CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT: Ninety-five things we can do without in ninety- six

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YOU HAVE had enough of 1995. You have had enough of its silly fads, foibles and obsessions. But you need a last, cathartic, liverish wallow in it all before you enter 1996 cleansed and ready to smile grimly on the the next set of tedious banalities and inanities. You need Captain Moonlight's traditional, time-honoured list of things from the old year we do not want to see, hear or generally be bothered by in the next. Last year it was 94 things we didn't want to see in 95. This year, yes, yes, you're catching on, it is 95 things we don't want to see in 96. You will have two questions. First: what will I do at the end of 2000? Answer: listen, don't try to be so terribly clever, nobody likes a clever-clogs. Second: do my lists have any effect? Answer: who now remembers those 3D thingies you had to stare at and I never quite got the hang of? Quite. Well, no, I didn't do quite so well with baseball hats and talking in lifts; you must surely be impressed, though, with what I achieved in the matter of Stephen Fry. But enough of this blathering: on with the motley! The 95 things the Captain doesn't want to see in 96 are:

1. The Queen of Hearts in socks and coat and trainers with head down emerging from some vital rendezvous or other

2. People bleating on about the demise of the old blue passport, this year's red telephone box

3. Another article about the stagnant house market

4. Another article about how we're working too hard

5. Another article about how I used to work too hard but now I've "downshifted"

6. Everyone complaining about stress. Don't people pull themselves together any more?

7. Riverdance

8. That dog, Dempsey. Come on. Did it look harmless to you?

9. And that cat, Humphrey, the Downing Street wanderer which returned to give the Prime Minister a High Office Hasn't Removed My Delightful Sense Of Humour Opportunity. You'll never convince me it was the same cat, either

10. Musical collaborations with the dead by rather less talented descendants or elderly men who used to be in the Beatles

11. Rather less talented Essex boys and Mancunians pretending to be the Beatles

12. The phrase "Revenge is a dish best eaten cold"

13. People being nasty to poor Janet Street-Porter

14. People who think, mistakenly, that they can imitate convincingly Australian, American, German or Italian accents

15. People who think that otherwise banal remarks become funny when related in an unconvincing Australian, American, German or Italian accent

16. People in corduroys or pearls who talk non-stop and very, very loudly in public places to their small children, who almost always are called Thomas and pay absolutely no attention

17. Use in newspaper articles of the word "hey", as in "But, hey, who's counting?" Often used quite near

18. Sad, as in "sad person", and

19. Or what?, as in "sad or what?", most often by people who also use the American colloquial repetitive construction in conversation, eg

20. "Is that good or is that good?", because they can't think of anything else to say and always end a sentence with a question

21. Imran and Jemima Khan and their struggle to reconcile East and West

22. Another man writing a book about how his hobby is better than sex

23. Another man writing a perhaps true memoir about how he once shoplifted a tin of cling peaches

24. Another angry Celtic novelist with a f...ing grim vision

25. People who make verbs out of nouns without so much as a by your leave, eg "shoplifted" and "glamourise"

26. Those pictures of company bosses taken after their general meetings showing them doing something ever more elaborate with their product

27. All that talk designed to glamourise said company bosses, such as "major players", "movers and shakers", "head honchos" and the like

28. Constitutional experts, who, of course, can bang on endlessly with impunity because we don't actually have a constitution. Actually, while we're at it, let's have a ban, too, on all these

29. Dons writing all these articles in newspapers. Too many of you. Just get on with your day job

30. The expression "day job", as in "don't give up the day job"

31. O J Who?

32. Fleet Street's cheap fascination with Cherie Blair's wardrobe. Did you see what she was wearing in Australia, by the way?

33. Jane Austen

34. The cheapening of her message with expansive displays of Georgian uplift. And is it true that

35. Pamela Anderson is being lined up for an adaptation of Mansfield Park?

36. Another article beginning with "It is a truth universally acknowledged that..."

37. Journalists ringing up Terry Major-Ball

38. And Barbara Cartland

39. Columnists who write about their children

40. The new teeth of Martin Amis

41. The smile of Anthea Turner

42. The recipes of Delia Smith

43. Listen, I am a great admirer of Hugh Grant

44. Stories about whole towns running out of cranberries because of 42

45. Stories about groups of women working in the same place becoming pregnant

46. The expression "Get a life"

47. Interviews with actors. All gone too far. Much too far. Allow me to quote from Emma Thompson's latest: "We need to be rewarded for pain. We need to know that going through pain is a good thing." Blimey

48. Those little goatee beard things

49. W & J Graham's Port, my former sponsors, who failed to invite me up the Douro

50. Anyone who has a bad word to say about The Glenlivet, a 12-year-old single malt of tremendous distinction whose distillers, I see, have some bottles that might be made available for newspaper competition winners

51. People who knock Robson and Jerome

52. People on television arts programmes talking about "honesty", "integrity", "authenticity" and "quintessential"

53. Politicians calling John Humphrys "John", and Sue MacGregor "Sue", matily, on the BBC Radio Today programme

54. The Today Personality of the Year. John Major came second, you know. He did

55. People who whinge on endlessly when the BBC seeks to make Radio 3 and Radio 4 more relevant to today, particularly when they introduce Radio 1 and Radio 2 types

56. Radio 1 and Radio 2 types who are ruining Radio 3 and Radio 4

57. The phrase "more relevant to today"

58. Demos

59. Articles about the tight-knit community of the East End of London which include the phrase "but they never harmed their own"

60. Interviews with Mad Frankie Fraser in which he displays the pliers with which he used to conduct impromptu dental sessions

61. Tight-knit communities

62. Stories about sales. Where, how much, and people queueing up with flasks for days and for how many years now?

63. Soap operas

64. Yes, including the Royal Family. Couldn't Prince Edward elope and marry that PR girl in secret? Couldn't he, please?

65. American children in films and on television. Avoid, at all costs, a programme early in the morning featuring a large purple dinosaur called Barney and his winsome young friends

66. Pigs in films

67. The gender debate

68. The phrase "An accident waiting to happen"

69. And "that would be like turkeys voting for Christmas"

70. The pillorying of that sensible fellow, Nicholas Soames

71. The hounding of Virginia Bottomley, heritage secretary, into providing endless photo opportunities with blow-up puppets and bicycles

72. An end to this establishment conspiracy against Mohamed al-Fayed, shopkeeper and would-be newspaper proprietor, so that we wouldn't have to keep reading about it

73. Spin doctors. The public has a right to know

74. Those silly little knapsacks and satchels which appear to be high fashion

75. Those enormous knapsacks which holidaying German students keep rubbing into my face on the London underground

76. Holidaying German students

77. Repetition of the ridiculous canard that Germans don't have a sense of humour

78. The adjective "spooky"

79. The use of "you" as a first person substitute, particularly by television reviewers as in "as you watched, you wondered..."

80. Creme fraiche

81. Complaints about traffic jams. Don't use the car

82. Keys on a ring attached to a trouser loop

83. Sandals with socks

84. The lottery. I blame it for everything. Look at the weather, for example. And why do we never hear about any rich people winning?

85. All these interviews with squaddies and other ranks. Wouldn't have happened in the Duke's day

86. Talking at breakfast

87. Talking on public transport before 10 am

88. Post modern irony, including

89. Men in wigs playing easy listening. Bring back Bert Kampfaert, I say

90. All wine tasting the same

91. Ordeals. People are always reliving them, don't you find?

92. And there's still four years to go

93. Bone marrow on menus, often with croutons

94. Middle England

95. This Government. Mind you, New Labour doesn't seem much fun, does it? Sorry? Oh, very well: A Happy New Year to you all.

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