Captain Moonlight

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Fantastic to be with you again! Very nice break, thank you, popped over to Tuscany for the week. Very hilly, Tuscany. A few Italians left, actually. They're the ones not wearing shorts. Naples? Siena and die, I should say, particularly if you fail to accelerate away from the lights in under 0.2 seconds after they change to green. But enough chatter, it's time for the highly persuasive mix of news, comment and analysis unique to this column. How about a typical Tuscan joke? Which famous saint was troubled by an allergy? St Francis of Asneezy. Oi! Forward!

Fantastic to be with you again! Very nice break, thank you, popped over to Tuscany for the week. Very hilly, Tuscany. A few Italians left, actually. They're the ones not wearing shorts. Naples? Siena and die, I should say, particularly if you fail to accelerate away from the lights in under 0.2 seconds after they change to green. But enough chatter, it's time for the highly persuasive mix of news, comment and analysis unique to this column. How about a typical Tuscan joke? Which famous saint was troubled by an allergy? St Francis of Asneezy. Oi! Forward!

Ties!

Did you see that doctors in New York are warning against tieing your tie too tight because it can hurt your eyes? Raises the blood pressure, apparently. I'm extremely grateful, as I've been wondering what's been making my eyes water for quite some time. After more thought, I've also made the following important modifications to my style of dress and I can't tell you how much better I feel. 1. Braces. Friends are remarking on how much more husky my voice is since I learnt how to use the tightener/untightener thingies. 2. Did you know, by the way, how easy it is to sound like John Major? That's right, just tuck that shirt inside firmly! 3. The posture has suffered slightly, but I feel much more at ease with myself since I started taking the hanger out. 4. How tight are your shoelaces? 5. Tip gained from rueful experience: never combine button-fly boxers with a string vest: too hurried dressing can leave you bent double. 6. Similarly, don't get the bottom of the vest caught on your sock suspenders or you will find yourself raising your knee every time you lift your arm. 7. Finally, always remember which trouser leg you've just filled. Thank you. Next!!

Transport!

And this, as regular readers will readily recognise, with a sigh, is the column that really cares about transport. Which is why the Captain is so heartened by a rush of sightings of Lord Irvine, until recently our much cherished Lord Chancellor, on London omnibuses. Already spotted on the 159 (Streatham to Marble Arch), I am delighted to add the 23 (Westbourne Park to Liverpool Street), and the 211 (Waterloo to Hammersmith). On board the last, he confided, knowledgeably, to a fellow passenger who had recognised him, "It's a straight route right down the King's Road." Splendid. More sightings, please! Extra points for new route; I'm showing you a couple of buses to help with the identification. Excellent. On!

Lift!

Actually, that reminds me: today I am introducing a brand new feature, I Shared A Lift With A Celebrity, launched by my mother-in-law, who once travelled two floors with the late Gregory Peck. Yours, please!

Belgium!

More news from Belgium, whose love affair with the chip the Captain has lately been so assiduously chronicling: who can forget the successful attempt in the town of Kelmis to create the world's biggest bag of chips? (In connection with which, by the way, Ms King of Nottingham writes to point out that Belgians do not put vinegar on them. Thank you, Ms King.) And now, from Mr Macdonald of Brussels, comes this: "Captain! Did you know that the longest eyebrow hairs in the world belong to Peit Satter, a 57-year-old hairdresser from Merksem, near Antwerp? His eyebrow hairs, when extended, measure 12 centimetres. He is also the owner of a moustache measuring 1.95 metres, which is the second longest in Europe." Remarkable. Mr Macdonald, please accept the position of Moonlight Belgium Special Correspondent and one of the Captain's much sought-after black and silver enamel effect Moonlight Badges. Next!

Vegetable!

Time now, courtesy of Mr Mudge of the Processed Vegetable Growers' Association, for my popular vegetable in-depth information slot! And today, in keeping with our current cross-channel interest: the sprout! Ready? 1. Weight for weight, the sprout contains three times the level of vitamin C of an orange. 2. They were first recorded in Northern Europe during the early 13th century and took their name from Brussels, where they became particularly popular. 3. During the early 18th century the name Brussels sprouts was used to describe a tall cabbage cultivated in England which sported buds and shoots along the length of the stem as well as at the top of the plant. 4. Following their popularity here and their widespread establishment as an allotment- and farm-grown crop, today's homegrown sprouts are now referred to as British sprouts. 5. The British Sprout Growers Association runs a campaign called "A Sprout is for life, not just for Christmas". 6. This year's sprout festival is being held at Chipping Camden between 31 October and 2 November. Well. Did you know they were now called British sprouts? What do the Belgians make of that, pray? Mr Macdonald: to work!

Flute!

Moving next door, the Captain was most taken to see Mr Lance Armstrong, the famous American bicyclist, celebrating his victory in the Tour de France by sipping champagne from a fluted glass. Has this man no sense of modishness? Doesn't he watch sport? When you win, matey, you take the bottle, not the glass, you shake it and then jump up and down spraying it over everybody. Sipping, from a flute! Whatever next: 1. A quick handshake and then a brisk jog, head bowed, back to the centre circle? 2. The revival of the thumbs-up? 3. Long trousers? 4. Ties for belts? 5. Cotton? 6. Rattles? 7. Round prop forwards? 8. Round referees in black jackets? 9. Everyone playing really slowly and not very well? Next!

Tweet!

Well. Chaffinches in Essex, I see, have developed their own regional accent to attract mates. Their call, presumably, goes like this: "Innit! Innit! Innit!". Using your skill and judgement, identify where these birds are from: 1. Ayoop! Ayoop! 2. Oowarr! Oowarr! 3. Cee Yew Jimmee! Cee Yew Jimmee! 4. Miarse! Miarse! 5. Boahtcoomsin! Boahtcoomsin! 6. Atall! Atall! 7. Ozzoy! Sharon! 8. Veriflat! Veriflat! 9. Pastie! Pastie! 10. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! 11. Orlrite! Orlrite! Next! Next!

Stop Press!

Belgium has not one but two sandcastle festivals! One at Blankenberge, the other at Zeebrugge: both on now! Spades out! Present Buckets! Forward!

Charles Nevin is Captain Moonlight

email thingie: moonlight@ independent.co.uk

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