that's best in British journalism. And first, the Captain's Competition to discover your tips on Life, a la that song which is very popular with the young folk at the moment. This week's Badge goes to Mr Harvey of Petersfield, who submits for general application the advice on the back of a box of Swan Vestas, "Keep in a dry place and away from children". Wise, Mr Harvey, and true. More next week! Next, worrying news from Herts: a police decision to keep cell flaps closed so that prisoners cannot hang themselves from the hinges is preventing them from seeing if their captives are trying to kill themselves in the first place. Next, did you know that a crocodile can't stick its tongue out? Congratulations: Mr Terry Hunt, 80, who is the world nettle eating champion after consuming 38ft of them in Marshwood, Dorset. Commiserations: Mr Charles Felder, 73, of Dallas, who died after the cleaner unplugged his life-support machine so she could use the vacuum cleaner. Bye!

BLOOGLBLOP! A typically forthright Deputy Prime Minister at the opening of the new bicycle lane in Goole Baths. No? All right, it's Mr Sid Zzizzi making a break for France after some bad news about his passport renewal. All right, it's some Italian off Portofino trying to make the Guinness Book of Records.