ASPIRE To A Better Lifestyle With Captain Moonlight. And this week's role model is Diane von Furstenberg, New York fashion designer. Diane, could you describe your personal lifestyle? "Eclectic, timeless and fluid." Diane, how do you relax? "I have a meditation room and I like to wander around my cacti garden." Diane, thank you. Next!
RUGBY League. Yes, all right, all right, trot out your tired old stereotypes and clever-clogs southern put-downs, pigeons, whippets, early baths, chippy northerners going through tight-lipped, hard-vowelled, and impenetrable local ritual, shorts too tight, and all that. I could respond with a lyrical evocation of grace and skill and speed wedded to power and sweat and pride, but, instead, try this: Viscount Cranborne. Yes, indeed, I do mean the former Leader of the House of Lords, heir to the Marquess of Salisbury, member of the mighty Cecil family, stout (in that pragmatic Cecil way) defender of the hereditary Lords, the very cynosure of urbanity, wit, culture and taste. He's a big St Helens fan. He is. I read about it on the web thingie. But this is not, as you know, a column that relies on second-hand information and idle, unchecked tittle-tattle. No. I telephoned him. I did. Well, he was modest about it, but I understand that this is the aristocratic way. Not so much a fan in the sense that he would be at Leeds to watch them triumph yesterday, but one who has "admired them from afar". What a gent! I suggested that this revelation might have mighty implications for the Tory vote in the town, but his Lordship thought this "to the highest degree unlikely". I also wondered why he had chosen St Helens as his team. "The local connection," replied his Lordship. I'm afraid I then rather let you down and had to confess ignorance. "One of the family married a Liverpool heiress in 1826," explained his Lordship. But of course. That's just the kind of style we understand at Knowsley Road. On!
MOONLIGHT Property of the Week: First, you will be interested to know that 15a Kensington Palace Gardens is on the market at last, competitively priced at pounds 35m. If that is going to stretch your pocket a little too much, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild is selling his apartment in Chesham Place for pounds 14m. Alternatively, you could look at my picture (left). This unusual property, right slap bang in the seething heart of ever-popular Tooting, full of potential but in need of a certain amount of sensitive refurbishment, is available as seen. Alternatively, you might like to knock it down and start again; planning permission for a three-storey development is available. But you'll have to bid over pounds 35,000. To advertise here: just send in your examples of more unusual properties and let the Captain do the rest!
BOOKMAKERS. A remarkable breed. I, for one, have always admired their cheery mien and way with check suiting. So it comes hard to enter a note of criticism. But all week I have been trying to get some odds on the improved chances of Mr Mohamed al Fayed, the Knightsbridge corner shop owner, gaining British citizenship now he has permitted the friendly little chap who coaches his club, Fulham, to take the England job, and what they are likely to shorten to if England beat Poland on 27 March. But would anyone give me any? William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Surrey: not a chance. Thank goodness, then, for Barry "Bazza" Dennis, the noted rails bookie, who had no trouble offering 12-1 against the old Harrodian becoming one of us before 2000, and 10-1 if we beat Poland. Thank you, Bazza! I am now trying to entice Mo into putting some money on quick, particularly as it might help to defray the outcome of a libel action Bazza is bringing against Mo's mag, Punch, for some unfriendly remarks about him last month. Next!
RHINO. Yes, it's the next instalment in the fascinating series that tells you exactly what to do if you closely encounter a dangerous animal. This week, we are in Kenya, where an old, gnarled, but (importantly) not too badly scarred Masai tracker is advising our redoubtable environment correspondent, Sir Geoffrey Lean, about lions and rhinos. Lions: don't run, because they will take you for prey. But don't stop, either, or they will assume you're planning something. Make eye contact, and saunter past, nonchalantly. Rhinos: this beast charges with its head down, eyes fixed to the ground. Wait calmly for the charge, then step to one side at the last moment, rather in the manner of a matador. Next week: the water buffalo.
NOW then, by popular demand, yes, the return of Moonlight Dictator Watch. It's been prompted by the reports last week that Napoleon's grandfather was a Mr Bayne from Perthshire who left for Corsica after the '45 rebellion. Hmmm. I have to say the Captain found this interesting, but not particularly surprising, as it follows a pretty well-worn pattern. Tamburlaine, for example, the legendary lame leader of the Asian hordes, had a grandfather, "Old Tam", from Morningside. Rather more recently, as one of my regular readers, Mr Long of Loughton, has pointed out, General Pinochet's grandfather was the Dublin-born admiral, Peter Neil "Pablo" O'Shea (P N O'Shea), who, with his contemporary, also of Irish blood, Bernardo O'Higgins, led Chile to victory in the war against Bolivia and Peru, 1878-80. Anyone anxious to research further in this field, would, I suggest, profit from a close examination of the antecedents of Adolf Hitler, for, as my picture (below) clearly shows, the late German Fuhrer was a keen exponent of Irish dancing. Next!
WHICH is my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany. And first, the Captain's Lenten Service. And I can reveal that the Archbishop of Canterbury has given up the drink for Lent, bless him, as has the Bishop of Rochester. Threshers, I understand, are being brave. More denials next week. Next, the Captain is delighted to nail the foul canard that David Montgomery, the former Mirror newspapers supremo, is a universally loathed figure. Over at the Express, an ex-employee, Rosie Boycott, turned all pale and trembly when she was told by her deputy, Chris Blackhurst: "Monty's dead. He bit somebody". Touchingly, it took Blackhurst quite some time to convince his shocked chief that he was talking about the sad end of his pet mongrel. Finally, this week's Top Trivialities: 1) Cat urine glows under a dim light. 2) Most golf caddies in Japan are women. Bye!
ALL right, move farther down the bus. It's not my father, it's my grandfather. Oi! Actually, it's Bill "DoubleO" Buffer, of Pudsey, one of the 250 retired train drivers who are "coming back into service" to help with the shortage that is so badly affecting the punctuality of our railway service. Well done, Bill! Sorry? Blimey, you're right. It's William Hague, little trucker! Something about less tax on lorry fuel, apparently. Poop, poop!