Captain Moonlight

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Ahoy! How are you? Excellent, excellent. I've had a week off. I have. There, you knew something was missing in your life last Sunday, didn't you, but you couldn't just place it. I went to Lancashire. Marvellous place. Somebody should write a book about it. Actually, I am. Publisher, please! And let's hope there's more response than the last time I asked. Don't these people want a life-affirming mega-best-seller packed with northern warmth, laughter, tears and fascinating information like there's more open-topped cars sold in Manchester than in the whole of Spain? Ah, well. Time for, yes, a waiter-and-fly joke! Waiter, Waiter, what's this fly doing in my soup? Looks like it's trying to get out, sir. Oi! Forward!

Ahoy! How are you? Excellent, excellent. I've had a week off. I have. There, you knew something was missing in your life last Sunday, didn't you, but you couldn't just place it. I went to Lancashire. Marvellous place. Somebody should write a book about it. Actually, I am. Publisher, please! And let's hope there's more response than the last time I asked. Don't these people want a life-affirming mega-best-seller packed with northern warmth, laughter, tears and fascinating information like there's more open-topped cars sold in Manchester than in the whole of Spain? Ah, well. Time for, yes, a waiter-and-fly joke! Waiter, Waiter, what's this fly doing in my soup? Looks like it's trying to get out, sir. Oi! Forward!

DIY!

What terrific news! Colin Mason, former Butlin's Redcoat, the man who set both Jimmy Tarbuck and Des O'Connor on their way, now employed at B&Q, is going to teach his fellow workers how to do in-store demonstrations! Marvellous. Now I know a man with such a distinguished pedigree is unlikely to need any help, but that's never stopped me. Ready? 1. The chainsaw routine with the banana in each ear needs a lot of practice. 2. Ditto the screwdriver and anglegrinder juggling. 3. Make sure that the volunteer from the audience to help with the two stepladders, the plank, and the wallpapering is game for a laugh. 4. I've always thought that drilling holes round a checkout girl stood up against some MDF while wearing a blindfold would pack them in. 5. You need to keep customers not involved well away from the six-aisle lawnmower rally. 6. Good curtain-raiser number: What Kind of Tool am I? 7. Leave them wanting more with Love letters in the Sandpaper Section, or When You Come Home Again To Nails. I thank you! Next!

Gracious me!

A letter! From a reader! Fire away, Mr Wright of Amesbury! "Captain! Whilst looking at the postcards displaying small ads in a newsagent's window, I came across the following: 'Lost. Ginger Tom. Been neutered. Answers to the name of Sally'." Thank you, Mr Wright, for sharing that with us. Please accept one of the Captain's highly sought and wrought black and silver enamel effect Moonlight Badges. Oh, and that's a memory-jogging carefully neutral cat up there in case anyone's near Amesbury. Next!

Interestinglyenough, while I was in Southport, jewel of the Lancashire coast, glittering diamond to the rich red ruby that is Blackpool, I came across a shop which seemed to have closed down, although I somehow didn't like to ask why. It was called Capone (UK) Ltd. Splendid. Did you know, by the way that Herman Melville was inspired to write Moby Dick after sitting on the beach at Southport? Next!

Fish!

Sorry, I'd almost forgotten about our fishtank readers' poll! You were invited, in a unique example of reader participation, to vote on whether you would like a model octopus or a model mermaid installed in my fishtank, the only virtual live webcam site in a Sunday newspaper. And, as you can see, the octopus got the nod! A big thanks to all who voted! Incidentally, I should like to take this opportunity to reassure readers that no prawn trawling takes place in the fishtank. Thank you. Next!

Gracious me (2)!

An email! From a reader! Fire away, Ms Helle of Bodø! "Hello, Captain Moonlight, I am very late, but I read IoS several weeks after date of publication. I take them home when they are due to be thrown in the dustbin... I am a librarian. A translation of your Swedish tongue-twister (22th December 2002): Sjuttiosju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes av sju sjuksköterskor = Seventy-seven seasick seamen (sailors) were nursed/taken care of by seven nurses. Sincerely Yours, Marianne Helle, Bodø (North of the Arctic Circle), Norway." Well. So that's where they all get to! Ms Helle: Badge!

Heal

Yourself With Captain Moonlight. And this is a really hot one! The Captain's Mum was going to this Greek physiotherapist who told her that the best thing to put on a burn was toothpaste! He did. So she tried it, and it works! Pass it on! More of your remedies, please! Next!

Transport!

Exciting! Allow me to quote from my favourite research engine, the Daily Star: "Cheeky road signs which flash a grin when drivers pass within the speed limit are raising a smile among motorists. They have been put in place to protect roadworkers on the A428 in Cambourne, Cambs. The signs break into an angry frown when drivers exceed the 40mph limit." That's the ticket! And let's build on this brave lead from Cambourne! Other signs: 1. Frowning Face and Bucket. Your car is filthy. Clean it. 2. Smiling Face and Sun: You forgot to close the sunroof when you went in the car wash. 3. Frowning Face and Musical Notes. Turn up the sound system, your bass is inaudible under two miles away. 4. Frowning Face and Van: Why haven't you got a St George's flag? 5. Frowning Face and Nose: Stop picking it immediately! 6. Smiling face with police helmet: you've just been photographed speeding. 7. Smiling Pigs At Top Of Screen: Today, you will be on time. Thank you. Next!

Dum

Dum De Dum Dum, Dum Dum! And our exciting quest to discover the origin of the familiar rap on the door takes us this week, courtesy of Mr Hawkins of Abercynffig, back across the Atlantic, where it has been traced to the sign-off used by American Civil War telegraphists. This was before Mr Morse invented his code. What is not clear, though, is whether these were Yankee or Dixie telegraphists. But Mr Thomas of Blockley writes: "Captain! I have a dim memory of somebody years ago, probably in a Bristol workplace, 'singing' rhythmically, 'Balls, Bananas, Brown Bread'. Also, a while ago I found a good selection of brown shoelaces and other shoey items at a stall in Oxford market (the west side). On no account attempt to drive to that market." Thank you both. Badges!

Sorry?

What's all that about brown shoelaces? It's my appeal. You can't find them in London anywhere. Something to do with Livingstone and his congestion charge, I'll be bound. And there was this, too, from Mr Benjamin of Hexham: "Brown laces galore up here; must be all our Countryside Alliance types! What size, shape, quantity do you require? Will exchange for a badge!!" Exchange for a Badge?! What do you take me for? Done! Two laces, fit size 11 Trickers. Next!

Bowling!

I've been ten pin bowling! I have! Terrific fun, particularly after I found a ball with larger finger holes that allowed me to release it rather than slide gently down the alley. But, call me an old officer if you like, I did find the incessant background piped music a little loud. When I asked the attendant if there was a classical music hour, he looked at me a little oddly. Perhaps he couldn't hear. On!

Yet

Another Groundbreaking Series With The Captain. This is the one in which we explore amusing misunderstandings involving regional accents, the one that began, you must remember, with the woman going into the Newcastle hairdressers and asking for a perm, only to be treated by the receptionist to a piece of Byron. And now, Mr Aslett of Seaford has been in touch! "Captain! Some years ago while holidaying in Birmingham, we encountered an angler in Gas Street Basin. 'Any luck?' 'Not today, but I caught a whale yesterday'. 'You caught a whale; what did you do with it?'. 'I threw it back'. 'You caught a whale and threw it back? Why?' 'It had no spokes!'." Splendid, Mr Aslett, Badge! Forward!

moonlight@independent.co.uk

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